The Benefits and Drawbacks of Being CarLess

We’ve been living without a car for about four years, ever since we moved to Asia. Living without a car is liberating in some ways and a drawback in others. Is it worth switching to greener modes of transport, or do you have to absolutely live with a car? Read on to find out more.

North America is a car culture and if you don’t live in a city, getting around town can be complicated if you don’t own a car. That being said, we’ve always lived in cities, from smaller ones to bigger ones. Most towns have a public transport system of some kind and we’ve enjoyed our morning commute, if it’s not too long. Anything between 15 to 40 minutes is bearable. Anything longer eats up too much of your time. Taking a bike to work is also a good idea, if the commute isn’t too long.

Subways and buses work pretty well all over the world. In the most congested cities of the world, you wouldn’t want to own a car. Yes, grocery shopping can most definitely be a pain, but it can be managed, thanks to public transport, roommates, or scooters.

There are many benefits of not owning a car. First off, you don’t have any car payments or insurance to pay. That saves you quite a bundle every single month. You don’t really care too much about fluctuating gas prices either. Armed with a subway or bus pass, you’ll enjoy a slightly longer but more relaxed commute. If driving stresses you out in the mornings, this could be an interesting switch. Also, you’ll never get stuck in a traffic jam again, which is pretty cool.

Not having a car complicates matters, especially if you’ve got colder months in your part of the country. Heavy snowfalls mean that you can’t take your bike, your motorcycle, or your scooter. This means that you’re dependent on public transport and getting rides. While public transport is generally good, it can get complicated if you go out at night. You’ll end up having a curfew of some sort to catch the last train home. Luckily, there are some night buses that usually make the situation bearable. If you’re planning on buying larger items or picking up stuff, you’ll need a friend who has a car.

One of the main benefits of using public transport is that you have some extra time to work, relax, or sleep. I usually spent time reading or working on my morning commute. It’s easy to get some stuff done in these lost minutes.

[images via Wash Cycle, Silver Stream, Top 10, Mental Health Nurse Lecturers’ Tea Party]

Author: range

I'm mathematician/IT strategist/blogger from Canada living in Taipei.

2 thoughts on “The Benefits and Drawbacks of Being CarLess”

  1. Hello Range.

    Thank You for Your interesting post. These kinds of things are widely talked in my country, mainly by so called “Green people”, who are living in the center of our capital Helsinki. They do not have any idea about real life outside Helsinki. They only see our world from their point of view, not understanding that there is a different kind of life outside towns/ cities.

    You are a lucky guy when You do not need car! Congratulations! In my family of two persons, we have two cars. Although I am retired from my air line company, I still need car. Why so? My wife is working still and her daily working trip is 84 kilometers totally. The nearest bus stop is situated at four kilometers from our home. To get to her job by bus, she has change twice busses and the whole travelling time would be one way 2hours 50 minutes. By her car one way 40 minutes. One problem is also, that there are no bus connection so early she has to go. No go, as You see.

    When I worked, I was many years working (86 kilometers to and fro) in shifts, late night, early morning, sometimes nights, no busses leaving then I should have needed them. So I needed car, sure. Not whatever car, but a very reliable one. When my wife is in her job, I need my car, because without my car I‘d be like a prisoner in my home, just waiting until she is back.

    We have winter. Many times, when I had to go to my job, I had to shovel snow one hour that I could reach the road. This is valid yet today, because my wife is working. Last winter, I had to wake up few times at 5 of clock in the morning just shovel the way free for her. Shovelling is a hard job, which requires a shower after it.

    Now one might say that we can move to cities/towns. Yes, that right. But we removed to country side from Helsinki and we real “barefoot from Helsinki”. Why? We wanted a better level of living. Apartments are expensive in cities and with that price we could found in Helsinki in a small two-room flat, we could bought here a big detached house, quite big one with separate garage and with two stores, one for gardening tools and one for firewood.

    When living at country side we can enjoy our morning coffee at our terrace, admiring our flowers in our garden and listen to birds’ birdsong. Within 200 meters we have a trail track to hike. Here the air is very fresh and clean to respire, so it is very healthful.

    What about when You’ll get married? Do You have any ideas that Your children should know that outside city there a green world to be explored? Cities and countryside have great advantages, both in their way.

    Do cars have any advantages? I say that yes. The world of cars is wonderful. One has to find it and then it is enjoyable. To me, although I am a senior citizen, driving fast is my “extreme game”. To drive fast is an experience with which no theme park cannot compete. Think how is the feeling when You are driving Your car at the speed of 250km/h. You cannot really imagine it, before You do so. In my country I cannot drive fast, but in Germany yes. There are no speed limits on freeways. Every two year I travel there just to enjoy driving fast with my wife. That’s life!!!

    Then few words about time spent when driving to and fro work. During that time one can learn things. Myself bettered my Spanish and French when driving to work, just by listening them during hundred and hundred hours. So did my wife and is still doing. She is bettering her German, now during ten years. Guess, if she can already fulfill German crosswords already? So when driving to learn languages is fine innovation. Of course this is possible when travelling by train, by subway, or by trams or when bicycling as You do. I guess that You do so, not listening only music, but learning things while bicycling.

    So here were some of my thoughts. Let’s live and enjoy our life, wherever we live and let’s respect other type of living of other people. So I do.

    Happy bicycling.

  2. Hi Sartenada, thanks for your great comment.

    Yes I’m married, but my wife doesn’t drive (yet). We’ll be moving to America soon and will have to buy a car again. Although I’ll probably buy myself a motorcycle before anything else.

    If you have kids, you need cars, that’s a given.

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