It’s been six months since I sold my car and I have to admit, it hasn’t been an easy transition. After driving for over half of my life, there are still times when I forget that I don’t have a car. And it’s definitely strange to see my empty parking spot every day. That being said, I made a commitment to go without a car for one year, and I’m sticking to it. So here you have it, folks: the good, the bad and the unexpected.
Monthly Surplus. Every month I have an additional $550 in my bank account, because I no longer have to pay for a loan, insurance, gas, repairs and DMV fees. I’m a life-long saver, so this has been a great side-effect of not owning a car. The challenge has been not giving into temptation and splurging on something just because there’s extra cash in my bank account every month.
More Exercise. To say that I’m getting a lot of exercise is an understatement. Two months before selling my car, I moved farther from my office. The once 5-minute walk to work is now 25 minutes, which means that I’m walking as much as I did in college (if you’ve ever been to Penn State’s Main Campus, you know what I’m talking about). This doesn’t even take into account trips to and from the grocery store, church, hair salon, doctor, etc. Physical health is just as important as financial health, and I get the benefits of both by walking every day.
Uber/Lyft Costs. My original excitement at the prospect of saving $550 a month has been dampened by my increased spending on car services. I’m using Uber/Lyft much more than anticipated, which has offset a portion of my monthly surplus. Instead of baking in extra time for walking, I’ve found myself calling for a car when I am running late for work, church, appointments, etc. And trips to visit friends in other areas of Los Angeles are costly – West Hollywood is about $40 roundtrip!
Less Convenience. As expected, I miss the convenience of hopping in my car whenever I want to run errands. If the weather is bad, or it’s late at night, or I’m tired from a long day at work, I end up pushing off what I need to do to another day. And getting to Costco and Target (two of my faves) requires the use of someone else’s car. I now have to plan in advance for things that used to require zero planning. This has been the toughest adjustment for me.
Pet Problems. Last month, my dog’s knee went out of joint after an evening walk. The next morning, I took Katie to her regular vet, and then to a vet specializing in orthopedic surgery. The following day, I dropped Katie off for reconstructive knee surgery. The doctor kept her overnight to monitor her vitals, so I went back the next day to pick her up and take her home. In a span of three days I took five Ubers, and three of those trips included hauling Katie in a pet carrier. I was stressed about my dog and still had to rely on a car service to get me to and from the surgery center. The whole ordeal was a major hassle, and it really made me miss my car.
Newfound Freedom. This isn’t going to make sense to everyone, but selling my car was a liberating experience. I didn’t realize how dependent I was on my car until I didn’t have one. It has forced me out of my comfort zone, which is a good thing. I now spend more time outside of a car than in one, so I’m enjoying more of what Santa Monica has to offer. I literally stop to smell the roses every day, and I’ve met a lot of the people (and dogs) in my neighborhood. I moved nearly 3,000 miles from my hometown to live in Santa Monica, so it’s about time that I started appreciating the community, and all the little things that make this such an amazing place.
Stay tuned for Part Three of this series (coming in September) to find out how I feel after one year of not owning a car. Will I continue to be car-free, or break down and buy/lease a new car?