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Day 105: The car thing



So, one of my favourite bloggers, Fabulously Fru-girl, just posted today about her car free life (so far). And I started commenting on her blog and realized that I haven't done a blog post about my own car free life, which is extremely frugal.

The thing is, I never chose this lifestyle. I just grew up with it.

Yes, friends, this is a story featuring the most popular people I have ever blogged about, my parents.

* not my parents.

So, my family never had a car when I was growing up. I always wished we did, because when I visited my friends we got to drive in cars which was like magic. My favourite friend's Mom's car was this wood-panelled station wagon where I got to sit facing backwards in the wagon part (I think this is now illegal, but it wasn't in the mid-1980s).

Isn't this everybody's dream car?


Anyway, the reason we never had a car was basically for money reasons, as far as I know. We lived close to the university, which meant we were close to major bus routes. Downtown was in walking distance, and anything else was bus-able. If we had to go somewhere far away, such as the airport, we got a taxi. My father - who I will blog a lot more about another day - always said that getting five taxi rides a year was was cheaper than owning a car.

Taxi rides are also conducive to musical theatre singing.

Anyway, so I grew up without a car and so the car-free lifestyle is instinctive to me. To the point that I don't actually have a driver's license (not for lack of trying - I have, at last count, failed my driver's test five times). Several of my friends I grew up with also don't have driver's licenses, or only got them in their mid-to-late-20s. It just wasn't a neighbourhood or a city where getting a driver's license was crucial to teenage life success.

Lots of finance bloggers are like, "Don't have a car!" which is hard for people who live, say, in the suburbs. Or who live more than a 30-minute bike ride from work. Or who have children. But for me, it's not difficult at all. I can't actually imagine living with a car, because that's never been my lifestyle.

The funny thing is that, I always wanted to be a normal family with a car and stuff. But now it turns out that, like with so many other things, my frugal parents were simply ahead of the times.

How do I buy groceries? Small amounts, when I run out of stuff. I can buy a bag or two and carry them home or bring them home on the bus.

How do I go on holiday? Take the bus or fly.

How do I get to work? I bike (from spring through fall), walk or bus.

How do I get to the big-box stores on the outskirts of town? I don't go to them.

It's really not a challenge for me. I've set up a lifestyle based around walking, bussing, and biking. Sometimes there are places I'd like to go that are out of the way, but I can usually find a way to get there (going with friends, biking, bus, etc.)

So it's the kind of frugal thing that isn't a challenge for me at all. It's just how I live!

4 comments:

L-A said...

I'm car-free as well, but only sort of by choice. I grew up with cars (one of them was a snazzy wood paneled station wagon and another was a K-car - klassy!) and because I lived in a weird suburban/rural town in Nfld, getting my license at 17 was of utmost importance. It really was freedom.

Anyway, flash forward, I didn't have access to a car once I was in university and when I was done, there just wasn't the cash. There have been a few times when we probably could have gotten a lease on a car, but it's really for the best that we didn't. I made it through school without a loan this year and that wouldn't have happened if I had car payments.

All that said, I'll probably get a car someday. But I think having gone so many years car free, I'll be less reliant on it and will still use the bus and my bike.

incurable hippie said...

I also don't drive. I live in a city with very good public transport, and I wouldn't be able to afford to drive, plus being disabled I would maybe need an adapted car which would cost even more. I get cabs when I need to, but mostly I am glad that I am not contributing to the pollution and oil dependence that car use involves, as well as the financial costs. Yay for car-free!

Niki said...

We made the switch to be one car family almost two years ago. It works out now because we live "downtown" and my husbands work is only 5 blocks away. Library, grocery store and post office are all within walking distance, not to mention a couple cool thrift stores. They are about the only retail stores around besides walmart. I don't like walmart.

We live in a very very very small town, (I can't emphasize that enough) it would be close to impossible with kids to be totally car free, but we don't drive a lot.

Annabelle said...

Thanks for the comments, you guys. I really think that a lot of people who grew up with cars are just used to it, and it takes a fairly big lifestyle makeover to switch to buses and bikes.

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