Wednesday, August 25, 2010


After reading many minimalist blogs, I feel the need to confess: I own a car.

I've never really thought that cars were bad. My dad worked at the Ford plant building trucks for 30 years. We're a simple car kind of family.

I've been thinking a lot about this and my current goal is to move within 2 miles of my work by next summer. If I bike/walk/bus to work every day, I could give up my parking spot and save money on gas. I'd also prefer to live close to a grocery store so I could bike there as well.

That's the good news. The bad news is that if I'm to be a proper minimalist, I should probably give up my car when I move...and I'm not going to do that. Not right away anyway.

To me, minimalism is about living a simpler life and concentrating on what's important. It's about having fewer expenses and obligations so as to have fewer things to detract from priorities. To me, minimalism isn't about giving up things just to give them up. It's not about paring my life down in ways that limit my happiness.

I imagine that someday I'll get rid of my car. For now, though, here are the reasons why I'm keeping it:

-My car is paid off and costs me very little to maintain (for now).

-My good friends live 15 miles outside the city and I visit them at their house a few times a month.

-My parents live 150 miles outside of the city. I visit them about once a month.

-Even though I'm giving up buying "stuff", we'll still need to buy bulky things like cat food, cat litter, milk and laundry detergent.

-Emergencies and/or last minute, unplanned events (fun or un-fun).

-Drive-in movies (yes, that really did make my list of priorities)

drive in sign

These are all, in my mind, good reasons why I need a car. Of course, I understand the other side of the argument: I can take a taxi, bus, rental car or ambulance anywhere. I can ask my friends to come to my house. I can hitch a ride with my brother when he goes up north to visit my parents. I can buy all my bulky items at once and take a taxi home from the store. I can rent a zip car to go to the drive in or I can go with friends.

I could also telecommute or work for myself and not have to worry about living close to my work. I could live closer to my friends or to my parents or to my favorite grocery store/coffee shop/bike path/whatever.

I'm going to take the next year to think this over. Right now the car is winning but who knows...a year practicing minimalism might open up more car-less opportunities. I'm excited to find out!


  1. I own a car (although perhaps not for long: it's become less and less useful lately) -- but I moved to a city-ish place and hopefully will be able to use the bicycle (that I do not yet own) to get around.
    I plan to own a pickup truck, though, to cart around my minimalist possessions ... I've taken my cue from you and have already started bragging it up. So much fun.

  2. I have thought about giving up my car recently - big bills! - but living in a rural area where public transport is limited makes a car more a necessity to get around rather than choice.

    But it does make me think about why I chose to live outside a town, and would I be happier being nearer to all the amenities so I could choose to simplify my life by ditching the car. You always carry such a load of financial burdens having a car - insurance, tax, unexplained expensive sounding noises....:-) Imagine if all that everyday stress just went away?

    Still, my family live a good 600 miles away from me so I'd have to struggle with the feeling of not having that option to hand. Lots to think about. Thank you for the thought provoking post!