How to Live Well Without a Car

I picked up the book,How to Live Well Without Owning a Car: Save Money, Breathe Easier, and Get More Mileage Out of Life at the library last week and found it to be an interesting read.   I didn’t really think there was enough information about living without a car to fill up a book but I was surprised.  The book had a lot of good information and none of it seemed like filler.   I suppose you could consider the insets where people share their stories of living without a car as filler but I found them entertaining. The author shares his story of going car-free and gives some information about how much having a car is likely costing you.  The average cost of car ownership is about $8000 a year.  Mine is much less than that but it is still a significant number.  The author also provides information about alternative methods of transportation such as scooters, motorcycles, public transportation, bicycles, and walking.  If you are considering giving up your car this book has lots of helpful information.

I have lived without a car myself several times in my life and I didn’t find it to be much of a hardship.  In fact it made life simpler.  And it also allowed me to save a lot of money.   If I had owned a car all of last year I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford my trip through Central America.   Not having a car allows you to live better on less money.

It would be difficult for me to go without a car now though.  My wife and I do have just one car between us which I suppose might qualify us as car-lite.   My wife is going to be working at home soon and I mostly work at home.  If I was sure of my future job status I probably could give up the car.   I doubt my wife and stepdaughter would be crazy about the idea.  If I ever do try to get rid of the car that will be another post.

7 thoughts on “How to Live Well Without a Car”

  1. Certainly having a car is a big expense. Living without one would save. However, one needs to live where there are reasonable alternative transportation options. In my city, it takes 3 hours on a bus to get to work, instead of a 1/2 hour drive. I’m afraid six hours out of every day is too steep for me. It would cost me considerably more to live near my job, so moving is not an option. Yes, a scooter or motorcycle would be cheaper, but not everyone is capable using them. In what condition do you arrive at your work place? And how useful is it for other errands? If you’ve ever lived in a rural area, you know that it would be very difficult. Unfortunately, a car is a necessity for many; although some pay way too much for it. It’s a good thing to consider though.

    • All of your concerns are ones that are addressed in the book. He does acknowledge that a car is a necessity for some. Many people could go without a car though but don’t think they can.

  2. Chris’ book is inspiring and illustrative, for those who don’t take the time to do a “total cost of ownership” and see the $10K annual tab one spends to have a newer car in the city.

    But is it really worth saving $3K, the cost of running an old Corolla, to have to wait for buses, or dodge cars on a bike? In our town, you’ll generally pay a rent premium to live in a district that’s better-connected by transit or more walkable.

    And if you don’t look like Balish, as a guy, not having a car will probably negatively impact your social life. That’s shallow, but for most of the “Average Joes” I’ve known, “I don’t drive” doesn’t evoke intrigue, mystery and curiosity. If you don’t demonstrate her version of practicality and common sense, what chance do you have with Average Jane?

    My Jane was ferried in a series of rental cars long enough to become smitten, but later when she realized she’d been had, she gave an ultimatum – “Its either me or the bus.”.

    I bought a car.

    • You do have a point. I did find it funny that he said not having a car wouldn’t cause a problem with your social life. It probably doesn’t when you’re a sports anchor and look like him but for the Average Joe it might cause problems. That being said I have managed to date women without a car and I don’t have his advantages.

  3. On your recommendation I picked up a copy from the library and just set it down. It’s an easy read and is thought provoking. But, like the other comments, I’m afraid it wouldn’t be practical for me to be without a car.

    First, I drive around 5,000 miles per month for mystery shopping, so I would have to find a new way to earn income. Then, I would need to move to a place that is pedestrian-friendly. I live in the far suburbs of my city, and the nearest bus station is 7 miles away. Once you leave my neighborhood there are no sidewalks. The nearest grocery store is more than 3 miles away.

    I spent a couple days in New Orleans earlier this month. We left the airport on a bus and either walked or took the trolley everywhere we went. The exercise was phenomenal and the freedom of moving around without the burden of parking and traffic was liberating.

    Unfortunately, I’m stuck with a car under my current set of circumstances. Maybe I should revisit this when the real estate markets thaw and can consider a move.

    • My car makes me money too but if my circumstances were to change I would consider giving up my car. I have gone without a car in the past when it was reasonable to do so. Since my wife and I share a car I consider that is somewhat of a compromise.


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