Today marks an important milestone in my life. One year ago, I sold my car.
Four months before selling my car, I got a job in DTLA and starting taking Metro to work. I go out in DTLA more than any other part of town, so I was already in the habit of taking the subway for a night on the town. At that point, I was only using my car for surfing, volunteering and grocery shopping.
Meanwhile, my 10-year old Honda was starting to act the way older cars will. Small things started going wrong here and there, adding up in cost. Finally, it came to the time where I had to renew my registration. A bad sensor kept it from passing the smog test. $1,500 and a headache later, my car was registered and running great. With 135,000 miles under my car’s hood, I knew that I should be getting used to this kind of hassle.
I began asking myself more and more often how possible it would be to go without a car. I realized that the last three areas for which I used my car had reasonable alternative options. My surf partner went without a car for years and was very supportive of my decision to do the same. He got a car a few months earlier, so was willing and able to give me rides to the beach in exchange for breakfast. No issue with surfing. I had a small SUV, so it was a great tool for the volunteer work I do with feeding the homeless of Skid Row. Fortunately, our meet up spot is near the Grand Park/Civic Center station and a very reasonable biking distance. I would be able to give less of my resources, but I could still give my time. No issue with volunteering, even if in a different capacity. I live block from major grocery stores and a quick bus ride from Trader Joe’s. There are more corner markets near me than I can count.
The data found here on Walkscore.com gives Koreatown excellent ratings in walkability, transit and biking. K-town also gets the honors of being the third most walkable neighborhood in Los Angeles. This neighborhood boasts 664 restaurants and bars, 18 bus and rail lines, and good terrain for biking. I couldn’t live in a better neighborhood for a car-free lifestyle. In fact, few would doubt that living in K-Town with a car would make life easier.
The money I’ve saved has been significant. I was paying about $700 a month in car expenses, including the K-Town must-have of offstreet parking. That is huge. Even though I pay more for things like cab or Lyft rides, Zipcar subscription, or lunch to bribe a friend for a ride, it is still significantly less. Plus, I no longer fear when my next large surprise expense will be.
Sure, it hasn’t always been easy. Just this week, I was under the weather with a nasty cold. I wanted nothing more than to have some spicy Korean food to help me kick that bug. However, I don’t know of a single Korean restaurant that delivers. I feel embarrassed saying that, but I’ve looked and haven’t found one in the five years I’ve been in this neighborhood. If I had a car, I could have easily gotten in the car and gotten some soup at Beverly Soon. Again, not enough reason to keep a car. Thai soup and curry got the job done well, and Thai food always delivers!
Happy one year anniversary to my car-free lifestyle. May there be many more.