First Month Living Without a Car

March 23rd, 2015 by 

Recently, I moved to San Francisco and as part of the move I decided to sell my vehicle and live car-less. I felt (and feel) that I could get most of my transportation around the city done with bicycle or public transportation. So long as I can get to/from work and to/from a grocery store, then I should be fine. I’d like to report in on my progress so far.


  • Bus/Light Rail – $72.75
  • Commuter Rail – $36.50
  • Subway – $9.65
  • Uber/Lyft – $33.96

Total: $152.86

The real question, comes, would this be more or less than owning a car? Let’s do some simple math:

  • Gas @ 25 mpg @ 20 miles a day @ $2.00/gallon = $48/month
  • Insurance – Mine was running roughly $60/month
  • Depreciation – Assume a $12,000 vehicle that depreciates 10% a year - $100/month
  • Maintenance – Assume $50/month

Total = $258/month

Your mileage, pun intended, may vary. 20 miles a day x 30 days x $0.58 cents/mile (IRS estimate) yields $348/month. So, let’s say with these estimates that car ownership costs me about $250-$350/month. This is ignoring the cost/rarity of finding parking in this city.

Is this worth the hassle of having to carry my groceries on public transportation? The jury is still out on that one. I haven’t felt limited by not having a car yet and I am planning on a few ski trips coming up so we shall see if the car limitation is a big deal. I’d argue finding parking is as much of (if not more of) a hassle than having to wait for public transportation.

There certainly is a time benefit for having a car though. I’ve found myself waiting for public transit for ten minutes or more a few times, an issue that doesn’t arise when you have a car.

Overall, it’s been a very positive experience so far and it is a bit liberating (although I still feel naked) to be without a car. It hasn’t really limited me so far and I plan on staying carless so long as I live in the density of the city. If I move to the suburbs at some point in the future to, for example, purchase a house, I would probably purchase a vehicle then. Until then, I will take my days without traffic and make sure I continue to live in areas with good access to food and public transit.


Cameron Daniels


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