It’s simple really—shedding things—I just had no idea we’d go this far…
Faced with the difficulty of providing a fixed address, our nomadic lifestyle forced us to evaluate owning a car. We sold it and now travel by foot, bike, train, and bus.
Is this something you’d consider?
How long have we relied on cars?
As a nation
In 1934, there were 2.5 million cars on UK roads. Data provided by the DVLA showed the number of licensed vehicles in Great Britain increased every year since the end of the Second World War in 1945, except 1991. In 2013, 35 million vehicles were licensed in Great Britain, a 14 fold increase in 79 years.
As a couple
Lyden and I passed our tests in our 20s. We’ve driven for a combined 20 years and owned 7 cars between us. In 2014 we became a one car family. I gave up my red Suzuki Wagon (Postman Pat van) to share Lyden’s more powerful Ford Fusion.
Reasons for giving up the car
- We were in danger of our insurance being voided. The car was registered at our current house sitting address, whilst the insurance was held at my parents address. This became a big problem
- We became location independent in October 2013, working from home for yap.agency. Our car sat neglected on the drive
- We prefer to cycle rather than drive short distances. When we cycle to the gym, we’ve done our warm-up by the time we arrive – outdoor exercise is best anyway
Why we were reluctant
- We both loved our Ford Fusion – especially the boot space and leather seats
- It was cheap to run with minimal maintenance
- Visiting family and friends was easy
- Transporting weekly shops and big items was a breeze
- Going from A to B didn’t require us to consult the weather forecast!
The costs – driving a car
Let’s take a look at the overall costs of owning and driving our Fusion. You may want to add up the rough figures for yours as a comparison?
£200 servicing + repairs
That’s £2.10 per day – £64.16 per month. This adds up to £770 per year – for the car to sit on the drive.
Lyden bought the car in 2011 for £6000. We sold it at the recommended Autotrader price in 2015 for £2500. The car devalued by £875 per year.
This ramped up the cost of owning the car to £4.50 per day—£72.91 per month—before we moved it off the drive.
Since becoming nomadic, we haven’t driven to a fixed place of work each day. For us, an average month of car use included:
8 trips from Breaston to Derby/Nottingham – 20 miles x 8
2 trips from Breaston to Birmingham/Sheffield – 120 miles x 2
This was roughly 400 miles per month. We calculated the fuel cost for the Fusion at 10 pence per mile. This would be much higher in a larger or more sporty vehicle and depend if you’re doing motorway journeys or driving around town.
400 miles x 10p = £40 per month, or £480 per year.
Total annual cost of the car
£770 – annual maintenance
£875 – devaluation
£480 – petrol
Total – £2125 per year
That’s £177 for 2 people to travel approximately 400 miles per month in a Ford Fusion, driving economically.
Our car was unbelievably economical with cheap insurance, cheap tax, and modest repair fees. If you have a newer, fancier car with higher insurance, the costs will be a lot more.
Let’s compare this to the cost of the same journeys without a car…
The costs – without a car
The same 8 trips from Breaston to Nottingham would be as follows:
- 10 minute cycle to Long Eaton train station
- Train to Nottingham – £5.40 for 2 people with a Two Together railcard (or £8.80 without)
The same 2 longer trips from Breaston to Birmingham would be as follows:
- 10 minute cycle to Long Eaton train station
- Train to Birmingham – £15.40 for two people with a Two Together railcard (or £23.20 without)
This is booking 4 days in advance – 07:15 outward, 22:10 return. We looked for cheap fares here – as that’s what we would do in reality.
Total train costs per year
The Two Together railcard cost us £27. It was £30 but Lyden found us a Two Together discount code 🙂
Adding up the costs…
£561.60 per year – short journeys (£5.40 x 8 x 12)
£369.60 per year – longer journeys (£15.40 x 2 x 12)
£27.00 per year – 1 x Two Together railcard
£958.20 per year
That’s £79.85 for 2 people per month compared to £177 for the same journeys by car.
That’s under £40 each for train travel compared to £88.50 each when 2 people share a car.
And the cost for one person?
The savings are even bigger for lone car drivers…
For the above journeys, it’s £62.20 per month compared to the same £177 by car. That’s a huge monthly saving of £114.80.
This doesn’t account for the savings you could make with a railcard (a possible 30% off the price of each trip). Find out what rail discounts you can get.
Bonus tip for cheap long rail journeys
Check out Tickety Split to save money on longer train journeys.
The afternoon we sold the car, we booked our journey from Long Eaton (Derbyshire) to Darvel (South of Glasgow).
The 290 mile trip cost £39.10 in train fares, including booking fees (thanks to Tickety Spilt and our railcard) plus approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes of cycling in total. Cheap as chips!
It’s not all about the money of course…
Many of us who depend on a car are emotionally attached to the convenience it offers. I felt the sting when our car had gone and it took me a few days to feel good about it. When I regained from the wobble, I again felt that life is an adventure, and we did the right thing. Getting around by bike, train and bus is exciting and liberating, and helps us feel free in our current lifestyle.
On the downside, we may need to get on our bikes in all sorts of weather, and the spontaneous trips out may be a little more… planned. We can’t transport heavy or bulky items without thinking ahead. Instead we’ll be lightweight, carrying only what fits into our backpacks and bike panniers.
We love getting super-fit without even trying. And we love having a really low carbon footprint as we travel by public transport. When we had a car, we were guilty of doing short car journeys to the shops or gym. We now have the consideration of spending out on train or bus fares – so we’re more likely to take the healthier option.
The entire journey from Breaston to Darvel will take 7.5 hours by bike and train compared to 5 hours of driving with no stops. On public transport we’ll get over an hour of exercise thrown in and a possible 6 hours of reading, relaxing or even working on the train!
Occasionally, we might just beat a car or bus to its destination as we sail past queues of traffic on our bikes. If only we could run like Avatars!
A change in lifestyle
We plan to ‘batch’ activities – so we’ll have a day out rather than a couple of hours here and there.
As far as shopping is concerned, we’ll cycle and shop more often for fewer items. Hopefully the more frequent shopping trips will mean we’re eating fresher veg!
We had previously been slimming our belongings down to one car load for our move to Glasgow. And now? We will only take what we can fit into a 35 litre backpack, plus a single pannier – adding a further 20 litres. So in total, we’ll be carrying 90 litres between us. We’ll keep you posted on how that works out!
Anyone else given up their car? We’d love to hear about your experiences!