J.D. Moyer

beat maker, sci-fi writer, self-experimenter

No Car Month 3 – The Honeymoon Is Over

2490850591_a5143d09b9_z
Our family just completed month #3 of living without owning or leasing a car. We still use cars occasionally (via CityCarShare, standard rentals, Lyft, and Uber), but there’s no hunk of metal in our driveway that we own, maintain, or are otherwise responsible for.

It’s still going pretty well, but this was the month that the thrill of not owning wore off, some of the hassles became more evident.

At first I was enthusiastic about all the exercise I was getting, and I got significantly leaner during the first month with all the extra walking and biking. But then I started eating more — especially more desserts (I’d earned it, with all the exercise) — and I gained the weight back. Overall I’m still lean, but my hope that not owning a car would be an easy ticket to getting shredded proved overly optimistic.

Several times in April I felt irritated by not being able to simply hop in my car and do what I want. In the end I always found a way — I didn’t miss out on any activities. With Uber and Lyft, I found I didn’t really even have to think ahead that much. At one point I walked a couple miles from my house to the Grand Lake neighborhood, but didn’t really feel up for walking home. So I used Uber for the first time. For me, the emotional association between freedom and car ownership doesn’t correspond to reality. I can still get where I want to go, pretty easily and inexpensively, even without a car in my driveway. But that doesn’t mean the feelings don’t still crop up from time to time.

For introverts like myself, there is a psychological cost to using taxi-like services. Though using Uber or Lyft is more convenient than calling a taxi, you still have to interact with a person. What if I’m stuck with a chatty driver? This hasn’t happened yet, but I did have a less than ideal Uber-Pool experience. The driver had a problem with his GPS, and for twenty minutes I shared a car with a father and his daughter while we all took a meandering, awkwardly silent tour of West Oakland. It wasn’t a terrible experience, but alone in my car the trip would have taken five minutes.

What about all those hassles I left behind, like sitting in traffic, or driving around in circles looking for parking, or worry about my car getting ticketed, scratched, or burgled? Well, after not dealing with any of those issues for a few months, I’ve largely forgotten about those pains. I just take it for granted now that those hassles aren’t part of my life. I remember all the conveniences of car ownership, but I’ve glossed over the inconveniences. How quickly I forget!

There are, of course, new hassles to deal with. Kia took a 4-mile CityCarShare ride that showed up on her account as a 6000-mile ride. The error was corrected before we were charged for it, but it took both an email and a phone call to deal with it.

Costs

Here’s the April transportation tally:

  • CityCarShare – $177 (including all-day trips to Yountville and Marin, and several local errands)
  • Lyft – $28
  • Uber – $0 (complimentary first free ride)
  • car rental – $59 (Kia visiting a client in Palo Alto)
  • Amortized bike upgrade – $15
  • Increased public transportation use – about $10

So $289 in total — almost exactly the same as last month. That represents a savings of about $150 compared to our car-related transportation costs when we were leasing (lease, insurance, averaged gas/tolls/service).

Going Forward

To continue the analogy, the no-car honeymoon may be over, but I still feel like I’m in a good transportation marriage. The benefits still outweigh the costs, especially when remind myself about all the hassles of car ownership that I no longer have to deal with.

I could see us getting a new car lease later this year. On the other hand, it’s possible we’ll continue the experiment indefinitely.

Are these updates interesting to you? Let me know in the comments.

Previous

How I Broke Into the Music Business and Made $100K

Next

What Does It Take To Create? (Four Aspects of Getting It Done)

21 Comments

  1. All your “No Car” posts are very interesting and the updates are welcome.

    After many years, still my favorite blog.

  2. Yea I appreciate these updates too, as I’m not sure if I’ll be replacing my car when it finally bites the (playa) dust. Feel you on the social costs as an introvert, too!

  3. Thanks for the comments guys!

  4. This might interest you:

    http://insideevs.com/best-plug-in-electric-car-deals-april-2016/

    Lease prices are falling since new electric cars are coming.

  5. Laurie Calland

    Your no-car posts are interesting and relevant to my own life. I sold my truck a few years ago, determined to rely on public transportation for financial, philosophical and sustainability reasons. I can relate to many of your comments — sometimes public transportation won’t get the job done, and it necessary to get a ride, which means that my introverted self must spend more time than I might like in conversation. Then there’s the way that the hassles of car ownership fade as the inconveniences of public transportation come into view. All in all, I still feel good about my decision to rely primarily upon public transportation.

    • I’ll bet even instant teleportation would come with its own hassles. Like partial rematerialization. 😉

  6. emily

    I enjoyed this post…as always! I power walk back and forth from work every day (7 km) and when I have to rely on my Vespa I really miss the walk, mainly because I find walking a great way to clear my mind…..I love walking! It helped me beat post-partum depression and it gives me a deeply rewarding feeling of well-being. I live in a small town in Italy so I realize I’m lucky, not everyone can afford to give up their car for long. I think it’s great that you and your family are experimenting on so many different issues. I’ve done the “40 days without alchohol” for the second time this year……inspiring!

  7. Yes! Very interesting. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  8. Very interesting posts, love the transparent mental processes being shared as you go.

  9. yes, very interesting. my circumstances are very different (living in a rural area, not much is within walking distance ) but “how to travel lightly” is something we should all be thinking about .

  10. Estee

    Don’t lose heart on this as it encourages us all.

  11. madeleine

    I’ve moved to China, where owning a car is more complicated if you’re not a local, and I have to say that I’m completely happy about not owning a car. After a couple of years of metro, bus, taxi’s, uber, and for the odd event, a private driver I’m pretty organised about deciding which transport option works best for which event, and I love the downtime that commuting now gives me. Time to either relax, have a nap, catch up on social media. read a book etc. I commute for about an hour a day, so if I was driving that would be another whole hour that I would be stressed!

  12. Thanks everyone for the comments and encouragement. We’ll keep the experiment going at least through the summer.

  13. aelith

    I am also enjoying these updates. As an NYC resident who used to own a car but does not now, I can relate. I have also experienced the easy-to-forget-the-downsides-of-car-ownership phenomenon, although car-sitting of late has reminded me (especially of the nightmare that can be looking for parking).

  14. Yes, please keep sharing! I am so drawn to the idea of going car-less, and yet the idea of giving up even one of our two cars (soon to be three, when new driver in the family buys himself one) makes me hyperventilate. Your updates are inspirational. Perhaps I’ll be able to cut the cord eventually.

  15. Harry

    Owning your own car and going where you want when you want is such a wonderful convenience that I hope I am never without one. As far as expenses go: NEVER buy new. Find an honest mechanic. Listen to his suggestions on buying a used car, Service the car regularly according to the car’s manual.and Keep it as long as you can.

  16. Sylvia

    I am loving the no-car posts. I went without a car for several years in the 90s in Canberra and early 2000s in Sydney, Australia. Both times the cost savings were very noticeable. (I believe we pay a lot more for fuel in Australia than you do in the States.) But the best part about your continued sharing is the hope it gives me to try again, although the town I’m in now (Geelong) has abysmal public transport. I have a bicycle and already walk a lot with my dog but… sigh…Yes, keep the posts coming.

  17. very interesting, I am vicariously living through your blog!! The honeymoon may be over but that major car repair bill you just may have avoided already is enough incentive to keep plugging away at the monogamy 🙂

    • Polyamory may be a better analogy for my current transportation situation, come to think of it. Footloose and keeping my options open!

Join the discussion! Please be excellent to each other. Sometimes comments are moderated.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén