So, I have something to tell you today. Something I’m not entirely proud of, but after ten years of living car free we bought a car last month. A teeny tiny, very fuel efficient second hand car if that makes it any better? I suspect not, but let me tell you it wasn’t a decision we took lightly. We’ve ummed and ahhed over the decision for maybe the past three years as life has increasingly necessitated the purchase.
A brief history about my driving. I passed my test at the age of 17. Growing up in a fairly rural area with limited public transport meant that it was the only way to get about without relying on my parents. All my friends lived in different towns and it was difficult to get about. Then I moved away to a large city to go to university and didn’t need to drive, so I only drove when I was home over the holidays. When I stopped coming home for the summer holidays I stopped driving as I had no need to. I then didn’t drive for 7 years, until I went to New Zealand to live/work/travel because I lived in a small town there that had no public transport. Once I came home from New Zealand I stopped driving, and that was 10 years ago.
If we lived in Edinburgh, we wouldn’t need a car, as public transport is so good, regular and cheap there, and you can hire a car through the various pay per hour car schemes. Sadly we can’t afford to live in Edinburgh as properties to buy and rent there are crazy expensive: our budget only affords us living a bit out of the city with no pay per hour car hire schemes nearby. The bus service here isn’t the best and at times expensive. It’s £16 return if my partner, my daughter and I need to travel to the next town for the dentist, or for the library or any other service we need to access, and will go up to £20 when my youngest turns 5. It will be £30 return for us to travel to our nearest DIY store, only a few miles up the road in the other direction. We have to go there frequently as we continue restoring our old house. And there is only one bus an hour travelling to the nearest big town where the hospital is, and other essential services.
We have made do for as long as we can, and spent a long time deciding if any other alternative might work for us, but in the end we felt like society was against us with public transport prices and some places we want to go being inaccessible by public transport, and some places only being possible to get to with about four changes, that we felt the only solution was to buy a car. With our parents (who don’t live close by and in places not particularly accessible by public transport) not getting any younger, and now less able to drive long distances, we also want to be able to get to them at short notice without relying on them to come and pick us up.
So here we are. With a car. And I wanted to be honest with you, rather than being disingenuous and hiding it from you.
I know some of you might be disappointed in me, and in truth I am disappointed in myself that we just couldn’t make it work, but we spent 10 years giving it our best shot. We now have strict rules on the car – we don’t use it for commuting to work, we don’t use it for the school run (unless the weather is horrendous), and use it only when we need to. I don’t actually like driving, so where we can, we drive to the nearest train station (which isn’t accessible by public transport annoyingly) and then use the train to complete the rest of our journey, which I feel helps lessen our impact a tiny bit, but I just wanted to keep it real with you, and let you know that our life isn’t by any means perfect.
Do you drive or do you have a car? Do you feel guilt over driving? Join my support group!