How to Live Without a Car in San Francisco

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One of my core beliefs in life is that material goods should not be such a focus in people’s lives. They cost money, they take up space they cause anxiety and stress if they get damaged or misplaced. They may make you feel better or elevate your sense of worth, but on balance I think people should do an honest assessment of whether they need to buy that next item.

I try to live a minimalist lifestyle myself and own very few material possessions. I tell people that I can fit everything I own into 3 suitcases, which makes for an easy getaway if I get into any trouble. One big item that I do not own is a car.  I have been living in San Francisco for over two and a half years and have never had the sense that a car is worth the money and hassle.

Uber & Lyft are so prevalent and getting from Point A to Point within downtown SF is usually no more than $15 one-way. I wish I knew how to ride a scooter because I would love to try Scoot, which seems fun and would be a quicker and cheaper way to get around town.

I do own a very nice road bike, but since I just moved to Pac Heights, I am going to loan it to my coworker who will get more use out of it than me. And although the Muni & BART systems do not provide the best coverage in the area, they do offer me some relatively quick and direct routes to some important destination such as my office or SFO or OAK airports.

These transportation offerings get me to 90% of where I need to go in a relatively quick and cost-effective manner, without the hassle of owning a car where I would need to worry about break-ins, the cost of parking and the annoyance of sitting in traffic.

When I want to get out of SF for a leisurely day-trip or to run an errand like going to Home Depot, then I will utilize a service called Getaround. It is a peer-to-peer car-sharing startup in the same realm as what Airbnb is doing with homes. Car owners list their cars on the Getaround network, where it is covered by Getround’s insurance policy. Then when a car-less individual like myself needs a car for some reason, whether it is to run a quick 1-hour errand or to go on road trip, they can log on to Getaround and find an appropriate car for the job.

There is a huge selection of car models ranging from SMART and Priuses to Telsas and pick-up trucks. The rates are based on an hourly rate, which gives renters more flexibility than the daily rates that traditional cars offer.

Insurance to cover the renter and vehicle is included in the rental price, which is so much less complicated than if you were to rent from Turo, which asks renters to choose from a range of insurance options. Renters are allocated 200 miles per day or a prorated amount if they rent for some fraction of a day.

After a renter books a car, they go to the car and unlock it via the Getaround mobile app. The keys for the cars are stored inside the car, so the renter is able to take-off right away. I personally have never run into a major issue while renting a car through Getaround. There were a few instances where I did not know how to turn on the car or release the emergency brake because the car model was new to me.

I have run the numbers on my average monthly Ride Share/Public Transportation/Rental Car bill and it is still significantly less than the cost of owning or leasing a car and the accompanying insurance, parking, and gas costs. This along with my smooth and seamless experiences with renting cars via Getaround allows me to recommend it to all of my friends without hesitation.

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Mark Kim
Like 80% of working-class Americans, I also work a full-time job. But my goal in life is not to work, but to maximize the time I have outside of the 40 hour work week. This is where the idea for 128 Hours per Week came from. I want to chronicle my life and adventures and highlight the ways that I am trying to get the most out of my life so that I can share my tips and lessons with you.

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