Life in ‘Car Nation’- and the Logical Consequences


America is car nation. This country sucks when it comes to public transport (unless you’re in Chicago or New York, maybe), and having a car is as normal as brushing your teeth. So, this basically means not having a car in the land of the free requires you to plan ahead, like, a lot, and also be aware of the fact that you will possibly be wasting a good deal of your life either on the bus, or as you are waiting for it. And speaking of bus: I have never met more interesting people, let me tell you. 

When I came to San Diego at the beginning of December ‘15, I was certain that I could do it without a car. I was super confident and paying about $75 for a monthly pass was something my monthly paycheck would still allow me to afford. Of course, the first few weeks, everything was very exciting for me, even the way to work. 

But things change. Excitement becomes routine. 

This is basically how my days, Mo - Fri, went: 

Leaving the house at 7 am, and walking about 7 minutes to the bus stations. Then, I spent about 10 minutes on that bus to get to the Old Town Transit Station. (By that time, I had at least spotted 3 different people on the bus that were undoubtedly living in their own world.) I arrived at Old Town and would have to wait 10 minutes before the trolley - or bus, depending on what I chose to take - arrived. Another approximately 10 minutes on the trolley before I reached my station: Little Italy (by trolley) or 1st Ave/Broadway (by bus). From there, it was about another 13 minutes of a walk until I finally entered the office building. I made it! Go figure.

The same on the way back.

I can’t say I didn’t get enough exercise with all this walking inbetween.

The sad part about it? With a car, it only takes about 10 minutes from my house. 

Umm. Yes. Just a little bit of a difference. 


The happy car owner!

I did the public transport thingy for pretty much 6 months - and then I had enough. I started using Uber a lot but came to realize quickly that this was not an inexpensive alternative. 

The logical consequence? It had to happen at some point: After 9 months in San Diego, I eventually decided to empty my bank account and invest in a car. 

A little one.


Guess what? It’s a convertible!! 

Of all the cars I could have possibly chosen - not that I had a wide variety of cars to choose from with my budget -, the ironic part about it all is that in the land of trucks and generally huge vehicles, I chose the smallest I could possibly get. 

But: I love my smart car.

It’s perfect for city driving; it fits in all the odd parking spots no normal car would fit in. Yeah, that’s right, because, you know, people park weird and generally, city driving freaks me out (guess I need to get used to it), so having a car with a more than manageable size is oh so perfect. And this little thing is such a gas saver. 18 bucks to fill it up? I take it!

Now, excuse me, as I am going to take my little ‘nugget’ for a spin. 

I sure learned to appreciate being more flexible and mobile a lot more…

Expat LifeJulia BellComment