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Could I live without a car?

February 15, 2008

I spent about 45 minutes the other evening contemplating life without my car. My car is not new. I own it outright, and is probably worth around $3000. I’m not a car person, I don’t love my car, nor do I hate it. It works. But what if I could do with out it? I decided to find out, what does owning my car cost me?

  • Gas: $120/mo (estimated)
  • Insurance: $90/mo
  • Oil Changes: $15/mo (assuming every 3 months at about $45)
  • Registration: $10/mo (assuming biannual smog check and licensing costs of about $130)
  • Repairs: $40/mo (based on last years total of about $450 in misc repairs…)
  • Total: $275/mo (I’m not including misc costs of “wear and tear” or depreciation of the car. I already paid for the car, it won’t really affect my cash flow.) Wow, that seems like a lot!

The next logical thing to calculate is, of course, what would the costs be if I didn’t own my car?

  • For work, I could easily walk several blocks on each end to the bus stop and ride for half price through a work discount. Total cost? $15 each month.
  • I looked into the option of a flexcar, which I probably would have to use occasionally for day trips or anything not accessible easily by public transportation. I assume I’d use at least $50 worth of it, which is one full day or 10 hours each month.
  • My boyfriend lives about 7 miles away, which on the highway typically takes 15-20 minutes. In rush hour traffic, it takes about 45-50 minutes. To visit him, I could take the bus. He has taken the bus to my place before, and I think it is $1.50 each way. The major downside is that it takes an hour and a half in traffic, and probably 45 minutes at other times. Lets assume (conservatively) I’d take the bus two times a week. That is $6/week or $24/mo.

I think that would be the major dollar expenses. That only adds up to $89 each month, a savings of almost $200!!

However, what is holding me back is the time and convenience factor. Could I really live without my car? If I lived with (or really close to) my boyfriend, it would be more doable. Even then, I think it would take me an hour to get to/from work opposed to 15 minutes. Is an hour and a half each work day worth $13.75 each work day? It probably is. That doesn’t even include time saved visiting the boyfriend, getting groceries, or going pretty much anywhere.

I’ve been to Manhattan and I loved taking the Metro there. I lived in Hong Kong for awhile, which had the most amazing public transit system I’ve ever seen. I can do public transit. But in LA, the buses are slow, the trains just don’t go where I need them to, and everyone loves their cars. So for now, I’ll keep the car. However, I think I’ll try to cut back on unnecessary driving in hopes of reducing my gas budget.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2008 2:31 pm

    Try including depreciation for the car and the cost of car ownership goes up a lot. For us it is more of a convenience. Actually, I’d really like to see it go. I think this would mean less frivolous trips to the store for snacks during weak moments as well. Thus life without a car would be better albeit less convenient.

  2. ruckerz permalink
    February 19, 2008 9:03 am

    $40 for an oil change?! Do it yourself, it’s super easy, and costs you about 15$ for oil and filter.

  3. sjean permalink*
    February 19, 2008 9:13 am

    Do it myself? No thanks! I’d pay $30 extra dollars every two months to avoid that task, no question! And let’s be real, I don’t go in every 3 months on the dot….

    I don’t like dealing with cars and then… you have to properly dispose of the oil, right?

    Anyway, it was about $30 last time I got one, but I live in a new state now and may have to pay more.

  4. ruckerz permalink
    February 19, 2008 11:46 am

    Perhaps it’s time to call on the boyfriend for a favor! Yes oil disposal is an issue. Here in Colorado, nearly all places that sell oil will take it for recycling.

  5. Jon permalink
    February 24, 2008 2:07 pm

    Walmart does oil changes for like $18, that’s another option to look at.

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