Top 10 Great Things About Living a Car Free Life

Thinking of living without a car? You’re not the only one! Nowadays, discussions about the pros and cons of having your own vehicle are becoming more commonplace. You might be wondering now if you should sell your four wheels and start living the car-free life.

Parkhound is here to help you weigh the benefits and challenges of living without a car so you can make the best decision. And, because car alternatives aren’t the same everywhere, we’ll also talk about how to expand your car-free options, wherever you live.

Here’s what you can expect to find in this guide:

  • Top ten reasons why car owners choose to give up their vehicles
  • Some common hesitations and how to navigate them
  • Tips for making the transition successful, regardless of your area

Whether you’re ready to make the change yourself or simply curious about why so many people are putting their driving days behind them, this guide will shed some light on the car-free life!

Top 10 reasons to consider living without a car

There’s no denying that we’re in a unique era of car ownership. Last year, we saw reports that Australians were starting to opt out of buying cars, which led to a 9 year record decline in car sales. So what is going on?

On the one hand, many people are realising that they don’t need a car to live the lifestyle they want. With rideshare services and an increase in public transit construction, owning a car isn’t the only way—or even the most convenient way—to get around anymore. And in a financial sense, many are finding that handing over the keys can actually free them from one of the biggest disadvantages of owning a car: the cost. 

There are others who are selling their vehicles because they’re interested in reducing their environmental impact. For the environmentally-friendly folks, swapping out a car for a bike or public transit is an obvious choice.

And while you might have heard these reasons from recent car disowners, what do those advantages look like up close? Here’s what living without a car could mean for you:

#1: You can be free of high car running costs 

We’re starting with the big one: the huge cost of owning a car. From car payments to car service costs to insurance and registration fees, car owners can expect to pay a long list of ongoing and one-time maintenance costs. In fact, according to Budget Direct, Australian households with two cars paid an average of $16,912 in 2019. Let’s take a closer look at the stats behind that staggering total:

In fuel alone, two-car households in all major cities around Australia can expect to pay somewhere between $72 and $80 per week for fuel. In this category, Hobart outspends all other cities with an average weekly fuel cost of $80.18. 

Other expenses include servicing costs, which tend to range between $27 and $29 per week, car loan repayments which average $130 per week, and insurance rates, which cost around $24 per week in major cities. 

These car service costs can fluctuate depending on the age of your car, the weather and terrain in your area, and how many kilometres you drive on average. As a car owner, it’s a good idea to keep a running tab of how much your car is costing you per month. That way when we talk about the cost of public transit, you know exactly how much you can save by selling.

#2: You can say goodbye to parking fees.

The average cost for two-hour parking in Sydney, for example, can cost anywhere between $26 per day for those lucky enough to enjoy early bird parking and $70 for anything over three hours during normal business operation. Other cities around Australia may not be quite so expensive, but the monthly totals can still be fairly cringe-inducing. Melbourne’s average two-hour parking price is $42, and in Brisbane, it’s $46

So, clearly, parking in most major Australian cities is a huge expense. But the good news is, when you look at the areas of Australian cities with the most expensive on-street parking spaces, you’re also very likely to find the most well-connected public transit options. 

That means, if you’re drawn to the more traffic-heavy parts of your city, switching to public transit is a sure way to avoid the high cost of parking. Which brings us to our next bit of good news.

#3: You can reduce your overall transit budget, as long as you’re responsible. 

So, you hear of a coworker getting rid of their car in favour of a bike or public transit. They’ve told you all about how living without a car has saved them money. But, you’re still wondering exactly how. How do the monthly costs of public transit compare to fuel costs? Are rideshares really more affordable than having your own car?

To get a sense of how much you can save, here’s a breakdown of public transport costs in major cities:

  • Average Sydney weekly public transit cost is $50
  • Average Melbourne weekly public transit cost is $45
  • Average Perth weekly public transit costs is $26

You can probably already see that living without a car can save you a huge amount of money if you’re committed to using public transport. 

And, how about the occasional rideshare or taxi ride? How much will those trips add to your car-free budget?

With so many rideshare apps out there, hiring a driver is vastly cheaper than it was in the days of taxis and professional driving services. And, $10 here and there won’t come close to the high cost of owning a car. But we’ll be honest: using rideshare apps instead of your own car all the time likely won’t save you too much or any money. 

Here’s an example. 

A single ride with one of the more well-known apps, from Central Station to Bondi Beach, can cost anywhere from $24 to $52 depending on whether you’re willing to share the car with other users or want a luxury experience.

That same trip can cost as low as $5 if you rely on public transport. 

In your own car, you can estimate that the trip would cost less than $1 in fuel, plus anywhere from $6 to $35 in parking.

The conclusion? It is absolutely possible to lower your transit expenses significantly, but only if you’re dedicated to riding a bicycle or public transport.

#4: You can lower your stress.

Now, there are some people who are cool as a cucumber behind the wheel of a car. 

Most of us, though, aren’t so lucky. In fact, according to a 2014 survey, 79% of people admitted that they were worried behind the wheel. 83% of the middle aged participants in that survey said that they experienced driving-induced anxiety.  

And it’s not just an Australian problem. A 2018 study out of New Zealand found that 52% of the participants felt mild anxiety while driving, with up to 16% more experiencing moderate to intense anxiety on the road. Similar studies can be found around the world.

The majority of us, then, are not relaxed behind the wheel. And even if we aren’t experiencing full-blown panic attacks, it can still be exhausting to undergo the daily stress of navigating the roadways. 

One option to deal with driving anxiety would be to learn coping mechanisms to reduce the stress response. And to be fair, for those with moderate to severe anxiety, this path is typically preferred by mental health professionals as a way to disprove fears instead of giving into them. From their perspective, becoming a calmer driver is an empowering process.

But for those looking to generally reduce the stress in their life and make the morning commute a bit more relaxed, opting for an alternative is a great choice. No more road rage or stress-inducing close-calls. 

#5: You can accomplish more during your commute

Maybe you already have a habit of listening to the news or an interesting podcast during your morning commute. But, inevitably, distractions make it difficult to stay attentive and retain the information that you hear. 

On public transport, though, you can open up many more possibilities and really commit yourself to having a productive morning. Take a book with you on the train, break out the crossword puzzle on the bus, or pick up a fun hobby like knitting or cross-stitch while on the tram. 

Even if you want to stick with your existing morning routine, you’ll find yourself more engaged with what you’re listening to than you would while also trying to navigate traffic.

#6: You can have more fun at special events

We all know that parking at the stadium is a huge hassle. The pre- and post-match traffic is a nightmare, and parking rates for special events are sky-high. 

Luckily, many of the best event arenas in Australia are conveniently accessed by public transport. Some stadiums, such as select events held at ANZ, will even include the price of public transport in your ticket. 

And, if you’ve never experienced the exciting energy of a group of fans or concert-goers all headed to the stadium from the nearest station, you’re in for a wonderful time. 

#7: You can feel better about your environmental impact

You knew this one was coming, right? Living without a car is an obvious choice for anyone looking to reduce their carbon footprint and live a more sustainable lifestyle. 

And given the news that came out last year that Australian’s aren’t doing as well about reducing carbon emissions from vehicles as we had hoped, many eco-conscious Aussies are saying goodbye to cars altogether. 

While there are many ways to help the environment, the fact that light vehicles are the largest contributors to transport emissions means that living without a car may be one of the best steps you can take as an individual.

#8: You’ll enjoy a health boost

There are a few different ways that living without a car can provide you with an overall healthier lifestyle. 

If you’re choosing to ride a bicycle instead of driving a car, for one, the health benefit is likely obvious. According to the Better Health Channel, cycling can give you a great cardio and muscle-strengthening workout, while improving joint mobility and improving posture. You can also lower stress and your risk for anxiety and depression, as well as a slew of other health conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, and some forms of cancer.

And, let’s say that you aren’t interested in cycling instead of driving. You can still enjoy a health boost by relying on public transport. Why? Because, chances are, you’re going to log a few more steps on the way to the bus or train station than you would walking from your home to the driveway. Those few extra steps may not seem like much, but they’ll add up so that you can enjoy all the benefits of walking, like improved mood and lower blood pressure.  

#9: You can get pretty much anything delivered these days

Gone are the days of wandering the aisles of your local grocery store, waiting for fellow shoppers to move out of your way and scrolling through your phone in the long checkout lines. 

These days, you can have groceries, clothes, furniture, your favourite restaurant food, and virtually anything you can imagine delivered to your home. So, if you’ve been worrying about giving up the convenience of filling your boot with a week’s worth of food, don’t! You can have it delivered!

#10: You can enjoy passive income with your now vacant parking space

Not only can you save money by giving up car service costs and parking fees, but you can also make money by renting out your space to car owners. Once you’ve said goodbye to your car and hello to your new car-free life, you can list your vacant parking space on Parkhound and start making passive income. 

To date, nearly 34,000 people have rented out their parking space on Parkhound, and you can earn over $3,000 per year. 

Getting started is free and simple, and you’re in control over how Renters can access your parking space. Plus, with direct payments, you never have to worry about collecting money. The entire process is set up so that renting your parking space is convenient and stress-free.

Still wondering if living without a car is the right choice for you?

Even after reading the ten reasons to try a car-free lifestyle, there might still be some lingering hesitations. Here are some of the most common ones we hear from car owners on the fence:

  • You live in a spread-out city which takes public transport longer to navigate
  • High temperatures in your city make walking or cycling difficult
  • You have fewer public transport options
  • The roads are not so cycling friendly
  •  You worry about giving up the independence of having your own car

To be sure, there are some potential drawbacks to giving up a car, especially in regions of Australia with less public transport infrastructure. 

But, we’re also in a moment of change. Many Australians are ready to commit to living without a car, and we’re likely to see more accommodations pop up even in cities that seem entirely car-dependent. Well-connected cities like Melbourne and Sydney are best for a car-free lifestyle, but others, such as Brisbane and Perth have already made strides in making their cities more walkable and accessible by public transport.

And, while you’re waiting for your city to make some changes, here are a few tips to start reducing your car use and experiment with living without a car:

  • Start building your community network. Perhaps you can start networking with neighbours and community members to make your own rideshare group. It’ll be cheaper than rideshare apps and you can get to know your community better!
  • Consider car-free days. It will help you reduce costs if you plan to run your errands on the same day.
  • Use your car for specific tasks only. Save on your fuel costs (and possibly parking fees) by driving around in your neighbourhood and using public transport for trips to more distant suburbs or traffic-heavy areas.
  • Put your car in long-term storage and see how you do. This is a great way to test whether living without a car is possible in your area. Take a look at the affordable long-term parking spaces available to rent in Canberra, Brisbane, or wherever you live, and then challenge yourself to live car-free for a while!  

Maybe you want to enjoy the benefits of avoiding the high cost of owning a car without living without a car completely. These tips will help you try out different ways to experiment with living without a car or reducing your car use.The Parkhound team wants to know how you’re feeling about living without a car! Are you excited about giving up the high cost of owning a car? Are you ready to say goodbye to car service costs forever? Reach out and tell us your car-free experience!