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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 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).

However, 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 friend’s 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 To Live Without a Car

This depends on many factors but for some might be more doable than you think.

Society today has us believing we need a huge car, big house and all the things but realistically, we could live more simply.

As mentioned, I’ve lived without a car at times, while pregnant and with kids in different cities. It wasn’t always easy but it was doable.

1. Live Close To Everything

Living close to everything makes life much easier without a car.

We lived right in the city in Melbourne which meant we were close to everything close to everything we needed and had ample public transport.

Noosa was the same, Port Vila and Honiara were a little more difficult, as was Canberra.

When we first moved to Melbourne, we would only walk if somewhere was under 1km away.

Fairly quickly we got used to walking much further and it was easy.

We listened to podcasts, chatted or combined free trams with walking etc.

Public transport is so easy there.

In Noosa, again we were close to everything we needed.

Honiara and Port Vila (Solomon Islands and Vanuatu) were easy to get around with taxis or buses for only a few dollars but we were walking distance to many things as well.

It wasn’t worth owning a car in the islands during our months there but it is worth it for our family who live there now.

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, rideshare or taxis, bike paths and it is incredibly easy to get around.

As with all cities, peak hours can be hectic, but for the most part, it was ok.

Public transport in Noosa was free on weekends and school holidays, Canberra had great bike paths but terrible public transport and as mentioned, public transport in the islands was easy.

Often, public transport in various locations 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.

Canberra was too difficult for me with public transport.

Most of what I needed to do took too long compared to driving and living close to everything wasn’t an option as I worked all over Canberra.

3. Car Share or Car Ride Services

Whenever I have needed a car I have either hired one such as through Uber Carshare 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 Uber Carshare.

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 one year when we moved to Melbourne, 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 when I did the comparison, now it is $5,200!)
Registration $1,000 to $1,500 average
Insurance $1,000
Maintenance and repairs $1,000+
Roadside assistance $200+
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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