Case study: giving up the car

We'd been thinking of giving up the car for quite a while, but hadn't taken the plunge quite yet. The fact that the MOT and insurance were due focused our minds, and we finally ditched the car in October 2011. So far we've got on... quite well!

Over the previous year, we'd consciously changed how we travelled, thinking about how we got around rather than just jumping in the car.  By considering whether there were alternatives to each journey we made, we'd already nearly halved our mileage.

We'd also moved house during that time, and the options for travelling to work and school were a big factor in where we chose to live. Moving to a house on good bus routes had already helped to cut our mileage even more.

The car got used for a few hours most weekends, and we estimated that it cost around £3000 a year to run. So were there better ways to get around, which might also end up cheaper?

Adding it up

In the four months since giving up the car, we spent £600 on car hire and car club rentals. So, taking into account extra bus and train costs, we reckon we'll save around £1000 over the year by not owning a car - which isn't bad.  And that doesn't take into account the cost of buying a car in the first place.

Giving up the car wasn't just about the money, though.   It was about changing how we live, making us do more stuff locally and live life at a slightly slower pace. So far:

  • We're walking more - journeys of around a mile are no longer done in the car.
  • We're shopping more regularly - and more locally. We're picking up things on the way home or popping out to the shops up the road. Though I do admit to a couple of online supermarket deliveries for bulky stuff.
  • I'm cycling to more work meetings - I might finally get fit!
  • We're having to be a  bit more organised - buying our Christmas tree meant taking the wheelbarrow to the Christmas fair.


Have we missed the car? Not really, because when we’ve really needed one we’ve hired one. It does change what you choose to do in your leisure time though – we’re more regularly going to places that we can get to easily on the bus.

A personal choice

I’m not suggesting that everyone should give up their car. We live in a city, have only one child, and have jobs which mean that with a bit of organisation we can get around without a car. Not everyone's life is like ours.

But plenty of us could drive less, and in a small way reduce demand for a finite resource. And more than anything, it feels good not to be such a part of a car culture any more. 

This post is exerpted from Rob's blog – read more at 
Photo: Sustrans/ J Bewley