I’ve lived a car-free life for the last 12 months and here’s how it went.
I’ll share the impact it had on my life and real numbers on how much money I saved.
Why I sold my car
At the start of 2022, I moved from Melbourne to Sydney to take up a dream job offer. This move meant that I went from more of a suburban area to inner-city living.
Initially, I wasn’t sure if I should bring my car down or not. It was funny, I had recommendations from both ends of the spectrum. I had people telling me that I couldn’t possibly survive without a car in Sydney, and those telling me I could easily get by.
In the end, I decided to get rid of my car.
The main reason I used my car was for commuting to work.
At my previous job, I drove around 40 minutes each way to get to the office so a car was essential. However, after moving to Sydney I could walk to work. I figured if I didn’t need a car everyday, it wold make sense to not have one.
So, I parted from my dear old 2006 Mazda 3 (“Mazzy”) after a blissful 4 years and jumped into a car-free life.
How much it cost me to own a car in 2021
Before I talk about today, let’s rewind to how much Mazzy cost me.
I bought her in cash for $6,000 second-hand so I never had to worry about a car repayment. Actually, I am a firm advocate for buying cars second-hand, you can read my article by clicking below:
Even with buying a car upfront, it still came with many costs.
As a meticulous budget-er, I calculate every cent I spend. This includes all car-related costs as well. Here’s how much I spent in 2021 on my car.
In 2021, I spent a total of $6,411 on my car.
Here are the costs.
Petrol: $4,294 per year / Driving to and from work for 40 minutes each way, petrol costs added up quickly. I also enjoyed taking weekend road trips here and there.
Registration (Victoria): $850 per year / This fixed registration cost is what all car owners have to pay in Victoria. It was always painful when it was time to pay up.
Car servicing & maintenance: $737 / Other than the standard twice a year service, Mazzy being an old girl always needed a couple of things repaired. In 2018, I needed a $1,800 repair (from a hit and run) so this was a good year.
Car insurance (Third-party only): $530 / For an old, inexpensive car I never felt the need to purchase comprehensive car insurance. I always stuck to basic third-party.
That’s right, I spent an average of $534 a month on my car. Not including the cost of the car or car repayments.
On top of this, I still spent additional money on transport. I still caught trains to the city and Ubers after late-night events. So, my total monthly cost on transport was even higher!
In 2022, I will spend around $1,077 on transport.
Okay, 2022 isn’t over yet, but in the last 10 months on average I have spent just under $90 on transport.
As I walk to work, the coffee shop, to buy groceries etc I can go days without taking any kind of transportation. When I do need to, I often opt for public transport and occasionally take Ubers if it is late. This helps me keep my transport costs low.
This means by not owning a car, I saved $5,334 in one year. That is $444 a month which is crazy!
Of course, I also didn’t include additional Uber and public transport costs on top of a car so I bet I saved even more than that figure!
Saving an extra $444 a month is hard. It means making a lot of sacrifices in the budget. However, by making this drastic lifestyle change I was able to bring my fixed living costs down!
Just by not owning a car for four years, I could save over $21,000.
What a car-free life is actually like
You may be wondering, is it really hard to live without a car? Has my lifestyle suffered?
As someone who drove nearly everyday for 4 years, here are my thoughts.
I enjoy a car-free life and don’t miss owning a car.
As I live in a well-connected area, I rarely miss having a car and enjoy my lifestyle.
As mentioned earlier, I walk a lot. Being able to walk to work has significantly boosted the quality of my life. It’s also a great way to keep fit without trying. I’m also close to trains and buses which I use often. I also used to hate taking buses, however they have really grown on me!
I seldom use Ubers and Taxis – only when I really need them. Actually, this isn’t a frugal thing but more so because they cancel so much! Especially in my area. I’ve experienced four or five drivers cancel on me multiple times, so I prefer the reliability of public transport.
I also enjoy not having to do the “adult stuff” you have to when you own a car. I used to dislike having to fill up petrol, fill air in my tyres and get my car serviced, which I don’t have to anymore!
Overall, I think it has been a great decision to live a car-free life.
The one time I wish I had a car
That being said, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
In the last 12 months, there was only one time where I really missed my car – when my parents stayed with me in Sydney for a week.
Unlike myself, my parents didn’t enjoy catching the public transport to places, which they had to – since I didn’t own a car. They quickly got tired of having to keep catching the train and eventually switched to Ubers at the end of their trip.
I felt guilty I couldn’t drive them around and wished I had a car for that week. However, other than this instance I never felt like I needed a car in the past year. Next time they visit, I am renting a car!
Will I always be car-free?
While I love living the car-free life, I see myself eventually purchasing a car after a couple of years.
I don’t think I’ll always be lucky enough to live in a well-connected area that is walking distance to work. If I get a job that is a 20 minute drive from home, I am buying a car.
Let’s see what the future holds.
I hope this article gave you some insight into what it is like to live a car-free life. Funnily enough, if you told me 18 months ago that I would be car-free, I would have never believed you! I was so reliant on my car that I always believed it was essential.
Are you thinking about giving up your car? Or are you living a car-free life? I’d love to hear more, you can contact me by clicking here.