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.
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:
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!