Nov 14

On not owning a car

Written by | 4 comments »

(playing silly games on the walk home today)

You know that I love not owning a car. But then sometimes I really wish we owned a car. We probably will end up owning a car at some point. One car for the family, as we grow from 3 to 4 and when we move to an area further away from our work.

But until then, I’ve been constantly reminding myself of the benefits of not owning a car:

  • Passive exercise. Even if we take the bus, we still walk half a kilometre from our house to the bus stop and back. The round trip to the nearest grocery store is 2km. And each day Mika and I walk to a park or an activity and we end up walking between 5-10km each day. If we owned a car, that would drastically reduce.
  • Saving money. Taking into consideration bus fares ($2.50 for 3 hours ish), Zipcar costs ($50 a year and $10 per hour of car use) and taxi rides ($20 ish on a night out), owning a car always comes out as costing more. The upfront cost, the ongoing gas, the insurance, the servicing, the repairs…
  • Feeling closer to our community. When we own a car, we usually spend most of our time traveling to places in other neighbourhoods. But when we’re limited to our feet, the bus and our bike, we tend to spend much more time in our own community. I love this.  I love how we can bump into people in the street. I love how when we run errands, we can stop for a little while for Mika to jump in some leaves or to follow a squirrel. The people who are always hopping into cars seem to be in such a rush and much harder to have chance encounters with.
  • Not contributing to all the negative environmental aspects of owning a car. We’re just not. So that’s cool.

90% of me feels extremely lucky that we don’t need a car to have a great life here. And 10% of me keeps wondering if our life would be much cooler if we had a car. Such is life I suppose!


  • Angela Lolesi Beaumont

    That’s great Pamela. We managed on one car for over 6 years with active school aged girls. Glyn caught the train to work and I/we used the car for taxiing Emily and Jhanna about after achool and at the weekends, the usual shopping, and definitely holidays away, etc. Physically impossible to sports/music/after school jobs at 3.30pm on public transport when school finishes at 3 and 3.15 respectively (yes – your previous ward now has her own after school job and is saving for a Peru trip next year!) . We have just a month ago given in and gotten a second car as now they are both doing sports sometimes at same time and in different directions and we don’t feel comfortable constantly relying on other parents. Otherwise we’d have been happy sticking with one, and we’ll go back to one when they are more able to get themsleves around!

    • Pamela Minett

      Hey Angela, well I’m super happy to hear that it was easy enough to manage with one for so long! My family always had two cars and then when we were driving age, we had THREE CARS for a 4 person home. Insane. So hearing about families who manage with less is always encouraging for us! In other news, I can’t really believe how grown up Jhanna is and that she is probably nearly old enough to look after Mika. (And probably nearly ready to start driving no?!)

      • Angela Lolesi Beaumont

        Yeah, it’s crazy how the time flies by. She is 15 and sitting first year NCEA exams at the moment. Already has the travel bug, so not sure how long we can keep her here! Love your site. It’s great to see the whanau photies and the recipes are good too. Glyn still a vego and we try to be as healthy as poss and use our Veganomicon cook book as much as we can Go the seitan steaks! Nice to keep in touch via the inter-tron-web-net!

  • Adele Barlow

    Ha, funny – I’ve been having this EXACT conversation with myself in my head lately. Having a car in London is a nightmare, full stop, so it’s not even an option really – but I’ve been missing road trips and thinking about how much more I’d probably see/do if I had a car. But ‘more’ isn’t always better.