Increasingly around the country, there has been a move away from car ownership, and there are quite a few reasons for this. More people are interested in reducing their carbon footprint, and there have also been startups focusing on making it easier to live without a car, such as Uber. Bike-sharing is also a hot new trend in the United States.
If you’re thinking about it, the following are some benefits of life without a car and tips to make it work.
What Are the Advantages of a Car-Free Life?
With a car-free life, probably the biggest advantage is the fact that you’re saving money. You’re saving on the car itself, but also gas, maintenance, insurance, and potentially the costs of tolls and parking as well.
AAA estimates the cost of owning a car is around $6,100 on average.
For people who have the option to live without a car, it can be less stressful. For example, if you’re taking public transportation, you don’t have to sit in traffic or worry about how late it’s going to take you if you’re driving in circles looking for parking.
As was touched on, some people are opting for a car-free life because they want to be greener. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says driving a car is the most polluting thing the average American does on any given day.
If you go car-free, it reduces your carbon footprint and your contribution to smog and polluted rain.
The Downsides of Going Car-Free
Of course, going car-free may have its downsides or not be feasible at all for some people.
Some cities make it easy to live without a car because they have public transportation and things like bike trails. If you live in a suburban area or a rural area, you may not be able to get by without a car, or doing so could be very logistically challenging.
How Can You Get Around If You Don’t Have a Car?
If you’ve made a decision that you think you can be car-free, how can you make it work?
Public transportation is usually the best option if you’re ready to go car-free. Public transportation in big cities tends to be pretty good, although this isn’t the case everywhere.
While we think of the subway as the main form of public transportation, there are other options, and nearly every city and town has a bus system that can be a great way to get around if you don’t own a car.
Bus transportation tends to be fairly reliable and inexpensive.
Many cities and towns are incorporating options like light rail and trams to their public transportation options, even in southern cities where you wouldn’t normally think about public transportation being available.
Another option, even if you don’t have great public transportation options, is car-sharing.
With car-sharing services such as Zipcar, you can use a car when you need it and not pay for the times you aren’t using it. You get many of the benefits of a car, without the overhead.
There are a lot of other options outside of Zipcar nowadays, and you can pay a membership fee and get flexible usage. You can use the company’s app, find a car near you, use your membership card, and you’re ready to go.
A similar option to car-sharing is bike-sharing. Cities and towns around the country are setting up kiosks where you can go, rent a bicycle and return it to the kiosk that’s closest to you.
The specific way these work can depend on exactly what you want. You might be able to get a flexible monthly membership for example, if you think you’ll use bike-sharing a lot, or you could pay per hour.
Biking where you need to go can not only save you money but also help you get healthier.
If you only have to go short distances, there’s always scooter-sharing too.
Finally, ridesharing is car- and bike-sharing in some ways with a few differences. Ride-sharing company examples are Uber and Lyft.
You can get a ride on-demand, and it can be fairly expensive, but usually much less so than owning a car.
Even if you live in a suburban area, you may not need to get out and about that often, so ridesharing could be a good option for you.
If you can walk most places, ridesharing might be good for longer distances, such as to the airport, or nights out when you don’t want to walk alone in the dark.