As a family we did one of the craziest things on the planet 1 year ago. We moved our family to Barcelona, Spain. It’s truly been the greatest adventure of our lives! Because we chose to live in the center of the city, we also decided to depend solely on public transportation. That means no car after 20 years of marriage!
Now, let me assure you this has its ups and downs. There were a number of reasons we decided to do this. One, we had a limited amount of money and we didn’t want to spend it on a car. So, survival! We had no idea how long we would be here and this seemed like the right thing to do.
Two, we live right in the center of the city. Parking is a nightmare and so is driving. This is an old city so there are a ton of one-way streets everywhere you go. We chose simplicity over convenience.
Now, by no means am I saying you should give up your car. And, I’m not writing a book about, “Being free from the tyranny of driving and car payments.” I just thought it would interest you to know what we’ve learned and how this has changed us. In the process, maybe the things we’ve learned could make a difference in your life too.
- Your Health Gets WAY Better
In the U.S. I barely walked anywhere. We drove our cars (5 of them) from the garage to work, practice, and life. We always looked for the nearest parking spot at Coscto and Walmart. We were trying to cut out walking every chance we could get!
Without a car, we average 6-7 miles of walking per day. What a perk! I’m in the best shape of my life thanks to not having a car. I’ll obviously need a car again, but walking is one new habit I will take with me wherever I live.
- It’s A Good Thing to Depend on Others
I am fiercely independent by nature. I’ve had to be while growing up an only child from a broken home who lived in a new town almost every year. As an adult I learned that depending on people is risky. They will let you down, stab you in the back, lie, cheat and steal. I’m guilty of doing that to others in my weakness as well.
All these reasons lead me to believe that you cannot really rely on other people. Until you don’t have a car. In a foreign land where we had very few relationships, we were forced to rely on the kindness of strangers.
You know what I learned? There are many people who are more than willing to go out of their way to help when you ask. They are gracious and loving and that realization has changed me. It’s shown me that it’s ok to ask for help. In fact we need to ask for help sometimes because we need each other. No one is an island.
- Your Connection with Your Family Deepens
Without a car, our family has had more time together. We take public transport and walk the kids to their practices. Yes, sometimes this takes 40 minutes one way, but we have had some of the best interactions and conversations we’ve had in years.
There is no replacement for quality time with the people you love. We’ve learned to slow down, enjoy being with each other and we’ve made the most of our very long walks together.
- You Have More Peace
I don’t think I’d realized what a nut I’d become. Getting in my car to rush to this thing, talking on the phone the whole way there, and stressed out about my car payments. And then there was trying to sell cars that cost me money to get rid of. Ugh!
I was caught in the consumerism that raised me and I was steeped in the stress it brought to my life. I was disconnected. I wasn’t engaged as I should have been with my friends and family and I was shriveling up on the inside. I was becoming less of myself not more of who I wanted to be.
Getting rid of some ‘stuff,’ including my cars, has helped me re-center my life on what really matters. I’m able to enjoy the blessings God has brought to me and fall in love again with the people who are around me.
Not having a car this past year hasn’t been a burden, it’s been a gift. I’ve learned to live for the people and the values that really matter and I think I’ve added a few extra years to my life!
Most of you have cars, and you should! But perhaps you can apply some of these lessons in your life, right where it is. My hope is that you will take a deep breath, be fully engaged and completely present in the lives of those you love and care about, and you will be free to live for the things that matter most to you deep inside. You really can discover new freedoms when you do unconventional things.