Living Without a Car
Will and I are car-less. I haven’t owned a car since 2005 when I handed over my Ford Taurus (the first and only car ever in my name) to my parents.
I live in Chicago, so this isn’t all that remarkable to me (or many people I deal with on a day-to-day basis), but, in America at large, Will and I are odd ducks.
Let’s address some of the common questions people have when they hear I don’t own a vehicle.
How do I get groceries?
Seriously, this is the most-common question I get about my car-lessness. Peopod, people. They deliver. Heck, everyone delivers (and usually for free!). Also, I walk to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s – both very close – and pick up items needed for that night’s meal.
How do I visit my parents?
Both Will and I have parents who live in the suburbs of Chicago. When we head out to see them, we rent a car by the hour through IGo, a car-sharing service. It’s cheap (-er than owning a car), green, and convenient. The car we use most is stored a few blocks from our condo. We don’t pay for insurance or gas directly (both are included in our membership fee) and we’ve never had an issue getting a car when we need it. Even on Thanksgiving.
How do I go on trips?
Just last weekend Will and I went to North Central Iowa for a wedding. For that – and all trips outside the Chicagoland area – we rent a car through Enterprise. Why Enterprise? They are close to us. Also, they used to have a guy who worked there named Brian Butler and that is almost my Dad’s name, so that was amusing.
IGo cars are meant for smaller trips, so that option isn’t ideal for out-of-state forays. For big, overnight ventures, a “standard” car rental is needed. Sure, this costs money, but far less than owning/maintaining/insuring a car on our own. I believe we’ve rented from Enterprise twice since 2010 (both for out-of-town weddings, by the way).
We rent out our parking spot, so yay, money, and we get to feel vaguely green and smug.
(Just kidding about the smugness.)
Obviously, not everyone can get rid of their car. It would be completely impossible in most smaller towns and incredibly difficult in most suburbs. Everywhere I go on a daily basis is either walking distance or accessible via Chicago’s public transportation. This is really not a sacrifice, more of a common bonus to city-living.
Fun Sidenote #1: I rarely drive. Whenever Will and I are in the car together, he’s driving and I’m providing commentary, directions, and general liveliness. I had to rent a car in Houston in 2011 and it was the first time I’d been behind the wheel since 2008. Danger zone. My coworker eventually took over and I resumed my preferred position in the passenger seat.
Fun Sidenote #2: My Dad lives in the suburbs and he and my Mom share one car. She takes it to work everyday and my Dad takes care of all his business on foot. Go, Dad!