Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Newly carless

Two weeks ago, I sold my car. It had been legally out of commission since failing emissions at the end of July, and I stopped driving it after that. I have not replaced it yet, and don't have any immediate plans to do so.

This makes me one of five housemates, all adults, all licensed drivers, none of whom own a car. Yet this was not a decision based on urban or environmental idealism. I was just sick of spending money on the thing. It needed work immediately, probably a thousand bucks' worth or more. I didn't use it much in my day-to-day life -- mostly as a convenient way to get to work on rainy days, and occasionally to port the groceries home. I don't really need it for work, at least for the foreseeable future. And the bulk of my social life is centered around the East Side, where everything's in easy walking or biking distance.

The value I got from it was simply not equalling the value I was having to put into it. For the moment, the equation holds up for getting a replacement car, too. That may change when winter rolls around, but we'll see.

For now, my short-term debt has instantly evaporated thanks to the money from selling it and the refund on my insurance; I no longer have to budget out hundreds of dollars for endless maintenance and repairs; and I no longer care about every little noise from the alley that used to be somebody potentially breaking into it while it was parked.

Do I miss the mobility? Sure. Most of all I regret the inability to convey other people. When a friend needed a ride from the train station, I was only able to help because one of my housemates happened to have a borrowed car available.

I've made a few adjustments to my routines, such as more frequent stops at the grocery store on the way home from work. I more willingly spend money on things like bike repairs or cab fare -- they're a lot cheaper than the endless whammies of gas, insurance, repairs, maintenance, and registration. I have to limit how I pack for my weekly trips down to Chicago. I've learned how to bungee cord a lot of oddly-shaped items to my carry rack.

I may replace the car come winter, if the need arises; I would definately miss being able to zip around the city with my camera, which gets tough on bike after November or so. Still, with Zipcar coming to the East Side, I just might be able to get along without a car of my own.

1 comment:

Trina said...

What did you hear? When is Zipcar coming? I haven't heard anything yet!