With a little effort, you can live a happier life by not owning a car. Here’s how:
Borrow a car. Rent a car, hire a taxi, find a carpool, take a shuttle — whatever form you choose, you can borrow a car instead of buying one. Borrowing a car is extremely handy when you only need to drive occasionally.
Ride a bike. Bicycle commuting is extremely practical in biker-friendly cities, which include Portland, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle, Boulder, and even New York City (1). The city of Irvine has an amazing network of bike paths. Look up your city on Google Maps to see what bike paths are available.
Run. It’s obvious, yet often overlooked. You can run four miles in about half an hour 45 minutes. If you run to work, you can ditch your treadmill.
Bus / Subway / Train / Metro. This heavily depends on where you live. Taiwan has great public transit, while California’s transit system is mediocre.
Move closer to your work or take it online. Telecommuting also gives you the freedom to work anywhere in the world.
The most effective tactic is to simply commute less. Try to shorten your commute by moving closer to your work. Often, you can combine multiple errands into a single trip. Lastly, avoid unnecessary trips to the mall, department store, or restaurant. When you must shop, you can order online and have it delivered to your door, bypassing the need for a car (2). But often, there’s no need to shop at all. When you shop less, you’ll reduce the need for a car while saving money and time.
It’s helpful to make the transition slowly. Test-ride your bicycle for a few weeks while keeping your car parked in the garage. Weaning yourself off the car should be a gradual process; it takes time to get accustomed to bicycle commuting or riding the bus. And remember, even if you don’t want to live totally car-free, any reduction in driving will save money and gas.
Most importantly, don’t get discouraged easily. Commuting without a car will take longer, but don’t let it test your patience. Always remind yourself of why you sold your car in the first place. You’re protecting the environment by conserving oil and metal; you’re exercising more, freeing up garage space, and avoiding repair hassles. Think about the tens of thousands of dollars you’ll gain each year by selling your car, cancelling your auto insurance, and by not paying for rising gas prices. The trade off is definitely worth it.
Not only is living without a car possible, it’s actually enjoyable. I’ve lived for 18 months now without owning a car, and I’ve never looked back. With a little patience, you can join me, too. Together, we can show the world that life doesn’t have to depend on gasoline.
Can you thrive without a car?