Living Without a Car

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We’ve been car-less now for about four months.

Our partnership with Ford ended after our road trip around Australia and we then faced a decision – buy another car or embrace life without one for a change.

Cars have never been a huge focus of our lives. We travelled for many years around the world, living in big cities, and using public transport. We loved it. We only had to buy a car in another country when we moved to Raleigh in North Carolina as pubic transport wasn’t a real option.

We were disappointed because cars are a money drain, and they can also remove you from engaging with the local community and improving your health and sanity.

Did we want to go with convenience and expense, or freedom and saving money?

Why we chose not to buy a car

We live in a central part of Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast and within walking distance to everything – across the road from the beach, five minutes to the supermarket, 15 minutes to school, 15 minutes into town, and 30 mins to the chiropractor.

Beautiful Burleigh Heads
Beautiful Burleigh Heads

We also knew we were planning our US road trip for next year. The thought of car hunting, paperwork, insurance, rego, maintenance, fuel costs, and then going through it again in a resell in 6 months, in an already busy life, almost blew my head off.

I’d rather go without and save the money and the hassle.

We made the right choice. Not having a car is so liberating. Here’s why:

Re-engaging with life

When we visited Rottnest Island last year, we were immediately swept up with a vibrant energy of fun and connection. It was like we were on school camp and we reckon it was due to Rotto being absent of cars. People were getting around on bikes, running around and walking. It felt freer like everyone had let their guard down and was more open to connecting with others.

That’s what getting out of your car does. It takes you out of the box and you become a cell in the beating heart of the community.

We’re so connected to life in Burleigh Heads. Every day we feel its energy through the buzzing conversations in cafes, the smell of the fresh ocean air,  the smiles of people running or walking by, the feel of the sand between our toes and the wind in our hair.

Embracing the outdoor life in Burleigh
Embracing the outdoor life in Burleigh

Improving your health

We’re walking on average 8 kilometres a day and the girls ride their bikes and scooters as distances can be a little too long for them to walk.

At one stage, we were going to the chiro 2-3 times a week. That’s 30 minutes each way. Imagine the strength and stamina that was building for our daughters, not to mention ourselves?

Walking is helping to keep the kilos off that like to creep up on me the minute I spy a chunk of brie and a glass of chilled chardonnay. (I spy them a lot!)

When I go to the chiro on my own, I use this as an opportunity to run and get some cardio.

Not to mention how much walking helps you to clear away stresses. Walking it off has always been my de-stress and clarity go-to.

If we had a car, there would be no way we’d schedule this much exercise in.

Quality time with each other

Life is hurried, especially with kids. The car becomes this vehicle to race you from one appointment to the next. You jump in, turn up the radio, get annoyed by traffic and lights, you’re concentration and annoyance get in the way of conversations.

Now that we walk everywhere we have time to talk. Craig and I even hold hands sometimes.

The girls ride or scoot beside us and talk incessantly about their day, except when Kalyra is up a tree,  which she likes to climb.

I wouldn’t have such in-depth and enlightening conversations with them otherwise.

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(The above three photos taken by ZigZagonEarth.com)

My favourite conversations are when Kalyra asks me if giving birth was more painful than breaking her arm. Well…ask Daddy, he often complains about how hard I squeezed his hand when I gave birth to you. Poor guy!

And Savannah loves to tell me all about her mother that died! Fabulous, let’s hope that’s not the premature fate of your mother this time around.

It’s better for the environment

I can’t believe I left this one out of this post until Lisa reminded me in the comments. It was written in my head!! Living without a car is so much better for the environment. I love doing what I can to care for Mother Earth, especially now seeing all those horrid pictures of the smog in Beijing. Only clean air here in Burleigh!

And, walking every day gives me way more opportunity to hug trees!

Time for learning

When I’m walking on my own, either to the chiro or for school pick up/drop off, I’m popping on the headphones to listen to inspiring and educational podcasts and training. It’s incredible how many I am getting through and what I am learning and absorbing in the process.

Ramit Sethi and his Brain Trust chats are rocking my world at the moment!

Life without a car actually helps you grow your business.

What are we doing when we need a car?

Travel is a big part of our lives obviously, so sometimes we need a car! Sometimes we want to go further afield than what our walking distance allows.

Here’s what we’re doing.

Public Bus

Probably my least preferred way of getting around. The girls love it though. They come every 15-minutes and the bus stop is a short walk from our apartment.

Although, if all of us are going somewhere close by, we’ve found that the public bus works out to be more expensive than our new beloved UBER. Otherwise, we’ll use the bus.

Using the Gold Coast bus system

If you’re visiting the Gold Coast and plan to get around on public transport, the GO cards are a great idea.You can use them on all TransLink bus, train, ferry and tram services across South East Queensland. The card costs $10 to buy, but you’ll make that back on cheaper transport fairs than paying individual fare prices.

Otherwise if you want to pay for each fare with cash, make sure you have cash and in small denominations.

The bus driver kicked someone off the other day because he had a $50 note. He had his cranky pants on and wouldn’t even let me pay for the guy’s fare. He said he should have known better, except the poor dude was a tourist.

As a tourist, you might be interested in the GO explore card, which gives you unlimited travel on the G link (tram) and Gold Coast buses for $10 a day for adults, and $5 a day for kids. Great for when you want to visit the theme parks and all the Gold Coast attractions.

When we’re flying out of the Gold Coast airport at Coolangatta, we usually get Uber if it’s all of us, or depending on time of day, which costs around $35-50. Otherwise the Gold Coast airport bus 777, takes about 15-20 minutes and costs $6 (from Burleigh).

Using UBER and why we’re in love with it.

Taxis are boring. I’ve never enjoyed a taxi ride or been excited to take one. It’s just been a Point A to Point B thing. Uber is an experience and we get so much joy from using Uber. The girls love it. They often request to get an Uber even if we’re walking five minutes up the road.

“Can we get Uber Mummy?”

Why do they love Uber so much?

Because Uber drivers usually have bottles of water and mints!!! That’s Uber – outstanding service. If you have not jumped on the Uber train yet, we highly recommend you do.

Why we love Uber

  • They’re typically cheaper than taxis.
  • They always turn up.
  • It’s like your own personal driver.
  • Hassle free ordering straight from your app.
  • You don’t need cash as your card is connected to the app.
  • You know exactly how far away the Uber is to pick you up. You can track it all through the app.
  • The service is amazing. Beautiful clean cars. They open the doors for you, They give you bottles of water and lollies
  • The driver’s are amazing. They’re all super friendly and happy and have amazing stories to share. It’s like you’re riding with a friend. This is the single biggest reason I’m obsessed with Uber. We’ve met people from China, Canada, Sri Lanka with fascinating stories. Many drivers are working part-time to earn extra money for their travel desires, which floats my boat. Last night I had a young man who’s just graduated from Uni, driving Uber to pay for is graduation celebration trip to Japan. I’m so inspired by their stories and what I’m learning from them.
  • Uber drivers love Uber. They all talk about how well they’re treated and how the opportunity has improved their lives – taken them out of struggle into earning a decent income as their own business. Happy workers is always a sign of a great company.
If you have not used Uber yet, use this code, ql3dc, when you sign up for it to get your first ride free! And thank you if you do, as we’ll get $10 credit to use for our Uber rides.

Renting a car on the Gold Coast

Sometimes we need a car for weekend getaways and so will rent a car.

We have two ways we rent a car on the Gold Coast.

Jacks Rental

The best deal we’ve found for shorter hire periods is Jacks Rental, a small car hire business run by two lovely elderly ladies, Kay and Jan. It’s awesome. Their rates are good and the best thing is they drop off and pick up the car to your door. That’s service!

Without them, Craig would have to do that 20-minute bus ride to Coolangatta Airport and back to pick up a rental car.

You can’t beat it and we love supporting these two beautiful ladies with their small business. They’ve been running for 10 years now on the Goldy and have a fleet of 50 cars. Consider them on your next visit.

Kay from Jacks dropping off our rental
Kay from Jacks dropping off our rental

Rentalcars.com

For car hire longer than a few days, we tend to find the best deal on RentalCars.com. We’ve been using them since before we started travel blogging and I was pregnant with Kalyra.

They were called Travel Jigsaw back then and was by far the best way to find a deal. When we hired a car in the States it came with all the insurance extras included so we didn’t have to worry about messing around with that when we arrived. The prices still beat those ones who didn’t have it included.

We now have an affiliate partnership with them (at no extra cost to you).

The only problem when we rent a car through RentalCars.com is we have to get ourselves down to Coolangatta Airport for pick up and drop off as that is where the car rental companies are mostly based

We’ve just rented a car for a week and via Rentalcars.com it was $190. With Jacks Rental, it would have been $240. It depends on the days of the week and length of rental who we go with.

What about you?

Have you ever been car free?

Did it make you feel liberated too?

23 thoughts on “Living Without a Car”

    1. Yes! I can’t believe I left that out. I had such a brain explosion. It’s one of my favourite reasons. I’ve just added it in now. Thank you so much for the heads up!

  1. I think it’s uplifting that such busy people manage without a car and for all the right reasons. You set a great example. We are down to one car having had two when we lived in suburbia as a family and all went different ways what with work, school and extra mural things. But we have had times when we’ve done without one. Living in Kathmandu we had bikes, in Hong Kong great public transport and we were much fitter and less stressed.

  2. How do you get on using Uber with kids? I’ve done it lots by myself and love it! I’d like to use it more but I don’t know what the rules are regarding car seats. In taxis, it’s OK not to have a car seat most places you go but I’m not sure the rules are the same for Uber vehicles. I guess your kids are older so it’s not such a huge deal.

    1. We thought it was like a regular cab and so travelled without a car seat for some time, until one driver said he wouldn’t take us without one for Savannah – she only needs a booster. Uber is considered a private vehicle so by law a car seat is needed for the kids. We take her booster with us now when we ride one. It’s a pain. Sometimes I don’t worry about it, which is a risk but Savannah’s four and fits in the belt okay so I’m not too worried.

  3. Boom, amen to that. My learner’s license expired after 10 years in September. The biggest struggle for the environment aspect now is to get countries like Thailand where having a flashy car is considered a status symbol to not think this way! Instead of riding my scooter to breakfast, I’m going to make the 10 minute walk…thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Oh wow – the status symbol! I sure hope that dies soon. Although sometimes being in a private car in Thailand is a welcome relief from the heat and the chaos!! Mostly I like gettting outside amongst it though!

  4. Being a New Yorker who lived in Manhattan for most of my life, I haven’t owned a car for over 20 years and I love it. My husband, daughter and I find that when we travel, we often ask for walking directions and most people discourage it, telling us we can’t, but we always end up walking anyway. When we really can’t walk it, then our favorite is Uber! It’s been awesome in SE Asia, when it’s just too hot to walk.

    1. Yes. We’ve always had that as well. People think you’re strange for wanting to walk, but we always insist that we prefer it. It’s so great to hear how good Uber is in SEA.

  5. We currently live in China without a car. I ride my bicycle to work everyday, and we use the chinese equivalent of Uber to get around when the whole family needs to go out. Certainly saves some money and hassle relative to when we owned a car overseas, but I can’t help to feel a bit trapped in our local area at times. When we are faced with paying for a hire car to go out more often than not we choose to stay local to save the expense, which makes life that little bit less interesting. Car seats also complicate the hire cars a lot…..

    1. Yes. I’ve been feeling the effects of not having a car now we’re on school holidays. It’s quite limited as to where we can go and who we can visit for playdates. We hired a car today and Kalyra and I were overjoyed to drive to the supermarket!! It certainly helps you appreciate the small things. I’m so looking forward to driving to stay with a friend on her farm on the weekend. There are some definite good points to owning a car.

  6. Hey! The code you posted is actually good for $15! Neat. +$5! Today’s my lucky day heh. I’ve been meaning to try Uberrrrrrrr i swear but i keep…procrastinating… havent done it yet, but i just signed up w. the app so i have NO MORE EXCUSES! But I actually have a good use/need for it on NYE. It’s gonna be crazyyyyyyy expensive from all the demand..to say the least..but it’s worth it to me i guess.

    After taking a peek at the app it looks like it only lets me see the current city i/my phone is in for rides requests and stuff 🙁 i’ll be in a different city (and state!) for new years though. Pulled some quick google-fu and found a thing that lets you just put in your start and finish and does it for you (i put the link above ^^ for the n00bs).

    Unfortunately…i plugged in the approx locations of where i’ll be and where we’ll be going (in Las Vegas)….. i was greeted by the fact that there’s currently a 180% surge in that area 🙁 and i was just checking for future purposes 🙁 …better save my pennies…

    I personally cant imagine getting rid of my car where i live. but i commend the idea for sure, im just spoiled i guess. I guess now’s the day to do it though….with this whole ‘rideshare’ thing taking over the world….mighte even make financial sense depending on how often you travel and how far away you go…..hmm…

    1. Oh yes surges. You’ve got to keep an eye out for them. It’s great they warn you of them though. When they pop up I get a price estimate and if it’s way more than I’m willing to pay then I’ll seek an alternative way of getting there. I’ve only had a price surge once and it wasn’t so bad. It doesn’t happen much where we are.

  7. I have been car free for years, even when I lived in the outer ‘burbs of Melbourne with crap public transport. It can be annoying at times but the biggest issue was in Summer, because we lived near the bush, not having a bushfire escape route.

    Still, when you add up the costs, I’d much rather have the money for travel and other fun stuff than the convenience of a car. When you figure in too that at any time (and usually the worst time possible), a car can break down or you have a crash and could be up for thousands of dollars.

  8. I consciously decided to walk, bike or take public transport as much as I can. Id like to say I decided to do this to help reduce my carbon footprint, but I actually did it to try and improve my health. The results have been amazing, I no longer have a high blood pressure and I get to enjoy and notice the world out there a lot more than I did before.

  9. I found this post very encouraging because I am about to sell my car and it sounds like awful to be car-less for a while. So that is maybe not that bad. Kind of a relief to read this one. Thank you Caz.

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