With too many adults living under the same roof, things got really hairy at home last summer, so I made up my mind to move out (which, in hindsight, I should have done at least 5 years ago, after I had finished my second degree). At that point, I hadn’t determined whether I would rent or buy, but either way, I needed to make some drastic changes to how I was managing my money to afford independence.

Actually, I had already started tracking my expenses more diligently after I started working full time, just over three years ago now, to get a sense of where my money was going. Over a couple years, it became very clear that my car (which was nowhere near to being paid off) was by far my biggest expense. With insurance, gas, maintenance, and parking, my car cost me almost $5000/year. This money could be going to my rent, a down payment, or a mortgage! Thus, much as I loved my car and having the mobility, I wanted to have my own space more. I felt really sore about idea of giving up the car, but it was a no-brainer. I needed to live within my means. The car had to go.

car.jpgMotivated to sell, I put the word out that it was for sale last spring. I managed to sell my lovely blue car over last September to E&E, cousins of some good friends of mine. They are great people, for whom I have a lot of respect and admiration, so I’m happy that my car is in good hands. The timing was also impeccable (providential, really) because I was in the preliminary stages of negotiating the contract for the place I’m currently living in.

So far, I have done remarkably well without a car. It’s a 3 minute walk to nearest grocery. If transit’s on schedule, it takes just over half an hour to get to work, and a bit less on the way back. It’s also about 30 minutes to my parents’ place. It’s a 10 minute bus ride to Bethel and Metrotown. And because I live so much closer to my friends now, they have been GREAT with giving me rides or running errands together with me, when I happen to be on their route or doing similar things.

I do have to plan ahead a lot more when it comes to getting around nowadays. I’m constantly checking the bus schedules. I know exactly how long it takes for me to walk from point A to B. Ironically, I’m more punctual nowadays than when I was driving.

I notice that my pace in life has slowed down; I’m in less of a hurry, probably because I have a better sense and acceptance of my limitations and know how to work with them. For some reason, when I had the car, I fooled myself into thinking that I had THAT much control with my time and could get somewhere faster than it actually took; I found myself running behind constantly.

I also like having not to be as responsible for the safety of others. Being a passenger on transit gives me plenty of time to think, observe and read. It’s nice to be able to look out the window.

However, NOT having a car also means I have less options to go whereever I want, to do whatever I want whenever I want. Making trips out of the city or going furniture shopping on my own is generally out of the question, unless I find someone willing to go with me. NOT having a car also reminds me that I can’t have it all, which is sometimes not a pleasant thing to remember. Most of my other friends seem to be able to afford a lifestyle that includes a car, so why can’t I? But of course, when I go down that route of comparison, it becomes illogical because my lifestyle isn’t actually comparable to that of others. We all have very different situations and live by different values, which means we all spend money very differently.

But not having it all hasn’t killed me (hm, does this mean it would if I did strive to have it all?). It doesn’t “feel” good at times, but for some reason, I must admit that my life and person is the better for it overall.