Monday, March 10, 2014


Has there ever been something you swore you could never, ever do without – and then one day it’s forced on you – and you end up the better for it?

It turns out for me, that one thing is owning a car.

I’ve had a car since I got my driver’s licence decades ago, and the idea of not having one, of being dependent on public transport, of not having that freedom, I mean, how can anyone possibly survive?

Then 18 months ago the car was written off in a crash and – well, I became carless. But I was insured and I would get a replacement, so I wasn’t particularly worried. Then over the next few weeks, as I waited for the insurance company to sort it all out, I discovered I was actually getting by quite well without a vehicle. I was actually saving money. So much so I began to think... maybe I really can get by without a car.

After all, I have a job where I bus to work, and I live near a couple of useful bus routes. I could walk to the supermarket or do an on-line shop, could walk to church, and friends had offered to help me out if needed. My kids didn’t need me running them around anymore. And one of the biggest things – it was forcing me to exercise. I couldn’t just leap in the car and go down the road to the shops. I walked. Getting fit and saving money!

By the time the insurance money arrived, I’d decided: I wasn’t getting a new car. I was going to walk and use the bus.

That was eighteen months ago when it was all sweet and light and new. How has it actually panned out? Actually, it has panned out really well.

Look at all the pros. I don’t have to clean a car anymore (so happy about that!) I save money. I’m fitter - I don’t get nearly as puffed walking up hills. I’d like to say I’ve lost a few pounds but actually, I haven’t. (I’m not sure what that’s all about when you go from pathetic amounts of exercise to several hours a week, and most of it brisk cos I’m running late!) Socially – well, a social butterfly would be in trouble. Most of my “things” are close or bussable or friends offer to pick me up but I figure, going out less is a good thing. More time to write.

In spite of the odd inconvenience, it feels strangely free not having a car. I don’t lose keys. I don’t have to remember to lock it up. Don’t have to worry about it getting damaged or stolen. Don’t have to queue for petrol when I’m badly organized and running late. Don’t have to drive around looking for a park. Don’t have to fork out money for registration and insurance and repairs and petrol. Bliss.

But, yes, there are inconveniences. Having to take the bunny to the vet on the bus was interesting. Bad weather and no coat or umbrella is a pain. Taking the wrong bus and taking twice as long to get home was frustrating. But for the most part – it’s all good.

A few years back, it would have been horrible without a car, and I’ve no doubt at some point – if I changed jobs, for example – I might need one again. But in this case, it has worked out and I’m glad I didn’t just automatically think “got to get new car” but actually gave it a try.

So what about you? Have you ever given up something you swore you would never get by without, and have survived to tell the tale? Or – yikes! – given up something and regretted it?

Falling for Jack by Joanne Hill
Joanne Hill got her driver’s licence as soon as she was legally old enough but daren’t admit how many hours she’s wasted over the years looking for lost car keys. Her upcoming sweet romance Return to Frazier Bay will be released early April.

You can find her on Twitter at @joanneauthor or visit the website at


  1. What an interesting concept! We live out in the country--gravel roads, no buses within six miles, so that wouldn't be a possibility for us. But it sounds like a great idea if one if close to amenities The only thing we've gotten along without has been unintentional :) as when the power goes out, or our Mediacom goes down. I'll be interested to read the other comments!

  2. I've often thought if I lived in a big city with great public transportation that I'd love to be without a car. It seems the older I get, tho, the more I want my car (and my independence).

  3. I can't imagine not having a car! I did have a few years where I had to use public transportation but in my city that adds hours to running errands. But I know a lot of people do just fine without one.

  4. I'm lucky because I do live by a good bus route. If I lived somewhere else, even in this city, not having a car would never have been option. The stars aligned - so far!
    Thanks, ladies.

  5. What an interesting blog, Joanne. It really made me think. I certainly couldn't live without a car, unfortunately. I live in the countryside with no bus route at all. It would take me all day to walk to the shops and home. But there are other things I might do without--things that I did quite well without for many years before they were invented. Sometimes I yearn for the pre-internet days when I wasn't tied to the computer or some kind of mobile device checking messages all the time. I feel compelled to keep up, but it would be nice to get off that merry-go-round and return to a simpler life. In my dreams anyway!

  6. I wouldn't want to live without a car, but when we moved to Arizona about a year ago, I was thrilled to discover that I could walk to the library, the post office, the bank, and even the grocery store, although the hike back up the hill wouldn't be fun with a load. I often walk to the post office and the library. I don't go to the bank often because I do most of my banking online. I can even walk to my tennis club to play tennis, but I seldom do because I'm usually running late. :) So if I had to live without a car, I suppose I could do it.

  7. Joanne, I have considered going car-free as part of my minimalist lifestyle. I walk to many of the places I need to go in my small town, though I haven't done the mile-walk to the grocery. And since my son lives more than an hour away, visiting him would be difficult without my own vehicle. I pared down possessions drastically in 2012, and in spite of the reason for doing it, the result has been quite positive: more time and energy to concentrate on what matters. I applaud you for giving the car-free lifestyle a try, and for letting us know about it.

  8. Helen, yes, I often ponder the internet and phones and think how addicted I am to email and Twitter. Crazy. Merrilee, you're good! I think if I had a car again, I wouldn't even walk to the shops and church, I'd drive. Magdalena, when I think about it, I am moving to being more minimalist, and hadn't realized it! Interesting.