I got rid of my car 10 years ago and I haven’t regretted it once
Depending on where you live, going car-free can save you money and time.Syda Productions/Shutterstock
- Having a car can be expensive and inconvenient depending on your means and location.
- Living in the Bay Area, author Laura McCamy decided to give up her car 10 years ago, which has saved her money, reduced her stress levels, and increased her daily exercise intake.
- Here are four benefits to going car free and why I plan to stay car-free.
When my aging Nissan pickup didn’t feel safe to drive anymore, I faced a choice: Buy a new vehicle or get rid of it for good.
Reluctant to take on a new car payment, I decided to go car-free. The Bay Area has a decent public-transit system, and I could always buy a car later if it didn’t work out.
Part of the impetus to give up my car was my concern about climate change. However, there are a number of additional benefits to giving up your car that could make it a worthwhile decision, like saving money, more opportunity for exercise, and slowing down in a fast-paced world.
A decade later, I’m still living car-free in the Bay Area, and I don’t plan on buying a car anytime soon. Here are four of the best things about going car-free and tips for making the transition.
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1. Saving money
Taking public transit, biking, or walking can save you on car expenses.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Experian estimates that the US average new car payment is $523 per month, not counting insurance, gas, parking, and repairs. By not owning a car in the Bay Area specifically, I’ll be saving around $14,625 per year, according to Fortune.
There are still times when using a car is the best option, such as when the weather isn’t ideal for biking, there’s no bus stop within a reasonable distance of my destination, or my cat has to go to the vet.
In those cases, I simply borrow a car from a friend, take out a GIG car share, or summon a Lyft whenever I need a car (though a recent study from AAA found that relying solely on ride-hailing services would cost twice as much as owning a car in a major US city).
If you decide to ditch driving altogether, consider taking public transit, biking, walking, and/or working from home to make car-free living even more economical. You can also save by trying bikeshare programs like Citi Bike or purchasing a scooter.
For many people, owning a car equals freedom, but having the extra cash frees me to spend my money on travel, home improvements, or whatever else makes me happy.