Friday, March 07, 2008

Car?

Sometimes everything moves into alignment, and what was a good idea doesn't seem to be as much of one any more. At the moment I'm considering giving up my car-free status. Gasp!
Everything comes down to time at the moment. I'm starting to realise that time spent commuting on public transport eats into time I could spend better doing other things (conversely for long distances, public transport seems a better use of time because even if it takes a bit longer I can actually settle down with a book or a newspaper rather than worrying about the driving part).
I've been car free for five or six months now, and I've got a better idea of the journeys I would prefer to drive, and the journeys I prefer to do on public transport. I spend my life complaining about how little time I get to spend in the house, and started to realise that saving a couple of hours a day on public transport would make a huge difference. Now that I'm entitled to free parking at work it makes a lot of sense to use it, particularly as the cash alternative is paltry in comparison. Maybe the money I'd spend on a car for commuting would be worth it, for buying me that extra time to do something other than work, training and travelling during the week. I could leave the office and be home in 20 minutes rather than it taking an hour or more, and I wouldn't need to rush to get away before the buses get irregular in the evening.
I always said that I'd see how it went over winter, when I use the car less, and I've stuck it out for longer than a lot of people would manage. It's been fine, and in some ways I've liked being car free. It's got me running to work which has been fantastic for marathon training, and it's got me thinking about whether I need to make journeys. But it's also cut me off a bit. Little jobs that need a half hour trip out in the car to do become half day expeditions, and particularly in bad weather when waiting for the bus isn't appealing, I tend to put them off. With less frequent buses in the evenings, things have to be put off until Saturday, and then I have to find a Saturday when I'm at home. Visiting my grandparents is a bit of a chore, with changes of buses, and I suspect I may need to pop in more often than I do at the moment over the next few months. Getting back from running club on the bus means that an hour long run takes all evening, without even having the opportunity to pop into the club after the run for a drink. (On that subject, the fact that I can have a drink if I'm not driving is more appealing in theory than in practice, and I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the times I've taken advantage of the opportunity. Certainly they're infrequent enough that leaving the car on those days isn't going to be a problem).
I'm hoping that I'll still think carefully about when and how to use it, and I'm planning on buying something small, green and efficient rather than a status car. Because I've got a good idea of the journeys I will want to make in a car, I know that realistically I want a little city car that will do my 5 mile commute and trips around town cheaply, rather than something that is at home on the motorways. I use trains for most of my longer journeys anyway, and don't see why having a car should change that.
I'm not in a desperate hurry, but I want to start the ball rolling. May looks like the ideal time to take the plunge - pay rises kick in in May, and I finish paying off my credit card debt in May too. If I get round to sorting out my remortgage that will also free up a bit of cash. It would also be quite a nice birthday present to myself. I've done a lot of research over the past few weeks and really focussed on what I am looking for in terms of the car itself and how to pay for it. I've worked out the numbers and the budget, and I've worked out which cars come closest to ticking all my boxes. Now it's time to brave the dealership to see whether I can get the car I want for the price I want to pay for it.
Fingers crossed!

2 Comments:

Blogger Isabelle said...

Lovely wedding pictures, by the way. You and your sister are very alike.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Nomizana said...

Thanks for updating your opinion on the car issue. Cause eversince you started carless-ness i have looked on wishing i could take the leap. Learn to ride a bike or even jog to work. Now I see I can do all that, keep the car for those other trips i want to make in good time and comfort. By the way, have been your fan for a while keep writing. You are an inspiration

9:31 AM  

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