/ Motoring

Could you get by without a car?

When the lease on my car came up I decided to give the car-free life a try. Do you need one as much as you think you do?

With emissions scandals hitting the headlines and a lot of conversations around poor air quality, it got me wondering whether I (and my family) really needed a car to go about our day-to-day lives.

After some lengthy discussions with my partner, we decided to take the plunge and go for the car-free life. Here are our experiences so far.

Shopping and day trips

With online shopping being so easy and accessible, the weekly shop was something we didn’t have to worry too much about (as long as you don’t mind someone else picking the items for you – we’ve had a few interesting sized carrots delivered!)

Fortunately the local shops are within walking distance, too. So if we do run out of anything essential, we know it won’t be an issue.

Day trips on the other hand required a bit more discussion. It’s a big one for me, as I love getting out of the city and into that fresh country air (plus hot chooclate and a scone, please!)

Without a car we’re severely restricted on where we can get to, meaning seaside trips and countryside walks are out of the question without some advanced planning.

Is a car better in an emergency?

We’re lucky enough not to have had any emergencies in the family recently, but it does make you appreciate the peace of mind that comes with having a car when you need to get somewhere fast.

For example, if I had to rush to my son’s school in an emergency, I’m not so sure I’d like the idea of being stuck on a delayed train!

My verdict on going car-less

So, will we go back to being car owners any time soon? Maybe not quite yet.

We’ve found we can get by now with little bother, but it’s not without a downside – it does severely restrict what we do (especially spontaneously) and, I have to admit, I am missing those countryside scones.

We are lucky that with living in London we do have convenient transport on the doorstep – I’m not sure we could have made the same decision if we had to walk miles to a railway station.

But what about you? Would you consider a car-free life? And do you have any advice for anyone who may be considering it? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to discuss the pros and cons, and my experiences so far!

Comments

I’ve never owned a car. I was initially working in London. Public transport was available to everywhere central and my family gave me lifts to get early morning flights or to get to Weddings in out of the way places. Of late I find people a lot less inclined to offer lifts as they assume you have a car and I feel reluctant to ask. It has hampered my choice of jobs since (as previously mentioned) public transport to industrial areas where many shops etc now are is abysmal. I encourage anyone younger who is taking driving lessons to persevere, as provision of social amenities is now designed by people who assume everyone has access to a car and I can’t see this changing unless central government makes a big push in a new direction.

Sharon hinds says:
20 February 2019

I have agree to some extent, the main thing i would miss about not having a car would be the lovely drives to random country villages and being able to up and go to places that take your fancy. However, i have put so much weight on since having a car! which has had some health effects for me. So, i think i could live without a car, there are always trains and rambling groups i can join for that scenic fix as for shopping, you can go the stores nowadays and get it delivered…and take a nice stroll home.

A decent battery assisted bicycle and a set of weather-proof clothing may be a good investment. It would also be good for our health and fitness!
The major supermarkets do convenient delivery services, but we do have a problem with someone else choosing our fruit, veggies and meat. But that’s not an insurmountable problem.
We don’t do a big annual mileage – maybe less than 6,000 a year, so dumping the car and using bicycles maybe a positive change in life style.
In direct outgoings, it saves almost £2,000 a year in fuel, insurance and running costs, but it also saves the invisible depreciation, probably another £6,000+ a year.
The verdict is out at the moment, but it is definitely something to consider.

I agree with most of your points, Terfar, but cannot understand depreciation of £6000+ a year. Cars last a lot longer than they used to and mine would have a large negative value by now on that basis.

DerekP says:
9 March 2019

Cars like mine, bought used for less than £6000, certainly don’t depreciate at £6000 per year.

I wonder what it would take to get more people cycling, on electric bikes or walking, instead of using the car. Maybe some financial incentive.