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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 06-26-14, 02:51 PM   #1
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How much does it cost you to be carfree or carlight? CARFREE COSTS

I mean actual cash expenses. This info could be useful for people who are considering a step in this direction.

So break it down for us!
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Old 06-26-14, 03:01 PM   #2
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Doesn't being car-free almost always bring about a net savings?
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Old 06-26-14, 03:56 PM   #3
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Doesn't being car-free almost always bring about a net savings?
Yes, but how much savings?

We've talked a lot about car expenses, but not so much about bike/transit/other transportation expenses--which is the other side of the balance sheet for those trying to decide how much it "pays" to become carlight or carfree.
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Old 06-26-14, 04:10 PM   #4
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Yes, but how much savings?

We've talked a lot about car expenses, but not so much about bike/transit/other transportation expenses--which is the other side of the balance sheet for those trying to decide how much it "pays" to become carlight or carfree.
I work in a town that's about 13 km. from where I live. It costs me about €42.00 a month for my monthly train pass, which is my main transport expense. I'd like to get a job here in town so as to avoid paying that. My bikes are paid for and parts and repairs amount to very little. I pay €33.00 a year for my bike-share card.
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Old 06-26-14, 04:24 PM   #5
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Doesn't being car-free almost always bring about a net savings?
Depends on your job too... I know that if I didn't have a good reliable truck/car, I would have lost/as in not get, about 1/2 of the jobs I got... So, over a lifetime of working I suspect I would have not earned around $900,000 more or less.
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Old 06-26-14, 04:28 PM   #6
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Depends on your job too... I know that if I didn't have a good reliable truck/car, I would have lost/as in not get, about 1/2 of the jobs I got... So, over a lifetime of working I suspect I would not have earned around $900,000.
That's a good point. I understand that not all of us can be car-free.

Are you car-light? If so, perhaps you could let us know how much money you save by avoiding driving whenever you can.
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Old 06-26-14, 04:35 PM   #7
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Well a couple of times I tried to say I was car-lite, with my Prius C as compared to with my 3/4 ton... But, people have said I should have just kept driving the truck, I do spend way less on transportation now... Probably about 1/4 the $ now as compared to the 3/4 Ton truck...

EDIT; Basically I get to drive a new vehicle, including all payments, gas, costs, for less $ just for fuel to just drive my 16 year old truck...

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Old 06-26-14, 05:24 PM   #8
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If I had a car rather than a bike, then the expenses that I now have that I would not have otherwise are:

Bicycle maintenance costs: Estimate $200/yr
Local car rental (Avis and Zipcar): Estimate $200/yr
Public Transit costs: Estimate $100/yr
Gym membership where I shower in the morning after riding in to work: $320/yr
Not purchasing things in bulk when they are on sale: 50/yr

So all told, probably on the order of $1000 per year is spent on things that I would not need if I had a car.

If I had a car, my estimated costs would be:
Fuel: $2400/yr (based on 20mpg, 12,000 miles per year, $4/gallon)
Maintenence: $500/yr (wild guess)
Insurance: $1200/yr (wild guess based on what I hear colleagues complaining about)
Depreciation: $1500/yr (based on buying a $30K car every 10 years, and selling it for $15K at the end of the 10 years)
Registration: $250/yr

Total about $6000 per year

So I figure that in direct expense, not having a car is saving me about $5K per year. To that I would add the better health that I enjoy, and I am waaay ahead.
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Old 06-26-14, 08:18 PM   #9
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If I had a car rather than a bike, then the expenses that I now have that I would not have otherwise are:

Local car rental (Avis and Zipcar): Estimate $200/yr
Public Transit costs: Estimate $100/yr

If I had a car, my estimated costs would be:
Fuel: $2400/yr (based on 20mpg, 12,000 miles per year, $4/gallon)
Do use your bike, public transit and car rental to travel 12,000 miles/year?
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Old 06-26-14, 08:35 PM   #10
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Are you car-light? If so, perhaps you could let us know how much money you save by avoiding driving whenever you can.
While avoiding driving whenever possible (assuming there is an alternative means of meeting the transportation needs formerly met by the driving) can produce a monetary savings, the savings is relative chump change unless the avoidance enables the "car-light" person to reduce the number of motor vehicles owned.
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Old 06-26-14, 10:26 PM   #11
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Do use your bike, public transit and car rental to travel 12,000 miles/year?
I put about 4000 miles on my bike per year, mostly commuting and short errands, not a huge number of miles on public transit, but when I had a car, I put 10,000 to 12,000 miles a year on it. I think that owning a car encourages you to drive more than you would travel without a car.
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Old 06-26-14, 10:41 PM   #12
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I put about 4000 miles on my bike per year, mostly commuting and short errands, not a huge number of miles on public transit, but when I had a car, I put 10,000 to 12,000 miles a year on it. I think that owning a car encourages you to drive more than you would travel without a car.
Truth to that.

Wife has a ~50 mile r/t work commute, but it isn't uncommon to double to quadruple that on running around on the weekends- most of which is frivolous .
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Old 06-26-14, 10:55 PM   #13
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I put about 4000 miles on my bike per year, mostly commuting and short errands, not a huge number of miles on public transit, but when I had a car, I put 10,000 to 12,000 miles a year on it. I think that owning a car encourages you to drive more than you would travel without a car.
Presumably you previously drove to places that you wanted to visit. Without a car you do not visit those places. You might as well compute the saving on your energy expenses if you decided to do without heating or air conditioning or a goodly fraction of both, and make pretend that you haven't changed the equation.
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Old 06-26-14, 11:00 PM   #14
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Truth to that.

Wife has a ~50 mile r/t work commute, but it isn't uncommon to double to quadruple that on running around on the weekends- most of which is frivolous .
Have you told her that her running around is "frivolous"? If it is you doing the frivolous running around why don't you quit? Or maybe it is not that frivolous after all.
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Old 06-26-14, 11:46 PM   #15
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Have you told her that her running around is "frivolous"? If it is you doing the frivolous running around why don't you quit? Or maybe it is not that frivolous after all.
I should have been clearer- the wife has that commute, but the weekend mileage is largely family related. And the frivolity can come in a myriad ways- from dining out to looking at McMansions we have no hope of ever buying to driving 45 miles to check out an over-sized pond billed as a lake in another town because she heard about the fishing there and did nothing more than drive around said body of water...
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Old 06-27-14, 12:22 AM   #16
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While avoiding driving whenever possible (assuming there is an alternative means of meeting the transportation needs formerly met by the driving) can produce a monetary savings, the savings is relative chump change unless the avoidance enables the "car-light" person to reduce the number of motor vehicles owned.
OP here. I was intending this thread to be personal accounts of how much people spend on non-car transportation expenses. The purpose is to help people estimate what their expenses would be in various stages of being carlight or carfree.

Please try to stay on topic.

So do tell...how much do you spend on bikes and whatnot?
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Old 06-27-14, 12:29 AM   #17
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To all: please try to stay on topic. That may involve ignoring those who ask provocative personal questions.

To those who don't approve of the topic, start your own thread. I have a new policy of reporting those who hijack threads I start to the mods. Thanks for your cooperation!

to recap, the topic of this thread is non-car transportation expenses.
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Old 06-27-14, 01:42 AM   #18
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OP here. I was intending this thread to be personal accounts of how much people spend on non-car transportation expenses. The purpose is to help people estimate what their expenses would be in various stages of being carlight or carfree.

Please try to stay on topic.

So do tell...how much do you spend on bikes and whatnot?
"Estimate" being the key word here.

If I had access to the nearest public transit(which I don't), it would $65* for a 31 day unlimited ride bus pass- no light rail or subway here- and I haven't taken a taxi in over 30 years.

*This is up $25 in a little over 2 years and my understanding is that in addition to the increased fares, they have reduced service on some routes and totally eliminated the Nightline service .
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Old 06-27-14, 05:12 AM   #19
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I don't think of "carfree" itself as having a cost. But transportation costs money, and the cost will of course be different for people that drive cars versus those that don't. I ride my bicycle for nearly all my transportation. But some of it is mass transit. Some of it is walking.

I also frequently take long (5 miles at a time) walks on the weekend for pleasure. Does that have a cost? I suppose, the cost of the food to fuel the walk. But is that a cost really? If I didn't exercise as much then I might have more medical problems as a result. How do you figure out cost, when each item you're trying to quantify has a cost of NOT doing it?

I spend about $750/year on cycle-specific clothes and bicycle parts. I'm sure I could trim that but I don't feel motivated to. I spend about $500/year on mass transit.
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Old 06-27-14, 07:01 AM   #20
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I spend about $750/year on cycle-specific clothes and bicycle parts. I'm sure I could trim that but I don't feel motivated to.
^ Me too, I enjoy buying cycling stuff.

I live in one of, if not the, highest states for car insurance. I'm sure our extra car costs us $300 per month to sit there. If it was driven add in gas and mileage costs. My wife and I are starting to have regular conversations about sharing one car and selling mine. It's a process.
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Old 06-27-14, 07:28 AM   #21
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How do you figure out cost, when each item you're trying to quantify has a cost of NOT doing it?
Good point. How to quantify the "cost" of foregoing previously enjoyed activities such as weekend family outings, dining out or leisurely visiting friends, relatives and entertainment at more distant locations?
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Old 06-27-14, 10:01 AM   #22
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Presumably you previously drove to places that you wanted to visit. Without a car you do not visit those places. You might as well compute the saving on your energy expenses if you decided to do without heating or air conditioning or a goodly fraction of both, and make pretend that you haven't changed the equation.
With acknowledgement to Roody about staying on topic, I think that at least for me, going car free involved more of a lifestyle change than just changing my mode of transportation. When I decided to give up the car, I moved to a location where I was much closer to work, grocery store etc, decreasing my need for transportation. With the ease of driving, I would often drive 10-20 miles to go out to dinner or meet friends etc, now I consider those things more carefully. There are non-economic costs that I have incurred by not having a car. When a group of us go out for lunch, I end up bumming a ride rather than driving myself. When I went car free I did not just substitute a bike for a car and continue with everything else the same, car-free had a more broad reaching effect which resulted in my requiring less transportation.

The original question explicitly said 'cash expenses', but for me, many of the changes were big changes, with relatively small cash impacts.
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Old 06-27-14, 11:39 AM   #23
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Well to honest I do not do the books in the household and really do not enjoy tacking.

But when I asked my banker for a new wheel set this year to replace my e-system she did not even blink when saying ok. Which is a sign that she is very happy with the bank.
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Old 06-27-14, 01:20 PM   #24
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My transportation expenses are pretty minor. Bus fares are 1.35-1.40. I rented cars a couple of days for trips to the NW corner of the state. I bought some new tires last fall. The bigger expense really is time spent riding. Sometimes that is annoying, for evening events or ones in bad weather.

Cycling has had no effect on my career. I've never lost a job or gotten a job because of it. Only one potential employer made a demand that I have a car. But it was a minimum wage job making fake native American jewelry, so their ethics were questionable.
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Old 06-27-14, 01:25 PM   #25
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I live in one of, if not the, highest states for car insurance. I'm sure our extra car costs us $300 per month to sit there. If it was driven add in gas and mileage costs. My wife and I are starting to have regular conversations about sharing one car and selling mine. It's a process.
When I was married, at one point my spouse was putting significant pressure on me to get a car to commute to work. I had her do the math and she realized that my bicycle commuting was what kept us in the black instead of in the red each month.
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