I’ve driven a car for my entire adult life, and I’ve become dependent on that sort of lifestyle. For nearly 10 years, a car has helps me get up into the mountains on the weekends, drive to field hockey practice in the evenings, get to work, and run errands on a daily basis. So I was a little apprehensive about not having a vehicle when we moved to Germany. And after 5 months without a vehicle, I can’t say that I don’t miss having a car, but it’s a lot easier to adapt to a car-free life than I first anticipated.
Going without a car seems normal in Europe. Whether it’s a crowded city or rural countryside village, people in Europe walk and bicycle a lot more. It’s so much easier than trying to find parking (old buildings = no underground parking), plus the last time I checked, gas was around the equivalent of $1.90/litre ($7.20/gallon). And what’s most remarkable is that people of all ages are walking or bicycling around the cities – it’s not just for youthful, fit people. I’ve seen men in expensive suits and women in sky high heels riding bicycles in Prague, old women peddling with a basket full of groceries, and “cool” teenagers in skinny jeans riding their hipster fixed-gear bicycles.
Transit also appear to be much better in Europe than in most North American cities. The networks reach farther, and systems are generally quite good in smaller cities.
Additionally, those Europeans that do own cars, usually drive small, economical cars. It is extremely rare to see a mini van, SUV, station wagon, or truck parked on the street. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that a 4-door VW Golf, or Suzuki SX4 is considered to be quite big over here. Our “small” cars in North America are spacious, family-sized cars in Europe. People drive tiny cars like the Fiat 500, Mini Cooper, Smart Car, and scooters are everywhere!
There are so many pros to going without a car: not having to pay for insurance or gas or repairs, it’s better for the environment, and I’m getting exercise every day. From where we live, it takes 35 minutes each way to walk downtown, 20 minutes to the grocery store, and 40 minutes to the train station.
That being said, I do miss the freedom of having a car. Last weekend we wanted to go to IKEA, but it took us over 2 hours roundtrip just to get there (2 trains + 3km walk each way), and then we had to lug what we bought with us all the way back home. Plus, when we go grocery shopping, we can only buy as much as we can fit into our backpacks – meaning we go shopping at least two or three times a week. Transit is somewhat expensive if you take it irregularly, and when it rains or gets too hot or too cold, you can forget about riding a bicycle. It’s the worst.
Even though I’m enjoying life without a car (for the most part), and I will definitely ride my bicycle a lot more when I’m back in Vancouver, I don’t think I could go completely car-free. Living in the suburbs of Metro Vancouver, too much of what I like to do is car-dependent – and I’m willing to pay for that.
Do you think you could ever ditch your car completely?
Last night I went to a friend’s house for a BBQ. There was nothing else on, so she forced me to watch The Last Song on her laptop with her. I absolutely cannot stand Miley Cyrus. And also, it was literally the worst movie I have ever seen in my life. But do you want to know what the most horrifying part of the entire night was? The realization that she was the best actor in that entire movie. Everybody else was so awful that I wanted to stab my eyeballs with knives.
Moving on … in news about my car, I’m still waiting to get my bumper fixed. I took it into the shop and they ordered the parts in, but then they had to cut out a HUGE chunk of my bumper to colour match the paint. Hopefully it will be done by the weekend!
Oh, and finally in blog-related news … the big “reveal” will be happening around the second week of September. So stay tuned! :)
Have a good weekend everyone!
Yesterday as I was driving home from work, I got rear ended while sitting at a stop light. I wasn’t hurt, but my poor car has a bunch of scratches and a huge hole in the bumper. :( And the guy who hit me didn’t even say sorry! He acted as if I was being a nuisance, asking for his license and insurance. And he was tapping his foot impatiently as I wrote down all of his information and took photos of the front of his car.
I was worried because I have private insurance through CDI and didn’t want it to be a hassle to make a claim. The 2 previous accidents I’ve been in, I’ve only had to deal with ICBC. But CDI was really helpful and I was able to make the claim easily.
Because I have replacement insurance on my car, all of the parts needed to fix my car will be new. And my $500 deductible will be waived since it wasn’t my fault. I forgot to ask about if I’m eligible for a loaner car while mine is getting fixed, so I’m waiting to hear back from my adjuster.
Also, I’m trying to find a place to fix my car. I’d prefer to go with the dealership I bought my car from, or at least another Suzuki dealership. I just have to wait to hear about the loaner car first.