For a whole lot of people, life without a car is completely normal. People the world over manage to live their entire lives without owning a car–and live happy, fulfilled lives! However, in many parts of the world, a life without a car is considered a sign of poverty, lack or financial failure. Some cultures attach so much importance to cars, they are considered a necessity and an asset. But, even in those cultures where cars act as a status symbol, is it possible to live without one and actually be happy? We say YES!
Cars cost a lot. For persons with automobiles, between 12 and 30 percent of their income is spent on maintaining a car. That’s a big percentage, considering that the individual probably has other bills to service, and maybe dependents relying on them. However, to many of us, cars are not necessary. We may think we need them, but we actually don’t. And if we give living without a car a try, we actually realize that it is one of the best decisions that we could have ever made. All it takes is some confidence and planning to make the switch to an automobile-free life, and you will enjoy a host of benefits you may never have thought of.
So, what exactly are some of these benefits? Why would I give up my car?
- Finding parking spaces, especially for those who work in the city and drive every day, is a nightmare. Add to that the ever ubiquitous parking fees. For all the money spent on parking fees, one would think there would be enough spaces to go round. Without a car, you can basically say goodbye to these hassles.
- See life from a different perspective. As you drive along, chances are you don’t pay much attention the streets you pass as your mind is concentrated on getting to your destination. Those shops located on corners, busy alleys always full of people, beautiful parks filled with art and scenery, and the street signs you ignore all pass quickly while driving. So what happens when you dump the car and decide to see this world for yourself? You may actually connect more with the world around you than you ever did, closed off and enveloped in your own bubble of sound and air conditioning.
- You save money. If you have ever leased a car and had to make monthly payments, chances are you have felt the pinch of having to make those scheduled payments. If you choose to go car free and sell it, you can make some extra money. If you find someone to take over the contractual obligations of the car lease, that’s more money in your pocket at the end of the month.
- Contribute to a greener future. By living without a car, you make a small, yet significant contribution towards a greener future by reducing the carbon emissions you put out into the atmosphere. You decrease the dependence on fossil fuels, which are the leading emitters of carbon into the atmosphere, and decongest the city/town in which you live. Your contribution to Mother Nature’s wellbeing, no matter how small, goes a long way.
- No more insurance payments. Maintaining and fueling the car is expensive enough without the added expense of car insurance. Whether you are the most cautious of drivers, or the most reckless, car insurance will set you back every year. Can you think of something else you would rather be doing with that money?
- Exercise more. One of the advantages of not having a car is that you get to use your own two legs to get to where you want to go. Without a car, exercise is as natural as heading over to the grocery shop or walking over to the park to enjoy some fresh air.
Now that you have an idea about what life is like on the other side, how do you actually survive without a car?
- Take the bus (public transport). You might as well familiarize yourself with the daily bus/train schedule, because that’s what you’ll probably use to get to work. Getting familiar with the schedule will help you can catch public transport on time and avoid getting stranded.
- Get a bike. A bike is inexpensive, plus it offers a great way to stay healthy.
- Car services. Okay, you’ll probably need to use the car once in a while (pick up parents at the bus terminal/airport). For such purposes, you can rent a car for the duration of time needed. And since these special occasions to use the car will come around every once in a while, you’ll have the money saved up to afford it.
- Carpool. If you have friends who go to the same workplace or shopping center as yourself, hit them up and let them drive you to work. As a way to say thank you, offer to fill up the tank, or take them out for lunch. Alternatively, some communities have carpool programs, so definitely check them out.
- Walk. Enjoy the sunshine and fresh air by walking to your destination. Trips to the Laundromat, grocery store, post office, park, library, and community center can all be done on foot, and you get to enjoy nature at its finest.
Why not try living the car-free life today? Opt for leaving the car at home this week and see just how transformative abandoning your wheels can be in your daily life.