7 Tips for Living Without a Car

Written By: Jessica McMann

No car? No problem! Well, OK, not having a car in the 21st century can be a bit problematic. But then again, owning and maintaining a car is expensive and, depending on what city you live in, not always practical. It may be that you are without a car not by choice but, like a lot of people in the country, due to financial circumstances. So no car? Here are seven tips for living without a car that may make your job mobility, social life, and grocery shopping a little easier.

  1. Use public transportation:

    There are times when using public transportation, whether it’s a subway or a bus, actually makes more sense than driving, especially if your route is direct and relatively short. You’ll save money on the cost of gas and enjoy the feeling of having someone else deal with morning or evening rush hour traffic. Research all the routes that are available to you as well as special fares and monthly passes. Your city’s public transportation system may serve more locations than you had assumed.

  2. Shopping cart:

    Without a car, you’ll need to plan out your grocery shopping in advance so you don’t have to make several extra trips for food and other ingredients. Buy yourself a sturdy, folding shopping cart to transport several grocery items at a time. Don’t opt for fast food or junk food from a convenience mart. With a little pre-planning, you can shop and maintain a healthy diet even without a car.

  3. Telecommute:

    We understand that not every job allows for telecommuting and not every company is going to be sympathetic to you not owning a vehicle. However, if you are without a car and work in an office, talk to your supervisor to see if it’s possible for you to telecommute if not every day then just one or two days out of the week. More and more companies are exploring having employees telecommute, so if doing so is conducive to your work, go ahead and broach the topic.

  4. Relocate:

    Some cities are easier to get around without a car than others. The money you’ll save by not owning and having to maintain a vehicle may allow you to relocate to an area that’s closer to where you work, has better public transportation, and has businesses and services available to you that are within walking distance. Chicago, New York City, and Portland, Ore., all offer good public transportation systems, while other cities, like Madison, Wis., are small enough so that you can ride a bicycle across town.

  5. Make friends:

    If you’re a stranger in a new town, making friends without a car can be difficult. However, if you’re relatively established and know a few people you’d call friends, in a pinch, you should be able to call on one of them for a ride when you need one. Always offer to pay for gas or treat the driver to a coffee as a way of saying "thanks."

  6. ZipCar:

    Zipcar and similar services are best when you need a car for a relatively short amount of time. These programs aren’t designed to provide you with wheels for an entire weekend; for that you’ll want to rent a car. But for a quick trip to pick up a piece of furniture, being a Zipcar member can be very helpful. Bikeshare programs which allow members to borrow and return bicycles for short periods of time are growing in popularity across the country as well.

  7. Save that money:

    Finally, if you’re living without a car, set aside some of that money you’re saving as a result of not paying for gas, insurance, auto loan payments, or maintenance and repairs. You might be surprised at how much money you’re saving by going car-free, which in turn may make up for some of the inconvenience.