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Alternatives to owning a car?
Old 01-10-2016, 10:40 AM   #1
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Alternatives to owning a car?

We live in an age very different from the one when I bought my last car (late 1990s). That car died recently, and rather than automatically buy a new one, I'd like to consider all my options.

I've never really enjoyed owning a car and would rather do without the associated expenses (insurance, maintenance, etc.). And the truth is I wouldn't be using it more than once or twice a day within the city.

What have other early retirees in this situation opted to do? Has anyone successfully gotten by with Uber, Lyft or Car2Go?
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Old 01-10-2016, 10:42 AM   #2
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I assume you live in a city? Urban or suburban environment? Walking distance to shopping, restaurants?
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Old 01-10-2016, 10:48 AM   #3
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We absolutely could not do without a car here in suburbia and continue to do the things we like to do. We know where to move and what lifestyle to adopt to live without a car, but choose not to do so.

Car-less living here in the USA is very possible....... But only if you're a fan of the lifestyle that goes with it. The very first time we wanted to take advantage of a beautiful autumn afternoon by tossing the kayaks in the back of the truck to join others from the paddling club on a river 20 miles west of here but realized we didn't own the truck anymore, I'd be at the car dealer.........
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Old 01-10-2016, 10:49 AM   #4
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I know and know of a lot of people who get by without a car. The question is whether YOU have access to the alternatives and can make it work.

Did you really mean once or twice a day? That's using a car a lot. Most people seem to give it up if they only have to use it once or twice a week or month.
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Old 01-10-2016, 10:58 AM   #5
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If you are not there already, you will need to move to a city with a good public transportation system. Find a home within walking distance of a cluster of stores, close to a subway or bus station. Be prepared to shop for groceries every couple of days. Your chosen city should be flat enough to facilitate biking, with dedicated bike lanes. Brownie points if the city has a ride sharing service.
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Old 01-10-2016, 11:00 AM   #6
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I assume you live in a city? Urban or suburban environment? Walking distance to shopping, restaurants?
I live in a city, although not downtown. I'm walking distance to supermarkets and restaurants. However, the gym I go to almost daily is not, and there are occasions where I need to go to appointments (social, dental, medical) that are on the other side of the city or even 20 minutes out.
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Old 01-10-2016, 11:02 AM   #7
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I live in a city, although not downtown. I'm walking distance to supermarkets and restaurants. However, the gym I go to almost daily is not, and there are occasions where I need to go to appointments (social, dental, medical) that are on the other side of the city or even 20 minutes out.
Then the question for you is public transportation convenient, available and affordable for your needs?
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Old 01-10-2016, 11:03 AM   #8
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I don't know how much this will help, but check out the website bikeforums.net. They have a dedicated forum for "Living Car Free."
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Old 01-10-2016, 11:09 AM   #9
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If you are not there already, you will need to move to a city with a good public transportation system. Find a home within walking distance of a cluster of stores, close to a subway or bus station. Be prepared to shop for groceries every couple of days. Your chosen city should be flat enough to facilitate biking, with dedicated bike lanes. Brownie points if the city has a ride sharing service.
I've lived in dense cities without a car and used only mass transit. No problem. Unfortunately, in this more spread out city with subpar mass transit, that's not possible. I wouldn't use a bike here either; my odds of survival would be greatly reduced. That's why I'm wondering if anyone in a similar situation has gotten by with Uber, Lyft or Car2Go.
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Old 01-10-2016, 11:15 AM   #10
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You said your car died recently. What have you been doing without it? Does it work? Try living without one and see how it goes, and if it doesn't work out, buy a replacement. Again, it doesn't matter one bit what others do.
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Old 01-10-2016, 11:19 AM   #11
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My "Dream Home" is in a very walkable neighborhood. This was a decided "plus" for me when I was looking for another home, because at my age I can see that I won't be driving forever. Even now, I only average around 3800 miles/year on my car.

In retrospect I don't know if moving to a walkable neighborhood was a good solution or not, depending on how tough it becomes to walk as I grow older. My knees aren't going to last forever.

There's a bus stop on the corner although that sounds less than appealing to me.

I am thrilled at being able to buy many items online these days, so there is no longer much need to shop at bricks and mortar stores unless I want to. Maybe, in time, this will become easy for even more items and services.

F has a bike, but I am afraid of falling if I bike at my age. There are bikes with three wheels, but I don't know how practical that could be. Maybe I could get a little moped or motorized scooter type of thing if I stuck to strictly residential, 20 mph streets. I wouldn't want to take something like that (or a bike) out on the main drag.

Guess I will play it by ear as I age. Growing old is an adventure, that's for sure!
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Old 01-10-2016, 11:31 AM   #12
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Like you, I don't enjoy owning a car per se. But I very much enjoy the freedom and flexibility of going exactly where I want, whenever I want, and to carry stuff with me, and do it in a time-efficient manner.
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That's why I'm wondering if anyone in a similar situation has gotten by with Uber, Lyft or Car2Go.
If you are really going to need a car once or twice per day, you probably won't save any money with these services unless your car-owning expenses are higher than average (costs for parking at home, etc). Also, if you travel out of the city with any regularity, consider the costs and inconvenience of needing to get a rental car for those trips.

I wouldn't consider being car-free unless I lived on the established net of a efficient mass transit system, and I seldom traveled outside that net. I can't see that I'd ever choose to live in a place like that, for various reasons, but some people like it. I put less than 5K miles on our cars last year, but having them handy makes a lot of other things possible/easy.
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Old 01-10-2016, 11:42 AM   #13
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We live in environments (north and south) where walking and transit are viable, so we have cars for convenience not necessity, and we only use them when the other alternatives are not equal or superior. The corporate account with the taxico makes it as convenient as Uber. Because we are retired, the extra time it takes is easy to compensate for, especially with a smartphone/book reader.
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Old 01-10-2016, 11:52 AM   #14
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We live in environments (north and south) where walking and transit are viable, so we have cars for convenience not necessity, and we only use them when the other alternatives are not equal or superior. The corporate account with the taxico makes it as convenient as Uber. Because we are retired, the extra time it takes is easy to compensate for, especially with a smartphone/book reader.

This post says a lot.

kcowan notes that even with convenient alternatives readily and inexpensively available, he chooses to own cars. No doubt, if the cost of having a private car is easily within your budget, the convenience of having one is significant. I feel the same way.

To OP: I like the suggestion of continuing to go without a car for a while. Whenever this creates a problem, solve it. If the tough-to-solve problem list becomes long, think about lifestyle changes that would help enable continuing to go car-less. If you don't like the sound of any of the alternate life styles, go buy another car.

It's going to be a very individual thing.
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Old 01-10-2016, 11:54 AM   #15
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I think you'd also have to figure out the reliability and availability of those services in your area, and your willingness to wait for a ride.
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Old 01-10-2016, 01:38 PM   #16
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I think you'd also have to figure out the reliability and availability of those services in your area, and your willingness to wait for a ride.
.....and the weather. How do you fancy waiting 20 minutes for a bus in minus 40 degree weather?
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Old 01-10-2016, 01:46 PM   #17
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.....and the weather. How do you fancy waiting 20 minutes for a bus in minus 40 degree weather?
. . . and waiting. My car doesn't charge me to sit outside for 15 minutes while I run into the store to make a small purchase--maybe 2 or 3 times on one journey out.
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Old 01-10-2016, 01:49 PM   #18
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We live in an age very different from the one when I bought my last car (late 1990s). That car died recently, and rather than automatically buy a new one, I'd like to consider all my options.

I've never really enjoyed owning a car and would rather do without the associated expenses (insurance, maintenance, etc.). And the truth is I wouldn't be using it more than once or twice a day within the city.

What have other early retirees in this situation opted to do? Has anyone successfully gotten by with Uber, Lyft or Car2Go?
We have friends who ditched their car in a big city (more because of parking issues than financial, although financially they came out ahead) and did fine without it. They walked, used Zip cars or taxis, and rented cars for longer periods or going out of town. Why not just try it, as your car died recently? You can always buy another car if going carfree doesn't work out for you. Report back.
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Old 01-10-2016, 01:53 PM   #19
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If you do not live in one of the major cities with good mass transit then I think you need a car...


It might be easier to get by without one, but I bet that the added trouble etc. that comes with that just is not worth the hassle... right now if I need something from the store, I can hop in my car, go to the store... do whatever I want inside (ie take my time) and the get home... if I were using a service, I would have to wait for them to show up.... get to the store and pay for them to wait... have to hurry up to get out and then have them take me home...


A cheap car option is available.... I would rather do that if it were a money problem... especially if you use your car daily....
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Old 01-10-2016, 03:13 PM   #20
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Try doing without for a while. I would use a taxi before I would use the new services, until I became comfortable with them.

Having said that, with Uber, etc, you could develop a relationship with one or two drivers and use them exclusively, as we did overseas.

Keep in mind that some people have more disposable income than others. If I could go car-less, I would. DW won't even discuss it.

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