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No Car No Car No Car No Car

No Car No Car No Car No Car-2

Ok, here’s the situation: I am NOT buying a car.

The last time I owned a car was over five years ago, when I moved to Boston and brought my Honda Accord along with me, under the assumption that I would need it here. As it turned out, I absolutely did not need to have a car here—which was lucky because my Honda Accord’s brakes and engine both decided to fail a couple of months after I moved to the city.

In any case, I’ve been car-less since 2010 and have enjoyed it immensely. The public transportation system here is excellent, I love walking, and I also have a bike.

IMG_1007

This is my trusty bike, Falcor.

However, my new job is a bit of a curveball in terms of transportation needs. I spend the majority of each day visiting clients in locations all over the city, which means I’m packing up and traveling to someplace else every hour or two. I do have an office, but I only go there to do paperwork and attend meetings. The rest of the time, I’m on the road. (And by “the road” I mean the bus/train/sidewalk. And, once I get my bike back from the shop later this week, the bike lane.)

The vast majority of my colleagues who do this type of traveling have cars. And to be fair, getting a car would have some potential benefits, such as:

  • Rainy days would be basically just like any other days.
  • Cold days would be basically just like any other days.
  • Hot days would be basically just like any other days (although, let’s be real: hot days are something I’m unlikely to complain about).

On the other hand, here are some of the costs that would result from buying a car:

  • Cost of the actual car
  • Cost of insurance
  • Cost of gas (though my employer would reimburse me for some of this)
  • Cost of repairs
  • Cost of parking
  • Cost of inevitable parking tickets (not the same as parking)
  • Environmental impact of putting another vehicle on the streets and driving it around literally all day long
  • Emotional cost of constantly being afraid of hitting cars/pedestrians/cyclists/dogs/cats (this is what happens when you learn to drive in a rural area and then move to a city)
  • Emotional cost of dealing with traffic/road rage
  • Time spent researching, locating, and test-driving various cars that I might want to buy
  • Time spent driving around looking for spots that don’t require me to parallel park (because I basically can’t parallel park)
  • Time spent shoveling out parking spots in winter
  • Health costs associated with getting less exercise (except for the shoveling, which would be lots of exercise)

These all sound like logical reasons to try and get by without a car, right?

But I admit there’s also another reason that’s slightly less logical…and that is that I simply want to prove to myself that I CAN do this job without a car. It’s a self-imposed challenge, and I’m accepting it.

In other words, I am NOT buying a car.

Here’s my plan instead:

  1. Walk whenever possible. Sometimes it just so happens that the next place I need to be is not very far away, in which case I can just walk there. And sometimes walking for 15 or 20 minutes can get me to a more direct bus route.
  2. Use public transportation. I have already discovered at least eight new bus routes in the past two weeks that I didn’t know about before. Public transportation does have its quirks, and there are days when it can be highly challenging (due to weather, breakdowns, delays, etc.). But there are also lots of things I love about public transportation, like the fact that I get to see so many interesting people on the buses and trains, as well as the opportunity I get to do things like catch up on email or work on learning Spanish.
  3. Bike, sometimes. Biking is not always my first choice because it can make me feel disheveled and sweaty (or freezing cold in the winter), but I’ve done a great deal of bike commuting in the past, both in Boston and in China, and I think there will be days when it is the best option, depending on my route and timing. I strongly dislike biking in the rain, but I do have the gear for it and can do it if necessary.

Now, a major caveat to all of the above is that I’m only two weeks into this job and my schedule isn’t particularly busy yet, so there’s no guarantee that I can keep this up. I admit it is possible that I might write another post in a couple of weeks called “Ummm, Actually I Think I’ll Just Get a Car”. But in the meantime I really want to try to avoid it…wish me luck!

Thoughts? Tips? Do you think I can do it?

Disease Called Debt

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80 Comments

  • Reply Jillian March 15, 2016 at 7:57 AM

    I think the answer is maybe? I’m curious to see how it goes 🙂 I loved not having a car in Seattle, and all the money I saved helped immensely toward taking vacations and paying my student loans. Cars are sooooo expensive!

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 15, 2016 at 8:41 PM

      Yes, they are! I feel like my whole paycheck would be eaten up by car expenses, whereas walking is free and biking is nearly free (minus the cost of repairs and gear). We shall see what happens! Luckily the weather is getting warmer, so I won’t have to deal with winter biking…yet.

    • Reply Hipster Money March 21, 2016 at 10:56 PM

      I didn’t have a car my first two years living in Seattle until I got a job that would be a two hour commute via bus vs. 45 minutes via car. It was glorious not having gas, insurance or parking to worry about. Put it off as long as possible! 🙂

      • Reply Sarah Noelle March 22, 2016 at 8:09 PM

        Oh gosh, I’ve gone for so long without paying for gas or insurance that it would be a serious adjustment if those expenses suddenly appeared in my budget. And I am the WORST at parking. I am definitely holding off on the car purchase for as long as I can! 🙂

  • Reply Mrs. CTC @FromCostToCoast March 15, 2016 at 8:44 AM

    Good luck indeed! I hope you can make it work without a car, that would save you an awful lot of money. Is there a return on investment at all when it comes to cars?

    After taking a job closer to home we recently went from two cars to one. Small victory, however for some reason we ended up having one big ass car instead. Not sure what happened there 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 15, 2016 at 8:43 PM

      Thanks! I hope I can make it work. I feel like the only way to get an ROI on cars is probably to be an Uber driver. I guess if I had to get a car I’d drive for Uber in my spare time.

      That’s great that you went from two cars to one! Even if the remaining one is big, I’d say it’s still better than two. 🙂

  • Reply Tonya@Budget and the Beach March 15, 2016 at 9:47 AM

    I’m super impressed that you can do all that even when it’s freezing cold, hot, or rainy in Boston! I live three miles from work and it’s nice in LA pretty much all the time and still haven’t ridden a bike to work, although I don’t actually have a bike to be fair. Can you uber to some places if the weather bad or location is far away? Maybe your company can help with that? I think if you can live without a car, go for it!

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 15, 2016 at 8:45 PM

      That’s a good question about Uber. I don’t think my boss would be too happy if I handed in Uber receipts for reimbursement, but I should check to see if it’s permissible occasionally in a pinch.
      I feel like it would be tough to bike in LA because it’s such a car city (or so it seemed to me the one time when I visited!). City biking can be stressful in general, but luckily Boston is a pretty manageable place because it’s not too huge.

  • Reply our next life March 15, 2016 at 1:08 PM

    I love that you’re committing to staying carless! That’s a great challenge, and it seems like you live in a good place to make that possible. This is not the same thing at all, but I’ve changed my mindset on our cars, and (I know this sounds crazy, but…) have decided that I won’t drive to places for work when I can fly. So for trips of 100-200 miles, I used to drive, thinking it was the better choice, but then realized that I’m adding all this extra mileage to our cars for no personal gain. That means more wear and tear, faster tire replacement needed, etc. Sure, I get reimbursed for mileage, but that doesn’t add up to enough to warrant replacing the cars sooner. So now I just drive back and forth to the airport, and call it a day. That still adds up to plenty given that we don’t have an airport in our little mountain town, but it’s a lot better than what I was doing. And the point of this is that I don’t think we should all feel obliged to have and use a car for work purposes! Because mileage is only meant to cover the cost of gas, oil changes and maybe tires, but it for sure isn’t enough to cover the cost of a replacement car. So we’re done subsidizing my company with our car, and I’m glad you’re of the same mindset. I just hope braving the weather doesn’t get to be too much. 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 15, 2016 at 8:58 PM

      I think that’s a super smart change to make — there’s no way you can really get reimbursed for that wear and tear on your car, unless your employer is interested in buying you a new car eventually, which I’m guessing they’re not. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I would not enjoy driving 200 miles by myself. So, sounds like a good decision all around.

      I wonder a lot about the environmental impact of flying instead of driving. I mean, clearly there is a large carbon footprint involved in flying a plane from one location to another. But the addition of one extra passenger doesn’t seem like it has a super direct impact on the size of that footprint. I mean, eventually if lots more people buy lots more tickets, the number of flights will increase. But in the short term, if one specific person is making a decision to burn fuel driving 200 miles in a car, or hop on a plane that is already going to the same destination anyway, somehow the plane seems like a slightly better environmental option. Am I crazy?

      • Reply our next life March 15, 2016 at 9:30 PM

        The enviro question… that’s where things get sticky. Technically the calculators say that flying is way worse in terms of carbon. But I don’t know if you could say that *my* getting on a flight makes a difference in that flight’s impact… or maybe it does. I don’t mean to justify what could be a big environmental sin, but it’s something I’ve made peace with since I’m only having this big travel footprint for the next year and change. 🙂

        • Reply Sarah Noelle March 15, 2016 at 9:47 PM

          Oh yeah, totally, my musing about the plane vs. car question is just something I wonder about sometimes with my own travels, since lots of flights have empty seats and I have the urge to apply the same environmental argument that I apply to public transportation (i.e., the bus is going there anyway, so I might as well hop on). But I guess even with buses my ridership is driving up the demand for more trips a tiny bit. There must be some algorithm somewhere that can figure this out.

  • Reply Gary @ Super Saving Tips March 15, 2016 at 1:27 PM

    Cars can be both a convenience and an inconvenience, but it sounds like you have a pretty solid plan for doing without. It’s definitely worth trying to go carless and see if it’s workable in the long run. I know when my wife and I first decided to go from two cars down to one, we were concerned how that would turn out, but now we don’t even miss the second car (and all its costs). Good luck with your challenge!

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 15, 2016 at 8:52 PM

      Yes, I think honestly we can get used to a LOT — and that includes lifestyle deflation as well as lifestyle inflation. 🙂 I think that’s great that you and your wife were able to adjust so easily to having one car instead of two. Good for you for taking the plunge!

  • Reply Maggie March 15, 2016 at 2:56 PM

    Ha ha ha. “Um… Actually I decided to get a car” would be the best post ever! Take the challenge! It’s always worth challenging yourself first. If you’re miserable, recalculate. That’s just the smart thing to do and you’re a smart lady. So, well done. 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 15, 2016 at 8:49 PM

      Haha, well, I figured I’d be more likely to stick with it if I wrote about it on the blog, because I don’t want to have to write a follow-up post about how I failed! We’ll see what happens — I won’t have a full client load for about 2 months, so I can figure things out as I go along. 🙂

  • Reply Hannah March 15, 2016 at 9:52 PM

    It seems like you should look into a subscription to a car rental service like ZipCar (might be a Minneapolis thing) for heavy case load days or days in which your work takes you across the city. If you have say 3 appointments in a day, you could easily extend your work day by 2-3 hours if you rely on public transit v. a car.

    Do you get reimbursed for mileage? If so, it might bring your effective rental rate to $3-4/hr.

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 16, 2016 at 6:42 AM

      Ah, I wish! My employer would unfortunately not pay for Zipcar — we’re a non-profit, so there’s not a lot of extra cash around. Luckily I’m a pro at public transportation. 🙂 I also should have mentioned in the post that my supervisor helps me out by not assigning me clients who live in inconvenient areas for public transport — that makes a big difference.

  • Reply hollyatclubthrifty March 16, 2016 at 8:18 AM

    I think it will probably be fine until you get to winter. When it’s a freezing tundra outside, all of your transportation options won’t be so attractive. Ha!

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 16, 2016 at 7:47 PM

      Yeah, we’ll see. 🙂 Luckily we’re on the verge of spring now, so I have over six months to figure this out before it starts getting cold again!

  • Reply Kate@GoodnightDebt March 16, 2016 at 8:40 AM

    I love that you are trying to do your job without a car. Especially in Boston, you should be able to make it work. I saw that your employer wouldn’t reimburse for a car sharing service, but they also wouldn’t reimburse you for your car expenses. So you could set aside money in an account for those days you don’t want to or can’t use public transit. You could add it into your budget now and let it build while you probably won’t need it, but then you’ll have the cash when winter is freezing and a car sounds nice.

    It’s worth keeping your ears up for any new car sharing services in Boston. I saw others mention Uber and ZipCar. There is a service not yet in Boston called Car2Go and it would be perfect in a pinch. Its like $40 to get signed up and then you only pay for the minutes/miles you drive.

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 16, 2016 at 7:50 PM

      Oh yes, I have heard of Car2Go! I wish we had it here, because I’ve heard it has a lot of advantages relative to ZipCar. For now I’m hoping not to have to resort to paying for transportation, mostly because I think it could turn out to be a pretty slippery slope. I do know two other people who have done this type of work year-round without a car though, so I want to believe it’s possible!
      But you’re right: there could be days when I just can’t handle biking or public transport. I really should save some money up for days like that. I have to keep reminding myself that I do need to actually save some money in addition to trying to pay off these loans.

  • Reply thesingledollar March 16, 2016 at 10:02 AM

    Ooh, wow, that sounds very cool and also somewhat challenging. I think in your situation I might suck it up and have a zipcar savings fund for days when you just can’t even with walking/public transit — zipcar two days a month is infinitely cheaper than owning a car yourself, with all the costs you point out. Anyway, good luck sticking to your guns on this!

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 16, 2016 at 8:09 PM

      Yeah, this is not a bad idea…I guess I’m crossing my fingers that I won’t have to resort to ZipCar, but it’s hard to know at this point. I think I’ll probably hold out as long as I can, but it’s good to have some backup plans in mind.

  • Reply Matt @ The Resume Gap March 16, 2016 at 11:00 AM

    There’s no shame in changing your mind later, so I think you’re doing the right thing giving it a shot. If it works out, you’ll be healthier and wealthier for the trouble.

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 16, 2016 at 8:10 PM

      Yeah, I agree — I’ll give it my best shot and see how long I can hold out! 🙂

  • Reply Alyssa @ Mixed Up Money March 16, 2016 at 12:41 PM

    Can I just say, WOW! You are actually such an inspiration for not buying a vehicle. So many people would choose convenience over necessity, and I think it’s really cool of you to go without one. I wish I didn’t have a vehicle because I find it to be more stressful than anything. If I could walk everywhere I could, but unfortunately in my city that is not an option. However, I could use public transit more often. You have truly made me feel like a bum (but in a good way). Good luck in your car-less journey. PS: I will never judge you if it becomes more likely you’ll have to make the decision to purchase. Hope your job is going well 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 16, 2016 at 8:13 PM

      Ah, thanks — honestly I find owning a vehicle to be highly stressful as well, which I should have added to the list of drawbacks. But in this job it might be crazy of me to not have a car…I guess I’ll find out! 🙂
      By the way, you’re NOT a bum; everyone just has different transportation needs!

  • Reply Emily @ JohnJaneDoe March 16, 2016 at 1:15 PM

    I’ve never lived in a place where not having a car was much of an option, as life in the southeast outside of a few college towns and maybe Atlanta is largely suburban sprawl with rotten public transportation.( Of course, that’s probably part of the reason why we have such a problem with obesity, too.) So trying to get around on a regular basis with public transportation seems incredibly daunting, although I imagine in Boston the idea of finding parking might be equally challenging.

    I hope you can stick to your feet rather than a set of tires, and I hope you write about it.

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 16, 2016 at 8:17 PM

      I’ll try to write about it! 🙂 Boston’s transportation system really is pretty reliable — people who live here will complain about it, but in my opinion we’re pretty lucky: you *can* get to most places by bus and/or train, provided you’re willing to put up with occasional delays and traffic (but then again, traffic is also an issue when driving a car). And the people-watching aspect really is an amazing bonus!

  • Reply Michelle March 16, 2016 at 2:41 PM

    Good luck! Sounds like not having a car could be really difficult with your job. But you can do it! I currently have an hour long drive to work (which I hate). And there are no feasible public transportation options. I really miss living in a city!

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 16, 2016 at 8:19 PM

      An hour does sound long — although I imagine you can listen to music/podcasts/books while you’re driving. I wish I could do more of that on the bus/train, but the background noise is so loud that I would truly end up with hearing loss if I turned the headphones up above that level. But in any case, yes, living in a city is great, and I’m determined (for now) to avoid a car purchase!

  • Reply Michelle March 16, 2016 at 4:09 PM

    I went without a car my whole life (seriously) in Denver which up until recently had a modest transportation system. Ironically, I bought a used car (cash)that I don’t really except to go to the mountains because the transportation system is so great now. Heavy sigh.

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 16, 2016 at 8:22 PM

      Ah, timing! At least you do have beautiful mountains that it must be a lot of fun to visit. I’m impressed you went so long without a car!

  • Reply Leigh March 16, 2016 at 11:55 PM

    My policy on car ownership was that if I was regularly spending $400-500/month on ZipCar (what I estimated a car to cost on average over 10 years), then I’d buy a car. I went about 8 months without giving in and buying a car after moving here…

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 17, 2016 at 7:06 AM

      Interesting! I hadn’t even thought to average out the costs of a car over the course of years, but that makes total sense. And if it is really $400-$500, then I should really look into that Zipcar membership for days when driving seems like the only option!

      • Reply Leigh March 17, 2016 at 10:00 AM

        I took the cost of the cars I was considering over 10 years (the length I time I anticipated keeping one) monthly ($178) and then insurance ($120 in my early twenties), parking ($100 in my apartment building at the time), gas ($50) and maintenance ($10). So I would recommend looking up the cost of those items for your situation and then just being more willing to pay for ZipCar/Car2Go/Uber/transit more often if your transportation costs continue to be cheaper than car ownership! So far, my average is about $590/month, so I definitely need to keep the car for a while longer…

        Car2Go might be a better option for you if you don’t want to return to the point where you got it from. (ZipCar IIRC requires you to return the car to the same parking spot.)

        • Reply Sarah Noelle March 17, 2016 at 6:15 PM

          This is very logical. 🙂 I should definitely try to calculate it. I’m pretty sure that staying carless is the cheapest option for now, but it would be good to run the numbers so I know for sure!

  • Reply Angela G. Horn (@angelagayehorn) March 17, 2016 at 4:19 AM

    Hi Sarah

    I’m at work and so only skimmed your post (I’ve saved it to read later), so maybe it’s there and I didn’t see it, but what about adding Uber as an option?

    We’ve been car-less for about three and a half years now, and walk, cycle or use public transport for the majority of our commutes. Where none of those options are feasible, we Uber.

    Good luck on your mission!
    Ang 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 17, 2016 at 7:10 AM

      Hi Angela — A couple other commenters have mentioned Uber as well. I think because my employer wouldn’t reimburse me for Uber, it would need to be a last-ditch backup option. It sounds like that’s how you use it as well.
      That’s great that you’ve been carless for a while now! 🙂

  • Reply seattlegirluw March 17, 2016 at 6:25 PM

    I think you can do it! It’s not always convenient, but public transport in major cities is usually pretty good. And like you said, great for people watching.

    Besides, like you said you can always change your mind. Just be sure to review that list of costs when you’re tempted. That’ll probably be enough.

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 17, 2016 at 9:35 PM

      Yeah, it’s all about the people-watching. 🙂
      Today I did have a frustrating 3-bus trip across town (actually across three towns to a fourth town) and was slightly late for an appointment. But upon reflection, I feel like the same thing would have happened even if I had a car, because it was all due to traffic. It’s a good reminder that cars aren’t a magic bullet to solve all problems: they’re certainly not going to make traffic go away.

  • Reply Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor March 18, 2016 at 7:19 AM

    I think it’s a great challenge and definitely worth a try. I would be afraid of parking and traffic in Boston, too! My sister is car-less in a major city and bikes to appointments (although she is not on the road as much as you describe). About once a month she needs a car to get to a location and rents a ZipCar (or maybe it’s a different company). Maybe a good option if you’re in a pinch.

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 18, 2016 at 9:03 PM

      Yes, a few people have suggested ZipCar as a backup if I have no other options; I should look into it.
      I’m impressed that your sister bikes to her appointments! I’d be interested to know if she lives in a city where it gets really cold, and if she does, how she handles that. The cold is a big problem for me when biking — my hands freeze up really quickly. But luckily we’re at the beginning of spring now so I don’t have to think about that yet!

  • Reply Allan Liwanag March 18, 2016 at 2:50 PM

    This is a great post. While I was reading your post, I couldn’t help but remember my days in Las Vegas.

    I was able to live without a car for a year. When I was in Las Vegas, all I had was my bike, which meant no insurance, no maintenance, and all the things attached to that car. I lived fine. I was able to go just bout everywhere in Vegas with no problems at all.

    It was really hot during summer days in Vegas but that’s given since it’s basically a desert. Other than that, I was able to live just fun.

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 18, 2016 at 9:06 PM

      That’s great that you biked around in Las Vegas! I’m impressed — my understanding of Vegas is that it’s spread out over a very large area. You must have had some long rides. 🙂 I actually think biking a a dry heat sounds great. In Boston we have more of a humid summer, but I still think it’ll be fine. It’s the winter I’m not sure about…

  • Reply Vic @ Dad is Cheap March 19, 2016 at 12:21 AM

    Good luck!

    I think that might be a tough challenge Sarah! I’m looking forward to see your progress!

    Hopefully it works out! I just recently bought a car and I’m hating the extra costs that you mentioned. I seriously considered biking since my job is 4 miles away, but ultimately decided against it because A) Needed to be available in case of any emergency with my daughter B) the office is in an industrial area so there are a lot of trucks around and C) i’m not a very good biker 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 19, 2016 at 8:19 AM

      Ah yes, I can understand wanting to have a car in case of emergencies. And biking near trucks is no fun. 🙁 It definitely took me a while to become comfortable biking in a city, and there are still times when I jump off the bike and walk on the sidewalk instead because it feels safer that way.
      I hope your new job is going well!!

  • Reply Savvy March 19, 2016 at 8:37 AM

    My biggest mistake starting out was moving to a side of town that didn’t have good public transportation or even sidewalks. I got tired of bumming rides from my roommate and bought a car a couldn’t afford. The first car repair bill went on my credit card which started my credit card spiral. It took me ten years to pay off that debt. So I agree – try to go car free as long as you can. I met someone who rented a car a couple of times a year for situations she felt she needed a car. It was cheaper in the long run.

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 19, 2016 at 3:40 PM

      Oh wow, I’m so sorry that the car ended up causing such a long period of credit card debt. I can totally see how that could happen though — cars are just a total unknown in terms of repairs and upkeep. You never know what’s about to break or how much it’s going to cost to fix it. I really am going to try to hold out as long as I can. I totally don’t mind riding the bus, and biking is nice in the warmer weather — I think my main challenge is going to be in the fall/winter when it starts getting cold again. But I’m going to give it my best shot!

  • Reply Christine March 19, 2016 at 10:48 AM

    Good for you! I hope it works out well for you. Cars are so expensive. They always feel like a money pit to me. We get by with sharing one car and make it work because I don’t what to pay for another vehicle + insurance, repairs…

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 19, 2016 at 3:41 PM

      Thanks for the good wishes! Cars really are so expensive — that’s great that you’ve managed to get by with one car instead of two; I’m sure that saves you a ton.

  • Reply Jason March 19, 2016 at 5:24 PM

    The other thing to consider is Uber…particularly depending on where you have to go. I love the MBTA, but there always seem to be delays, particularly on the green line. And with all of the ZIP cars that could be something as well.

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 19, 2016 at 5:51 PM

      Ah, yes, a few people have mentioned these options. Unfortunately the distances that I have to travel are often quite far (it’s not just Boston but also the surrounding towns), so a single Uber ride could easily hit $30 or $40, and zipcar only does round-trips. I could maybe use them as an absolute last resort though.

  • Reply Latoya @ Life and a Budget March 19, 2016 at 8:07 PM

    I’m interested in hearing your results! I don’t think we could survive without a car, but the exercise would be a nice benefit of not having one – considering I don’t exercise as I should. And the costs, I won’t even get into those. It’s ridiculous all of the costs associated with putting a vehicle on the road.

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 20, 2016 at 8:16 AM

      Hi Latoya 🙂 Sigh, yes, the costs of cars. One thing that I found really anxiety-inducing about car ownership back when I had one was that the costs were so unpredictable. I felt like I never knew what was going to break next or what it was going to cost me. So I’d rather avoid that if possible. We’ll see — I’m going to give it my best shot!

  • Reply FF @ Femme Frugality March 20, 2016 at 3:32 AM

    My day job is similar. Except the public transport to our suburbs is near non existent. Previously, the car getting me to work more than paid for the payments. That’s slowed down though, and now most of my work is online. Just got rid of our other payment, though, and I still go out on those jobs every once in a while.

    Irrelevant. Anyways, give public transport a shot, and if it works, holy awesome, but if it’s interfering with your work, don’t feel too much guilt. A car isn’t a good investment as an asset, but as a tool it can be leveraged to allow you more access to work and income. If it’s an investment that will help you make money…

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 20, 2016 at 8:11 AM

      Yeah, it’s true: if I absolutely can’t do my job without a car, then I guess a car purchase would be sort of an investment in my income. Unfortunately I think it would probably end up wiping out a pretty substantial amount of my paycheck though, and wouldn’t help me make *more* money per se, so I would need to think carefully about my options. Here’s hoping it doesn’t get to that point! 🙂

      • Reply FF @ Femme Frugality March 22, 2016 at 7:38 PM

        Definitely not more money than if you took public transport, but more money than if you couldn’t hold the job because public transport wasn’t working out. Which I hope it does! I dream of my city someday being able to accommodate that, even into our suburban sprawl. Because public transport is a ton cheaper.

        • Reply Sarah Noelle March 22, 2016 at 8:01 PM

          Yeah, I’m crossing my fingers that it works! 🙂 It’s true that the car/ride-sharing options would be cheaper than buying a car — it’s just that I’m so used to paying little or nothing for transportation that it would be a big change!

  • Reply Jen @ Frugal Millennial March 20, 2016 at 5:40 PM

    I’m not sure if I could do it, especially because I live in Minnesota and we have -25 degree temps sometimes in the winter. I’m impressed! Good luck!

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 20, 2016 at 6:44 PM

      Oh, wow, I would not be attempting this in Minnesota, that’s for sure! It does get cold here in Boston, and we do get blizzards, but -25 would be extremely unusual. Usually it stays above zero at least (though that’s still pretty cold in my opinion). Luckily I’m starting this experiment in the spring! 🙂

  • Reply DC @ Young Adult Money March 20, 2016 at 9:58 PM

    I think if it’s holding you back in your job that you should just cave and get a car. But if you’re able to make it work and you aren’t being limited by it then you could just “wait and see.” But it sounds like you’ll get busier and busier over time? At some point it seems like you will hit a ceiling due to not being able to commute quickly between meetings.

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 21, 2016 at 5:53 AM

      Yeah, it will be interesting to see how things unfold. Two things I should have mentioned in the post though are 1) I can arrange my meetings however I want, and many clients are very flexible, which means I can try to lump all my meetings in Neighborhood X on the same day, and 2) I do have one colleague who does not have a car, and she does manage to make it work. So I think there’s hope! 🙂

      • Reply DC @ Young Adult Money March 21, 2016 at 11:45 PM

        Oh that’s a great setup! It sounds like you just might be able to avoid getting a car then. I think you can do it! Or at least delay it.

        • Reply Sarah Noelle March 22, 2016 at 8:07 PM

          Yeah, I don’t think it’ll be easy by any means, but I think it just *might* be possible. 🙂

  • Reply Mel March 21, 2016 at 12:20 AM

    I second all the folks who suggested ZipCar or car sharing alternatives – if you just use it once in a while, the cost is probably a lot less than car payments, insurance, gas and upkeep, even if your company won’t reimburse you.

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 21, 2016 at 5:51 AM

      Yeah, I think it’ll have to be my last resort! I hate the idea of paying, but it’s true: these options are a lot cheaper than buying a car.

  • Reply Rachel Jonat (@racheljonat) March 21, 2016 at 1:28 PM

    You can do it! I’m not sure where you are but perhaps you can Uber longer distances and do a combo of walking/transit/bike for the rest. We got rid of our car for three years and we made it work with car share, renting on weekends if needed, transit and loads of walking. Because we knew we were saving quite a bit without a car (we even rented out our parking spot and earned money!) we could spend a few hundred a month on transport and still be ahead of owning a car.
    Good luck!

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 22, 2016 at 8:17 PM

      That’s great that you were able to make it work by combining different transportation methods! That’s exactly what I hope to do. I only wish I had a parking spot to rent out! 🙂

  • Reply Deborah Lebl March 21, 2016 at 2:42 PM

    Background: I went to college in Boston–no car. Later I worked in Boston for a few years–no car (I actually sold the car I had bc it sat in my garage for 6-7 days/week).

    Advice: Don’t buy a car. The costs are going to be so high it won’t be worth it. If oyu need to get from one meeting to another quickly, get a cab or Uber or Lyft. If you need a car to get you around all day, get ZipCar. Have you ever tried it? It’s awesome and Boston is ZipCar home.

    You can do it!

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 22, 2016 at 8:18 PM

      Hooray, another Bostonian with no car! I can’t believe how many people in this city do actually own cars when there are so many other options. I really do think I can do it; I just have to plan ahead and stay strong! 🙂

  • Reply Frank Facts March 21, 2016 at 9:05 PM

    First of all, as a fellow Bostonian, this statement peaked my interest: “the public transportation here is excellent.” Complaining about the T aside, I’m glad someone acknowledges that, compared to most American cities, the T really isn’t THAT bad. 🙂

    (That’s probably bad timing considering a train derailed at Copley the other day… errrr).

    That said, I’m still here with my car (a Honda Civic). My family is from far Western Mass, so it’s useful for leaving town. I’m also not a huge “city” person, so I like being able to easily leave the city with my car. I do use the T to get to work, though, and honestly probably only use my car like once a week. It is maybe a waste of money, but I’m just too attached. It’s my one “splurge” I guess. 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 22, 2016 at 8:12 PM

      Hi Frank — Yes, thank you, I’m glad you agree with me about the T! People really do complain about it a lot, but I always defend the poor T — it’s a super old system trying to adjust to modern demands (and crazy modern weather, at least last winter). I think they’re doing a great job. And so far my work travel has been very smooth. I actually hadn’t heard about the derailed train at Copley; I hope no one was hurt.

  • Reply Harmony Smith (@CMK_Harmony) March 22, 2016 at 11:53 AM

    Good luck! I think that you’ll be able to do it. You have options and you’re saving a ton of money. Most people think we’re crazy for not buying a van yet, as our third child is almost one year old. We have two paid off cars. Neither fits all of us, but don’t go many places as a family (the oldest rides a bus to school). When we do all go somewhere, we use Grandpa’s car, who lives three houses down from us, or we just use two cars. It’s not the most-convenient arrangement, but it makes sense financially. The minor hardships (us and you on a bike) will pay huge dividends when it comes to saving money.

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 22, 2016 at 8:07 PM

      Thanks, Harmony! And good for you for not giving in and buying a van that doesn’t make sense for your family financially. And that’s great that you can borrow a relative’s car when needed. I should have mentioned in the post that one of my brothers lives in the Boston area as well and offered to let me borrow his car on specific days if I needed to. It would be complicated logistically, but it’s good to have that as a backup option!

  • Reply Eilidh March 22, 2016 at 1:30 PM

    I love your determination! Good luck to you.
    I have a suggestion for you if getting a car becomes your only option. We live in Norway and electric cars are becoming really popular. They are way more environmentally friendly and perfect for scooting around town.
    You might even find there are government incentives to help you out.

    • Reply Sarah Noelle March 22, 2016 at 8:04 PM

      Thanks for the suggestion, Eilidh! We have very few electric cars here, but I hope we get more! It would definitely be a more appealing option than a regular gas-guzzling car. I did see an electric charging station around town recently, so maybe they’re becoming more popular. 🙂

  • Reply MB @ Millennial Boss April 3, 2016 at 3:01 PM

    I love Massachusetts and want to live there again some day! Even the suburbs are commuter friendly with the commuter rail and T-service to some of the neighboring suburbs such as Quincy.
    Unfortunately the Southwestern state I’m living in now requires a car but I am moving to the West Coast and am contemplating being car-free again. I’m going to research selling my car this week!

    • Reply Sarah Noelle April 3, 2016 at 5:02 PM

      Yay Massachusetts! Yeah, people complain about the T, but I think it’s generally awesome. Plus, the people-watching aspect is truly amazing. 🙂
      Good luck selling your car! I bet you’ll find it very freeing not to have one after you move.

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