How Selling My Car Saved My Life
When you grow up in the Central Valley of California, having the right car to drive is very big deal. I mowed lawns and slung pizzas to pay for the privilege of driving. On my 16th birthday, I made that mythic teen-age journey to the DMV for a driver’s license. I was cool, in a 1965, baby blue, Mustang.
Well, times change. As a city-dweller for the last six years, I’ve decided that paying for car loans, insurance, parking tickets, and gas, not to mention circling for hours for a parking space, just doesn’t make sense anymore.
At age 36, I sold my 5th car and I didn’t replace it. Sure, this was frightening.
Would I become a hermit, or get stranded all the time? How would I get out of town?
Well, guess what, life without a car is much happier, and healthier. I ride my bike to work and through the park more often; I take the train to go visit friends and family in the Stockton area; and rent a car for camping trips down on the Coast.
The biggest hurdle was my own ego. I had internalized all those ads that said, ‘What you drive, is who you are.’
These days, my self-image is based on the books I read on the train. I’m smelling the flowers and smiling at strangers. I'm losing weight cycling to work and weekend activities. I never feel that blood pressure spike of sitting in traffic. I can get anywhere by bus, train, or bike, and occasionally I’ll spring for a late-night taxi. With the $600 a month I'm saving, I’m planning a trip to New Zealand next spring with the girlfriend.
That tumor in my brain, the one that thought about cars for 20 years, has been removed. Perhaps I will fill that space with learning Italian or memorizing limericks to entertain my loved ones.
One thing is for sure, auto-free, my quality of life has improved dramatically, and yours can too.
World Carfree Week is here