Deciding to live without a car, also known as living car-free, can save you a considerable amount of money, improve your lifestyle, and benefit the environment. A car-free lifestyle works best for people who live in suburban or urban areas with access to most of life's necessities. It takes planning, but many people can successfully live without a car.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Things you need
- Shopping cart
- Local map
Estimate the cost of owning and operating your car. Gasoline and insurance are obvious costs. Depreciation and lost time due to traffic jams are less obvious. See Resources below for help in calculating your true cost of car ownership.
Buy a map of your city from a local convenience or discount store. Make sure it is a local map and not a state map.
Locate your home. Place the point of a compass on the approximate location of your home and draw a circle with a 2-mile radius.
Mark the location of all the offices, merchants and schools you deal with within the 2-mile circle. Identify the best routes to walk or bicycle to these locations.
Locate other places you visit frequently that are outside the 2-mile radius. Decide if you need public transportation or a taxi to reach those locations. Often, destinations even 5 or 10 miles away can be reached by bicycle.
Purchase a lightweight shopping cart to pull when walking and saddlebags for your bicycle. You will use these to transport items.
Call your local grocer and pharmacy and find out if they deliver. Many merchants accept phoned, emailed, or faxed orders for delivery.
Take advantage of Internet shopping. Most merchandise can be purchased online at reasonable prices.
Commit to walking or cycling to one new place each week. In just a few weeks or months, you will find yourself a completely car-free person.
Sell your vehicle. Invest the proceeds and enjoy your healthy new lifestyle.
Tips and warnings
- In general, the final cost of car ownership is twice the purchase price.
- If your place of employment is too far away for walking or cycling and is not reachable by public transportation, consider moving closer to your job or finding a job closer to home. The cost savings of not owning a car could make this a rational choice.
- A bicycle costs less than a new set of car tires. You may even find someone who will give you a bike for free.
- When cycling, be sure you and your family take safety precautions such as wearing helmets and reflective clothing.
- Visit your doctor to be sure you are healthy enough to start walking or biking a mile or more.
- Be aware of the weather when choosing to walk or cycle. You don't want to get caught in a hailstorm a mile and a half from the nearest shelter.