Friday, August 29, 2008

These Feet Were Made 4 Walkin' Maybe?

I have seriously been thinking about getting rid of my car. It's expensive with the payment, the gas and insurance and the parking. I only really use it to get to and from work, and I can take the T and a shuttle to the office for about $40 a month. If I find myself needing a car (like if I need to pick up some patio furniture covers) I can rent a zip car. This will be extremely easy to do, considering there are 3 parked in the very same lot I park in every night. In the event that I move, there are zip cars all over the city.

When I want to go home or visit friends in CT, I can take the bus or the train. Yes it's expensive, but it's not much more than a full tank of gas. The only thing I wouldn't like is the time it takes to get there, and also having to rely on people to pick me up at the station.

Living in Boston has gotten me thinking a little more environmentally and of course living without a car is a step in the right direction. I can because I live in the city, so I'm thinking why not?

I like my freedom. It's scary to think that I'll be reliant on things other than myself. I'm also afraid that because of my bad credit I won't be able to get another car if and when I need one. As long as I pay for this one, they can't take it away from me. There's also the fact that even after getting rid of the car, I'll still have payments-the car isn't worth what I owe. (It's a Saturn) That's a downside, but it'll be a smaller payment and I won't have the other fees associated with the car. That's at least $180 a month in my savings and into hands of people I owe money to.

What do you think? Should I take a leap and try to live without a car?

24 comments:

Marilyn said...

I hate driving. If I could live without a car I would and you are not likely to need patio furniture covers for anything, what with living in an apartment and all. (I do love the way you work those links in there though.)

Callie Ann said...

No way in hell would I get ride of my car.. no way.. I wouldn't want to depend on others at all. What If I wanted to get in my car and drive to the beach to the mountains.. I couldn't. I couldn't go anywhere... I am not sure I could be dependent on others. I have seen many people do it. If for some reason you have to go somewhere that you can't just jump on a Train or what have you. Your screwed then Ya gotta ask people. Then again I live out west where Public transportation really doesn't exsist unless of course you live in Portland etc. etc..

But, that is just me of course... I am a what ifer... what if.. what if... what if you got a job chefing at some resort somewhere... You know what you should get a job on the cruise lines cooking you could see the damned world.. try that girlfriend.. yap yada yada yappity yap... Sorry more information than you asked for. But, that is me...

Amazing Gracie said...

Talking to a Californian about giving up their car - uh, uh. Ain't gonna happen here! Especially because I've been driving for 45 years, am darn good at it and love my freedom. I also love cars - real ones, not the ugly little "green" things. I guess it's just a way of life to me...
~~~Blessings~~~

Danielle A. said...

Having grown up 20-30 miles from Boston my whole life, I've always said that if circumstances led me to live in the city I'd ditch my car. Mostly for the reasons you cited here, plus anywhere I would go in Eastern MA has public transportation easily to get there. Plus... OK fine, I admit I don't mind and actually find something sophisticated and city-like about needing to rely on a subway system. :)

Linda said...

If I could, I'd ditch my car here as the cost of payments, insurance, gas, registration, taxes, etc. is way too much and I would be saving an astronomical amount of money even if I had to take public transportation.

I think that considering where you live, yo could probably easily manage being without a car of your own - especially with having the ZIP cars right there. Were I you, I'd go for it but that's just me - you have to do what you think is ultimately best for you and you alone know what you can and can't handle.

Palm Springs Savant said...

Yes ditch the car Mags. I lived in Chicago without a car for awhile and was fine. for the few times you want one you can always rent a car for a long weekend drive to the cape.

Mo said...

Since you're an urban girl now, and for the reasons cited, I say "go for it!"
What's the worst that could happen - you realize that after six months you can't live without one and you need another one - then you just get another car!
I say "go for it!"
(just not til after September 23rd, cuz I need a ride to the airport!)

mauniejames3 said...

Mags if I could go without a car I would...I always wanted to live in Boston and not need a car...being ten miles north everywhere I have to go you need to drive...I would love the freedom of not having a car...except in the rain of course...and um if it was really cold...and if I needed to pick someone up...oh you decide...thank goodness it's not up to me...

Callie Ann said...

Mo, I think she making us take the T or something to that effect.. and then I think we have to climb stairs.. Get the oxygen bottle ready when you both pick my up at the Airport... Oh yeah bring a stroller I have to carry my machine...

GMadrid said...

Bad Idea Jeans.

Melisa said...

GO FOR IT, Mags. And get a bike if you don't have one for a change-up in the local travel (if there are places you could ride: the store, etc.). If I were in the same living situation as you, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I think once you get used to public transport the majority of the time, you'll wonder what took you so long to do it. JMO.

Melisa said...

Wait, I reread the last paragraph about how your car is worth less than what you still owe. I might wait to either pay it off OR until you can talk someone into buying it for close to what you owe. Having a car payment with no car (I've done it: after an accident) is no fun--even if your fees are reduced--you may end up with a big ball of resentment about your decision.

So, ignore my first comment. LOL

Rhea said...

I've been thinking the same thing as you for at least the past year. I added up the costs of owning a car in JP and it came to $3,000 a year (gas, insurance, maintenance, vandalism, etc.)! Add up your costs and then you will see that doing the public transit/zip car/biking thing is much, much cheaper and environmentally more sound.

Anonymous said...

Well, it sounds like you work outside the city and, to me, that sounds like it could be the determining factor (depending on how much more / less time it takes to get their via public transportation). The car payment thing is a bit of a downer, but if you can sell it and can pay off 75% or more than you would have an extremely low car payment.

From my own experience, I moved up to Boston 8 years ago from Philly and sold my car (for $400) to afford the moving van. I was straight out of college and I just couldn't afford a vehicle and an apartment that first year. Well, like I said, it has been 8 years and going car-less was a great choice. I have zipcar now and use it once a month (IKEA, Home Depot, and sometimes restaurants out in the burbs) and I bike the 3 miles to work.

In fact, my friends back in Philly always used to wonder why I chose to live in such an expensive city like Boston. But now, with gas prices being what they are, I actually think they have more expenses than I do (when you add up insurance, car payment, and especially gas).

Just my thought, but I felt I should share the point of view of someone else who never thought he could be without a car and has done it successfully.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what the advice of an anonymous stranger is worth, but here goes.

I thought I could never get rid of my car. Then it finally failed the safety inspection and the repair would have cost more than the total cost of the car. I donated the car to Habitat4Humanity and now I use ZipCar exclusively.

When I need a ZipCar, there are plenty around. For my commute, I have bought a 49cc scooter to get around town (can be done for less than $2000). This lets me do anything I need to do that doesn't require a lot of storage space. When I need to leave town, if plane or train go where I need to go I do that. If I need a rental car when I arrive at my destination, doing so a few times a year is still less money than I would have spent on insurance for my old car. Trains are as fast as a car trip and less hassle than an airport. Planes are faster than a car but a little more expensive.

I also have a friend in the same situation as me. He feels the need for a car again, but instead of going out and getting something with a large payment, credit need, etc. He's going out and looking for a used (but quality) car after saving up a few thousand to buy it outright.

The question for me really came down to convenience and cost. I have been without my car for almost a year now and I have never felt like I wish I had my car back here in Boston or in trying to get out of town.

Anonymous said...

Back when I lived in the North End years ago, I dumped my car. I've been carless in brighton now for 3 years with Zipcar and a subway pass and its been great. My company gets a corporate discount on Zipcar and pays for half of my T pass. It was a no-brainer.

Rebecca said...

I'm sure you can use a zipcar to get to the cape. I see them down here all the time and no cops are chasing them for being stolen.

I also second the suggestion of the 49cc scooter. You can get auto insurance for them (for medical, theft, collision, etc) and because it's based on engine size, it will be less then $100 for the year. With the proper gear, you could ride year round (except in extreme snow conditions).

A bicycle is a nice way to stay in shape and get somewhere. Just realistically evaluate where you are riding, how much you will sweat, and how easy it would be to wash up. I love to bicycle, but I have to wash facilities at work, so that's not an option.

Stewart said...

I've been a Zipcar member for years, and I say without hesitation that you should do it. I spend far less on Zipcar per month than the cost of car payments, gas and insurance, and maintenance. (Remember, gas, insurance and all other fees are paid for by Zipcar: all you pay are the rental fees.)

As for Callie Ann's comment "What If I wanted to get in my car and drive to the beach to the mountains. I couldn't. I couldn't go anywhere..." That doesn't apply here. You can rent Zipcars for extended periods for less than you would pay for a regular rental car from Budget or Avis. Just this month, my wife and I took a Zipcar from Boston for a week's drive through Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Driving a brand new, comfortable and nicely-equipped car (complete with an in-line iPod dock!) for $56 a day including gas? Can't beat it.

Anyone who lives and works in Boston and doesn't use Zipcar is a moron. You're throwing money away.

Bonnie*B said...

Absolutely! I gave my old subaru wagon to charity over 4 years ago and haven't once regretted it. Contrary to what some who are dependent on cars think, you will not be "dependent on others" without a car -- you'll actually have more flexibility in that you can get whatever type of Zipcar you need for a given use, from a Scion XA/XD to a pickup truck, for exactly the length of time you need it, with gas and insurance included. And when you're done with it, its parking spot will be right where you left it -- can't beat that with a stick! I don't work for Zipcar, I swear -- I just love the service. You can also get great deals on regular rentals for longer hauls -- Enterprise usually has 50% off weekends which average about $20/day for small cars (gas and insurance extra though).

My car was almost 16 years old when I got rid of it, and I STILL was spending more on it per year than I spend on Zipcars now. It is totally worth getting rid of your car if you don't need it for work!

Treemont said...

100% -- as long as you live in the city. You'll lose your worry about freedom in about 2 car payments. I sold one car and dumped the lease on the other and LOVE IT.

Seriously. Between Zip, the 'trak, Purple lines and the occasional taxi...you'll be very happy (you can't have kids, or live outside 495, to do it --- IMO, but hey...it works perfect inside).

You'll also figure out real quick how close everything is in this city.

I'm still scared about biking in this friggin non-bike friendly city, but walking works FINE.\

Mags said...

THANK YOU to everyone who came by to give me advice about this. I'm especially grateful to the people from Universal Hub who came over to share their own experiences about living in this city without a car.

I've decided that I am going to do 2 things before I jump right in:

1. I'm going to see how much a dealership will give me for my car. If that amount isn't significant enough to lower by car payment by at least 1/2, then I won't do it.

2. Park my car for 1 week and not use it for any reason. This includes taking the T and the shuttle to and from work. I won't go as far as becoming a zip car member yet b/c I don't want to pay for it unless it's a go-but I'm going to see how horrible or fantastic it is to rely on public transportation and how I feel about not being able to drive.

I think these options are smart choices on my part and it's more responsible that my usual way of making big decisions-getting an idea in my head and then jumping right in without thinking.

Sometimes this is good-in this case, I don't think it would be smart.

So, thanks again-those of you in and around Boston that commented, thank you-your real life in the city advice really did help. I hope you come back to visit me again soon!

Mags

PS. Greg, I want to know why you called me "jeans"

Karl C said...

Hi, Mags. Glad to see you're considering the car-free option given all the advice here.

I am a current Zipcar user and as such I can give you a link that will provide you with $50 in driving credit for free when you sign up. It's part of their refer-a-friend system. Anyone else reading this is free to use this opportunity as well. I get nothing from it, but you will get $50 after signing up.

Signing up is $25 once and then $50 per year if you choose to do the "Ocassional Driving Plan" where you only pay-as-you-go instead of the monthly pre-paid plans. Your first annual fee would basically be paid for in free driving credit by signing up through the following link:

Join Zipcar and get $50 in free driving!

If that HTML doesn't work, here's the URL: http://www.zipcar.com/apply?promo_code=QVVPHHNA

Enjoy!

admin said...

I've found not using a car in Boston has reduced my stress level and increased my independence and freedom. The city is small enough that riding my bicycle around is often times quicker than the T or even a car!

Plus, if I want to go somewhere I don't have to worry about waiting for the T or filling up my gas tank, just get on my bike and go!

I'd highly consider picking up a bicycle, for $150-$350 you can find a very nice used bicycle ( recommend Bikes not Bombs in Jamaica Plain or Shawsheen Antique Store in Cambridge) and that cost quickly repays itself.

silverneurotic said...

I always said that if I moved to a city where public transportation was readily available I would get rid of my car.