The other day on Dave Ramsey’sFacebook wall the topic of conversation was how to save on cars.
10 years ago it would have sounded funny to me if someone said they didn’t have a car, but now it sounds smart. Boston is definitely the kind of city where it makes sense to not own a car, for a number of reasons.
Reasons for Not Owning a Car in the City
With a robust public transit system, cabs for late night jaunts, and no part of town that can’t rather easily be reached via foot, you don’t miss a car. If I need to get outside of the city I can take the train or rent a car, and my fiancé and I use Zipcar on the weekends to make runs to Target or Home Depot.
According to a story from Bankrate.com, Massachusetts is in the top six states for highest auto insurance in the country.
I moved here from New Jersey, which made the top three, and I’m not willing to take that kind of cost on again.
Did you hear the story of the parking space last year that sold for $300,000? Yep. A PARKING spot.
And some folks think that price is well worth it. Each neighborhood has a limited amount of free street parking, and even if you’ve paid for your neighborhood resident parking sticker, it can be tough to find a spot. And no, if you have a resident sticker in one neighborhood, you can’t park in another neighborhood’s resident spots.
And that’s just to park at home! There are plenty of parking garages in the city once you get to where you’re going, and they’re happy to charge you crazy rates!
Since the only transportation cost I have is my $90 monthly T pass, plus sporadic car rental and Zipcar costs, it makes sense not to own a car in the city, right? Except…
Reasons to Own a Car in the City
If I spend 70% of my day at my desk, I spend another 20% of it waiting for buses and trains. Many points in the system only connect in one or two places in the city, so in some instances it’s actually faster to walk across town than to ride.
For most of the year I also have to plan evening travel around the Red Sox schedule, since the bus I take home picks up at the major train and bus hub used to get to Fenway Park. After working late, the last thing you want to do is stand elbow to elbow on a bus of tipsy sports fans.
We’re at the whim of Zipcar and rental car availability. If there are none available, or if we’re trying to limit our spending, we have to run errands on the bus, which can mean sometimes buying smaller, more expensive items.
Have you ever tried carrying a 25 lb bag of kitty litter on a crowded city bus because it was on sale? I don’t advise it. There are easier ways to afford your pet.
Overall the biggest problem with not owning a car in the city is that it removes a certain sense of freedom. I’ve learned to adapt my life around schedules and car availabilities, but there’s a definite worry of what would happen if I had a family emergency and needed to be somewhere far quickly. Being able to get where you need to be when you need to be there – what’s that peace of mind worth?
Jennifer Scott is the Digital Communications Manager at PerkStreet Financial. When she’s not at PerkStreet HQ, she’s usually waiting for a bus.
photo by shioshvili