Friday, 12 April 2013

The Reality of a Car Free Existence Continued: The Unexpected Joys of Living Car Free

A photo from our car-free adventure in Portland, OR
On Wednesday I posted about the challenges we have faced as a family by no longer owning a car. My intention was to be as honest as possible about how our car free life has been difficult at times. Part of any decision making is to accept that you will face challenges along the way, but to also welcome the good surprises as well. Such has been our experience over the last four years. Even through all the stumbling blocks and changes to our lifestyle, there have been many unexpected benefits we could have never foreseen, and are grateful now to have been able to grow and learn so much.

We always knew that we would be saving money by selling our car. even though the car was fully paid for, and our gas usage was at a minimum, the insurance costs alone were quite staggering. At the time, we were paying about $200 a month in insurance fees, which works out to $2400 a year, which is nothing to sneeze at. As a young family, we've been able to put that money towards things like day camps and extra curricular activities for our kids, an expense most families struggle with. So I'm pretty grateful that we are able to keep that money in our pockets and use it for things that are much more rewarding than easier access to a car.

Physically speaking, my husband and I are probably the healthiest we've ever been. We haven't tracked our weight loss or physical agility over the course of the last few year, but I can say that I can easily ride 30 kms in a day, up and down hills that used to trouble me greatly, and the sorest part of my body is my bum from sitting on a bike seat for too long. As for our kids, we actually take for granted sometimes how active they are. But I can see the benefits. Just last fall, my daughter decided to join the Cross Country team at her school. I've never been a runner, nor my husband, and so I wasn't sure how our daughter would do. Turns out all the stamina she had built up riding her bike helped her to be one of the fastest in her grade level! 

I have always prided myself on being good at navigating, being the one who always read the map when we went on a road trip. When we moved to Vancouver, although I was in a larger city, I began living in a bubble, only knowing the areas I needed to go to, whether childcare, work or school. Riding my bike has broadened my horizons so much. I know the best bike routes to take to get to most points in the city, and the city now seems so much smaller and accessible. Then there's the fact that our kids have developed a good sense of direction, knowing where they are most of the time. My husband and I are so confident that when they are old enough to head off on their own, they'll have the confidence to know where they're going and how to stay safe.

Our bikes at our favourite place for a bike date

One of the biggest surprises I have found is that riding our bikes around town has become one of my favourite things to do. Not for exercise, but just as a way to connect with my family. I love hearing  my son squeal with excited when we travel downhill, and talking to my daughter about the things going on in her life. And I especially love the bike/beach dates my husband and I share in the summer. They're not extravagant, but I couldn't think of a better way to spend time together, riding along the water with the wind in our hair.

Living without owning a car may have it's own set of complications, but the rewards we have found during our car-free journey far outweigh any difficulty. I know we are doing the best that we can for ourselves and our children, as well as living more sustainably. Sure, there will always be times when we will think it would have been easier to drive, but if I did everything the easy way, I would not be the person I am today. So for now, I will continue to pedal on, enjoying every new challenge or success that comes our way!


  1. Beautiful post, Melissa - led me to the previous post about challenges. I continue to choose a (mostly) car-free existence, and the longer it goes, the more I wonder why so many people are hooked on them! Nothing better than a beautiful ride in a beautiful city to feel alive (even when you're soaked!). Keep them coming, Bruntletts!

    1. Thanks Hanna! I agree, it gets a lot easier with every passing day/month/year! Glad you like the's so appreciated :)