Losing the car (and liking it).

October 27, 2011


About two months ago my husband had a bingle and the insurer wrote off our car.  We decided not to replace it and after two months I can honestly say we  really don’t miss the car  at all.  We have not only decreased our environmental footprint but we have also also reaped financial benefits.

The effect of a good Walkscore

Fortunately (she says smugly)  we made public transport a priority when we bought our home in the city 5 years ago.  I’ll even commandeer some nasty business jargon and say that this accident has helped us to  “leverage the equity” in the walkscore of our real estate.  Walkscore, for the uninitiated, allows you to enter just about any address and get a score from 0-100 of the “walkability” of the location. I  love the walkscore metrics, and I will never buy or rent real-estate or even book a hotel room again without checking this first! Hence, if I enter the address of my apartment building I get a respectable and  “Very Walkable”  score of 85.

So, in summary, what are the consequences of giving up the car?

1) An additional $1800 a year in rental income from the unused parking space.

2) Savings of $4500 a year, previously spent on insurance, registration , maintenance, repairs, Citylink, parking, parking tickets, petrol etc. This is my figure based on actual receipts for a fully paid off 1993 station wagon, without any  car payments. Our use was only very light so these gains would have to be modest by average standards.

3) No issues getting to work: I’ve always worked in the city so traveled by tram anyway. My husband also works in the city and trams it. However, he does have to make some trips for work to Mornington Peninsula, and now he must take a tram, a train and then a taxi. This increases his travel time considerably, but it has some trade-offs, as he can do work (billable hours) while on the train. He could take advantage of car sharing options such as flexicar or goget (we have one positioned across the street) but funnily enough he hasn’t seemed inclined to even bother.

4) Taking the tram to go grocery shopping.

Every ten days or so we take our little shopping cart (it’s not about looking cool) and hop on the tram to Aldi, to South Melbourne or Prahran Market or one of the other 3 grocery stores within 2 kms. This is a lot more fun than arguing in traffic and circling the supermarket parking garages.


5) Buying groceries On-Line.

I order the basic and the heavy stuff (milk, potatoes etc) online for delivery every 2 weeks. This is still experimental. I’ve tried  the Woolies online site and the Coles, I think Woolies is slightly better, but neither is really a standout and both have poor selection.  I do shop the bargains, so, please bring on the competition – I’m willing to be fickle.

The established Australian online grocers I’ve found so far were too expensive, disappointingly, even the AussieFarmers site.

Some (perhaps new) entrants such as a Thai groceries and Indian CVQ  still  have limited selection.  I put a few things in the cart, it came to about $20 and then I simply couldn’t find enough variety to justify the delivery fee.

I have also done two orders (Wednesday is the day) from GroceryRun.  Yesterday’s came with free delivery (orders over $80). The site is heavily cross- promoted  “as Seen on seen on Today Tonight & ACA” (groan) and although the discounts can be large beware of buying junk you don’t need. The stock is mainly over-packaged over-processed junk,  or else stuff sold inconvenient quantities (36 batteries that will pass their use by date before you can use them) and the content doesn’t seem to vary much from week to week.  (Did I miss something or was there a bumper Toblerone harvest this year ?)

I did find a few basics and with judicious selection bought some mundane stuff such as dishwasher tablets, biscuits and chocolate (in-case-there-are-guests, yeah, right).  One significant downside, delivery comes via standard parcel mail. For apartment dwellers or those not at home for delivery this requires a post-office pick-up. Oh, and don’t count on a quick delivery either, my first order took 8 days to reach me.  Just as well I wasn’t hungry for Toblerone.

mobile store

6) No more Ikea Visits. This part actually sucks. A  lot.  Lou and I had our first date at Ikea, that monument to affordable (and disposable)  modernism.  Still, and it must be said,  those Swedish meatballs really do cause terrible flatulence. Not at all a good thing on a tram.

So far I love having divested myself of the car. This is clearly not an easy option for many Australian suburban dwellers, largely because successive governments and consumers have ignored “the walkability factor”.  With forced obeisance to the car industry bodies  the government planners have put cars first,  treating pedestrians,  cyclists and public transport users as an inconvenient nuisance.


About yvonnert

Extensive experience working in government spatial data infrastructure. Over ten years as a bridge maker in emergency services, with strong partnering skills providing leadership for spatial information strategy.

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2 Comments on “Losing the car (and liking it).”

  1. Euan (@Euan_B) Says:

    Ikea really sucks cause delivery is next day, so basically if you go to buy something you’ve gotta have the next day free.


    • yvonnert Says:

      Ikea is like a Royal Show bags that turn out to be full of stupid stuff you don’t need that breaks and cannot be repaired. I have just thrown three failed Ikea lamps in the bin.


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