Rants & Ramblings

random commentary about culture, media, politics, technology and whatnot.

dec
29
2008

going car-lite

Saturn SL2 - 111,111 milesThe past two months have been crazy-busy and have brought some big changes. One of the bigger ones: Last week, I sold my car.

The decision to sell the car came out of practical necessity: The total cost of needed repairs / maintenance wasn’t far off the car’s actual value. Still, I still felt a little like I was losing a friend of nine years.

My junior year of college, I bought the shiny new 1999 Saturn SL2 so I could get from campus to my new job as a Web designer at azcentral.com / The Arizona Republic. Since then, the car has been with me from coast to coast (San Diego to Massachusetts), as I made it through grad school and a few jobs, and as I met (and married) Rob.

Selling the car was remarkably easy. I took the car to CarMax in Dulles, walked up to a salesman and said, “I’d like to sell my car.” He ushered me to a side room, asked a few questions about the car and queued it up for an appraiser to evaluate. Fifteen minutes later, he came back with an offer. Half an hour and some paperwork later, I walked out with a check and a plastic sleeve with the car’s license plates.

For the time being, we’re going to see how we do with a car-lite lifestyle. We live near a Metro station and really have no excuse not to use it. And there’s certainly plenty of shops, restaurants and recreation opportunities close by in our neighborhood that we can just walk to. (Yay, exercise.)

And for when we do need to use a car for errands and such, we’ve enrolled in the Zipcar car-sharing service. How it works: Zipcar has a fleet of cars stationed near Metro stations and other popular places throughout the D.C. metro area. There are at least a dozen cars deployed in our neighborhood alone (including a couple Honda Civics, a Mini Cooper, a Toyota Tacoma, etc.). Zipcar members can then rent those cars by the hour via the service’s Web site (they also have a nice mobile site). The cost of the rental includes gas and car insurance. We’ve guesstimated that the hourly rental cost we’ll likely incur each month will about equate what we were spending for gas. (Not to mention what we’ll be saving in car maintenance / repairs and insurance.) And if we rent out our parking space in our building, we may even come out ahead, applying the savings to existing debts or setting it aside to save up for our next car.

So it’s all a little bittersweet, but we’ll see how it works for us.