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Simply Car-Free: Living Without a Car

I’ve said before on this site that LiveCollarFree.com is not exclusive to one “system” or style of Lifestyle Design. There are so many ways to live outside of the default life we learn we should fit into, and they all fascinate me.
Swift Industries Bike Bag 01

Much of what I’ve done with my life has been to downsize. Toys are fun, but the stuff we accumulate takes a toll: moving it, storing it, insuring it, cleaning it, maintaining it, ad nauseum. We learn in the U.S. that we need to own a house and that all adults need a car. We are a car culture, and have been since they came about. Cars are one of the biggest purchases and expenses in most families. But do we really need a car to work and live today?

I have followed Tammy Strobel’s Rowdy Kittens blog for a bit over a year, now. She and her partner Logan decided to downsize their life, cut down their needless belongings, and even go so far as to sell their cars. Now they get around on bicycles almost exclusively and it works better for them. They calculated that their cars cost them nearly $8,000 a year to keep! And they had economy cars! How many hours of work does that total each year just to own a car? It makes me sick to think about how much I’ve spent over the years.

Tammy & Logan have improved their health, saved a tremendous amount of money, and lived a simpler, more fulfilling green lifestyle since their decision to scale down.

Simply Car-Free

Today, Tammy released her first book: Simply Car-Free: How to Pedal Toward Financial Freedom and a Healthier Life. I read an advance copy and can tell you it is a fantastic resource for planning and living in today’s world without the need to own a car.

It seems like such a foreign concept in most areas of modern America, but life without a car is not only quite possible but is very liberating. Tammy lays out a solid plan to make the car-free lifestyle simple to achieve. The Book goes through the process they went through, as well as how to make it even easier (they made their transition slowly and now wonder why they took so long).

She does an excellent job of covering all the “what-if…?” scenarios that come up when we talk about life without a car. Across America or even the world, not everyone’s lifestyle and community allows as simple a transition into a Car-Free life, but there are ways around most objections. Alternatives to going completely car-free are also covered, and how to handle situations that come up that all but require cars, such as long trips or moving.

Swift Industries Bike Bag 04

The section on bicycling is also very in-depth. Whether you are a cyclist or just starting out, there are many valuable resources inside to cover what you need to know about bikes, as well as dealing with everyday issues like weather and getting groceries.

If you already live without a car or have never considered such a thing, Simply Car-Free is a good tool that collects resources from a variety of people already living this way all over the country. I am not just writing this review because I am a blogger buddy of Tammy’s. In March 2008, I got rid of my truck, and haven’t had a car or other vehicle since. I’ll do more about my situation in another post and link it here, but I know this topic very well as I have had probably close to 20 cars in my life (and 16 motorcycles that I can remember).

Simply Car-Free is a great resource for anyone considering life without a motor vehicle.

About the author: I write fun Sales Copy for your lagging small biz website & bring you your right people. Also writing about location irrelevant work, life, & play.

{ 14 comments… add one }

  • Andrew March 1, 2010, 1:09 pm

    I couldn’t imagine life without a car until I moved to another country where owning/buying one wasn’t feasible. Upon moving back to the U.S., I went for a year without one (despite being the marketing director at a car dealership). The only thing I really missed was quick out of town road trips. When I moved to a tiny town with no public transportation, I got another car out of habit. Aside from the random out of town trips, I kind of hated owning one. It’s stressing me out right now just thinking about it.

    The strange thing is that I was too broke to pay for gas and insurance for a period during college. And while I technically owned a car, I didn’t use it… ever… and things were fine. So it’s weird that I continued to think cars were a necessity after that time. I have a lot of theories on that, but… It’s easier to just not own a car than to keep writing this comment. :)

    • James Schipper March 1, 2010, 2:12 pm

      I know what you mean. I “had to” have a car since I was a teenager. Being a gearhead, it was kind of mandatory. After I made it so I had no commute, it got downright sickening making a lease payment on a vehicle I had driven less than 5 miles since I made the previous payment. Not to mention I wasn’t getting any thinner sitting around all day then driving a mile to go to the store with prices at $4/gallon at the time.
      .-= James Schipper´s last blog ..Simply Car-Free: Living Without a Car =-.

  • Tammy Strobel March 1, 2010, 2:10 pm

    James – thank you for reviewing the book. :) I’m glad you enjoyed it. And hooray for selling your car!

    @Andrew – since you car is stressing you out, maybe you can try a week or two without using your car at all? Before we sold our vehicles, we did a car-free test run and that seemed to help enormously. Now, I look back and wonder why it took us so long to sell the darn things. :) Good luck!

  • David Herron March 1, 2010, 3:41 pm

    My benchmark for utility bicycling is “4 bags of groceries”. The picture you show of that front basket – well, that’s more useful than just a bare bike but there’s no way it will carry 4 bags of groceries. I’m almost finished building an xtracycle based electric bicycle and have for years used a trailer hauled by bicycle for around town stuff like grocery shopping.
    .-= David Herron´s last blog ..Xtreme BugE =-.

    • James Schipper March 2, 2010, 5:08 pm

      Those pictures are Tammy’s bikes. They have more than just the front bag on them. I don’t know what they consider their benchmark, but I see front and rear racks. I don’t think they want to deal with batteries and trailers so far, but you never know!

  • Justin Wright March 2, 2010, 12:09 pm

    That’s an awesome resource. I sold my car about a year ago and have since started biking as often as possible. It still amazes me at how much it really costs to own a car. Not only do you have to pay insurance, gas and maintenance, but you also have to deal with registration fees.

    I share a car with my girlfriend but have found we rarely use it except for road trips around the area. Once you get used to not driving often, it definitely becomes much easier.
    .-= Justin Wright´s last blog ..Sunday Market at Sweetwater Organic Community Farm =-.

    • James Schipper March 2, 2010, 4:49 pm

      We do the same. Her work building got moved even further from home, but it’s a nice compromise for us to only have the one vehicle. Everything is convenient for cycling downtown. With winter lasting more than a weekend here this year, it’s kept us from riding as much as we were during the week :-D

  • Simple in France March 10, 2010, 6:00 am

    I’m currently living in France and have been without car since December–ours was totaled then. Since I still don’t have my French driver’s license and since my husband is recovering from the accident that totaled the car (driving=the most dangerous thing most of us do on a daily basis!), I have no need to replace the old car as of now.

    I love not driving. Admittedly, it changes my lifestyle . . .but I find I’m ok with that.

  • Mark R. Brown July 17, 2010, 8:23 pm

    I just sold my car and had my doubts that I could live in a medium sized city with iffy-transit without one. The money it saves is crazy and I’ve gotten in pretty good shape biking and walking places. Our city also has Zipcar which is good for quick weekend getaways.

    Like Andrew said, having a car and car payments stressed me out. Even when a car is paid off, it’s more of a liability than an “asset” since the useful life of most cars is 6-8 years before serious things start to fail (and usually just after the warranty expires).

    • James Schipper July 17, 2010, 9:47 pm

      It’s incredibly freeing not having to worry about this expensive “thing” you have to take care of, worry about getting stolen or damaged, insuring and spending so much money just to have it be useful.

  • Susan MacVittie January 26, 2011, 2:32 pm

    I’m a 44 year old, single mom of an 11 year old and I have never owned a car.
    Kudos to those middle class folks who decide to downsize.
    My reasons have been varied, but generally it because I simply cannot afford it!
    Hey, I suddenly feel very hip :)

    • James Schipper February 3, 2011, 10:57 am

      I have a similar thing with me being so cool: I only owned a motorcycle for transportation for about 10 years of my adult life so far. It started mostly because it was cheaper than a car, but I also love riding.

      What kind of place do you live that you’ve been able to get by without a car ever at all? I know it is very different from rural to city, or even different cities and the level of public transportation they have.

  • Robert Barringer June 3, 2011, 12:56 am

    Tammy,
    Thank you for providing this wonderful service to those of us who want to “wean” ourselves from our road machines and live healthier, more active lives! Although I cannot afford to purchase the book right now, I am glad to know it is helping others find their freedom. :) God bless you!

  • Alan November 3, 2012, 4:24 pm

    Three years ago I sold my car and house, moved 13 miles closer to my office which happens to be a five minute walk from my boat which is where I now live. This helped me cut about $2000.00 per month out of my budget, now I live very well on less than $600.00 per month. In July I’m sailing my boat to Mexico for a very long vacation :)

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