Car(e) Free Los Angeles: The Wong Sans Wheels Chronicles #4– It adds up.

August 27th, 2008 → Leave a comment


Anyone want to drive this classy lady around?

So far, so free on the car free front. My camera is unfortunately in my friend Cindy’s car (she picked me up from the tow yard). So I only have this picture from Cat Lady as the only visual hook to this blog entry which is about the money I have left in my pocket.

The Economic Perks of being Car Free, Thus Far.

Renting out the carport!
Score! I found a renter for my carport. $90 a month to do nothing but give parking to someone. That’s $1080 over the course of the year. I actually think, now that I look around on Craigslist that I could have gotten up to $125 a month, but no matter. I’ll gouge the next one that comes along.

REFUNDS! and Things I don’t have to buy anymore.
So I didn’t have insurance to cover the car loss when it caught on fire, I did get a refund on my car insurance that I wont’ be using for the five months ahead ($390) and it looks like like I can get a refund from the DMV on my car registration ($90) and I won’t be renewing my AAA membership this year ($78).

From the time I’ve been carless on August 14, this is what my transportation expenses have been…

$150 to set up a a Zip Car Membership ($25 for application, $50 for annual membership, $75 for optional $0 deductible insurance)
$10 in gas money for Marie Reine
$10 in taxi on drunken night with Greg
$10 approx in bus fare.

TOTAL $180.

This is not bad considering that I won’t have to pay ZipCar again unless I actually use their cars. I may actually spend as little as $100 a month to get around if I really use my bike and public transpo to get around and no cabs. And that’s pretty much what I’ll be getting to rent out the carport. Woo hoo!

The Approximate Numbers: My attempt at Math….
According to some sites I’ve been looking at, the average car owner spends $7000 a year to own their car. I’m pretty sure my old Vegetable oil car cost me a lot more than that. I think this $7000/year estimate is old (from 2004) and the cost to drive has gone up with gas prices. So let’s say, that it is actually $8000 a year to drive with current gas prices.

If I use a Zip Car one full day a week for four times each month ($264), budget public transpo at $3 a day for all other days of the week since I don’t ride every day($75), money for gas/ parking chip-in ($30), taxis for drunken nights ($60), meals for nice friends with cars who drive me around ($30), and bike maintenance ($15).

My monthly transpo budget is at– $474 a month

Multiply this by 12 months (and mind you, I’m on tour so much that there are months I won’t even be spending anything on transpo)– $5688

Add the yearly Flex Car membership and insurance– $125

Subtract the amount I get from renting the carport– $1080

TOTAL to transport me around town– $4733

Savings (against $8000 estimate a year to own a car)– $3267

Does this math sound right? It doesn’t actually seem super significant a savings considering the headache of figuring getting myself around. I actually think I save a lot more since I’m not around all the time and work from home and don’t even use the bus or won’t always need the Flex Car. Oh yes, and I won’t be having THAT many drunken nights that I need to cab around town. So my guess is that my savings might be something closer to $4000 a year, if not more.

OTHER PERKS OF THE CAR FREE LIFE
* I’ve been reading books on the bus! Yeah! Remember those?

* I have been taking notes about bus riding and have already been talking up “The Bus Show” with a really big LA Theater presenter… this very well could be a show!

* Needing to get around means I’m spending more time reaching out to friends. With cars, and without.

* I’m making new friends who don’t have cars! Like my friend Narinda who blogged about me.

THE JOYS OF THE SUBWAY
I found myself in Downtown LA Sunday morning and needed to get to Koreatown. I had no idea that the subway (yes, there is a subway in Los Angeles) would get me there so quickly. It was exciting. Like I’d discovered some secret Los Angeles portal.

I’ve taken the subway here before, but had no idea how convenient it was. All these new stations opening! And there is nobody to check your ticket!

The Honor System? In Los Angeles?!

My friend Soo Jin and I went to Sunset Junction to see what the big freaking deal was with that annual summer Silverlake Street Fair. Basically, it was a sham. $20 to see bands I’ve not heard of. So we tried to recuperate the admission cost by amassing condom samples, free lightbulb samples, and beer samples. Someone bought our wristbands from us for $10 when we left, and we were happy for the rebate.

It was a fun weekend. We took the subway to get to Sunset Junction (avoiding a lot of parking headaches), and then took a bus to see the 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors show. After the show, the guys from 18MMW gave a shout out to Herbert of Culture Clash and then to ME! I was so honored. I didn’t do anything but show up.

And then I got a ride home from a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. He gave me some real estate advice on the ride home. That’s what has been nice about riding home with people, we actually get to talk outside a computer screen!

According to my friend Jay who drove me home, we got another year or two before the real estate market bottoms out!

I’m ready. I’m on the path to saving up for my first down payment on a house in my car free life and I’m going to invest what I have already until this market hits the pits.

Home ownership… here I come! Watch out Malibu! I’m coming for your foreclosed beach house! (By bus… at least….)

Category: The Wong Sans Wheels Chronicles

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