Last year, I moved to a studio loft. It was er, rather swanky. So swanky that car parks cost about RM250 per month to rent. I figured that since I could walk to work and the apartment was literally next to an LRT station, it didn’t make sense to rent an expensive car park so that I could “store” my car. So, I left my car back in my old place 20km away from my studio.
It was a weird arrangement, especially in car-mad Kuala Lumpur, but it worked. Still, many expressed confusion at my decision. Why ditch a perfectly good car?
Personally, I never quite understand why people shudder and say that they can’t live without their cars.
Many seem horrified by the idea of taking public transport, but I found out quite quickly that it’s quite easy to go car-less in Kuala Lumpur - despite what people may say.
Rush hour can be a pain - until you look down
Yup, I’ve had way too many close encounters with bad body odour in the last 12 months. Sometimes, the body crush of the morning LRT commute does get to you (the person with the giant back pack shoved against my face, I’m looking at you) but then I look down and see the gridlock on the road and smile. I’ll endure unshaved armpits if I can avoid the traffic jam below. Your mileage may vary.
If there’s no LRT, there’s Grab
If I need to get to a place that doesn’t have any access to an LRT, I would use Grab. Yes, sometimes it could cost quite a bit of money, but I love that I can get some Grab credits that can be used to buy things like food, so I find it a win-win.
It can be cheaper to not have a car
Although I went carless, I still had to maintain my car. I spent about RM600-700 per service, my insurance and car registration renewal cost almost RM1,000 a year. All for a car that I hardly used. The cost of it all made me wonder about the wisdom of keeping my car. Once upon a time, travelling by LRT can actually be more expensive (when I first started taking the MRT to work, I actually spent about RM160+ per month on train tickets). However, once the RM100 monthly pass was introduced, it became cost effective.
Going carless only works for some
But it would be unfair of me to say that everyone CAN adopt my lifestyle. Some offices are located at areas where there’s no public transportation. Some people, like salesmen, travel far too much and need the convenience of a car. Some of us also work hours that would be unsafe to commute by public transport. (When I used to work until midnight to 2am, I had to drive to work no matter how much I hated it.)
But I worry about my car constantly
I still had my car, which complicated things. Because, a car that is barely used is also prone to breaking down, ironically. Because I lived 20km away from my car, I couldn’t take it out for occasional drives either. So, I constantly worry about damaging my car - from not using it enough!
Still, I don’t miss driving at all
Oh boy, what bliss not to endure traffic jams after work! My daily commute consisted of a 15-minute walk to work and back. When I changed jobs, the commute was longer , but it was still pretty pleasant. It was now a half-an-hour MRT ride. Again, no traffic jams. I could live like this forever.
I just cannot fathom going back to the daily routine of driving through endless jams to get to places. I think I’ve been spoiled for life.