I lived 8 years of my life car-free in Philadelphia. It was one of the greatest chapters of my life. I found it empowering to rely on my own two feet to get where I needed to go. I thought nothing of walking clear across Center City, which is roughly a 3 mile urban hike. I also spent plenty of time on the city’s buses, trolleys, and subways. Living a car-free lifestyle was an easy decision for me at the time. I really couldn’t afford a car and all the expenses that came along with it. And I also felt strongly that I didn’t need it. A car can be a huge inconvenience in a big east coast city.
When I was making the decision to move to the San Diego area, I wasn’t sure if it would be possible to live car-free. But after some research I decided to make a go of it in La Jolla Village. It’s the cutest seaside town. I was delighted to find an apartment within walking distance of my son’s school, restaurants, a grocery store, banks, the beach, a community park, and every other convenience you can think of. My apartment is also right near a bus stop which takes me 4 miles to work every day. My family does have one car, which is used mostly by my husband since he’s always working in different locations. Other than that, we try to use it as little as possible.
I would encourage anyone to try living a car-free lifestyle. It’s probably easier than you think. If being without a car makes you nervous, there are plenty of car-sharing services like Zipcar available for times when you absolutely need wheels. And many employers offer transit benefits which usually cover the cost of a monthly bus or subway pass. Not only is it easy to live car-free, but the benefits are more than you would imagine. Saving money is the obvious benefit. Car payments, insurance, gas, and maintenance are all huge money-suckers. And it’s great for your physical health since you’re forced to walk. This means less time is needed in the gym. The biggest benefit for me though is my happiness. There’s something about feeling the fresh air and the earth under my feet that makes me far happier than I would be in a car.