After all our – very much enjoyed and appreciated – discussions here about frugality and simple living, I decided to tell you a bit about my car-less experience. That's right – I don't have a car; we never had a vehicle when I was growing up, either.
Not having a car is uncommon; while I live in an area where public transportation is convenient enough, and much cheaper than car maintenance, not having your own vehicle is practically unheard of. During my college years, most of my fellow students had their own cars, but I – remembering we have always done well enough without it, and not being ready for the financial investment – decided to try to do without for the time being. The results?
Being car-less kept me debt-free.
Most of my friends who insisted on having cars during college either ended up accumulating debt, or working many long, exhausting hours, or both, at the same time complaining for the money they had to pay for gas and other car-related expenses. I always had a much smaller side income for my own needs (giving lessons and translating), out of which I put a considerable sum into savings. I'm debt-free, and intend to keep it that way.
Being car-less gave me more time.
The roads are the same roads, and the traffic is the same, too; I spent many hours in traffic, and because I wasn't the driver, I could use that time for doing something useful and productive: reading, studying, praying, doing needlework. Usually I completed at least one book a week; and these crochet pieces were completed during bus rides. As a matter of fact, there were months when my rides to and from university were the only occasion when I could dedicate time to reading and crafts! (That tells a lot about the crazy intensity of our study program).
Being car-less keeps me in better shape.
There's no escaping from it; not having a car forces me to overcome my natural laziness and move around more. I walk a lot, and normally almost all of my errands can be arranged within walking distance. Even if I use public transportation, typically I still have to walk a bit. True, it takes more time – but I think it's worth it; it's a great way to incorporate exercise into my daily routine!
To sum it up, not having a car is certainly a sacrifice of convenience in some ways, and I realize there are areas where relying on public transportation is impossible. But in my case, being car-less (or should I say, car-free?), has been a blessing more than a burden. If there's no way you could give up having your own vehicle, maybe you could still cut down on its usage, and walk whenever you can. I wish more people took the time to consider it – it's a major money-saver, and healthier for both you and the environment.