I stopped owning cars in 2007. At first, I decided to try it for a year. But after only a few months, the benefits – physical, financial and mental – became apparent. I am now into my ninth year as a happy, productive, non-car-owning American.
I live in Bangor, Maine, a city of approximately 30,000, and teach at the University of Maine, about ten miles from home. I also teach in the MFA writing program at Western Connecticut State University, and supplement these two jobs with a gig as a feature writer for a local magazine. I’m in my fifties, divorced, with two grown children living in California.
The decision to relinquish car ownership was a long time coming. Like most Americans, I bought into the cultural wisdom, promulgated by the automobile and advertising industries, that one must own an automobile to participate fully in American economic life. I needed a car to get to work, to haul groceries, to see friends and family, to go on road trips, to run errands, and on and on. I am here to tell you that it isn’t true. Giving up owning a car was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Can everyone do this? No, but a lot of you can, and your life will improve as a result. You will have more freedom, more time, and more money. You will learn that your car is not the necessity you think it is. Skeptical? So was I. But I soon discovered that the vaunted “freedom” and “convenience” of owning a car were overrated illusions.
This blog is intended as a conversation among people interested in alternatives to car ownership. On it I will share my own observations, and provide an opportunity for readers to share additional information and insight. A good conversation often begins by challenging long-held assumptions. I hope to provide a forum for that here.