Thursday 31 July 2014

Living Without a Car

If you had have asked me 10 years ago if I could live without a car, I would have looked at you as if you were crazy. I grew up on a farm nearly 2 hours from Melbourne and having a car was a necessity for a social life. I also remember loving driving, but thinking back on it, I think I loved the freedom that driving gave me, not the driving itself.

Fast forward to today, and I live Hawthorn (in the inner suburbs of Melbourne), work in the CBD, am surrounded by excellent public transport, and using a car is more often than not slower than walking to my destination (as an example it once took me 40 minutes to drive 2km, and that particular stretch regularly takes 20 minutes to drive).

We (my wife, 2 young daughters aged 3 and 5, and I) primarily use our car for visiting people, but over the last year we have been replacing car trips with public transport in a lot of these cases. It might take a bit longer sometimes, but it means that we are more active as we need to walk a little more, and it affords us a much greater amount of quality time together.

When we are on public transport together we are able to observe the world around us, have conversations, and play games, all without "the driver" missing out. Given the driver was almost always me, I now have a little more time with my daughters than I did before, and that is a win I'm happy to have (hopefully my daughters see it that way too :-P).

It has been 4 weeks since we have used the car, and I don't miss it. The real test will be once it is sold (soon hopefully) and we no longer have that safety net. We won't totally deny ourselves the use of a car, we will rent a car when we need/want one (weekends away, mountain biking trips, etc.).

Although it isn't the primary reason for making the change, we do expect it to save us money given the estimated cost of owning a car is around $200 a week according to the RACV. We intend on tracking the costs associated with hiring cars and taking public transport we wouldn't otherwise utilise in an effort to measure the truth of this.

Our initial goal is to last 6 months without a car. But I'm quietly confident that we can go at least a couple of years without one. I'm looking forward to seeing how it all pans out.


  1. Sean, what a great initiative! You might like this story about the unexpected joys of leaving the car behind and taking kids on the bus: If you're looking for a cheaper alternative to Flexicar, check out Car Next Door. We're adding new share cars in Melbourne each week.

  2. Very nice story Kate. We'll definitely keep Car Next Door in mind. As well as the cost, you're already ahead because I can see what types of cars are available. Flexicar makes this hard to do unless you sign up.

    Thanks for the tip.