Author Topic: Can I really go Carless?  (Read 8616 times)

Beric01

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Can I really go Carless?
« on: July 07, 2014, 07:08:22 PM »
Hi Mustachians,

So I've been biking from my apartment to work for some time now. I also bike to get groceries, and bike/take public transit to visit friends and social events. My car gets used about twice a month. And that usage is almost exclusively to visit my family. Frankly, it's an expense I'd like to eliminate completely.

Unfortunately, my family (parents and siblings) lives 9 miles away. That distance is indeed bikeable, but not so simple as my 2-mile ride to work/groceries. Public transit takes about 1.5 hours to get there (really bad routes). On the other hand, it takes 13 minutes by car.

I told my Dad I was about ready to go carless, and his main concern was that he'd see me less. As he pointed out, if I have to bike/take public transit, I'd probably just come over less often. As he said, it's easy right now for him to just invite me over for dinner/a board game/family outing/ etc. Losing a car would cause me to lose that flexibility. I have to admit he's probably right.

My two major costs right now preventing me from saving more are rent and car expenses. I'd like to cut out the car (costing me at 3-4K/year in related expenses), but not sure if I should risk sacrificing my relationships. There's also just something about the spontaneity of being able to hop in a car at a moment's notice. Any thoughts?

Gin1984

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2014, 07:14:01 PM »
How much would it cost to rent a car to do this or to join zip car and use theirs?  Would it be less than your cost now?  I think so, but why not run the numbers?

Beric01

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2014, 07:21:52 PM »
How much would it cost to rent a car to do this or to join zip car and use theirs?  Would it be less than your cost now?  I think so, but why not run the numbers?

I ran the numbers and it would be cheaper to hire a cab every single time I go somewhere.

But the point is, whether it's hiring a cab, getting a zipcar, etc., that requires some planning/orchestration is advance. I thus can't make spontaneous decisions - I need advance prep. I'm finding it hard to fathom not having this flexibility, and yet at the same time I'm not sure it's worth $3-4K a year just to have the capability to be a car heading somewhere within 2 minutes of making the decision.

Russ

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2014, 07:33:49 PM »
ditch the car and in a few weeks/months you will have exactly as much flexibility as you do now. You can hop on a bike at a moment's notice just like a car, it just takes you slightly longer to get where you're going.

Most of the stuff I do is 12-20 miles away and almost everything I do is planned day-of. 9 miles is a 45 minute ride at reasonably chill pace. As opposed to a 15 minute car ride, if your dad wold be cool with you being a half hour later for dinner (which I'm sure he would) then it's all good. Or he could think ahead just a little bit and invite you a half hour before he normally would.

deborah

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2014, 07:37:20 PM »
ditch the car and in a few weeks/months you will have exactly as much flexibility as you do now. You can hop on a bike at a moment's notice just like a car, it just takes you slightly longer to get where you're going.

if your dad wold be cool with you being a half hour later for dinner (which I'm sure he would) then it's all good. Or he could think ahead just a little bit and invite you a half hour before he normally would.
+1

Cabs don't usually take that long to arrive - but if they are going to take half an hour, you can always bike!

galliver

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2014, 07:52:06 PM »
If that's your only holdup, you'll be fine. :) Everyone will adjust to you taking a little longer to get places, or if they really want you there, they might pick you up. I'm currently in a college town where most people do have a car (usually old one they got in high school or something). But it also has a great public transit system and is bike friendly, so I felt no need to buy one myself. I've bummed rides on a few occasions, but there were usually other options (at worst: taxi or zipcar).

If you're feeling insecure, try it for a while before selling your car. Just because you have it doesn't mean you need to use it. If your family asks, let them know the plan. If it turns out it does hold you back, maybe they'd be willing to pick you up for gas money or small favors (help with a chore/project that uses your talents, e.g.).

tanhanivar

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2014, 08:39:55 PM »
I agree with Galliver - pretend you don't have a car for a month or two, and see how you cope/adjust!

My housemate and I are thinking about trying this out and seeing if we can go down to one car, and the other 'hire' it if/when needed.

Beric01

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2014, 08:45:52 PM »
I agree with Galliver - pretend you don't have a car for a month or two, and see how you cope/adjust!

My housemate and I are thinking about trying this out and seeing if we can go down to one car, and the other 'hire' it if/when needed.

Agreed - this makes so much sense, I can't believe I didn't think of it.

I appreciate all of your encouragement! Now I need to tackle my issue of paying $1K a month for rent. ;-)

Khan

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2014, 08:47:13 PM »
9 miles is nothing.

sol

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2014, 08:52:50 PM »
I went through this exact same thought process a few years ago.  I decided to park my car and see how it went without it.  The battery died and the tires went out of round and in retrospect I wish I had just taken the plunge immediately.  Sell your car, and if you decide you really need wheels in three months, buy another one.  CL is full of them.

I got a zipcar pass.  Used it maybe once a month or less for major grocery runs, finally gave it up.

If your only hangup is a 9 mile trip to your parents, then I'd recommend having them do the driving half the time.  It doesn't make sense for one party to always be incurring the transportation costs.  For the other half of the time, 9 miles will feel like a pleasant afternoon workout after you've done it ten times.  Piece of cake.  As an added bonus, your butt will look great.

Are you romantically involved?  Lots of women are too shallow to see past the fact that a guy doesn't have a car, so you may have a harder time finding dates.  Are you a woman?  Then you're set, this is a double standard that doesn't seem to affect women.


MikeBear

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2014, 08:54:54 PM »
Maybe your dad can come over to YOUR house every other time?

Beric01

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2014, 09:09:23 PM »
Are you romantically involved?  Lots of women are too shallow to see past the fact that a guy doesn't have a car, so you may have a harder time finding dates.  Are you a woman?  Then you're set, this is a double standard that doesn't seem to affect women.

I'm male. Most of the women I've met seem to take far too much pleasure in spending, so I really haven't found someone compatible with me yet (and the ones who don't are really hard to meet). My plan is to reach FI in let 10 years and get out (very high percentage of males on my area), and hopefully find a partner somewhere else. Or I could just remain single.

Primm

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2014, 09:49:26 PM »
Are you romantically involved?  Lots of women are too shallow to see past the fact that a guy doesn't have a car, so you may have a harder time finding dates.  Are you a woman?  Then you're set, this is a double standard that doesn't seem to affect women.

I'm male. Most of the women I've met seem to take far too much pleasure in spending, so I really haven't found someone compatible with me yet (and the ones who don't are really hard to meet). My plan is to reach FI in let 10 years and get out (very high percentage of males on my area), and hopefully find a partner somewhere else. Or I could just remain single.

I'm female. Prior to meeting my current SO I went out with 2 guys who didn't have a car, one of whom had never even got his licence. It wasn't a deal breaker for me (there were other reasons those didn't last). Both of them were adept at public transport and happy to get to me rather than expecting me to pick them up all the time. I suspect that it *would* become a deal breaker if you asked them for that, but I also suspect that would not be the case in your case!

You'd just need to find the right person. Or like you said, stay single. :)

JustTrying

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2014, 10:29:07 PM »
It sounds to me like you'd be just fine without the car! I don't know much about your parents and how mobile they are, but it certainly struck me as odd that your dad was worried that you wouldn't be as available to come over for dinner - does he not have a car or license??? If he has both, then I'd think that maybe he could come to your place for dinner or perhaps pick you up?

That being said, hubs and I couldn't even last a week sharing a car when we tried. He works from home and I can easily bike or walk to work - and yet we were too pathetic to learn to share! So no judgment from me, no matter what you decide!

greaper007

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2014, 10:37:07 PM »
I'm with SOL.   Only driving a car twice a month is really hard on the internals.   Especially if you're not taking it on a 20 min or so highway trip that will burn the impurities out of the system.   

Is there anyway you could share your car (or their car) with a few other people?    That way it would be driven and your cost would be minimal.

RyanHesson

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2014, 11:02:05 PM »
I don't 100% understand the carless obsession here. My auto expenses are about $100 a month, and I guess there's some additional maintenance that I may need to do but haven't accounted in that, but it's not a huge expense. I think if you're looking at 3-4K/year, you're doing something very wrong. And paying for a car is strongly preferred over the hypothermia that I'll get if I try to bike in the winter. If you live in an easily bikeable place then maybe go for it, even in places like SE Michigan (which is warmer than a large part of the country) where I'm from you can see negative temperatures sometimes, what do you do then? And even if you can bike in 10-above or 20-above, is that really nice? Is it worth saving that $100 a month?
« Last Edit: July 07, 2014, 11:05:06 PM by RyanHesson »

Beric01

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2014, 11:12:17 PM »
I don't 100% understand the carless obsession here. My auto expenses are about $100 a month, and I guess there's some additional maintenance that I may need to do but haven't accounted in that, but it's not a huge expense. I think if you're looking at 3-4K/year, you're doing something very wrong. And paying for a car is strongly preferred over the hypothermia that I'll get if I try to bike in the winter. If you live in an easily bikeable place then maybe go for it, even in places like SE Michigan (which is warmer than a large part of the country) where I'm from you can see negative temperatures sometimes, what do you do then? And even if you can bike in 10-above or 20-above, is that really nice? Is it worth saving that $100 a month?

I'm under 25 so insurance is insane. It's mostly city driving so lots of wear and tear on the car, and poor gas mileage. Yes, cars are expensive. My car being American-made probably doesn't help.

Russ

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2014, 11:18:10 PM »
I don't 100% understand the carless obsession here. My auto expenses are about $100 a month, and I guess there's some additional maintenance that I may need to do but haven't accounted in that, but it's not a huge expense. I think if you're looking at 3-4K/year, you're doing something very wrong. And paying for a car is strongly preferred over the hypothermia that I'll get if I try to bike in the winter. If you live in an easily bikeable place then maybe go for it, even in places like SE Michigan (which is warmer than a large part of the country) where I'm from you can see negative temperatures sometimes, what do you do then? And even if you can bike in 10-above or 20-above, is that really nice? Is it worth saving that $100 a month?

It's not only about the money yo

and yeah I think riding in the cold is nice, serene in a way, but you're obvs not open to other people disagreeing with you

galliver

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #18 on: July 07, 2014, 11:57:31 PM »
I don't 100% understand the carless obsession here. My auto expenses are about $100 a month, and I guess there's some additional maintenance that I may need to do but haven't accounted in that, but it's not a huge expense. I think if you're looking at 3-4K/year, you're doing something very wrong. And paying for a car is strongly preferred over the hypothermia that I'll get if I try to bike in the winter. If you live in an easily bikeable place then maybe go for it, even in places like SE Michigan (which is warmer than a large part of the country) where I'm from you can see negative temperatures sometimes, what do you do then? And even if you can bike in 10-above or 20-above, is that really nice? Is it worth saving that $100 a month?

I think the environmental angle is a huge part of it; even if you could economically own a car, does that mean you should have one and use it? And the answer is going to vary for different people and places. I've lived carless for 8 years as an adult now in Illinois; the occasions when I would use one were so far apart that it was cheaper to rent on those occasions. And actually, not having one available dissuaded me from some of the trips I might otherwise have taken for probably minimal enjoyment. There's not a lot to see in IL outside of towns (IMO) and there are buses and trains for that :) .  But, I'm moving to CA at the end of the month and my bf and I are 100% set on getting a car. Because there is a whole lot of beautiful nature just 2-3 hours away in CA, and we are outdoorsy people who will get great enjoyment from visiting these places. Not to mention the health benefits. The public transit in that area is also less than ideal and we'd like to have a way to get places outside the immediate bikable vicinity (~5-6mi for us now) in a reasonable time frame. In the case of the OP, he's not really using his car, so why keep it?

In the case of the OP, his lifestyle really doesn't seem to necessitate a car.

Goldielocks

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #19 on: July 08, 2014, 12:43:32 AM »

How about an electric bike conversion kit on a new to you, second bike?

Scooter?

I prefer the electric kit or cycling option if at night.  Wearing a vest and lights...
Scooter needs gas and license, and not as great in rain or at night.

Both are low effort and so much cheaper than a car.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #20 on: July 08, 2014, 07:23:35 AM »
9 miles is barely even a workout. Pretty soon you'll be looking for ways to add mileage, or a more scenic way to get there. In some cities biking is even faster.

I would so ditch the car.

greaper007

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #21 on: July 08, 2014, 09:25:25 AM »
I don't 100% understand the carless obsession here. My auto expenses are about $100 a month, and I guess there's some additional maintenance that I may need to do but haven't accounted in that, but it's not a huge expense. I think if you're looking at 3-4K/year, you're doing something very wrong. And paying for a car is strongly preferred over the hypothermia that I'll get if I try to bike in the winter. If you live in an easily bikeable place then maybe go for it, even in places like SE Michigan (which is warmer than a large part of the country) where I'm from you can see negative temperatures sometimes, what do you do then? And even if you can bike in 10-above or 20-above, is that really nice? Is it worth saving that $100 a month?

It's not only about the money yo

and yeah I think riding in the cold is nice, serene in a way, but you're obvs not open to other people disagreeing with you

And your life is obvs not like everyone's life on the board.   I'm a stay at home dad with young children.    I can't fit both of them in a bike trailer, my 5 year old can't really ride over 2-3 miles, the route to his school doesn't even have a shoulder (no side streets either) and I think subjecting a 2 year old to subzero weather to save a few gallons of gas is cruel and potentially dangerous.     Beyond that, my wife owns a consulting business and often has several meetings on opposite sides of the city in a single day.    Good luck covering those using a bike and public transportation.

Then again, at 23 I had few responsibilities and thought my smug perspective should apply to everyone in the world.   At 34 that's starting to thaw.

I'd love to bike commute everywhere, but it's not going to happen for a few years.    I could buy a longbike, but it would cost as much as I paid for my minivan.    I do all my own mx and might end up spending $300 on a bad year.    Fuel and insurance add up to about $125 a month and public transport in the suburbs wouldn't really work for our daily needs.   So I drive at least half the time.

Russ

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #22 on: July 08, 2014, 09:33:16 AM »
Not what I'm saying at all. I realize I'm in a very particular situation that allows me to do what I do. I'm not saying that everyone can ride bikes everywhere, or even that everyone who can also should. That's a very personal thing.

I find it frustrating though when people say they can't understand why someone lives the way they do. That's very different from simply disagreeing, and comes off as pretty closed-minded to me. In context with other recent threads, I still understand the gun folks and the anti-pot crowd even though I happen to disagree with them.

Then again, at 23 I had few responsibilities and thought my smug perspective should apply to everyone in the world.   At 34 that's starting to thaw.

Glad that's changing for you.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #23 on: July 08, 2014, 09:36:07 AM »
Are you kidding me?  Paaaaaleaze!!!  You don't need a car!!!

Here's how you can build spontaneity into your travel:

1.  Take a fraction of what your car costs used to be ($150 per month?) and bill pay a credit card that amount regularly.
2.  When your Dad says "come over", you get in a cab and pay by (the above) credit card.

or do similar with zipcar.  I find car sharing pretty expensive here because the city taxes close to 20% and it's hard to predict how long you need it in advance.

We haven't even touched cycling.  If you build up your endurance 9 miles is nothing.

I have lived carless for about 16 years.  Don't think "I need a car".  Just think "how do I get from point A to point B at the lowest cost/fewest hassles" when I need to.

greaper007

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #24 on: July 08, 2014, 09:47:45 AM »
Not what I'm saying at all. I realize I'm in a very particular situation that allows me to do what I do. I'm not saying that everyone can ride bikes everywhere, or even that everyone who can also should. That's a very personal thing.

I find it frustrating though when people say they can't understand why someone lives the way they do. That's very different from simply disagreeing, and comes off as pretty closed-minded to me. In context with other recent threads, I still understand the gun folks and the anti-pot crowd even though I happen to disagree with them.

Then again, at 23 I had few responsibilities and thought my smug perspective should apply to everyone in the world.   At 34 that's starting to thaw.

Glad that's changing for you.

I didn't think your post really implied that, thanks for clarifying.

Russ

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #25 on: July 08, 2014, 09:50:25 AM »
Yeah I have a proclivity for sass over discussion. Whoops.

greaper007

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #26 on: July 08, 2014, 09:51:49 AM »
Yeah I have a proclivity for sass over discussion. Whoops.

Don't we all...

bacchi

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #27 on: July 08, 2014, 10:37:56 AM »
Renting a car is pretty spontaneous if you're in a decent sized city. You could even Priceline bid a car.

Gin1984

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Re: Can I really go Carless?
« Reply #28 on: July 08, 2014, 10:43:30 AM »
Renting a car is pretty spontaneous if you're in a decent sized city. You could even Priceline bid a car.
Not in the evenings in some areas, which is why I suggested the zip car idea.  But I think I like the scooter idea someone else suggested better.