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How to Live Without a Car

How to Live Without a Car

Can you Really Survive Without a Car?

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I’ve lived without a car a few times but it does depend on where you live and how much time matters to you. In Melbourne for over a year, sometimes in Sydney, a couple of months in Noosa and when we were in Vanuatu and Honiara for months I had no car.

When we moved to Melbourne, we stopped using our cars. We sold a car and cleared some debt. Our other car was slightly damaged from 2 car accidents which we were not our fault.

Had the damage been done in one car accident the insurance company would have written it off (panel damage/scratches only on pearlescent paint), but as it was 2 accidents, 2 different companies I could either get it fixed or get paid out.

I got paid out as the car was clear to drive and mechanically sound plus the damage isn’t too bad. I thought it wouldn’t be easy to sell so it sat at a friends house and we used it a handful of times for long trips to Bathurst, Canberra or Sydney, which we would have hired a car for otherwise.

When I did sell it, I was shocked. I listed it and there was practically a bidding war over it. Being a Camry, it wasn’t anything amazing but it was reliable, had the logbooks and people wanted it.

How can you Live Without a car?

1. Live Close To Everything

We lived right in the city in Melbourne which meant we were close to everything close to everything here in Melbourne. When we first moved we would only walk if somewhere was under 1km away.

Now walking 3kms to something isn’t uncommon. We listen to podcasts, chat or combine free trams with walking etc. Public transport is so easy here.

If you can, choose a location which enables you to walk, ride a bicycle or use cheap public transport instead of owning a car. The cost of the occasional public transport or Uber for us is significantly cheaper than the car.

2. Public Transport

Melbourne has trams, buses, trains, Uber (I refuse to use a taxi!), bike paths and it is incredibly easy to get around. As with all cities, peak hour can be hectic, but for the most part, it’s ok.

Often, public transport here would take the same amount of time as driving but on public transport, we can work, listen to podcasts or do our own thing plus it’s cheaper.

3. Car Share or Car Ride Services

Whenever I have needed a car I have either hired one such as through Car Next Door (as little as $5hr or $25 a day) or used a ride option. Uber, Ola, Taxify and Shebah are all available in my area. If you use the code kyliet591ue you can get your first Uber ride free (up to a limit).

Alternatively, if you want to keep your car plus payment for when people drive it if you want to rent it out through Car Next Door.

4. Get Things Delivered

Think you need a car to do groceries and errands? Think again. Jump online and get it all delivered. It usually takes you less time, you can save your shopping lists with some supermarkets, delivery is often free or there are special offers if you spend over a certain amount.

5. Change Your Mindset

We are so dependent on cars. It is often seen as a status symbol to have a certain type of car or a new car, but cars depreciate in value so quickly and cost so much to run. The purchase price, interest on the loan, petrol, services, tyres, cleaning, registration and insurance all add up.

I worked out last year if we kept the cars, based on previous habits, it would have been around $20k a year total our 2 cars were costing us. TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS!

While we tend to view them as necessary for everyday life, if you break it down, it might horrify you.

Purchase price $2,000 per year (based on a $20,000 car kept for 10 years and spread over that time. However, if you get a loan to pay for this, at 10% it will cost you $31,700 for the 10 years or $3,170 per year).

Petrol $3640 (Australian average)
Registration $1,000 to $1,500 average
Insurance $1,000
Maintenance and repairs $1,000 or so
Roadside assistance $200 or so
Cleaning $100+ time if you DIY

Don’t forget you also need to factor in savings for a new car. Want another $20,000 car in 10 years? You might get $5,000 for your current one if you’re lucky. So you will need $15,000 over 10 years or $1500 a year to be able to pay cash for your next car instead of a loan.

All up, including saving for your next car, it is over $10,000 per year. Sit down and work out how much your car is costing you and if it is cheaper and possible to walk, do public transport and occasionally Uber if needed.

What do you think, can you live without a car?

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    Kate Trumbull

    Friday 8th of September 2017

    Neighbourhood car share is also a cheap and easy way to get access to a car when you need to drive somewhere or want to get away for the weekend - try There are over 1,000 cars rented out by local people in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

    The Thrifty Issue

    Wednesday 13th of September 2017

    Great tip, Kate. I forgot to add that in. Thanks so much! Have you used them?

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