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No Car? No Problem! Growing Number Of South Floridians Ditching Their Rides

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In South Florida we love our cars. In fact, many households have more than one. So when we heard about people getting rid of their cars we wanted to know why.

CBS4’s David Sutta discovered they may be the happiest people in town.

South Florida is where you’ll see car payments higher than mortgages.

In 2016, Sep and Stephanie Niakan decided they had had enough.

“I just didn’t want to get rushed into buying a car or leasing another car,” Sep recalls.

“That’s how it started. Because we don’t know what kind of car, and what size, because we have two kids. Do we need one small car, one big car?” Stephanie explained.

And so they decided together on no car.

“My brothers thought I was crazy. Well, one thought we were crazy. The other didn’t,” Stephanie said.

The experiment started in June. They would share one car while both work, take a child to and from school, and tend to a newborn.

“The moment I let go of the car and I had to drive around in an Uber or walk… I just felt free, honestly,” Sep said.

Stephanie was more concerned.

“I was nervous about coordinating with him and us always having to communicate on when I need the car, when he needs the car. And I was worried that that was going to be a struggle.  And so at first I was a bit skeptical,” she recalled.

Their budget looked like this:

  • Luxury Lease: $550
  • Insurance: $150
  • Monthly Gas Bill: $80
  • Monthly Parking: $120
  • Monthly Maintenance: $100

It added up to a lot of money. A total of $1,000 to be exact.

“I think that got my attention more than sharing a car.  It was the savings.  I really wanted to save money.” Stephanie said.

Sep’s office is just two blocks away, so that helped. As a broker though, he has to show properties.  Stephanie has to go to work as well. And their child goes to school a few miles away. They estimate they use Uber or Lyft at least once a day for $5 to $6.

Per month that added up to a big number but small by comparison.

“I think $230 was the most I spent,” he said.

With a savings of more than $750 every month, they call the experiment a success.

Nine months in now, they are sticking with just one car.

Then there are people like Juan Martin, opting for no car at all.

“No I’m not crazy. I think it’s perhaps an easier way to move around the city,” Martin told CBS4.

Martin cannot walk or bike to work near the airport. He looked at his monthly bill.

“The Uber cost me on average $10 per day.  So making my calculations, I spend like $500 a month of Uber,” he said.

Martin believes he saves time and money by not hunting for parking. He may even rent his parking spot at his condo.

“In the past, having a car was your goal or status. Now having a car doesn’t make any sense on your status. I don’t feel if I don’t have a car I’m not in the same status as other people,” he said.

Martin says many of his friends have joined the car free ranks. With traffic getting worse, parking costs going up – perhaps they are on to something.

“As long as I don’t have a need, I don’t think I’m going to have a car,” Martin said.

Sep agrees.

“I imagine a day, not too many years off, where we won’t have a car at all,” Sep said.

“At all?” Sutta asked him.

“I think so. I think so,” he said.

Of course going car free isn’t for everyone. Those who work out of their cars this definitely wouldn’t work for.

Both Martin and the Niakans recommend it for people who live near developed areas. They also suggested people who travel a lot may benefit. When you get off the plane, you are in a new city.  Your car is already there, whether it’s Uber or Lyft, you still have the same car payment.

More from David Sutta
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