This month marks four years since we got rid of our car. As you may recall, it was unplanned and was originally supposed to be temporary, but looking back, it was one of the best decisions we’ve made. Not only has it saved us over a hundred thousand shekels by this point, it has been great for our health, both mental and physical, and has been great for the environment as well. While we both have valid drivers licenses and are grateful that we CAN drive (which makes us be able to rent cars as needed), neither of us actually enjoys driving, filling up gas, getting the car cleaned, spending time at the mechanic, finding parking, or getting stuck in traffic. While we worried at the time that giving up our car would take away from our independence, we actually feel that we have gained a new sense of freedom.
So how do we do it?
We are fortunate that we live in a great neighborhood that is constantly developing and improving. While many people leave the neighborhood for services elsewhere, we do as much as possible locally and feel blessed with all of the amenities our neighborhood offers. We have grocery shopping, schools, ganim (preschools), several playgrounds, a kupat cholim (health clinic), a matnas (community center) with chugim (extracurricular clubs and classes) all within a 10 minute walk from our home. Since we moved in six years ago, our neighborhood has added an indoor/outdoor pool and gym complex, three new bus lines (in addition to the two here when we moved in), a bakery, and community run bar and events venue.
Our offices are both outside of the neighborhood but are accessible by public transportation and one of us is lucky enough to be able to walk to work if she chooses, which she often does. We also each occasionally work from home. And by relying on public transportation, we end up walking a lot more than we did before, which is great. You notice a lot more details when you’re walking, get your adrenalin pumping, and get to stop and talk to people too.
We also do huge online grocery orders sometimes, which not only saves time, it also helps us avoid impulse buys. And if we’re in a hurry somewhere or traveling late at night, we’ll pay for a cab.
There are some downsides, of course, but they don’t affect our day-to-day routine. The biggest challenges arise when we want to be spontaneous, especially when we leave the city. What are are the public transportation schedules for that day? How are we going to schlep all of our stuff? Is it worth renting a car? We’d also have a hard time replicating this lifestyle if we ever wanted to move out of the big city and live somewhere more suburban and more spacious. One of the reasons we decided to stay in the city when we moved six years ago (and still had a car) was for this very reason. Had we moved to a smaller town outside of the city, we may have had to buy a second car, which would have offset any savings we might have had on an apartment. Little did we know that by staying in the city, we’d end up not having a car at all. 🙂
No one knows what the future will bring and it is entirely possible that we will own a car again at some point. But right now, this is a great lifestyle for us.
Can I get rid of my car?
If you are thinking about getting rid of your car, downsizing from two cars to one, or using your car less, consider the following things to decide if it is for you:
- What is public transportation like where you live? How often does it run? Where does it go? How much longer does it take to get to your destination by public transportation than by car?
- Do you have any neighbors traveling to the same place you are who you can carpool with?
- What amenities are available in your immediate neighborhood or nearby? Perhaps you were driving to a gym or a chug in another neighborhood that would be difficult to get to by bus. Can you find a similar opportunity locally or on your bus route?
- If you work from the office every day, is working from home at least part-time an option?
- Which online supermarkets deliver to your area?
- If you have kids in school, where is their school? How does pickup work? How do they get there and back?
- Do you drive on Shabbat? The lack of public transportation on Shabbat (in most cities) can make things tricky.
- How much money would this move save you per month? Per year? (The answer is a lot. Thousands.) What would you do with that money? Invest it? Pay down debt?
How many cars do you have? Have you ever considered downsizing? Why or why not?
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