Cleveland

Living in Downtown Cleveland without a Car: an Update

I moved to Downtown Cleveland at the beginning of October 2017. At the completion of my first full month living downtown without owning a car, I wrote a piece about my actual transportation costs for that first month and compared them with how much I would have spent with a car. The difference was staggering.

Map courtesy of thisiscleveland.com.

The expense of owning a car included monthly car payments, insurance, parking and estimated fuel costs based on national and local averages. I did not include incidentals like maintenance, repairs or tickets, which would obviously make the monthly cost higher. These were the numbers:

Car payments: $250
Gas: $120
Parking in my building: $180
Insurance: $60
TOTAL: $610 (not including repairs, parking tickets or other incidentals)

My total transportation costs for that first month of October included Uber and RTA (Cleveland’s public transportation). Here’s that breakdown:

Uber: $77.90
Bus: $5.00
TOTAL: $82.90

Over the subsequent winter months of November, December, January and February, my reliance on Uber was probably higher than it will be during warmer months that are more conducive to bicycling and walking, which are my preferred modes. Here is how much I spent to get around during that period:

November 2017: $131.51 ($126.51 Uber / $5.00 RTA)
December 2017: $65.88 ($43.38 Uber / $22.50 RTA)
January 2018: $157.05 ($149.55 Uber / $7.50 RTA)
February 2018: $94.29 ($91.79 Uber / $2.50 RTA)
TOTAL: $531.63

If you do the math, you can see that the total amount I spent on transportation for five full months without a car ($531.63) is still lower than just one month’s cost of owning and managing a car ($610).

In the many car conversations I’ve had since I moved here, when it gets out that I don’t have a car, people tend to look at me in disbelief like a broken slot machine. The idea of not owning a car is so alien and antithetical to the established norm that it’s absolutely inconceivable for many people. (To be fair, many people do actually need one.) But to each his own. For myself, I just quietly imagine the things I could do with the other $2,518.37 I saved by not owning a car over the last five months.




6 Comments

  1. George,

    Time well spent in assessing the remarkable savings of not owning a car! Your training while living in NYC has served you well as a new resident of downtown Cleveland. I can’t resist exploring what you could do with this savings my friend. Sure you could eat out every night but that gets old. Or you could buy a lavish watch but I think you’ve been there done that. Vacations/experiences are good for the soul and I’m all for that. But let’s put our no nonsense Jack McGinty, hard hat on and consider the growth potential of that savings (approx. $5,000 per year) to a retirement vehicle/IRA that will grow tax deferred until your required to draw on it age 701/2. As a hypothetical, your 45 yrs old and contribute $5,000 per year to an IRA until your 67 or 22 years. At 6% growth rate, your IRA investment grows to approx. $230,000. Carless in Cleveland indeed!

    If you want to meet me at the Marble Room for lunch, your buying ’cause I’ll be driving my gas hog SUV, and parking for $15. If it’s snowing and wicked cold I’m going to pay the Valet market price with a smile.

    Xoxo
    Trish Alice McGinty Kelley Bittel

  2. Mitchell Davey Reply

    My total cost is between 16,000.00 – 18,000.00 CDN for a new Jeep Laredo for everything including tickets that amount to 2 or 3 a year @ 52.00. Maybe I should, walk, get a bus pass and buy a bike.

  3. Hi George,

    The results of your transport cost analysis aligns with the findings of Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute on the “True Affordability: Critiquing the International Housing Affordability Survey”. Basically this study concludes that the combined housing-and-transport costs should be the metric on choosing where to live, not just the house price, as a less expensive house on the city fringe will usually cost more in transport costs, particularly if you have to rely on using an automobile for most trips. A link to the study can be found at vtpi.org

    I like receiving and reading your articles…not sure about your new hair-do but I’m going to give it a bit more time 😉

  4. Per my other email GH, the recently published ‘Chefs & Company’ cookbook (Page Street, 2017) features half a dozen great Cleveland chefs and their restaurants. Would make an intriguing article (to me!) if you could source them and do a non-car culinary tour- assuming you can get comped for some of the time, effort and food costs. As my college friend called walking – ‘The Shoe Sole Express.’

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