As you move on to the next phase of living and enter retirement, you're likely to make changes in your lifestyle other than working less. This might mean cutting back...
Cars are a big part of American culture. For many, learning how to drive was a sort of rite of passage. You likely remember getting your first vehicle and some of the adventures you took with it. We love our cars, and we take them everywhere. Our homes, neighborhoods, and even cities are built around cars as a primary method of transportation. However, as we get older, we might begin to realize we need our car less and less. Alternative methods of transportation might even be safer and more convenient.
Ten great reasons to get rid of your car
1. Getting rid of a car saves money
Cars are expensive. We need to register and insure them, and in many states, we have to pay annual inspection fees. Not to mention, cars require expensive gasoline, frequent oil changes, and expensive maintenance. If you don't own your car, you'll have to make car payments. You'll need to worry about unexpected repairs, flat tires, dents, windshields... the list goes on. Cars are tremendous expenses, and getting rid of your car will save you buckets of money.
2. Getting rid of your car reduces stress
As we approach our golden years, we want to live a relaxed, stress-free lifestyle. And let's face it: driving is neither relaxing nor stress-free for most people. Congested roads, traffic jams, accidents, hostile drivers, and poorly maintained roads make driving a rather unpleasant experience much of the time. Why put yourself through the stress when you could ride a bus, walk, or have someone else chauffeur you?
3. Driving is time-consuming
Driving takes focus, concentration, and time. If you're going to be driving for 45 minutes, that's 45 minutes you don't get back. Even when you get to your destination, you have to find parking, walk from your parking spot, deal with other drivers, dodge carts and pedestrians in the parking lot, and so on. If you take a city bus, subway, or rideshare, you'll get to spend your time relaxing, listening to music, reading, or simply staring out the window and enjoying your day.
4. Getting rid of your car reduces emissions
Cars pollute. Recent EPA estimates show that the average American car emits about 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year. Taking your car off the road reduces your emissions, reduces congestion, and reduces your stress. And you can tell the grandkids you're doing your part to keep the air clean for their generation.
5. Driving is dangerous
No matter where you live, driving can be quite a dangerous activity. According to Safer America, "At least 38,800 people were killed in motor vehicle collisions in 2019", and approximately 1.3 million people die globally in car accidents, or 3,287 deaths per day. Unfortunately for those approaching the golden years, many retirement havens such as Florida have notoriously congested and dangerous roads. Removing yourself from the risk is a great way to improve your safety and not have to worry about getting into an accident.
6. You'll get to know your neighborhood
As you walk or bike more in your neighborhood, you'll get to know your neighbors better. Cars isolate us from our neighborhoods, letting us pass through them in isolated little bubbles. Walking or biking will give you a chance to stop and chat with the people who live near you. You'll also notice more things you hadn't seen before because you were too busy driving. That pretty songbird, well-manicured garden, or other spots of beauty might be missed if you were car-bound.
7. Your physical health will benefit
Even if you take the bus or another form of transit, you'll likely be walking to and from the transit stations when you go places. This extra walking is an excellent form of exercise. You'll find those extra pounds melting off. Your body as a whole will get stronger the more you walk or ride - something that definitely won't happen while you're idling in traffic or searching for a parking spot.
8. Your mental health will benefit
As we mentioned: driving is stressful. Stress releases a hormone called cortisol which is bad for your body in high concentrations. Cortisol is also bad for your mind. Too much driving and you'll find you're feeling stressed and depressed. Getting away from the vehicle trap and finding your way around is less stressful and lets you relax more. You won't be annoyed or angered by other drivers; you won't be worn down from having to be on high alert to avoid collisions. Riding transit or walking is an excellent mental health break from the strains of driving.
9. You won't miss paying for car insurance
Driving is expensive, but at least car insurance costs go down as we age. Well, to a point. Much like the fuel economy of your vehicle, car insurance rates get better and better until about 55, and then they abruptly get worse again. As we age, our reaction times and general sensorium tend to slow down a little, making drivers over 55 higher-risk and, therefore, more costly to insure. Instead of saving by switching car insurance, save by getting rid of the car altogether, and then enjoy some nice luxuries with the money you saved by switching to taking the bus.
10. Public transit is actually pretty great
How will you get around without your car? The United States' public transit system could use shoring up in some places. Still, you can easily get around by bus or train in any major city and most mid-sized cities and counties. And while our car-crazy culture is reluctant to admit to it, transit is actually pretty great. You can bring your tablet or your book, bring some headphones, or even just enjoy some time with your inner thoughts. Before you know it, you're at your destination, and you didn't even have to do anything. Transit is a wonderful and generally very affordable thing.
It may sound kooky or weird to talk about getting rid of a car, but it can be a great idea. Cars are fantastic and incredible inventions, but they cost a lot of money to buy and maintain. The hassle of driving seems to get worse every day. Why spend your retirement fretting over lane changes, road construction, and crazy drivers when you can ditch your car altogether and just enjoy the ride?