I gave up my car three and a half years ago and have been car-free ever since.
There once was a time when I really loved owning and driving a car. I got my first car before I even turned 16. I held jobs that required me to drive hundreds of miles each week. I commuted across town to work when I lived in a city that was totally sprawled out. I loved several of my cars.
Then I moved to San Francisco. Once I arrived, I found that it’s more of a hassle to own and park a car than it is to get around without one. I gave up my car three and a half years ago and have been car-free ever since.
There are a lot of things that I miss about having a car. Cars represent freedom. Cars are fun to drive. Cars keep you out of the elements when the weather is nasty and you’ve got somewhere to go. But for the most part, I’m really glad that I gave up owning my own car.
Top 10 Reasons to Give Up Your Car
1. You immediately begin to get in better shape. People who don’t use cars have to find other ways of getting around. Walking and biking are the most common solutions. People who use public transportation and cabs tend to walk more than their driving counterparts. This activity makes it really easy to get in better shape just by going about your daily business. That’s one of my favorite things about not owning a car!
2. You spend a whole lot less money. Even though I pay for buses and cabs on a fairly regular basis, I spent a lot less money on transportation without owning a car. Cars cost a fortune in terms of the car itself, insurance, gas, maintenance, and various fees. I don’t ever have to spend that money which means that I’ve got extra money to spend on the other things in life that are of more value and importance to me than owning a car.
3. You contribute to a greener environment. Yes, there are a lot of green cars out there. I write regularly about electric cars and cars that get the best gas mileage. I do think that if you’re going to drive then you should drive a green car. But it’s a whole heck of a lot greener if you just don’t drive at all. If you’re at all concerned about the environment then giving up your car is a great step to make towards a solution to that problem.
4. You get closer to your community. People who don’t drive tend to stick around their own neighborhoods a lot more. They go to local stores more frequently (because they can’t go just once and load up the trunk with a month’s worth of stuff!). They are out and about with others who are walking. These things provide opportunities to get to know your neighbors and foster a stronger sense of community in your area than you may have when you’re a driver.
5. You see more of the world around you and live more in the present moment. There’s a lot going on in the world that you don’t see from your car. When you slow down by walking or biking, you start to notice things. This helps you to live in the moment and to really be present in your own life.
6. You reduce your stress levels. Driving a car is stressful. Problems on the road and problems with the car create causes for ongoing stress in your life. Financial concerns, emergencies on the road, and other common issues related to driving all increase your daily stress. Not having a car avoids those problems. Sure, you sometimes get stressed because the bus is late, but it’s not nearly as persistent of a problem.
7. Not having a car makes driving really fun. One of my favorite things about not owning a car is that I really enjoy every chance that I do get to drive. I do still drive when I go on vacations or day trips. Since this is a rare occurrence, I actually think it’s fun and exciting instead of stressful or exhausting.
8. The cars you do drive are always really great cars. If you don’t own a car then you usually only drive rental cars, borrowed cars, or cars from a car share program like Zipcar. These cars are typically in good shape. They’re clean. They’re fairly new. They’re comfortable. That’s a lot more than I can say about a lot of the cars I had when I was a car owner!
9. You get to be conscious about your choice to drive. One of the things I aim for in my own life is to make conscious decisions rather than just doing things out of habit. When you don’t have a car, you get more focused on the reasons that you might want a car. If you do decide to get one again, it will be a conscious choice that’s rooted in your inner beliefs and needs rather than just something you do because you’ve always done it.
10. You get to set a good example for the future. Cars create a lot of problems for our environment and society. Unfortunately, it’s hard to give yours up because society is structured in such a way that most of us feel that we need our cars to get around. Making a change in your own life will set an example for others to make changes as well.
There are a lot of great cars out there and I continue to be interested in the new cars that are being manufactured today. I’m not anti-car at all. However, I do think that life is generally improved if you are able to live in a city and a situation that makes it possible for you to live without a car. It’s not right for everyone, but it’s definitely offered a lot of benefits to me!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Ogn Dulk on January 29, 2020:
I'm 69 and began driving at 16./ I've always had a car to drive, but now I only drive 1,000 miles or less each year. I live in Napa, CA, a relatively affluent city of 80,000. I live about 2 blocks from a premium grocery store and Target. I live 30 seconds walk away from our brand new community health center.
I took my car in for a smog test expecting the worst because the "service engine soon" light came on a couple of months ago. Repairs could have been $2,000 or more while the state of CA will pay me $1,500 to retire it. I had to make the logical decision, not the emotional one. The car is a 2002 Mitsubishi Gallant that looks terrible but has run perfectly for the 15 years I drove it.
I took my first ever Lyft ride, $9.52 + $2 tip for 2 miles ☹️. OK, maybe only use Lyft for longer rides, familiarize myself with bus routes because I think a single one-way fare is $.80. Maybe I'll get one of those folding carts I'd call "bag lady" carts or bring groceries home in a shopping cart like others do. Bike? Maybe, but I'd probably have to carry it up a flight of stairs. Anyway, the point is that it's not that great of a sacrifice or challenge to get around in a city environment and I'm trading one type of freedom for another. A car for me has never fulfilled a great social life fantasy. It's always been a necessity and something that just eats money without a real payoff.
toomuchmint on June 19, 2012:
Great hub, Kathryn! These are great reasons to give up owning a car. I particularly like #8. Rental cars are always in great shape, compared to privately-owned vehicles. They always have less than 10,000 miles. They're always functional.
Best of all, if anything goes wrong, you can give them back and get a new one! :-)
nextstopjupiter from here, there and everywhere on July 21, 2010:
I never owned a car in my life, and I agree with your reasons to give up a car. Thanks for this hub!
David 470 from Pennsylvania, United States on July 06, 2010:
I agree for people that live in city/towns. People that live in rural should have them though. Or you could always have a car just not use it unless you are going far or really need to
Vanrentals from Dublin, Ireland on June 19, 2010:
Just taken the plunge on a new car for the wife, with a new little one, 3 doors was no longer enough.
Scott Mandrake from Alberta, Canada on June 17, 2010:
I also was driving before I was 16. I had my G2 (canadian) before I was 17 and was driving solo everywhere I could. By the time I was 20 I had driven close to half a million Kilometers. I am now turning 27 with just shy of a million kilometers under my timing belt. If I were to calculate how much of that was actually required driving and get the money back for all that gas, I would be a rich man.
I now repel car ownership with great fervor and only take jobs that are close to home or carpooling communities. All morals aside, not driving is the way to go. The sense of freedom I get from driving doesn't compare to the sense of freedom from not having car debt.
EpicNoob on June 13, 2010:
Loving this hub. I know exactly what you're talking about - I love motorsports, but when you drive every day to commute the excitement definitely wears off. I'd much rather be riding my road bike everywhere.
Vanrentals from Dublin, Ireland on June 10, 2010:
I work in the motor industry and nothing would make me happier than never seeing a car, van or truck ever again.....its my problem really.....
alan on March 13, 2010:
point number 5 is the best reason to give up car ownership.
Mark Patton on March 11, 2010:
There is a company that is catering to this market by offering rental cars to students and others who need a car for just a day or even a few hours. I would love to live in an area where I could give up my car. I would totally benefit from getting more exercise!
nicomp really from Ohio, USA on June 24, 2009:
Good point about not owning but still driving. There seems to be a rental agency in most towns. Those places are happy to set you up with a nice vacation car.
Woodson from Minnesota on June 11, 2009:
We should get used to it now. Gas will be $8 a gallon soon.
Dennis Ebris from Florida on June 10, 2009:
Hello Kathryn, What I find funny about this is that you are doing what I WANT to do :) My wife and I each have our own car because we have to commute for work and school, but believe me, I'm trying to plan so that I won't need a car. I'll let you know how it goes! -Debris
SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on June 10, 2009:
Let me just say I do not have a driver's license, but it was not for want of trying. However, six years ago I said enough is enough when it became apparent my driving is just way too nervous and I do not feel comfortable behind the wheel.
People say driving is freedom, but for me freedom was coming to accept that I do not need a car to get around. Some people think I am limited in my ability to be mobile, but I can walk, take a train, or take a bus. I do not have a car payment like my sister, and I do not have to worry about buying a new car because the engine on my fairly recent model decided to stop working.
I realize many people love their cars, but I have never owned one, and I never felt I was missing out in some fundamental way.
charanjeet kaur from Delhi on June 10, 2009:
I swear by all the points listed down, they are down right practical issues felt by all of us. In india commuting has become such a hassle with the traffic, whereas in europe the traffic rules are too stringent, the parking ticket costs you upto 500 kroners and that hurts real bad when you dont know how the 10 feet radius applied in our early days in sweden.
D Cortez from California on June 10, 2009:
That was a great hub. I don't drve myself and I've always felt bad about it. I feel I should be driving, but I do manage to get around through walking and buses. Thanks for making me feel good about not having a car and driving.
mayhmong from North Carolina on June 09, 2009:
Now I don't feel so hateful towards those people walking or riding a bicycle on my lane after reading this?! That's a great way to put it.
Wendy Iturrizaga from France on June 08, 2009:
As a person who does not hold a driving license I completely agree with your reasons for not driving. Walking and cycling are better options when you are in a small town; and taking the metro and other forms of public transport are better options for a big city.