Life on a bike can be good for your wallet
After spending a large portion of 2006 living in The Netherlands, C and I made the decision to rid ourselves of the burden of car ownership. Living and transporting ourselves around the Hague without need or use of a car was an eye-opener. Forunately the excellent infrastructure and social acceptance of bicycle transportation was, for us, a powerful training exercise for a car-free lifestyle when we returned to Portland.
After the first year we roughly calculated an effective savings of $10,000 collectively. Within two years we had saved enough money to buy our first house. Something we would have never been able to do under the financial yoke of car payments, fuel and maintenance.
Fortunately for us Portland is, by US standards, relatively easy to traverse by bike. Our house, only a few minutes from my work at the time, is placed perfectly for access to almost the entire city with 15-20 minutes. In fact most of the city is easily accessed by bike with minimal effort. For us it was a decision that would yield multiple benefits. Health and physical well being we’re of course what most our car-owning friends and family heralded as our main motivation. We had always been avid cyclists even when we owned a car, so for us the health increase wasn’t the biggest upshot. We became instantly engaged in our new neighborhood. It’s easy to stop and talk to new neighbors as you cycle past. People approached us eagerly since we were physically accessible riding by on our bikes. Several new neighbors stopped by to chat about bike stuff or just to meet the weirdos who shunned the mighty auto. For both of us this was one of the best decisions we had ever made.
Now we live in Warsaw, Poland. We still don’t own a car. In fact of the 100 or so odd people that we socialize with I think there may be 4-5 car owners in the group. Not one of these folks identify as car-free. They’re simply people. Here not owning a car is not out of the norm…although riding a bike for transport is. Warsaw is flat, compact by the standards we’ve become accustomed in the US, although sprawling by European measurement. Traffic is aggressive and roadways are rugged. We still ride.
So the real question is: how much money can you save by not owning a car? We have never calculated the figure exactly. We’re just not that organized. We should probably measure it. That’s why today when I read a blog post today about a Canadian fellow who claims to have saved $7000.00 per year by not owning a car I began to wonder exactly how much C and I are saving.
Of course there are more benefits than just cash savings to not owning a car. Some of which are listed above…I could list several more, mainly social and societal benefits, but thats for another post.
I think we are going to be a little more systematic about recording how much we save over the next year. It has been so long since we owned a car that we will have to adjust the past cost figures of car ownership to account for present costs, but I think we can get a good handle on it.. How much money have you or could you save by getting rid of your car?
Is it more than $7000/ year? Less? Does the cash savings even matter for you? Let us know…