Sustainability | Blog

Living Car(e) Free

My wife and I live in the south end of Holbeck, and have done so ever since we got married a little over 2 years ago. Quite a few of our family and friends had warned us against staying in this part of Leeds due to the high crime rates but we figured it would be worth the risk while we save up for a house of our own. Our little flat was relatively close to town and about a 30-minute bus ride for me to get to work.

Living Care Free

Despite our proximity to town, we were very dependent on our car, a little Mitsubishi Colt. My wife dreaded taking the train as it cost significantly more and added around an hour to her daily commute, when compared to driving. We also saw it as essential for our weekly groceries, trips to the gym and weekend trips out of town. I eventually started cycling to work, cutting my commute time in half. I bought a bike for my wife but she only used it on the rarest of occasions. Two full years in this obscure part of Leeds had been without incident so we attributed the cautioning we received to paranoia. And then earlier this year, this happened….

Car

A random act of vandalism. At the time, we were both shocked and dismayed as anyone would be. It was my wife’s first car that we had picked it out together, shared many memories in and could not imagine our lives without it. It did not help our emotional state that we, just a few months prior to the incident, spent a couple of grand fixing the car up. We had no clue how to live without a car. 

A random act of vandalism. At the time, we were both shocked and dismayed as anyone would be. It was my wife’s first car that we had picked it out together, shared many memories in and could not imagine our lives without it. It did not help our emotional state that we, just a few months prior to the incident, spent a couple of grand fixing the car up. We had no clue how to live without a car. 

I almost immediately started looking for a possible replacement vehicle. I come from Malaysia where the brand and quantity of vehicles a household has is considered a status symbol. As you can imagine, I grew up as a bit of a petrol head and no detail was too tiny when shopping for a new car. I was constantly trying to find a balance between engine performance and fuel efficiency, insurance and maintenance costs, new or old. Much to the annoyance of my wife, who in the meantime had no choice but to endure the dreaded rail commute. 

It took about a month for our insurance company to pay out and I was no closer to narrowing down the choices. As the weeks rolled by, we not only started getting used to not having a car, we started seeing the benefits.
  • No car related costs like insurance, MOT, maintenance, fuel.  If my wife bought her tickets in advance, her commute was no more expensive than driving.
  • She could also sleep or read on her commute instead of concentrating on the road.
  • We started cycling into town, to the gym and to get groceries. This meant only buying things we needed and therefore reducing our waste.  
  • Weekend trips were done by train or bus, which meant less stress on the road and no need for a designated driver.
Don’t get me wrong, there are negatives. We do not have the freedom of movement we used to have and we are constantly at the mercy of trains and buses being on time. Plans also have to be made in advance to keep travel costs low. 

I was so engrossed into buying a replacement, I had not stopped to consider whether we needed to own a car at all. Turns out, we don’t. It’s been 6 months now and apart from having to occasionally justify not having a car to our parents we definitely enjoy living car(e) free. 

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