Almost two years ago our family embarked on a “One Month No Car Experiment” that has extended nearly two years. Since our daughter switched schools to one that is not within easy walking distance, we’ve once again been considering buying or leasing a car. But carpooling with our friends and the existence of the East Bay car-sharing service Gig has allowed us to postpone that decision, perhaps indefinitely.
Category: Alternative Economics (Page 1 of 4)
These days, reading the national news is like watching a whirlwind of shit in high definition.
Emboldened white supremacists, the orange racist-in-chief, plans for an expensive useless wall, a government actively working to roll back environmental protections of every kind. Not to mention the very real possibility of nuclear war.
So I’m writing this post to remind myself what kind of world I’d like to live in. What kind of policies I’d like to see in place, in a more sane world.
I don’t believe in the pursuit of perfect utopias. Reaching that high is like flying too close to the sun. You have to start with a clean slate to build a perfect society, which means destroying everyone and everything and starting over. Which has been tried, several times in history, and generally ends in mass starvation and/or genocide. So no thanks.
The alternative is a messy utopia, one that builds on pretty good systems that already exists, one that takes a more-or-less empirical approach to solving problems, and one that doesn’t require perfect moral behavior on the part of its citizens. I’ve written in more detail about this idea here.
As regular readers know, my family gave up our car about a year-and-a-half ago. Our lease ended, we turned in the car, and we didn’t get another one. The idea was to go one month without a car and see if we could get around with biking, walking, public transportation, Lyft, and the occasional rental.
Overall the experiment has been a success. I’ve written about the experience at length in the followings posts:
Back in February when Kia and I turned in our leased Fiat 500 and decided to do a “one-month experiment” of living without a car, I suspected that the experiment might last longer than one month. But eight months? No way. I was sure we’d have another car by now. But it turns out there are a few advantages to not having an expensive hunk of metal to care for, including:
- On average, it’s cheaper (about $150/month less).
- It’s great to not worry about your car (will it break down or get stolen/scratched/dented/broken into/ticketed).
- We save time on car maintenance and paperwork.
- All three of us are fitter, stronger, and leaner (details below).
- I feel more physically and socially connected to my neighborhood.
- Our carbon footprint is reduced (though still high — we sometimes fly on airplanes).
- I get to use my phone like a magic wand to summon friendly drivers to my house who arrive within minutes and take me wherever I want for a reasonable price and I don’t need cash not even to tip (thank you Lyft).
- Local grandparents have been great sports about having to drive a bit more (thank you!)
- Given our situation (we both work from home, our kid goes to school three blocks away, our neighborhood has a Walk Score of 91/100, local car-sharing options), we’re pretty much the ideal family to NOT own a car.
Back in February I calculated our average cost of car ownership at $440/month, as follows: