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At the end of January, based on not much, my partner and I started discussing the idea of going car free. We’ve got six year old twins, live in a small, hilly town, with rubbish walking and cycling infrastructure. We have elderly relatives which we can kind of only visit with a car. And, our current car is an old, but reasonably efficient and very useful estate which my brother sold to me for a very good price…

In short, it would be probably be stupid to get rid of our car right now. We use it to visit friends, take the kids to their after school clubs. All the normal stuff. How would we do those things without a car? What’s even the point? It’s not like we’re going to fix climate change by getting rid of our 2005 Mazda 6.

But despite the nagging insistence of logic, my brain started turning over the idea. It’s too convenient having a car. Driving pretty much anywhere at any time of day is a miserable and stressful experience. Couldn’t we just move around less?

I had just left my job which was one of the few things we really needed the car for. For every other scenario we could think of, there was an alternative. And then I did some number crunching. Both financial and environmental. And whichever way I sliced it, owning a fossil fuel burning car, just seemed wrong.

Then, one rainy afternoon, while my partner and kids were watching a film in the other room, I started looking how much money I could if I sold the car. The answer was, not much. But I also noticed that the annual insurance was up for renewal within a month. And, I don’t know why, but I just figured it wouldn’t hurt to advertise it for sale online and see if there was any interest…

So, I put an ad on the marketplace pages of a popular social media platform, priced at a not unreasonable amount. And within 20 minutes, indeed, before the film had finished, had received three firm offers to buy the car. Whoops.

My partner was, I think it’s fair to say, a bit taken aback when I told her. But I’d basically agreed a verbal contract with one of the interested buyers and they wanted to come and see the car the next day.

We walked it over for the next 24 hours, but ultimately, we decided to go through with it. So there we were, just a few days later, with and empty driveway and some slightly disappointed kids.

A sad child on a, now permanently, empty driveway…

How do we get to places?

It’s been over a month now since we sold the car, and guess what? It’s totally fine. Turns out you don’t need a car to live a full and convenient family life. Okay, some people probably do. But lots of people really don’t.

Does that mean you should get rid of your family car? Maybe not. But you should definitely consider it. And not for the reasons you might think. Living without a car (so far), has been relatively straightforward and honestly not at all stressful. We haven’t particularly had to stop doing things we did before or change much about what we do with our free time. There are of course a huge bunch of caveats which make things possible for us, but fundamentally, I think we had been living in a trap of conceived convenience.

In my next post, I plan to write about a whole bunch of practical things and examples of what going car free as a family has been like so far for us. And hopefully illustrate why family life can be better for everyone without a car…