I woke up the other day, and realized that I hadn’t even thought about, or consciously recognized, that I haven’t owned a car for over two months. It’s become routine… and my new normal.

So for this episode, I thought I would do a quick tally to see how much money I’ve saved on the cost of automobile ownership, vs. how much I’ve spent on other modes of transportation to get around and live my life.

The amazing thing — and I’m lucky because I live in an urban area conducive to other ways to get around — is how seamless this whole process has been. There really haven’t been too many “WHOOPS” moments — you know, the ones where I said “Wow, I didn’t think of THAT.” (Other than the fact that Upper Arlington does NOT have sidewalks… :-))

So here we go — the down, the dirty — SHOW ME THE MONEY!

Let’s assume the following for the cost of ownership: I was paying $135 to park my car in my building. I was paying $800 annually for insurance, which amounts to ~$70/month. I was budgeting $100/month for car maintenance, since my vehicle was 7 years old and no longer under warranty. I was also spending about $35/month on gas — less than average, but I rarely drove it. The car was worth about $10K, so it had value. I haven’t figured that in. So I conservatively estimated $350/month for car ownership costs. Might be a low number, not sure.

Now let’s tally up my other modes of transport for a typical month — we’ll use April as an example: $60 for an unlimited local monthly COTA bus pass. Zip Car — I rented it 8 times, average 2 hrs each – for vet visits, grocery shopping, and when I needed to haul stuff around= total cost $160. Also Uber’ed a few times for total of $20. Other than that, I walked, or biked, or got rides. So in a typical month, my transportation costs might avg $250.

Looking at it from a purely economical POV, I saved ~$100/month, or $1200/year. So let’s just say that’s typical. The question becomes — DID I MISS HAVING MY OWN CAR? Are there non-monetary benefits of ownership?

I would have to say, if I’m being honest — There are Pros & Cons to everything. That’s why this has been a good experience for me.

PROS to being Car-Free: saved some $$, didn’t have to worry about parking, maintaining or insuring a vehicle that I rarely used. It was also fun to watch all the people in the Commons parking garage fight for spots during the day, and realize that my Zip Car always had its own dedicated space. I also got to really find my way around Columbus and learn to use the COTA bus system. While not perfect, it is quite good…. and how cool is it that even new buses have that NEW CAR SMELL! Nice job on the upgrade to the #5 and #10 routes… keep ’em coming! I really wish more people in CBUS would take advantage of the bus system… especially when going up to the Short North, or football games… parking and traffic in that area is a PAIN!!

New high efficiency COTA bus on the #5 line

CONS to being Car-Free: So far, I’d have to say that this experiment was illuminating, from the standpoint that everything costs money. And certain things are just not easy to do without a car. COTA buses don’t allow animals except service dogs, so I can’t take my pets to the vet that way. And grocery shopping by bus takes quite a bit longer, and requires pre-planning. It also is only good for small trips when I don’t need a lot of stuff. For everything else, there is ZipCar or UBER. In many cases, when I did the comparison, UBER was actually more expensive than Zip. But Zip requires a reservation, and you have to make sure the car is there for the time slot you want.

So now, in the month of MAY, I’m starting to pine for the days when I could just get in my car and drive anywhere without a lot of pre-planning. Having said that, I did rent a car from Hertz to drive to Cincinnati for the weekend, so I’m still getting out and doing things. But now I’m wondering if having a car is probably where I’m gonna end up… so I can go where I want, when I want to, and haul things, and treat my car like it’s MY CAR again.

I knew I would end up here… this experiment was never meant to be permanent. Next Episode: Weighing my options, which vehicle to get??Thanks for reading… I’m sure none of you are very surprised. 🙂