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.

ItemMthly CostAnnu CostSource
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's out exploring Western New York. During the warmer months, he can often be seen riding his bike around the Empire State and sampling the local beer selection.