Living in Southern California and having a 35-mile commute means that I drive. A lot. So one of the things I am most looking forward to graduate school is to living close to campus and trying out the car-free lifestyle for a couple of years.
Until I got into the awesome school I am attending and I realized that not that many people go car-free.
There are rumors of cars bumping up against bicylists on purpose. The vast majority of folks who do go without cars are international students. And even though I only live 2.5 miles from school, the road from my apartment to the school doesn’t seem the most pedestrian-friendly: the street isn’t well-lit, Google Maps show missing chunks of sidewalk, etc. I still want to live without a car. Am I crazy?
Financial reasons to live without a car
- My car is creeping up on the 260,000 mile mark, so there is no way it can survive the trip from California to the East Coast. I’m not the most handy around cars, so I want something reliable, which means an expensive used car or a brand new vehicle.
- I have enough to buy a car with cash, but the more cash I can conserve, the fewer student loans I’d have to take out.
- Even though not having a car would mean that I’d have to get more rides from friends (chip in for gas), pay for car-sharing, and take the bus more often, it’s still going to be much cheaper than buying a car. My school offers a free bus pass to students and not having a car means that I don’t have to pay for parking, repairs, insurance, etc. Also, no car = no risk of traffic tickets! That’s the way to live like a student.
Lifestyle reasons to go car-free
- I’ve spent my entire adult life driving. I enjoy it and the freedom it brings me (especially on the days without traffic… which in SoCal doesn’t come that often!), but I am ready to try not having a car for once.
- I have no idea where I will be after graduation, so I would like to defer the car decision until I know that for sure.
- Living without a car is the BEST way to ensure I get some form of consistent exercise (i.e. walking or biking). 2.5 miles is a long way – would take me 45-50 minutes each way – but it’s walkable. At night, I can catch a ride with friends – I will live within 0.5 miles of most of my classmates.
- I can also take a bus, and that would be a 30 minute trip including walking to and from the bus stop.
The pros of a having a car would be many, with convenience first and foremost among them. The pros of not having a car are also there, but I would definitely have to make adjustments in how I live my life.