Wednesday, February 06, 2008

How Selling My Car Saved My Life

Carfree USA editor - Brian Smith

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. After moving to the city, I decided that paying car loans, gas and insurance, and circling for hours to find a parking space, just didn’t make sense anymore. Owning a car made life stressful. I needed a break.

At age 34, I sold my 5th car and never replaced 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 more often; I take the train to go visit friends and family; 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 subway train. I’m smelling the flowers and smiling at strangers. I never feel that blood pressure spike of sitting in traffic. I can get anywhere on a bus or train, and occasionally I’ll spring for a late-night taxi. With the $500 a month I’ll save, I’m planning a trip through Europe with my sweetie.

That tumor in my brain that thought about cars for decades has been removed. Perhaps I will fill that space with learning Italian or memorizing off-color limericks to entertain my loved ones.

One thing is for sure, auto-free, my quality of life has improved dramatically, and yours can too.


Brains said...

My favorite line: "With the $500 a month I’ll save, I’m planning a trip through Europe with my sweetie." Yep!

Mark O. said...

Congrats in your transition!!!!

Lilia said...