Living Car-Free Saved Me $6,976 in 2022

Published on February 10, 2023

RTS Bus in Rochester, NY picking up a passanger who does not own a personal vehicle.
Waiting for the bus on a wintery day in Rochester, NY

Another year has ended, and it’s time to reflect on living car-free for another year.

TL;DR: In 2022, I saved $6,976.39 by not owning a car. I traveled 3,671 miles and took 432 trips. My average cost per mile was $0.45.

For those who don’t know, I sold my car in 2019 just before moving to the United Kingdom for work. After returning to the US in late-2020, I decided to continue living without a car and have loved the journey ever since.

In last year’s post, you can read more about my first year living in the US without a car.

Cost of Owning and Operating a Car in 2022

Chart showing estimated cost of owning and operating a car in NYS would be over $8,000.
I estimated the costs of owning and operating a vehicle in 2022 to be $8,639.60.

I think it’s a fun exercise to determine how much I would have spent if I had a vehicle throughout the year. I’ve broken down the costs of car ownership and operating costs in NYS into monthly and annual expenses in the table below.

ItemMonthly CostAnnual CostData Sources / Assumptions
Car Loan$377.24$4562.88NerdWallet & CarGurus cost of a used Toyota in Jan 2022.
Fuel$49.64$595.73PersonalCapital NYS Gas Prices and my annual mileage.
Parking$50.00$600Cost of Apartment Parking
NYS Registration$11$132NYS DMV
NYS Inspection$3.08$37NYS DMV

The total cost of owning and operating a car in 2022 was *much* higher than it was in 2021.

Used car prices continued to climb in 2022, gas prices soared, and inflation rose at record rates. That resulted in a 24.5714% increase ($1890.90) in annual cost.

In other words, owning a car was a real bummer in 2022.

Cost of Car-Free Living in 2022

Chart showing what living car-free cost Ethan in 2022.
My total cost of living car-free in 2022 was $1,663.21.

The table below breaks down my total costs of living car-free in 2022 by mode of transport.

Something else to note is that my “car rental” costs do not include any cars I rented for vacation.

I would have spent that even if I owned a car, as I usually fly to my vacation destination and drive from there when necessary. So I opted to exclude those costs so we can get an apples-to-apples comparison of the cost of transportation for everyday living. I also tried to vacation in places where I didn’t need to drive, but some things aren’t possible to see without taking a car trip.

ModeCostDistanceTripsCost Per Mile
Car Rental$322.00368.5011$0.87

How Living Car-Free Changed For Me in 2022

If you read my car-free breakdown last year, you may wonder what happened to my e-bike.

Selling My E-bike and Switching to a Scooter

Ran out of battery on the way to work. Hopped on RTS to finish my ride.

I sold my e-bike in early 2022 and purchased an electric scooter instead. I decided that for most trips where I would have taken my e-bike, it was more comfortable and easier to take an electric scooter.

I still own a few “normal” bikes and ride them whenever possible. But for everyday commuting, I preferred to take my scooter or the bus. Speaking of the bus…

Riding RTS

I  started taking the bus in 2022! Throughout most of 2021, I rode my e-bike to work and continued to do so even into winter. But at a certain point, it became tough to take my e-bike, and I saw the damage the salt was doing to it. So I started taking the bus instead. I’m glad I did.

The RTS bus system in Rochester isn’t perfect, but it’s not that bad, either. I can get to most of my favorite spots via the bus, and there is a bus stop less than half a mile from where I work. I continued to take the bus until about May when I switched to riding my electric scooter. But when winter came back in 2022, I started taking the bus again and still do most of my commuting via the bus so far in 2023.


A commuter train that I rode on in Denver, Colorado.

I rode on Amtrak trains for the first time in almost ten years. I took a few trips to Buffalo to see comedy shows and bands. It’s not the most glamorous way to travel in New York state, but it worked and was cost-effective. Another advantage is that I can take the train from downtown Rochester to downtown Buffalo and don’t have to search for parking or pay for parking. I also find taking the train much more relaxing than driving, so in that regard, it was a big win.

What Will Change in 2023

Now that I’ve covered what changed about living car-free last year, I want to discuss what I anticipate changing for me in 2023.

Walking to Work

Our company is relocating our offices to downtown Rochester in Q1 of this year. That means I will be within walking distance for my daily commute! This great change will significantly reduce my commute time and improve my quality of life.

I may still take my scooter to work on days I want to zip home on my lunch break to get in a gym session, but I suspect I will be walking 3 out of 5 days.

More Bike Camping

Bike Camping in Letchworth State Park in NY. Showing tent next to large RV.

I rode the Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany in 2022. It was a fantastic trip and solidified my love for bike camping.

I’ve got five camping weekends scheduled in 2023. They are within a 5-hour radius of Rochester, and most trips will be three days and two nights. I plan on documenting the routes and locations to share in a post later in the year.


I had a blast in 2022. What started as a one-year challenge has turned into a healthier, more frugal, satisfying lifestyle change that I plan on keeping as long as I can. Can I make it to five years? You’ll have to wait and see. 🙂

Follow me on Twitter @ethan_thompson for more of my journey in real-time.

Meet the Author

Ethan Thompson is a Divisional Marketing Manager for a global safety company. He has worked in the digital marketing field for 13 years and loves the challenges the ever-changing field brings. When he isn't exploring new digital marketing tactics at his desk, he lives car-free in Rochester, NY. During the warmer months, he can often be seen riding his bike around the Empire State.