Monday, 22 February 2010

Could I manage without my car?

Thanks to some idiotic behaviour by my insurance company – for the sake of my blood pressure I will not go into the details - I do not have a car at the moment.  Anyway, I’ve decided to use the opportunity to see how I get on without a car for a little while.  We live in a fairly rural area, and I had, until recently, never seriously considered whether we might be able to get by on one car long term.

My husband needs his car for work – he has to make visits to patients during the day – so my dropping him off and collecting him in the evening won’t work.  I work from home several days’ a week.  At least once a week, I get the train to London from the station about 10 minutes’ drive, and 4 miles, from where I live.  On at least one other day, I need to get to a nearby town in the morning. 

Until yesterday, I thought that there was perhaps one bus a day in each direction to my nearest town. However,  I have discovered that there are three buses a day each way, and they go first to my nearest small town – where the station, dentist, supermarket, public library etc are – and then on to the much bigger town. The bus even stops a few minutes’ walk from where my sister lives! 

So I am considering reasonably seriously whether we could sell my car, and get by pretty well on one car.  

My thoughts so far are as follows:
  • On days that I go to London,  J. already usually drops me off at the station and collects me in the evening.  (This saves us about £6 a day in parking costs, and is reasonably convenient for him.) So not much change would be needed there, except that he would always need to collect me, or I would have to take a taxi home if he were not available.
  • On days that I go to other places to work, I would need to plan my journey ahead, and either a) get J. to drop me at the station or bus station b) take a taxi part or all of the way, c) get the bus into my local town and take a bus or train from there, or d) for major expeditions, maybe hire a car for a day.
  • If I were working at home and either needed or wanted to make an expedition into town, I would need to time my outing to catch the bus either both ways, or bus one way and taxi back.
  • We might occasionally have to make use of online supermarket shopping, something we have not really done so far. 
  • For holidays, evening or weekend outings, we already generally use J's car as it is more comfortable than mine anyway, so no change would be needed there.
  • The main difficulty I see is in my going on a spontaneous outing during the day, or in getting to certain work locations if they are far from a station or bus, but perhaps I just need to become used to taking the bus, or using taxis.    

It is very nice having my own transportation, but I am not sure whether that comfort and convenience is worth the nearly £3000 a year I estimate that my car is costing me.  (I do not have a car loan, but that figure takes account of car tax, insurance, servicing costs, petrol, and an estimate for depreciation.) 

I wonder if it is mad of me to think that I can manage without a vehicle, living where I do, or whether this could actually work?  Further consideration is definitely needed, but advice or comments from others would be welcome....


  1. Why not try it out for now, and see just how much extra trouble it is? If there's public transportation, it probably won't be so bad.

    The only real concern I'd have is safety. In many places I've lived, public transportation can be shady, especially after dark. I'm not sure if that's an issue where you live.

  2. I think you're right - it is worth a try. There are a few late buses near me, but I've never tried taking them, so not sure about the safety angle. Maybe I'll try taking one with company, as an experiment, and see how I get on.

    Many thanks...