A couple of years back I did the previously-unthinkable. I got rid of my car and went car free.
It was a pretty big deal for me. I remember it being really scary. People told me I was crazy to even consider it. But I wanted to disrupt their (and my) thinking.
I loved that car. It was the car that ran out of petrol that time in the middle of the outback, the car I first gave my now-partner a lift home in, and the car that I considered to be totally badass.
The main reason I decided to go car free: money
The thing that first got me thinking about it was money. Specifically, I needed some. I had a $4,000 eye surgery coming up, which I didn’t have the money for. I needed to liquify funds. I sold some stuff on Gumtree, but it wasn’t enough.
My car was chugging up my money, and once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it. I did a quick breakdown, and was shocked at just how much it cost me. It looked something like this:
Yearly car expenses:
- insurance: $2,160 (so high because I’d had a couple of accidents in the past)
- registration: $650
- petrol: $2,600
- servicing: about $500 a year
Holy shit! My car was costing me nearly $6,000 a year, and that’s not even including miscellaneous expenses like the carwash, or the depreciation value of the car itself. Realising this was like waking up from a weird delusion, one I’d been suffering under for years!
Something had to give.
The other reasons I went car free
I am an advocate of anti-consumerism, recycling, reusing, and getting rid of stuff you don’t need. So ditching the wheels made sense.
Additionally, I’m the kind of person who has to try something to see what’ll happen (and then write about it). So that was a factor.
Finally, I live in the inner suburbs, near three different tram lines, one train line and several bus lines. I actually didn’t use my car more than twice a week. Keeping it just seemed extravagant.
The many hidden benefits of going car free
I sold it, and suddenly I had all this money, and also way less expenses. I consequently became less stressed about my budget. I realised I’d been pouring a huge amount of my meagre income into this car. On top of rent, the car expenses meant I usually had basically nothing left over each month. Now, I actually had disposable income! What a rare and delightful treat!
But, aside from money, it turned out there were loads of other benefits to going car free.
Fitness and sports
When I sold the car, I bought a bike to get around on, and got super into it. I got a lot fitter. I obtained quads. I discovered that my home city is extremely cyclable, and I stumbled upon parts of the city that I never before knew existed! Then, once road riding started to get a bit old, I bought a mountain bike and got into that. I then did a mountain biking trip to Tasmania and rode the North South Track. I also cycled around San Fransisco and Sydney. I got super into a new sport, made new friends and discovered new places, all because of going car free.
It goes without saying, but by not having a car you’re doing your bit for the environment. Admittedly, I have a GoGet membership, so I do still burn fuel when I absolutely have to. But it isn’t often. I have a minor goal in life of having an extremely low carbon footprint – and not driving certainly helps.
I never realised before I went car free, but driving is actually really stressful. After I ditched the wheels, I started taking a lot more public transport. And I found it really great! Sure, there’s times where you get cracked onto by a hobo, or someone smells really bad, or the bus just never comes. But it’s worth it for the additional hours you’ve gained to read, think, or just stare out the window. I used to get road rage and driving in peak hour stressed me out. Now, when I’m on the tram or bus I’m zen a.f.
You’ll see your city in a whole new way
When riding, bussing or walking around my city immediately after I went car free, I realised I’d never really stopped to smell the roses before. I was always too busy being stressed in traffic. Thanks to not having a car, I’ve had the chance to really enjoy walking around my neighbourhood, to meet new people on public transport, and to just take things easier. I’ve had the opportunity to really get to know my own city and discover how awesome it is!
I don’t miss my car at all
It’s been a couple of years now since I went car free, and I literally haven’t looked back. Thanks to not having a car, I’ve had the money to travel. I’ve discovered new sports. I’ve gotten fit. I’ve saved a shitload of cash. I’ve been able to scab rides off friends who I used to give rides to. It’s been liberating in ways I could never have imagined.
Of course, it isn’t for everyone
Admittedly, my life circumstances mean I could go car free with relative ease. I’m healthy, I live in a city with great public transport, and I don’t really have any obligations that require a car. If you do, it might be harder. However, I still believe it’s possible for any healthy person who lives somewhere with some public transport.
Should you go car free?
If you are curious about it, then the answer is hell yes, give it a try! Seriously. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. Having been car free for nearly two years, my next goal is to be car free for ten. Stay tuned.
Thoughts? Comments? Opinions? Comment below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.