The last 3 months I have been living a car free life. I first explored the cost of owning a car when my parents needed their car back.
Since giving my parent’s back their car in early January, I’ve been taking public transportation or walking for all my usual tasks, which include:
- Getting to and from work;
- Getting to and from volleyball games
- Grocery shopping;
- Visiting BF downtown; and
- Visiting my parents out in the suburbs.
I also car pooled (read: got rides) from friends to the nearest subway stops or to my destination (if it was along their way), whenever it was convenient for them.
Thoughts on Being Car Free
Perhaps I could have picked a better season to dive into this “car free” business, but life happens :).
Initially, I dreaded the thought of walking to and from the bus, and sit through traffic as the bus stopped at every. single. stop. Or I would dread when I missed a bus/train and trigger the domino effect or messing up the meticulous planned travel itinerary. But it wasn’t that bad!
Sure, there was that 3.5 hour commute from Hamilton to Toronto on a Sunday after a no-show city bus, which lead to me missing the GO train (domino effect in full effect here).
30 minutes to work
On average, I took about 30 minutes to get to work, including walking to and from the bus stop (about 700m). The bus comes pretty often during rush hour, most of the time, and the bus ride itself is only about 20 minutes.
On the other hand, if I were to drive, I would take about 15 minutes. In the winter, it would take me an extra 5 minutes to clean off all the snow from the car, so this is definitely a win.
If I was going to volleyball after work, I would have need to make sure I packed my gym clothes. If I was going to stay at BF’s that night, I make sure I bring an extra lunch for the next day. If I was expecting to stay late, I try to bring a dinner, as well.
I’ve learned to pack a small make-up bag, and usually have that in my purse, just in case.
Sometimes, I find it overwhelming, having to think 2 – 4 days in advance and plan what what I need to bring with me. But, things have worked out pretty well, so far.
It’s Less Flexible Getting Around
I admit, it has been tedious getting to volleyball (50 min bus commute vs 25 min drive), and even more tedious getting to see my folks in the suburbs (2 hr bus commute vs 40 min drive). Pain. Ful.
Instead of just picking something up on my way home, I either pick up my groceries on weekends or at the corner Italian grocery store. Since I don’t have a Metro pass (I use tokens), it would cost me two fares to make a stop.
Living a car-free life is certainly do-able, especially in the city – and even where I live – at the outskirts. Especially in the summers, walking and busing can be supplemented with biking for more exercise. Living car-free requires planning, exercise and being patient.
Having said all that, I do miss having a car. But even though I miss it, I have also accepted it and learned to deal with it.
If there was an opportunity where I can have a free car… well, that’s a post for another day. 😉
What are your thoughts on being car-free? What did you miss most about not having a car?