Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Life without a Car

This is Penny speaking, your host for Needs vs Wants Wednesday, where we dare you to question the status quo. Is that a want or a need? Necessary for survival? Needs vs Wants Wednesday, rethinking norms, appreciating what we have, and occasionally even learning to go without.

Today's topic?
The car. Definitely a necessity if you're not living in city center, right?

Some might be incredulous that not only does my family of four not have a car, we also have no plans on getting one in the forseeable future.
Life Without a Car- part one of four.

Why No Car?

It's expensive and a waste, in my not so humble opinion.

Car Expenses

Purchasing a car is outrageously expensive, especially where I live. To buy a car locally costs nearly $30,000 dollars for the cheapest car on the market, and used cars are not much cheaper. (I realize that prices differ based on location, but this is why I chose not to have a car.)
Gas. The price of gasoline around here has gone up to $6.65 per gallon. At the rate of filling up the tank three times per month (as seems to be typical around here), that's nearly $75 dollars per month on gasoline alone!
Insurance is another $85 per month.
Emissions tests. Another $250 yearly making that 20 dollars per month.
Maintenance. If you spend a lot of anew car you can hope to pay fewer maintenance costs, but if you're looking to save at the used car dealership, you'll most likely be paying hundreds a year in regular maintenance, like oil changes, flat tires, and just general fine tuning, not to mention hit and runs, scratches, or accidents that were deemed your fault.
Extra Expenses. Traffic tickets, parking tickets, and parking fees are just some of these extras.

New Cars. Cars are one of the few things the average person owns that costs so much yet deprecates in value so drastically so quickly. Money is better spent on other things, in my opinion, lie buying a house, which at least builds you equity.

Driver's License. Locally, you may only practice driving with an instructor and there are 28 required lessons before you're allowed to take the driver's test. At 27 dollars a pop per lesson, those lessons alone cost a minimum of 756 dollars, provided that you don't need any extra practice time. Once you've taken the required lessons, the paperwork and everything else involved in getting the license (assuming you pass the test the first time) costs an extra 275 dollars minimum. I do know that these prices are not applicable in the US, but I mention them because this is one of the biggest factor why we aren't planning on getting a car- there's no one in our family who can legally drive it! (I do have a valid American driver's license that only cost me 100 dollars to get, but it is illegal for me to drive locally with it now that I'm a permanent resident here.)

Cars Promote Spending. In addition to all the other money sucking aspects of owning a car, when it is easier to get around, it is easy to go to money wasting venues. Its the same idea as only going on large shopping trips instead of running in for what you need- when you're there already, its tempting to just load up your cart with nonsense, or in this case, pop in to a fast food joint or go get an ice cream. 
When you have no car, you calculate outings to use your time most wisely, making them less often, making wasteful spending less frequent.

Other Reasons

Pollution and Oil Reliance. I wrote about these two in more depth over here- "Why bother conserving?"
Congestion. There are too many cars on the road, especially in city centers, to the extent that some places, like london, started charging a congestion fee. No need to add to the congestion when there are other viable alternatives.
Danger. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the world. It is much safer to travel on larger vehicles like buses than to travel in your own personal vehicle.
Laziness. I'll be shot for saying this, but I think having a car makes people more lazy. Instead of walking down the block to get something, they hop into the car and drive there instead. This also plays a part in why so many are not in shape- they prefer to drive than walk.

Nope, cars are definitely a want, not a need. How do I manage without a car, and what are the drawbacks of  not having a car? That's for the next two posts in this series.

Do you feel your car is a necessity? How much would you guess you spend on your car each year? If you were in my place, do you think you'd get a car, or would these reasons be enough to deter you?

Life Without A Car- The Series
Why No Car?
Downsides of Not Having a Car- Coming Soon

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