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Upon hearing that we’d gone car-free, many people wanted to know what we were going to do about visits with Conor. He lives 60 miles away. The answer is that we rent a car. I hate it. Mostly. Sometimes I get to drive a really hot, brand new car. Then I don’t mind it so much. But mostly I really hate driving. Every driver thinks drivers are idiots. Get on your bike for a few weeks – you have no idea what driver-idiocy looks like until you’re in the saddle.

But I digress…

I rent a car a few times a month to drive to NJ and pick up Conor. It costs much less than owning, operating, and maintaining a car.

Have you ever thought about how much it costs to own and operate your car(s)? The IRS publishes a standard business use mileage rate of $0.55 per mile. (http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=250882,00.html) I interpret this figure to be an estimation of the cost of car ownership, including depreciation, taxes and fees, financing, fuel, insurance, maintenance, and repairs.

Using this figure…

Let’s say you buy a brand new Toyota. And you want to be environmentally friendly so you opt for the Camry Hybrid – MSRP $27,099. I’ll round it to $27,100 for ease of math. Let’s say you drive that Camry Hybrid the average 15,000 miles/year for 10 years. In addition to your initial $27,100 investment, you have spent $82,500 – give or take. That less than $30K car just cost you over $100 grand in its lifetime. This of course does not include inflated rates and costs; the IRS average surely will go up. We can all assume that the price of oil will go up.

A total cost of $109,600 averages to $10,960 per year. To me, it begs the question, do I have a spare $11K on hand to spend on a car?

I don’t want to get into the number of hours one spends sedentary while driving their car. But I trust you can imagine that it adds up to years of your life spent sitting in traffic and at red lights.

It seems like an awfully exorbitant amount of money to give to industries I loathe. Yes, my opinions are mixed in with the facts here. I apologize for not being unbiased.

So. I rent a car 3 times month on average. That’s 36 cars per year, give or take a handful of occasions. I spend $450/year on liability insurance for me. The car is covered by our credit card – one of many perks offered by major credit card companies these days. I spend about $40 on a rental including fuel.

That brings my annual cost to $1,890. I can swallow that number much more easily. You?

A really good bicycle costs $1,000. A completely decent bicycle costs $500. A bicycle will cost maybe $100/year in maintenance costs. You can ride a well maintained bicycle for the rest of your life (unless you crash and it’s ruined, which happens with cars too).

Several weeks ago, as I sailed down the highway in a 2013 Ford Taurus that had only been driven 29 miles when I got into it, I had to ask myself why in the world someone wouldn’t choose this lifestyle. I get to drive really cool cars for dollars a day.

Going car-free wasn’t something that we jumped into. It took adjusting and preparation. I don’t suggest anyone go car-free without adjustment and preparation. What would you have to change about your life in order to do without the luxury of a car in your driveway?

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