Lose a Car: save $235,000

Here's an interesting study that has compiled all the average costs associated with car ownership, and found what a family with two cars could save if they only got rid of one of them and switched to public transit.

It's an American study, but it reminds me of a conversation I overheard on a bus once, where the people were saying that dropping their car was one of the smartest things they had ever done. The reality is that many families in the lower mainland actually have two or more cars - studies like this could help show them that maybe they don't need both (or all) of them.

It's a matter of choice: you don't really need to buy a huge house in a car-dependent area to save money, as is a popular belief. You can save $235,000 (or more, in Vancouver, I'd expect) over 25 years - about the amortization length of the average mortgage, by choosing not to purchase in that area and only have one car.

If you then choose to purchase a more expensive house in an area served well by public transit that didn't force you to use a car to get around, wouldn't your quality of life be vastly improved? The study doesn't include the cost of sitting in commuter traffic for hours every day, which is something I would definitely include in my own study - I value my time and would definitely consider that in the equation. How much is all that dead time worth? You can't even get into a book while stuck in traffic.

Does that mean a family could save $470,000 over 25 years if they got rid of two cars? That's a massive amount of money. Please let me know if you know of a locally-based study that looks at this, I've wanted some solid numbers around this for a long time.

>> photo by practice