Since the end of 2018 we live without (own) car. What was a bumpy ride in the beginning is now working out great. We have become so accustomed to our life without a car that we want to keep it that way permanently. Living without a car, here are 10 good reasons to do so!
A life without a car is possible and very reasonable!
Living without a car is completely unthinkable for many people. We were already one step ahead. After all, we were talking about selling our car "down the road" – when the kids were big enough and didn’t need a car seat anymore.
We have convinced ourselves that it would be too impractical to live without a car beforehand. This is of course eyewash. Many people and also families live always and without problems car-free. Until 50 years ago, life without a car was the rule, not the exception!
The accident with total loss in December 2018 was therefore a push for us, for which we are really grateful in retrospect. Without it, we would certainly not be living without a car for a long time yet.
After a transitional period in which we initially grudgingly, but then in increasingly good spirits, practiced car-free everyday life, it is now clear to us: We don’t need our own car. What for? We have learned in practice that this is not necessary for us city dwellers – even with children and child seats. And we’ve noticed that most of the arguments in favor of owning a car are just based on ingrained routines and learned behaviors. You have to consciously change them, which is also exhausting and annoying at the beginning.
But after a certain period of adjustment, it’s no longer difficult for us to do without a car. On the contrary: Today, we ask ourselves why we didn’t come up with this idea much earlier.
Living without a car: There are at least 10 reasons!
10 reasons why we want to live without a car – even with children
1. We are there faster
Every morning and every afternoon I look in disbelief amazement at the endless traffic jam queues that clog our roads. And as I pass the avalanche of cars on my bike, I really feel sorry for them – all the people who commute between work, the supermarket and home every morning and every afternoon, annoyed and stressed out. I know the feeling myself, when you’re sitting in the car and can’t use it the way you’re supposed to: to get from A to B quickly.
A large part of the avalanche of cars is completely superfluous: 50 percent of all commutes are shorter than 10 km, One third shorter than 5 km, says ADFC. With a bike you can easily do it in 15 minutes. And that doesn’t even include the nerve-racking search for a free parking space!
So many cars… (admittedly, on the car ferry. Who takes a picture of a traffic jam?)
2. We are closer to nature
How good the morning air smells, how soft the light falls on the streets in the evening, how different the beginning of the day feels in autumn, how differently wet rain can be: I perceive all this much more clearly since I really have to ride my bike every day. I wouldn’t call it back to nature yet, but it’s a first small step.
"Bad weather? Off to the car." We can’t easily say that without a car anymore, and surprise: we definitely define bad weather differently by now. Of course, as a weatherproof cyclist you should have some basic equipment. More than a decent rain jacket (which we also wear when hiking), for the child seat passenger a rain cape and gloves made of windstopper material we still do not have.
When the weather is really bad, we still have bus and train to get around – or a part-car. If we are surprised by the rain again with the bicycle, the motto is: We are not made of sugar.
And when it really storms, pours or snows? Then I just say: "Sorry, we don’t go out in this weather."Sustainability also means not doing things. Few appointments are so vital and crucial that they really cannot be postponed.
Bad weather? There is not!
3. We are fitter
We all move much too little. This already applies to elementary school students who have to sit still for half the day. At least 30 minutes of exercise a day health insurances strongly recommend, if you want to reduce the risk of civilization diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular etc. wants to lower. We’ve got that easy now, and it’s clearly having an effect on fitness: To my own astonishment, I’m getting better and better at mastering climbs in our quite hilly city!
4. We have a better conscience
The sparrows whistle it from the rooftops, only the AfD has not understood it (as always): The car has no future in the city. Whether electric, hydrogen or nuclear powered: In the long run, it’s impossible for everyone in cities to drive their own car – there’s simply not enough room for it.
The tin boxes sit around unused for 22 hours a day, so you can drive them back and forth twice a day. In return, an unbelievable amount of parking space is blocked for other uses, and in most cases it is also sealed. When I imagine all those parked cars just disappearing – how beautiful a city could look!
We no longer take up space on the street that could be put to much better use: for play streets, street cafes, trees, pedestrians. And our CO2 footprint has shrunk by several kilos of carbon dioxide.
Living without a car: for the future of our children
5. We are much more relaxed
Driving a car is stressful, especially in the city. I notice that again and again, when I need one (and then immediately get annoyed why I did that…). I sit behind the steering wheel, drumming nervously, stepping on the gas and on the brake and swearing at the other road users – who can neither hear nor see me behind the windshield.
And of course, if I have a car, I always leave at the last minute – I can still get the missing minutes by riding faster in between. That this does not work and rather the opposite happens, I forget every time again. The result: stress, stress, stress.
With the bicycle and the public transport we have to plan more time buffers and often need also longer. But then we are also there on time. And on the road we automatically meet more people, there is time for a short conversation or a smile while waiting at the traffic light. That’s nice!
Getting off the car in between? Of course.
6. We save money
One of the most important reasons comes only here at the end of the list. In everyday life we hardly notice when we do NOT spend money. But at the end of the month you are amazed how much money you have NOT spent on parking machines, gas, parking tickets, underground parking, garage visits and simply having a car.
The bills for partial car and cab, the occasional tickets and the monthly pass (which only one of our children has so far) are hardly worth it.
7. We always drive the right car
Who says we don’t drive any more just because we live without a car?? Every now and then we just need one – when a place is too difficult to reach by bike or public transport, when we want to carry heavy things or go on vacation.
But that’s what Car rental and car sharing. These cars are always clean, mostly filled up with gas (with car sharing we don’t have to pay for the gas either) and above all: we can always take exactly what we need at the moment. For trips for two, a small e-car is sufficient, if we want to go to the swimming pool with extra children, we rent a bus.
And for longer vacation trips, we always have the latest model, with the lowest fuel consumption and the best safety features.
When we drive up in an e-car or a sleek white Mercedes, even the son is happy that we no longer have our own car.
On the road with TeilAuto: always the right car
8. We travel safer
Admittedly: We are not exactly low-risk on the bike. When my kids ride their bikes alone across town to practice, I always have a sinking feeling in my stomach. But that can’t be a reason to switch from bicycles to cars! On the contrary: cars must be banished from the city, or at least back to the second row. Cities like Copenhagen show this very well – so it works. (And statistics show that cyclists are safer when there are many of them on the road.)
It’s a different story when we hop on the train for our vacation trips. Then I sit totally relaxed at the window, let the landscape pass me by and am inwardly happy that no idiot crashes into my trunk while overtaking at 240 km/h and that I don’t have to be afraid of truck drivers falling asleep and thundering into my windshield from the oncoming lane. I can simply close my eyes or play with the children without being responsible for their lives at the same time.
Especially on vacation this is a really good feeling.
Taking the train on vacation: sooo comfortable!
9. We get to know our city anew
The city looks completely different from a bicycle. I would never have thought it: even after 40 years in Dresden, I still ride my bike looking for shortcuts through streets, alleys, and secret sidewalks I never knew existed!
My children, who ride buses and trains much more than I do, already know their hometown very well. And because they constantly see the names of the final stops and think about ideal routes, they are much fitter in geography than their buddies who are chauffeured everywhere by car.
10. We are the future
Two years ago, oh no, last December, when our car was suddenly junk, we belonged to a tiny minority. This refers less to numbers than to the public perception: Hardly anyone was concerned with the topic of traffic change, with car-free cities, car-free living, etc.
For a few months now, everyone has been talking about the traffic turnaround, talk shows have been discussing car-free cities, and alternatives to the car are becoming more and more visible (although cargo bikes, car sharing and simply walking have been around for a long time…). In Copenhagen, we experienced how much better it is to ride a bike in a city that sees and plans for cyclists as equal road users.
Something is happening in the cities. And even those who simply cannot imagine a city without cars and then react with aggression, ridicule or contempt will not be able to stop it.
The car has been around since 1896 (who invented it?)?), since the 1960s it has become the means of transport of the masses. But it’s only been in the last 20 years or so that cities have really become choked with traffic. I myself can still remember how we used to play in the street as children.
Of course, my own kids are not allowed to play in the street – way too dangerous! When we go through the city, it’s terribly noisy, it stinks, we always have to pay attention, wait at traffic lights, walk around parked cars. This is supposed to be individual freedom? Maximum mobility? I think we have been fooled there.
And that’s why we just undo it now. I am looking forward to it!
Own street for cyclists – why should this only be possible in Copenhagen??
Life without a car: How you can do it too!
Just leave the car, that sounds like "just don’t smoke a cigarette", "just put away the cell phone". Somehow you don’t make it, because driving is a daily routine. And routines are hard to get out of the habit.
That’s why it’s called Motto: car fasting. Put your car keys and driver’s license in the drawer for a week and try to get along without a car. Whoever has managed that, logs off the car for one or two months – then it costs nothing, if it stands around.
And then it is called: Sell car. Tadaaa! What can you do with the money not all beautiful – a great vacation is certainly in it, or a new cargo bike, or a BahnCard100, or a yearly ticket for public transport ..
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Since I get but actually 1 1/2 years later ne mail, why I answer here, if I would see it differently … Mimimi
By the way, my car arrived last April (I mentioned that after 9 months without a car in Hamburg, it was just too much trouble for me). Just out of convenience and covid, I avoid the public transport and other means of mass transportation. And ride a bicycle? No I don’t like body odors and I hate it when our colleagues are sweating all over with their bikes in the office… Be that as it may, I think it is above all a financial thing and in principle I have understanding, if some cannot afford a vehicle. Driving a car should simply become cheaper, so that really everyone can afford this achievement
Is it my fault that you get your mails so late?? We certainly do not do without our own car for lack of money, but obviously you are not interested in an exchange, but in a confirmation of your opinion, respectively. your decision. I respect them, but I politely ask you to respect our decision as well – and not to accuse us of being poor or crazy.
A beautiful year 2022!
Congratulations to those who live where this is possible!
However, the example of this family is and will remain a minority.
I can show you the counterexample:
– Landscape = low mountain range
– Village with 480 inhabitants
– Nearest possibility for shopping no matter what/ doctor/ baker/ apoth./ train station/ elementary school/ high school./events/ etc. = Minimum 8,5 Km mostly uphill!
I think that’s all I need to say, it’s simply impossible
and whoever claims otherwise is a dreamer without any everyday relevance!
Why does our example have to apply to all people? It’s enough if those who can do without their own car without any problems – like us – because they live in big cities. That’s almost 30 percent of Germans.
I wonder why you even came across this post and read it if this is not an option for you at all?
I can only join Jenny. Am u60 and in the last decades professionally ca. 1 million. km by car and also healthier than 20 years ago. I drove only 800 km last year and that only because I was traveling. I am also thinking about getting rid of the car.
first of all I have to improve myself: I did not ride the train for one year, but for several years (12 years to be exact), so I can speak for myself.By the way, your answer is as I – unfortunately – expected it.Peaceful coexistence between people who want to have a car and those who don’t seems impossible.
I have no intention to justify why I own a car.Fortunately, I live in the country, where no one expects me to justify such a self-evident thing and where I have peace from people of your caliber.
And one more thing,Ms. German teacher:after "bestehen auf" comes the DATIV.And if you are interested: the first car was built in 1886, not 1896 (Benz Patent Motorwagen).
With kind regards
I just found this article and therefore can only comment now. Due to my job, I had to travel by train for a year and found it very unpleasant. In contrast, driving a car does not stress me out. I don’t have such a dorky driving style as the author, I stay calm and don’t get annoyed with other road users nor with the sometimes harassing traffic management in some cities (which, as far as I’m concerned, defeats its purpose).
But the important thing is that the family is happy without a car. I would not be. With a little tolerance, however, both lifestyles can coexist.
unfortunately, I can’t find any argument in your explanation that could justify owning your own car. So you find train travel unpleasant, and you just like driving a car. Soso. This all applies to my husband as well, who nevertheless has not had an OWN car for 2 years and gets along with it without any problems. I also drive a car from time to time and like to step on the gas on the highway. I just don’t see why I would need my own car for that?! As a German teacher I would say to you: unfortunately missed the point. And because you insult me in a subordinate clause, which I find absolutely unnecessary, since you will swing the tolerance club right after, I’m going to be polemic now: Live and let live is unfortunately not possible, if in the city every fool insists on his own car, which supposedly brings him quality of life, but radically restricts mine and my children’s quality of life. Honestly, this whining of people who don’t want to give up a single bit of personal comfort and who shrug their shoulders and shit on the common good and environmental protection, makes me sooo angry..
Sorry, but I can not confirm all this! I sold my car 9 months ago, because I was convinced that it would be more relaxed without it. Just today I leased a new car because the whole thing just pisses me off!
I live in Hamburg and work outside. I have to take the bus/bike to the S-Bahn in the morning, then to the HBF to commute from there another two stops with the regional train … the purest horror! It’s completely crowded, it stinks, people cough and sneeze in front of them, etc. plus the constant delays! Biking would be an alternative, but I would show up at the office sweaty in a suit, an absolute no-go!
Within the week evening times to visit a friend means always immense waiting for the night bus, sharing is an alternative, but I would not find a parking space with me and put the ShareNow wagen in my underground parking, would probably not be a good idea^^
As you write yourself, bad weather is such a thing and you don’t always have to go out… Sorry, I don’t have children, I’m 30 years old and I just have the need to meet with friends, no matter what the weather is like! Especially in the north the weather is totally unpredictable and I don’t want to arrive soaking wet (rain/sweat) at the restaurant/bar… and functional clothing is usually pretty ugly.
Anyway, I really tried it and at the beginning I was quite convinced of life without a car, but from month to month it just pisses me off to constantly adapt to the weather, to public transport, to times!
It might work in the city. In the countryside for sure not. I don’t like driving and would love to do without it. It also annoys me immensely that I have to drive into our actually small town and avoid that as much as possible. Because the traffic there is horrible and for parking it is depending on the time a disaster. How often have I wished I could take the bus in lately. But our bus connections are so bad that they don’t even cover school hours. Things look even worse on the weekend. My daughter, who only rides the bus, always despairs of it. Even today, I have to drive her to the city or to the next district, because she would be 2 hours too late or too early with our bus. Unacceptable for a 15 year old who is then touring the city for 2 h alone. I have zero shopping facilities here, not even a bakery. I have to go every time to the neighboring town, the ca. 7 km away is. Bicycling is not an alternative here because first, I usually have the dog in the car with me, second, it is so mountainous that I used to curse when I was fit, and third, the routes to Marburg in particular are not without danger. I often overtake these cyclists with the car and think to myself every time, that is here everything quite dangerously. I would have to go to the train station by car, park the car there for a lot of money, in order to be able to travel further. The nearest doctors are in a neighboring town, which is almost impossible to reach by bus. I could get there a bit better by bike, but if I have to go to the doctor, I’m no longer able to ride my bike. I can only get to work by car too, if I lived directly in Marburg it would be less of a problem because there are good connections there. But we live in a part of town and there it fails again because of the bus connection. Daughter has hobbies that can’t be reached by bus or bike, because she’s also in the countryside. Only violin works now from the time, there we got once an appointment to which she can go directly after school and then she also catches one of the buses to us. That makes it a lot easier. As long as the public here not in 30 min. cycle and no hour-long detours across the country, I will have to continue to use the car as often as I do now. I simply cannot afford to move to the city. I love living in the country, I really do, I don’t really want to go to the city at all. But something really has to be done so that people living in the country can do without their cars for at least one or two journeys. I think it’s great that you guys did it!
The car is really total nonsense in the city!
A good friend of mine has been raving about car sharing for years and my brother has also reduced from 2 cars to 1 car 2 or 3 years ago thanks to car sharing and he is also very enthusiastic about the move, so I regularly think about the same thing every few months. But unfortunately we don’t have car sharing and you know yourself that it’s not always possible without a car with small children.
From there, yes, for city dwellers this will pretty much be the (better) future, and hopefully for us people in the city’s suburbs as well.
After all, I think for pretty much 1.5 weeks about the sale of our bus, because rentals could be even cheaper with intelligent booking and then we have, as correctly noted by you, a more modern and clean vehicle! It definitely has something and if something breaks, it’s not really my problem either.
From there I can only say: good move from you and very nice post!