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The Car Free Experiment

The Car Free Experiment

Автором Annie Jean Brewer

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The Car Free Experiment

Автором Annie Jean Brewer

156 pages
2 hours
Oct 1, 2015


Have you ever wondered what is it like to live without a car?

I did. While my first experiences in car free living sprung from adversity they made me wonder: can you really live without a car in Small Town America?
I researched car free living and made a sobering discovery. All of the books written on the subject covered larger cities and glossed over any potential pitfalls to the experience.

I made a vow to correct this. There needed to be an honest book on the subject, so I made plans to eliminate my vehicle and immerse myself in the car free lifestyle for at least a year in order to write a book myself about the subject. After several years of planning and preparation, I did just that.

Within these pages you will not just learn about my personal experience of living for over a year without a vehicle, you will also discover:
* Advantages and disadvantages of the car free lifestyle
* Is a car-free lifestyle practical with children?
* Shopping without a car
* Transportation emergencies
* Transportation alternatives
* Tips and tricks for making alternate forms of transportation work for you.
And most importantly,
* Can living without a car really save you money?

This book is not designed to necessarily promote the car free lifestyle; instead it was written to help you make an informed decision if you have ever wondered what it would be like to live without a car in Small Town America yourself.

I hope it helps.

Oct 1, 2015

Об авторе

Everyone should live on less. When we simplify our lives we liberate ourselves from the mind-numbing struggle just to survive. I started out working four jobs as I struggled to raise my kids as a single mother but we never had enough but when I began combining minimalism with frugality my life changed. I went from working four jobs to taking summers off to spend with my kids. I even stopped working a public job entirely for a few years but it eventually got to be boring so I went back to work part-time. I live on less a month than many earn in a week but my bills are paid and the majority of my time is my own to use as I please.You can do it too if you want. Read my books to learn how.

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The Car Free Experiment - Annie Jean Brewer

The Car Free Experiment


Annie Jean Brewer



Copyright 2015 by Annie Jean Brewer

* * *


This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Dedicated to the memory of

Sean Quincy Bennett




Experiment Notes

Defeating Fear

Running the Numbers

Advantages and Disadvantages

Transportation Alternatives

Car-free Shopping

Car Free and Employed

Car Free with Kids

Car Free Journal


Now What?


About the Author

Other Titles


There was a time when I firmly believed that everyone should own a car. I purchased my first vehicle when I was 18 and I considered it an essential piece of equipment if you wanted to have any type of life at all.

I owned a car consistently for years but when gas prices topped four dollars a gallon in the mid-aughts I started rethinking my standpoint on the issue. It cost almost a hundred dollars to fill the tank in my old jalopy--a week’s wage at my restaurant job--so to be able to afford to drive it I took a higher-paying job at a factory. I didn’t do much better there because the drive was longer but hey, my paychecks were bigger so I could at least pretend I was doing okay.

Every time I would fill up the tank on my vehicle I would count the hours I had worked just to put fuel in my car. I became angry as those hours went higher and higher. I finally became upset enough that one week, instead of filling up my car, I bought a bike instead.

I rode that bicycle everywhere during the fuel spike. The money I saved at the gas pumps allowed me to buy better food and nicer clothes for my kids so when I moved to Paducah, Kentucky my vehicle stayed parked most of the time. I would ride my bike or take the bus whenever I needed to go somewhere.

During that time I read many books and articles about car-free living, only to be disappointed at the fact that there weren’t any good books featuring real-world stories about the potential downsides of selling your car. Most of the stuff I read ignored the personal cost entirely.

I told myself that someone needed to write a book for the average person that contained both the good and the bad of car-free living. For instance, many areas in the US don’t have viable public transportation, yet the books I read ignored this fact. In time I finally decided to write one myself. I weaned myself from my van over a period of several years and then sold it in the spring of 2014.


Working up my nerve

To say I was nervous about this experiment would be an understatement. I was terrified at the thought of selling my vehicle so I weaned myself off of driving gradually. It took over three years to work up my nerve and make the leap. The second year I drove my van 600 miles. The third year I cut that in half, to the point where I began to resent paying insurance on a vehicle that mostly sat unused, but even then I still refused to give it up.

I was still afraid to sell my van so I parked it for a six month trial run. We did okay so in April of 2014 I finally broke down and sold it--and then panicked. I wanted the security of having a vehicle there just in case I needed it, and wasn’t comfortable at all not having a car to fall back on in an emergency. Determined to defeat these fears, I spent the money I earned from the sale of my van on a new laptop for my writing business to eliminate the possibility that I would back down on my decision.

That was over a year ago.

It hasn’t always been easy but it has definitely been an adventure.



Part of me wanted to start writing this book while the van was parked during those final months before I worked up the nerve to sell it. I refused to give in to the temptation because I wanted to live completely car-free for at least a year before I wrote the first word.

As time passed I did allow myself to take notes. There were things that I wanted to share with you that I didn’t want to forget. However, I didn’t officially start to work on this book until May 2015--over a year after I sold the van.



Experiment Notes

One of the main reasons that I wanted to write this book is because so many of the available books on the subject only cover living in major cities. Since many people prefer to live in smaller towns, these books were irrelevant to them.

Also, the majority of the books on the subject tend to paint the car-free lifestyle as being one of sunshine and roses. I knew that wasn’t the case from listening to the stories told by my car-free friends. I decided to experience both the good and the bad on a personal level, not only for my benefit, but to help others learn the truth.

I have a habit of looking at the bright side of things (mostly), so during this time I spun the stories I shared on my blog in a positive light to keep my spirits up. Privately I kept a record of my true feelings so that I could share them here.


The Town I Live In

The town I chose for this experiment is based in Central Kentucky, about an hour’s drive from Lexington. It has a population of 6,500 and doesn’t have a mall in sight. It also doesn’t have a transit system that operates on a regular schedule except for the inter-city bus that runs twice a day during the week.

I lived in towns both smaller and larger than this one in the years that I prepared for this experiment. Smaller towns (with a population of 5,000 or less) don’t really have the resources available for the average person to successfully live without a vehicle because they have neither hospitals nor major stores (like Wal-Mart or K-mart) where you can buy what you need. However, if you have an income that is independent of location (work at home position, retirement pension, etc.), you can make them work.

If you live in the country you may find that eliminating your vehicle is almost impossible. While you could possibly make it work if you had a scooter, you would have to arrange for transportation on the days when you wanted to stock your pantry. Another downside to living in the country is the lack of internet access that many in rural areas encounter. This can make ordering the things you need online difficult.

Still, where there’s a will there’s a way and over the years I’ve encountered several people who have done just that. I’ve met folks who would ride bikes to work despite living over 20 miles from their job, who hitched the occasional ride to the grocery when their shelves were bare. In the mountains where I grew up it was common to take your car free neighbors (usually elderly or disabled folk) to the grocery once a month to stock up on food and supplies, and I’ve encountered people in other areas (including this one) who do the same.


My Recommendation

Should you decide to try this experiment yourself I recommend that you live near or within the city limits of a decent-sized town. Try it out first by parking your vehicle for a while before you actually sell it. Like many others you may decide that you can successfully live without a vehicle but if not, you can go back to using yours without a problem.

Do NOT sell your vehicle until you are absolutely ready. If you have any doubts whatsoever, do not get rid of your car. While as a writer it is my job to try experiments like this one in order to tell others about the experience, your job is to provide for your family in the best manner possible--and depending upon your particular situation it may be best to just keep your vehicle.

No fairy godmother is going to majick up another vehicle should you sell it and then regret the decision. As a result, should you decide to perform your own car free experiment, understand well that you do so at your own risk. Be smart, folks.


Official Disclaimer

This book was written for educational purposes only based upon my personal experience. Since no two people are alike, your results may be drastically different from mine. I am not responsible for any loss, real or implied, that may arise from trying out the suggestions in this book.


Be Prepared

I initially didn’t plan to conduct this experiment until after my youngest daughter had reached 18 but after several years of careful planning I decided to sell my van ahead of schedule. I have reason to both love and hate my decision.

Whatever you decide, do NOT leap into an experiment like this unprepared. That said, necessity is the mother of invention. If for some reason you find yourself without a vehicle, why not try to live without it for a while before you purchase another? You may decide that you don’t need one after all.


The Rules

In order to provide an honest report of what life is like without a car I gave myself a few ground rules:

Rule One: I could not own a vehicle for at least a year.

I wanted to experience all four of nature’s seasons

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