The Benefits of Being Car Free

A more civilized way to travel

When I sold my car in 2010 and began my car free lifestyle while living in Baltimore, I expected a little cost savings, a little more physical activity and a couple interesting stories from the experience. Instead, I got a life changing reduction in expenses, a (knock on wood) permanent reduction in my BFP and enough stories to fill a few books. Instead of a boring, inactive commute surrounded by 2,000 lbs of steel among other angry drivers, I cycle with my own two legs with the wind in my hair and the sun on my face. Of all the benefits of being car free, the quality of my commute is probably the most significant.

But I would be remiss to minimize the cost savings of ditching a car. Mr. Money Mustache has written extensively on the financial benefits of being car free, and after years of experiencing these benefits first hand, I’m not sure why more people don’t at least attempt to minimize their car ownership burden. Here are a few figures to chew on:

5 year expense report from an “efficient” Toyota Prius (from Edmonds)

Same report for a Toyota Tundra Truck

That’s a small fortune just over a 5 year period. Most of the cost of car ownership is operating expenses. Even a beat up jalopy runs a few thousand a year to maintain, fuel, park and register. Multiply this expense by your average driving life (about 50 years), and that’s some major money that could be going to better things like houses, vacation, retirement, or trips to Vegas.

And yes I understand it’s not easy for many people to life this kind of life due to job locations, kids, and other logistics. I’m not a purist though – even going from 3 to 2 or 2 to 1 cars can have enormous benefits for a lower or middle class family. In future posts I’ll describe some life hacks to make a car free life more possible for a greater number of people.

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