I Finally Sold My Car

Well I did it.  I joined the legions of car-less Portlandians, who despite their predisposition to motorless travel, still shun umbrellas during the dreariest months of the year.

Sure, in the next 6 weeks I would have been trading in my car for a tuk tuk anyways, but it will certainly be a test for me to go this long with only my two feet for travel.

If you have been following my journey, you know that I have been talking about and advocating for selling your car for months.  The benefits of doing so are undeniable:

  • Financial savings.  In my case, I will be saving nearly $500 a month, now that I have rid myself of the payment, insurance, gas and maintenance.  That is a BIG portion of my expenses, and I am excited to start putting that hard earned money to better use.
  • Get more exercise.  I am the first to admit that as of late, I haven’t been the best at staying in shape.  Sure I can still eat whatever I want, and somehow  manage to lose weight, but as soon as I am on the treadmill for more than a few minutes at a time, I feel like something straight out of Little Red Riding Hood (Huffing and Puffing, if you didn’t get that reference).  For the past week I have been pretending as if I didn’t have a car.  I have been walking all over the place, and getting exercise without even realizing it.
  • See more of your city.  Along with the exercise, I have been discovering places in Portland I didn’t even know existed.  Whether it be the cool coffee shop a few blocks down, or any number of art galleries that I had never ventured into, being carless has definitely given me an even greater appreciation for the City of Roses.
  • Better for the environment.  For those of you that aren’t from around here, Portland (and the Northwest in general) is probably one of the most environmentally friendly places in the world.  I grew up recycling, and apparently there are still places in the country where the word isn’t even in their dictionary.  I mean, you know you are from Oregon when you feel guilty throwing away pop can.
You think Subaru makes a tuk tuk?

You think Subaru makes a tuk tuk?

However, the chances are, you already know about those benefits.  When it all comes down to it, for many people the convenience of having a car outweighs any benefits they may get from selling it, regardless of the price.  That was the case for me for 6 months.  I would dabble with Craigs List, but looking back, I really didn’t commit to the cause of getting rid of my car until about two weeks ago.  It feels good being rid of the debt, but I won’t lie, in a lot of ways I miss my car already.  The convenience of driving out to the golf course at a moments notice, or making a quick jaunt down to Eugene to see my family, was second to none.  Now my golf excursions are much more carefully planned, and the Amtrak 507 train is my new best friend when it comes to holiday trips to Eugene.

So, as I am very new to the whole “carless” thing I thought I would provide a few links from others that have seen a little more success than me:

Going Carless Isn’t as Painful as Expected.  Matt of Steadfast Finances bet his buddy that he would go “completely nuts” if he went carless for an entire year.  Check out what happened.

My Ride. This guy devoted a whole blog to going carless, aptly named “Going Carless“.  This page discusses how he makes his life work with nothing but a bike and public transportation.  Hey, when you are a mere 2 miles from the only 2 breweries in town, it’s easy to make it work on a bike.  Sidenote: I wonder what it would be like to live in a town with only two breweries?  I’m not sure I would like it much. (Portland has more breweries than any other city in the country.)

If you need help selling you car, it may be useful to learn about these 67 Ways NOT to sell one.

There have even been some VERY useful comments related to selling your car from the Location180 Readers:

“I’ve been without a car now for nearly two months and whilst I’m not living in the same city, I don’t miss it. Lots of walking and way more use of the iPod. Also much less angst from being ‘stuck in traffic. Hire a car if you need one or use a service like Zipcar if they are in your area. The environmental and physical benefits make it a win-win too.”  - James P Hart

“Good for you for going carfree – I’ve been without a car for 2 1/2 years and love it! Bike and bus and walk everywhere. It’ll increase your creativity for getting places 100%. Good for you for taking this step.”Robyn

“I just sold my car before moving up to Seattle and it was the best decision I made in the move! I’m saving so much money. I thought I would need to get a monthly bus pass (about half what my insurance was), but I’ve found it much more enjoyable to walk everywhere. I’m meeting more people, seeing more things, really feeling the city (if that’s something you can actually do).” – Kristin Norris

It is great to see that I am not the only one.

Ok, if you still aren’t convinced that this is a good way to go (I may just be trying to reinforce my decision here) then you need to look at it from Chris Guillebeau’s perspective: Would you rather visit 100 countries or have an SUV?

It appears as though I am going with the former.

Tell us your thoughts about the car/no-car debate in the comments!

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Chris Guillebeau November 30, 2009 at 9:30 am

Congratulations, Sean! This is a big step, and I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures in Asia.

J. D. Bentley November 30, 2009 at 9:39 am

Good job. Saving $500/month would have done more than enough to convince me to sell a car. I’ve never in my life owned one, believe it or not. It’s really not so tough. In Portland I imagine there’s plenty of things you can walk to and in the middle of nowhere (where I live) there aren’t even places worth driving to, so it works out nicely. Plus, with Thailand and everything, your financial priorities should be elsewhere. So, congratulations!

Earl November 30, 2009 at 9:47 am

I went carless a few years ago after realizing exactly what Chris Guillebeau talks about – 100 countries or a SUV? And I didn’t stop with the car – I now weigh every potential purchase against what that money can get me while traveling. I’ve started calling the concept the “Currency of Pad Thai” (every $1 I spend could get me 2 plates of pad thai in Bangkok!)…I keep that knowledge in the back of my mind at all times.

Baker November 30, 2009 at 9:53 am

You’ll feel a thousands times better. We’ve been carless and mobile for going on 8-ish months now.

Although, we’ll be renting on for two weeks coming up, I actually prefer that. It’s drastically cheaper overtime to find creative ways to live without and to rent sparingly when you do! :-)

Colin Wright November 30, 2009 at 11:03 am

Since I sold my car back in August, I’ve felt an immense sense of relief. There’s something innately stressful about driving such a large investment around where anything can happen to it.

It’s like wearing a $10,000 pair of shoes. Sure, they’ll get you where you need to go, but what if you step in gum? Get them wet? Leave them somewhere and get them stolen?

Too stressful for me!

James P Hart November 30, 2009 at 11:21 am

Discovering new places is a great benefit.

Add another month to the already two months and this month was in LA, the land of the car. Sure, the 20+ mile walk I did in one day was a tad draining, however, I wouldn’t have stumbled across a Frank Lloyd Wright designed home if I was driving. I now take a small camera with me most times and get some really cool photos of buildings or other unusual things.

Tyler Tervooren November 30, 2009 at 11:55 am

It’s pretty amazing what you notice when you step out of the car and get on a bike, or even step off the bike and start walking.

It’s like turning up the resolution of life. What once was blurry now is clear as day.

Nate November 30, 2009 at 2:05 pm

I am so jealous! I would love to get rid of my car and save money. A serious lack in public transportation in my area keeps me from doing it. Anyway, very cool post and congrats!

NomadicNeil November 30, 2009 at 8:33 pm

It’s must be really difficult for North-Americans to get around without a car… I find travelling around the US a nightmare outside cities like San Fransisco and New York.

I heard that most car journeys are short so you could get a bicycle in stead. Do you have bicycle lanes in Portland?

Diggy - Upgraderealitty.com December 1, 2009 at 1:49 am

Hey Sean!
Congrats man!
The benefit from working from home is that you dont need to travel much, heck, you can do groceries once a week and spend the entire week at home working on your projects.

How are things coming along? :)
Cheers
Diggy

John Bardos - JetSetCitizen December 1, 2009 at 5:05 am

Congrats Sean!

It is nice to have a car on occasion but it has also made me lazy. Instead of walking or cycling, it is far too easy to just hop in the car.

I will be selling my car also shortly. I think it will be the last one I own for a long, long time.

Robert thelifedesignrproject December 1, 2009 at 6:45 am

Well done, I bet it’s freeing. Although my car costs no where near $500 a month you’ve inspired me to go as long as I can without replacing what I’m currently using. The 88 Maxima I drive is on it’s very last legs, has been for years, but the reality is finally hitting. When it does finally go, I don’t have much of a reason to get a new one but I think that really depends on people’s situation…not saying people can’t change their situation (job route, use of local vendors, etc) but it takes some change and for thought…both of which you’ve shown here!

It would take some sacrifice at times, it would be quite a challenge to get home to my family for Christmas coming up if I didn’t have a car. Good work on finally offing the depreciating cash monster called a car.

Matt SF December 1, 2009 at 9:45 am

Congrats, that’s a huge step! I wish I had the courage to do it myself.

My friend Dave (who inspired me to write the “going carless” post) has saved around $8500 in 2009 just by ditching his car. His health has also improved since he’s nearly back to his college weight.

Financial Samurai December 1, 2009 at 11:03 am

Wow, saving $500/month will be huge!

I take the bus to and from work now, for the past 2 years. I feel so free! And, chicks dig it!

Sean December 1, 2009 at 12:01 pm

@Matt SF $8500 is a lot of money! I am looking forward to seeing those savings myself! It is cool to see that he was actually able to get in better shape during the process.

@Robert It definitely depends on your personal situation. I fully understand that it is much easier for some people to take the leap than others. Frankly, if I weren’t moving next month, it would have been MUCH more difficult for me to give up my car, so I am glad I had something to push me in that direction. Before I bought the newer car I had driven a 95 Subaru wagon for years, and as uncool as it might have been, I wish I had just hung on to it for another year. I grew to love the car, and I would have saved myself thousands of dollars. Lesson learned.

@John I know exactly how you feel, I drove places that I never should have just out of the convenience.

@Diggy That is both a good and bad thing! As I have been preparing for this, I have found myself being much less social, just because I can’t get out into some of the areas that my friends live as easily (think suburbs a 20 minute drive away), but I am still adapting!

@Neil All things considered, Portland is probably one of the most bike friendly places in the country. Miles of bike lanes and bike paths, make getting around most of the city really easy. Now if only it didn’t rain so much…

@James Keeping a camera with you to capture some of things you wouldn’t have seen otherwise is a really good idea. I think I may just take advantage of that this afternoon when I walk to the cell phone store to look into canceling my plan…

@Colin I know all about that! Once I decided to sell my car, I was paranoid to drive it, thinking someone would hit it or it would break down. My life is much less stressful now that I don’t have to worry about it!

@Baker Who needs a car, when you have a wealth of tuk tuks in your soon to be home!

@Earl “Currency of Pad Thai” I love it! That is a great way of looking at things!

@Chris It should definitely be an adventure, thanks for the continued support and inspiration!

Dan December 1, 2009 at 5:32 pm

I envy you, I can’t wait till I can get rid of my car. I enjoy driving them but owning them sucks, a small 125 moto would keep me very happy and I think I enjoy riding bikes more than cars anyway.

NomadicNeil December 1, 2009 at 8:00 pm

I’m surprised there aren’t more people on bikes here in Thailand… I feel a bit guilty on my moped.

But I wouldn’t risk it in Bangkok… stick with the tuk-tuk.

Alan December 2, 2009 at 7:23 am

I’ve been car-less for the last year and a half, and I’m hoping to stay that way for quite some time. I have to say, I do miss that car radio from time to time.

Congrats on another step toward Asia!

Steven Ponec January 3, 2010 at 12:26 am

Another Portlandian Carless. That’s great! :)
Even living in a more spread out city like Salem, I think going carless would help with exercise, money, and being green.
That’s great you did! I really don’t like owning a car.

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