I’ve been in Dallas for 2 weeks without a car, and so far, so good. Obviously, it is a bit harder to manage without the convenience of a car, but Dallas’ fledgling public transportation system (which is actually pretty well-developed for being in Texas) has successfully filled in the gaps when necessary.
The main price I pay for not having a car is time; the time I spend walking to places, planning out my trips in advance, and waiting for the bus/train to pick me up. The last one can be particularly bad given that the system doesn’t run as frequently here as in cities where public transportation is essential. I don’t mind spending that additional time because it provides a nice opportunity to slow down and unplug for a while, but I know it’s not for everyone.
Fortunately, living without a car is basically just an operational challenge that can be designed against and alleviated. Some of the things that I rely on to do so include:
- Living within walking distance of the office, because there is probably nowhere else I go to as often every week
- Asking for rides. I try to do this sparingly, but when you have to bum a ride, there’s not much you can do, so there is no point being shy about it
- Keeping a lot of dollar bills and change in the apartment. This is crucial for successfully navigating the bus system, since they don’t take credit cards
- Buying non-perishables in bulk. The cost of taking a trip is much higher than the cost of holding a lot of “inventory” in my apartment, which is basically empty. So I have 16 boxes of granola, 20+ bars of soap, etc, tucked away all over the place
- Buying non-perishables online whenever possible. By online, I mean through Amazon, which continues to get an increasing share of my spending
- Limiting myself to businesses that I can easily reach via public transportation. This is actually a nice time saver, because it is like a quick form of curation. For example, instead of considering X number of places to eat, I only have to consider Y < X places
- Planning trips in advance and consolidating as much as possible. Less trips means less time spent waiting for the bus
- Renting a car if I absolutely have to. I rented an SUV to move my stuff from Houston to Dallas and pick up my first round of supplies
- Going everywhere with a backpack to hold the stuff I would have stuffed in my car trunk
- Having a comfortable pair of walking shoes