Tuesday, September 24, 2013

5 Ways My Life Is Better Without A Car

My husband and I went to Tahoe this weekend. It was awesome -- our dog acted like a puppy (and not like an 8 year old fart like she sometimes does!)

Tahoe was also exciting because 1) it snowed (well, it didn't stick -- but boy, talk about moving past fall right along into winter!) and 2) we drove there in a car.

Um, excuse me, Ms. I'm-from-LA? What's so exciting about driving in a car?

Well! I'm glad you asked. When Matt and I moved to San Francisco, we sold off all 3 (!) of our cars. As a born and raised Los Angelena, I was terrified about the idea. I just knew I was going to feel land-locked, stuck, totally unable to get anywhere.

But let me tell you, life has been peachy. And here's why:

1. I never have to find a place to park.
In the Time Before Carlessness, I used to get SO frustrated about parking. I would get somewhere early, only to spend a half hour looking for a street spot. Or I'd spend a whole paycheck on a spot in a parking structure. Plus, I got too many parking tickets to count. Now when I come home from work, I get off the bus and walk to my door. It's basically valet parking -- thank you, Mr. and Ms. Bus Driver.

2. The people-watching on the bus cannot be beat.
Or, to say that in a more heart-centered way, there is something about simply traveling with a bunch of strangers -- sometimes with your face in their sweaty armpit -- that reminds you that we're all pretty much the same. Public transportation is the great equalizer. (And that's one of the many reasons why I don't like all the private corporate busses in San Francisco. But I digress ...)

3. Life is cheaper.
With a car, I had to pay for gas and insurance, which amortized to a couple hundred bucks a month. Between Muni and the occasional taxi or rideshare (very occasional), my transportation costs me under $100 a month. More money for eating and clothes! (Or my 401K, if I'm feeling mature.)

4. I'm forced to be more deliberate about what I bring with me every day.
With a car, I always carried an enormous bag (or two) with me to work. I also treated my car as a locker room -- my trunk was always full of random stuff (a piano keyboard for at least 6 months; lots and lots of sheet music; a bag meant for Goodwill). Now, I carry pretty much only what I need, which all fits in a small purse (which is best 'cause my bus is usually Standing Room Only by the time I get on). Sometimes I have a yoga mat slung on my back or an extra bag, but it's always 100% carried by me.

5. I don't have to keep my eyes on the road.
By not driving, I reclaim at least an hour of my life every day! Not only does that mean I can read a book (or respond to work emails), it also means I don't have to stress about city driving. I never realized quite how much driving stresses me out until I stopped having to do it. If I never have to drive in the city again, I just might life. My hat is off to our San Francisco Muni bus drivers who do it every dang day.

Have you ever gone carless? What did/do you think?


Lix Hewett said...

I can't compare being carless to having a car because I've never had a car. Or, my father used to have one, but I don't remember my family using it that much. I've sort of wished I had one before because a) big purse and b) would have come in handy when I was going to college. Also handy for not having to carry luggage all the way to the airport on trains/etc. But if I did have it I'd only use it on occasion, so it wouldn't be worth the insurance, possibly.

Anyway, I can't afford the driving lessons and license.

Helene said...

I think I would do just fine in life without a car!!! i hate hate driving!

Sam @ reddyorknot.blogspot.com said...

OMG snow?!?! It's still in the 80s here so that is blowing my mind!