Tuesday, January 20, 2009

bye bye car

in just a few short days (hopefully before january 31st), i will be getting rid of my car and relying solely on public transportation and my own two legs to get me to where i need to be.

my car has served me well in the last 3 years. it's never been anything fancy. in fact, it's down right ugly. it's like the kid that got picked on it school. but, it worked miracles and got me from point a to point b. all it ever asked for was a little up keep here and there.

but the up keep now is beginning to be too much for me. i have been weighing the pros and cons of owning a car the last month or so.
and for me, monetarily and emotionally, it's better to let it go.
this winter has been trying for me because it has snowed record amounts here in the pacific northwest. i had to dig my car out from underneath FEET of snow on a regular basis. i had to move my car a lot from the street so that the snow plows could plow our streets. i did not attempt to drive my car in the snow because it's a requirement to have snow tires or chains in winter here.
it's been emotional toll for me worrying about my car in the weather and worrying how i will pay for repairs and other fees accompanied with owning a car.

let's talk about the monetary portion of owning a car:

first, there is the gasoline you have to purchase to make the car run. luckily, i don't drive my car much. so i put in about about $2.50 every two weeks. yeah, that's like... nothing. that's about the only upside for me having a car.

second, there is the auto insurance. you can compare rates. and i highly suggest that you do. if you haven't been in an accident or haven't had too many speeding tickets recently, you'll be able to find good liability coverage for $40-$65 a month. of course you can probably get it a bit lower than that if you are over the age of 24-25 and some offer lower rates for students with good grades. i was paying about $55 a month for this.

then there is the annual tag renewal. since i moved to a new state, i am not 100% certain how much i would have to end up paying. but i know that if i was still living in my old state, i would be dishing out about $70 for new stickers for my car tag. and this is minimal. in my new state, i am sure it's way more.

here in washington, your car also has to pass an emissions test if you are registering your car for the first time in this state. that would be another $15. and hopefully you past the test. if not, you get one more try for free i believe. after that, i think you have to pay again.

i also subscribed to aaa service for my car. i had the mid-grade/plus package. if i chose to keep that, it would cost me another $89 annually. even if i kept my car, i would not keep my aaa membership. i only had to use it ONE time... but it did pay for itself. unless you plan on taking long distance trips (like i did last year), it's really not worth it.

then of course there is the maintenance that needs to be performed on my car. it needs an oil change pretty bad. in fact, i think it needs a total tune-up. that will easily cost $200. i also have bad drum breaks. i have worn them down pretty low i'm sure. those would cost $80-$100 at the very very least. i also have a broken side mirror on the drivers side because a snow plow truck knocked it off. i have no idea how much that would cost to fix. and there apparently seemed to be a broken seal or something on my windshield. now, when it freezes on the outside of my windows, it does on the inside too! so i scrape inside and out before i can even attempt to drive. no idea what that would cost to fix. after looking at the costs of everything else, i kind of got overwhelmed and gave up on caring about that situation.

what it all boils down to is... i'll most likely be paying more for this car to be brought back up to speed than what i originally paid for the car when i first bought it!

luckily, there is light at the end of the tunnel. i live in a big enough city to have a bus route i have easy access to. many of the places i visit are on bus routes. i live a mile and a half from work. i live a couple blocks from a grocery store. i live in the area that i like most in my city, so i don't need to travel all over. soon, my boyfriend will be moving in with me and he will be there to help me carry a couple bags of groceries.

the only problem i can see myself having is not being able to transport heavier bulky things from the store to home. i just recently bought a 7 foot tall shelving unit at lowe's to assemble. if i did not have my car, i would have had some difficulty getting it home. when you bring anything bigger than a suitcase on to the bus, it's kind of frowned upon. maybe i could enlist the help of a friend with a car? maybe i could take a taxi home? or maybe i could just wait until someone has one on freecycle or craigslist who is willing to deliver it? there are other options... but it does make life a bit more difficult if you are looking to move big items.

i am not only wanting to sell off my car because of monetary and emotional reason. i also want to prove to myself that i can live HAPPILY without a car for at least a few months. i've went without a vehicle in the past. i was not happy. my emotions were all wrapped up in the convenience of being able to get around town fast. i want to prove to myself that i can be happy without that in my life. i proved to myself that i could be happy with my ugly car that had no heat/ac and no radio. so, i think i can make it without a car altogether now. i will be improving my daily activity level also. getting an extra 3 to 4 miles of walking in each day would definitely be a good thing.

what do you think? does getting rid of my car sound like a good or bad move? would you do the same if you were in my shoes? if i stayed in the same environment i am currently in for another year or two, do you think i should stay car(e)-free. or would it be a good idea to buy another one later on? please fell free to drop me a comment and share your ideas.


liz said...

I think its a great idea and I would do that same if I didnt have a child, but who told you that chains or snow tires are REQUIRED here in the winter?

They're not. In fact, they made studded tires and chains illegal in Feburary of 2008 because the snow was gone and the streets were getting torn up.

So far this year they havent told anyone to take their studded tires off yet.

The only place where chains were required was when going through the pass to cross the state, but that was in December.

na0 said...

actually, a few people at work and my boyfriend and his mom all have told me snow tires are law in winter here. if chains are illegal, why did they have them on city buses?

i didn't really care. i know that i couldn't afford them and i wasn't driving anyways. so why bother.