Owning a car after not owning a car
As you may have noticed, it’s been a while since I’ve shared a post. A lot of things have changed in my life since then, not the least of which is owning a car. How did I come to own a car? Well, I’m going to tell you.
For those who don’t know, I’ve been self employed for the last 12 years. Being self employed can be amazing. It can also be terrifying, especially if you live on one income. Sometimes it feels so terrifying that you want to stop. And then you’re offered a pretty cool job opportunity. Except that job opportunity requires that you move. So, you take the job opportunity, which affords you the opportunity to feel out the job for 3 months before you are expected to move there.
I traveled over to the job location several times before realizing that it isn’t a place I’d be happy living. In short, it lacks all the things that make my life happy, such as safe biking and walking infrastructure. It also was not an urban area but instead a sprawling suburb. I didn’t feel a sense of community there nor did I sense that there were many people like myself (activist, minimalist, conservationist, etc.). The photo on the right is what greeted me there my first week. Crosswalk signals were broken, sidewalks were dark at night and often didn’t go where you needed them to go.
I bought the car after the first month of working there. I bought it for practical reasons that only partly related to the job. There was simply no way I could function in the area the job was located without a car. On top of that, getting around by bike in Florida in the summer can be very arduous. And ever since Uber and Lyft dramatically dropped their rates (and thus the pay to drivers), getting a ride somewhere takes much longer (15 minute pickups instead of 5).
I did a ton of research before choosing a 2016 Honda Fit. I feel slightly guilty for not buying used, but Honda has continued to improve their efficiency each year, and the newest model gets the best mileage. On a recent drive to visit family, I averaged around 42 mpg. Sometimes it was closer to 45.5, and the highest number I ever saw on the trip average was 47.2. It’s a great car, and I’m very happy and at peace with my decision to buy it. Now that the job is over, I use it only a couple times per week.
The work that I did for the job I accepted was absolutely fine, but there were other negative aspects of working there. I got a very negative vibe from the office, and I began to understand that many people there were married to their jobs [and were expected to be so]. This came as a disappointment because, when you work for yourself, you’re married to your job. So I was already married! Working 8 hours a day was a real draw to working for someone else.
At some point, I realized that to take this job and move to this place I would have to change 100% of everything about myself. Given that I really liked myself the way I was, I started to take stock of why I was there and what it meant. Life didn’t feel so simple anymore. It was starting to feel like a burden. My goal in taking the job was to pay off my student loans faster, but at what price?
I worked at the job for three months, and I will say that I gained a lot. I had been whining about my life before taking it, and now I realized how good I’d had it. I gained so much perspective. I was also paid well by the company and was able to finance the car and put money away. It motivated me to take a second look at my business and find ways to make it more sustainable. Lastly, it gave me an enormous appreciation for St. Petersburg, Florida, whose hippie freaks, bike advocates and quirky shops I love.
I’m glad I took the chance on trying something different. I’m glad I bought the car. And I’m glad to be me… someone I really, really like.