This might sound crazy but I actually love not having a car. In addition to all the financial benefits, there’s something very liberating about getting rid of your car. Just one less thing to worry about.
Of course, this is simply not practical for many people, but it’s still worth consideration. Public transportation can get you almost anywhere these days, but it could also take you forever to get any of those places. In the short term, your living location is probably fixed. But in the long term, it’s always variable. Which brings us to the question:
What if you could live right next to work?
How would that change your life?
This is not my first experience of life without a car, but it is the first time I’ve lived right next to work. When I previously worked for the government in Washington DC, I got rid of my car and used public transportation. Depending on where I lived, the commutes ranged from 30 minutes each way to 2 hours and 15 minutes (yeah, that one was rough).
When I moved to Florida three years ago, I ended up leasing a car, which I still needed when we moved back to the Maryland area last year.
But an interesting opportunity presented itself this year for three reasons:
- Apartment Lease Ending in May
- Car Lease Ending in July
- Brand New Apartment Building Opening in April (right down the street from my office)
We decided to jump on the opportunity. Now that I turned my vehicle in last month, it’s already providing some amazing benefits:
1. Financial Benefits
This is the primary motivation for making this decision. Transportation is the second largest expense category after housing expenses, so eliminating this expense (well, at least my half) provides a serious boost to our financial situation.
Here is our monthly car savings breakdown:
Car Lease: $225
Car Insurance: $100
Car Maintenance: $25 (based on annual $300 estimate)
Monthly Car Savings = $450/month
But wait, it gets better…
By moving, we also downsized a little and are saving $175/month in rent. That doesn’t even account for the fact that if we stayed in the same apartment, our rent would’ve increased by $150/month.
I also avoided purchasing a vehicle, which means avoiding the additional depreciation expense that goes along with it.
Compared to our previous situation, we’re saving a total of $625/month now. If you like to think about things in terms of income, that’d be equivalent to giving ourselves a $900/month raise.
The only financial downside was the actual cost of the move. Our total moving expenses came to $676.43, which means we’re already profitable in month two. I like that type of investment.
2. Time Benefits
Instead of a 30-minute drive, I now have a 12-minute walk to work. Cutting off 18 minutes doesn’t really sound life-changing, but all that time adds up. An extra 36 minutes 5 days per week equals 3 hours of additional time every week.
I think commuting time is a critical factor to consider when looking at compensation because a job is quite literally trading time for money. Reducing work plus commuting hours from 45 to 42 per week increases my effective hourly rate by 7.1%.
Whether or not you get rid of your car, moving closer to work always gives yourself a raise!
The move also cut Mrs. Budget Boy’s commute down by about 15 minutes each way. Consider that a double raise!
By reclaiming a little piece of your life back, the true benefit comes from what you can do with that time. Here’s a short list of things I’ve been able to do so far:
- Extra Family Time
- Yoga / Exercise
- Writing / Journaling
- Healthier Eating
- Just Relaxing
For me, I have the additional benefit of being able to walk home for lunch. That allows me to squeeze out even a little more time for the above, especially eating healthier.
3. Health Benefits
Besides having the time and control to make healthier food choices, there are other physical and mental benefits from moving so close to work.
The primary benefit stems from walking about 50 minutes a day (going home for lunch makes it 2 round trips). I had fallen out of a regular gym/exercise routine, especially when studying for the CFA Level I Exam (which by the way I passed!), so getting outside and walking everyday is something I really needed. My job involves sitting at a computer all day, so if I had been wearing a pedometer recently, my daily steps would’ve been pretty embarrassing.
Going for a walk each morning, afternoon, and evening keeps me much more energized. Plus, a study from the American Cancer Society shows that walking an hour a day lowers the risk of death by 39% compared to those getting no leisure-time activity.
Yes, death. Definitely something you want to reduce the risk of.
The walks also help me clear my mind and reduce stress. There is something about working a full day and then sitting in traffic that wears you down. On the other hand, walking outside in green spaces (additional perk that it’s not a loud and busy city street) puts me in a meditative state and boosts endorphin levels so I feel less fatigued.
A key reason this is doable is that we still have one vehicle. Typically, when we do things in the evening or on weekends, we do them together. That means the second car is really only necessary for one of us to get to work. An alternative method of commuting makes that second car expendable.
If you’re in a multiple car household, what if you could change your living situation so you could get rid of one of those?
Sure, there will be some inconveniences now and then, but I’d much rather have all these financial, time, and health benefits.