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How to live life without a car

Living without a car is easier in some places

Unless you live in a major metropolitan area with great public transportation, you probably have a car. It might seem impossible to survive in any Australian capital city without a car, but many people successfully live car free.

A car is an expensive item that carries a lot of costs beyond the sales price:

  • Fuel
  • Registration & licensing
  • CTP Green slip
  • Car Insurance
  • Maintenance costs & servicing
  • Car loan costs
  • Depreciation
  • Parking

There’s also the opportunity cost. That money could be invested toward your retirement.

If you’re truly interested in retiring early, living without your car can be a powerful decision.

Try these tips for living successfully without a car:

1. Consider all the times you use a car now. It’s likely to be for work, shopping, carting around the kids, sports activities, and rare occasions such as long trips for weekends away.

2. Develop a list of alternatives to living without a car. For example, you could find a nearby coworker and offer to split the cost of petrol for a ride to and from work each day. Public transport is another option especially if you live within walking distance of a train station or bus route.

You might be able to borrow a friend’s car or find a neighbour that’s willing to let you borrow their car.

Alternatively, you could check out some of the car-share sites websites across Australia that offer private car owners putting their own car up for rent on car-sharing service websites. Peer-to-peer car rental allows you to rent a car from your neighbours or rent your car out to make extra money.

Ride-sharing has vastly improved over the last few years. There are phone apps that make it quick and easy to find a ride on short notice. With the popularity of social networks and GPS, the process is much more robust and convenient than it has been in the past. Give it a try before you decide it’s not for you plus having fewer cars on the roads makes for a healthier planet.

You could always ride a bike. It’s good exercise and a great way to save money for retirement and get in great shape! Plus so many cities across Australia now offer bike-sharing.

Dockless bike share is a relatively new concept in Australia. You can use these electric bikes once you download an app on your smartphone and sign up. For example, the City of Sydney’s dockless bike share program allows people to access a fleet of bikes through a smartphone app.

Follow Bicycle Network to keep up with the latest bike path updates from around the country.

Get yourself some comfortable walking shoes and enjoy the fresh air as walking is another free option, especially for short trips or to run errands.

Many online stores are offering free delivery services now. You might be able to shop online and have your online purchases delivered to your house for free. No more waiting in line or driving in bad weather.

There is also a range of grocery shopping apps that offer your grocery shopping delivered within 10 minutes.

Ways to Live Without a Car

Ways to Live Without a Car


3. Remind yourself of the reasons you’re getting rid of your car. It can be challenging to sacrifice in the present for some future benefit. It’s not easy to diet in January to get ready for the summer either. Whenever you’re feeling frustrated, keep the end in mind.


4. Ensure you’re getting the benefit. It’s easy to spend all the extra cash you’re saving on other things. Remember to take that money and invest it. According to the RACV, owning a mid-size car costs the average driver almost $10,000 per year.

Calculate the full cost of owning a car and make an effort to invest a similar amount this year. Remember that you’re still going to have some costs associated with alternate transportation methods.

5. If getting rid of your car is simply too much, consider a compromise. Most families own two or more cars. Many families and singles own nicer cars than necessary. If you’re unable to survive without one car, there’s a compromise that can still save a ton of money.

6. Earn some passive income.  You can also earn up to $3,000 a year by renting out your own parking space or garage. Although if you’re renting the property, you may need to make sure you’re actually allowed to rent out the parking space. There are lots of websites and apps that offer parking spaces for rent.

7. Limit your household to a single, economical car. Avoid cars that get poor mileage or have a poor reliability rating. It’s very common for today’s vehicles to last for at least 200,000 miles. A car with 100,000 miles is barely middle-aged, but the same car can be bought at a fraction of the original price.

In rural areas or a country town, living car-free can be challenging. But research shows people are doing it successfully. At the very least, consider downsizing your current car situation. Cars are very expensive and all that money could be used to enable you to live comfortably in retirement.

If you’re serious about early retirement or are saving money for some other financial goal, seriously examine the many benefits of living without a car.