January 13, 2010

Carless Inconvenience

It's been 7 months since I sold my beloved 1995 Saturn SC-1, and I want him back.

My dad purchased my Saturn my senior year of high school after a not-so-tragic, person-less accident that resulted in my 1990 Mitsubishi Mirage getting totaled by a truck - happiest day of my life!  We received $800 for the $2k of damage done to my Mirage (that was MAYBE worth $200, so I couldn't stand making the poor guy pay $2k just because he forgot to use his e-brake when he parked on a hill), sold it to my step-bro for $100, and purchased the Saturn for $1500.  Not too shabby.

Five years, 80k miles (long distance relationships can be a b*tch), a few repairs, and a weird noise or two later...I sold my Saturn for a measly $300.  I was about to graduate, get an awesome new bike, and move across the country, so I just wanted to get rid of it - it definitely wasn't going to make the 1500-some mile commute from Madison to Huntington Beach, anyway!

When I moved here, I decided I didn't want to buy a car - looking back, I think I just got really sick of deciding anything having to do with a car, and the idea of another loan was definitely a major turn-off.  So for the past 7 months I've gotten by with biking, utilizing public transportation, and borrowing Pete's truck more often than he'd like.  Frankly, I'm sick of it.  I want my Saturn back.

Since I'm one of the world's worst decision makers when it comes to this sort of thing, I took the usual route and made a quick list of pros and cons to help me along.

Why I like being carless (pros):
- Gives me the ability to save a lot of money and pay off student loans

Ta-Da!  Honestly, this is the only real reason I like not having a car.  Yes, there are many other reasons, like how I get good exercise from biking everywhere and can appreciate sights and sounds people miss out on when driving...but what makes me think if I had a car, I couldn't experience these things, too?  Seems to work for lots of other people.  The environmentalist side of me pats myself on the back for not having a car, but I truthfully don't care enough for that burden to outweigh the proceeding cons.  I can be environmentally conscious in other ways, and me not having a car isn't going to make the world better (unfortunately).

Why I don't like being carless (cons):
- Commuting to work via bike or bus uses up an entire hour of my morning, and evening...every day.
- Unless I want to spend hours commuting, I'm limited to activities within a ~10 mile radius of HB.
- I have to plan to go everywhere - hard to be spontaneous when you have to work around a bus or train schedule, or allow yourself lots of time to bike.
- Since helmets are a necessity - MY HAIR IS NEVER, EVER CUTE...not that I'm the kind of girl who really cares that much, but it eventually gets old.  And, I can't pull off the look nearly as well as PunkRockRunner :)
- I don't like being cold, wet or cold and wet.  I'm not about to complain about SoCal weather, but the mornings get cold, and the few days a year it does rain are unwanted and I bug Pete for his truck...which leads to the next con...
- I hate bothering Pete for his truck.  Even if I wash it, fill it with gas, change the oil, etc...I still feel guilty asking to borrow it, and I'm not entirely convinced he truly likes letting me...

So, it's pretty obvious there are more cons than pros.  Even though the one pro I do have is a pretty big deal to me, I think it's time to give in and settle for convenience.  I don't know how long I'll be living in this SoCal heaven...so I want to be able to explore, venture out of Orange County, and truly experience California while it lasts - and look cute doing it! :)

I've learned to love biking enough that I know I won't give it up if I get a car...in fact, I might appreciate it even more knowing I don't HAVE to do it all the time - it's nice to have options.  

Currently seeking a reliable car for $5k or less (aka no loan! where did I get the idea I had to buy something shiny and new, anyway?) 

Suggestions?  Also, I'd prefer not to have to mow it...

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