Wheels

In our pursuit of a simpler life we have, from time to time, talked about life without a house. Drastic though it sounds, liberating ourselves from a permanent base does have its appeals, not least the purist idea of reducing our ownership of things to an absolute minimum. Needless to say so far we haven’t taken the plunge, but we have, recently, become the owner of one less quite large possession that most people these days seem to have, a car.

In fairness, our initial motivation wasn’t minimalism, it was the particular car we happened to own. We bought it nearly three years ago and in the time it has cost us as much in repairs as it did to purchase it in the first place. Maybe everyone experiences a money pit car at some point in their lives, and this was certainly ours. The last straw came on the return journey from our trip to France this summer. The car broke down on our way home and after a temporary fix and an exhausting, non stop, ten hour drive it finally gave up in Calais. We were towed on and off the ferry and abandoned the car at Dover!

The final bill was the biggest yet and as soon as it was fixed we sold it. Doing the maths revealed that with depreciation, repairs, MOTs, road tax and insurance (and not including fuel), the car had cost us not far off £300 a month. Wow.

Two months later and so far we have no intention of buying another car. We live in a small town which means most things are within walking distance and those that aren’t are a short bus trip away. We have always loved the train and these days do any out of town trips by rail. With children this has been great. We plan journeys across lunchtime and pack a picnic, take lots of stuff to do and can all sit together and talk and play.

You do have to think a little differently. Life isn’t so immediately convenient. Food is now delivered and needs ordering in advance of when we need it. Journeys out of town need to be booked ahead as far as possible to get the cheaper tickets. We can hire a car for the bargain price of £27 for a weekend but of course we need to organise that ahead of time. And we’re very lucky to have a great friend with a big car who gives us a lift sometimes if she’s going somewhere we want to go too. Now the car has gone though, all this seems very simple in comparison to break downs and repair costs.

So excuse the terribly practical post this week but I felt it was something worth sharing. Living without a car can seem like an impossibility these days but we’ve found it surprisingly easy. I wish we’d done it years ago.