To Drive or Not to Drive in Southern California

For the past five years, I’ve lived without a car in New York City, and it’s saved me a ton of money.  This past week, however, I moved to Southern California, the land of gas guzzling SUVs and very little public transportation.  So the big question is, will I buy a car here?  Probably not, and here’s why.

I Live Close to Work

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My new apartment is 13 minutes away from work by car.  By bike, it’ll take roughly 50 minutes (due to the lack of bike lanes in certain areas).  I plan to make this trek on my new Vanmoof Electrified S e-bike, which’ll hopefully cut the commute in half.  The best part is that there’s a bike only trail right in the middle of the commute that runs along a beautiful creek.  And on a rainy day, I can take a 30 minute bus ride, or Uber* or Lyft for just $9-12.

Rental Cars are Cheap

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In addition, I found that I could rent a car from the local airport (only 2.4 miles away) through Kayak at just $40 for an entire weekend.  This is much cheaper than paying for a lease and car insurance,** even if I rented a car every weekend of the year.  Here’s the math if you don’t believe me:

Lease for a Toyota Corolla: $149 per month

Average Insurance Cost (2012): $68 per month***

Total: $217 per month (compared to $160 per month for weekend rentals)

Southern California is More Walkable than You Think

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Even by NYC standards, my area is walkable.  Just to name a few, I have Trader Joe’s, CVS Pharmacy, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, T.J. Maxx, In-N-Out Burger, Panera Bread, TGI Friday’s, various high-end local restaurants and a shopping mall, all within a two-mile radius.

I’ll admit that I was skeptical at first.  So I researched a bit on Google Maps before moving out here, studying the different areas with Street View.  And while walking seemed like a reasonable option, I suspected that I may feel out of place as the only person on the sidewalk.  To my pleasant surprise though, there’re quite a few people walking around and quite a few people waiting for the bus at almost any given time.

My Apartment Complex has Everything I Need (and Expensive Parking)

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Finally, my apartment complex has just about everything.  There’s a business center, gym, dog park, koi pond, basketball court, movie screening room and not one but two swimming pools.  With all that, I doubt I’ll venture off campus too often for entertainment.

Parking also isn’t cheap ($55 a month).  So as a result, I’ve paid for just one spot for my girlfriend to use when she visits on weekends.  In the event that we need another space for a rental, I’ll probably just use my parking space at work.

Conclusion

Well that’s about it – my four reasons to not get a car in Southern California.  Of course, this is still in the experimental stages so I’ll report back if anything changes.  But for now, hooray for the savings!

*Sign up on Uber with invite code 86066 and you could get a free or discounted ride (and I’ll get one too so thanks!).

**Rental cars usually come with liability insurance, and if you pay with a credit card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred, you don’t need to buy additional collision damage insurance because you’ll already be covered by the credit card.  

***Source: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/how-much-does-car-insurance-cost/




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