Why I think I’m a non-driver

Well… at least I think I am a non-driver, even though I drive almost every day.

Let’s explore why, starting at the beginning.  Apologies, this is a little long, and disjointed – bad memory of what happened when, but I did try :p

Learning to drive

Regular readers would know I went to boarding school pretty much for 10 years to 17 years of age, in a different state to where my parents lived.  This meant that learning to drive couldn’t be done regularly with my parents.  When I was 17, I did take driving lessons during the school term, which I conveniently started at school, and arrived at water polo training at the end of the lesson – essentially avoiding two buses!  In Queensland (QLD), the state I went to school in, you can do you ‘learners’ practical test for your licence once you’re proficient in all your skills.  In New South Wales (NSW), where my parents lived, you needed a log book of 50 hours of driving to take your practical driving test.  I’d hoped to sit my learner driver test in QLD, pass and then convert my licence to NSW when I moved there for university.

Driving Tests

My first driving test was booked in November 2002, in the week after the end of school.  After graduating, my friends all had a party week on the Gold Coast.  The plan was that I would return to Brisbane on the train, sit my driving test and return to the Gold Coast.  Unfortunately, in the week of partying and completing schooling, there was a calendar mishap and I got the day wrong.  I missed the practical test.

My family planned a holiday in Queensland in January 2003, and I thought I booked another driving test through the rural traffic authority near where we were holidaying.  Alas, on the day of the test, I was advised that the assessor was sick, and could I reschedule?  Being a short holiday, there wasn’t a time that suited.

An older model than what Mum had Source: www.mynrma.com.au
An older model than what Mum had
Source: www.mynrma.com.au

From 2003, I lived in Sydney, New South Wales.  Under their law, I was required to transfer my learner’s permit to NSW, and then complete 50 hours of driving before taking my test.  The expiry of my learner’s permit remained the same, which in effect meant I needed to complete 50 hours in 2 months (though I could complete the log book in retrospect for the hours I’d already completed).  However, I’d only done maybe 15 hours with a driving teacher, and the remaining months were during term time where I had no access to a car – my parents were living in Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains (5 hours drive from Sydney).  I did get some driving experience on that drive, in my mother’s work car, a Subaru Liberty.  Clearly, the odds were stacked against me! I couldn’t afford to complete the remaining hours with a driving school, and learning to drive is not something I wanted to farm out to aunts and uncles!

For a few years, I just continued to renew my learners’ permit, with no clear goal to getting my licence.  I lived in the city, and walked to university.  I didn’t need a car!  In 2004, my parents returned to living in Sydney, but I didn’t live with them.  Lessons were few and far between! I think we had a old beat up Volvo station wagon since I was in late high school as my dad’s ‘drive to the train station’ car, so I got some lessons in that!

Old and safe Source: www.pontiacperformance.net
Old and safe
Source: www.pontiacperformance.net

I have a licence!

After failing once, I finally got my licence!  Actually, I did both my practical tests in Wollongong, where I’d spent my late teens (well, where my parents lived, and I holidayed).  It was nice to do the test somewhere I knew well, without the ‘big smoke’ scariness that is Sydney!

In 2009 I joined my current company.  One of the hiring criteria was a drivers licence – at least I had one.  I finally graduated onto my full unrestricted licence in February 2009, at the ripe age of 23!

I ran some numbers once, in the first two years at my company, I drove more than 20 different vehicles (some were the same model of course).  Pretty varied driving history for someone who thinks they don’t drive!

Crowding the Nest (2009-2011)

Not our car, but similar
Not our car, but similar

For my first three years of full time work in my career, I lived at home.  There, I shared a car with my brother/s.  It was affectionately known as ‘the little car’, and it was a Hyundai Accent that my grandmother passed on when she could no longer drive. It seems I only ever shared with one brother, as the elder of my younger brothers bought a car about the same time the youngest got his licence.  Both my brothers took jobs that required the car to get to work, or for the work.  I continued to make choices about my work and social life largely assuming I didn’t have a car (or wouldn’t have access to it).  Around this time, I got a rider permit and bought a motor scooter.

In 2011, I started the role I’m in today.  My package included a car for my use whilst at work, and to get me directly home and back to work. It’s a Hyundai i30, and whilst I don’t love Hyundais, they’ve come a long way since the little car.  Still, the fleet within my office has had a fair share of problems – auto locking people out, radios dying, shuddering engines…

Hyundai i30 source: commons.wikimedia.org
Hyundai i30
source: commons.wikimedia.org

Living alone (2012-mid 2013)

When I moved into my own home (the loft), I continued to use the shared car with my brother – it was just a 15 minute train ride away! Thankfully my brother studied at a university near my house, so we often switched it near my house, so I didn’t have to do all the dropping off and picking up.

The work car lived in my one car space at the loft, and when the ‘little’ car visited, it was relegated to the street.

Nowdays

In the past few months, my youngest brother wrote off the little car.  He didn’t injure himself, but the car was only worth a few grand and so the cost of repair wasn’t worth it (and naturally we’d not comprehensively insured it).  My youngest brother is moving to South America for a year, so he’s not too fussed.  Given my level of use, it’s a pretty minor adjustment!

Everyday, I continue to drive to work in my free work car.

Outside of work, I very occasionally use my boyfriend’s car, though it makes me nervous cause he loves that luxury vehicle!  And interestingly, my parents have the same model car, that they bought after returning from living in France late last year – so far I’ve only driven theirs once.

Fancy! BMW source: it.wikipedia.org
Fancy! BMW
source: it.wikipedia.org

Overall, I would happily catch the train to work, if they paid for it!  Instead they pay for a car, and money talks.  There’s rumours (for more than a year) that cost cutting measures will mean we will lose our cars, instead moving to pool vehicles.  I’m ready for the change, having always chosen to live a short walk from a train station.  I’m just not looking forward to the rainy days!

So, despite driving daily, I’ve never bought a car.  I don’t think I will if I lose my work car.  But I did once say to my (younger) self that my first car would be a lovely Audi.  And every year I get older, and more financially stable, the more it might be a reality!

14 Replies to “Why I think I’m a non-driver”

  1. That's amazing that you've made it so far into your twenties without a vehicle! I would be really proud if I could say that…both on the grounds of sensible finances and with the knowledge that you are contributing less to pollution, respiratory illnesses etc.

    Side note: I simply don't understand the attraction of spending more on luxury cars, but DH has almost the same model as your BF and parents (his provided through work allowances at old work and now again at new work.)

    1. It is pretty good not to have had to buy a car, and I certainly think part of it is the $$ as much as the environmental components.

      I'm not sure re:spending on luxury cars – both my parents and the BF bought theirs second hand, making them more reasonably priced (and less than a new less fancy car). They are a pleasure to drive. We'll see if I fork out for luxury when my time comes…

  2. I can't imagine being without a vehicle (for now!), but then I've nearly always lived in the country. For the last 20 years I've either had my own, or the use of my husbands, fancy company car. It sits on our drive a lot of the time as he catches the train to work, but it's nice to have when I need it.
    When we finally have to buy our own car, it's going to be a lot smaller and without any of the luxury!

    1. I totally empathise – cars are so central to life now days, so in many ways it's weird to be in my situation. That's nice that your husband's work offers a luxury car, that then gets to sit and wait for you to use it whilst he's at work! I definitely think small cars are cheaper to run, and easier to park (seeing I live in the city)

  3. I admire your perseverance in getting your license! As you know, cars and driving have been quite a big deal in my life. Soon my old job will wrap up and I won't need a car to commute either, but I will keep it for errands and travel. I bet you put a lot of kilometres in, travelling to work sites!

    1. It took a while didn't it! I agree, it is handy to have a car for errands, like when you buy lots at the grocery store (part of why I chose the loft, so I wouldn't think I needed one, I was THAT close to the store!). I think my 'brand new' car delivered with no kms, is now at 21,000 kms – I'll check and report back!

  4. I didn't get my license till I was 17. It was at my boss's insistence since it would land me overtime. Then of course I purchased a car, my very fist lemon (POS)

    Here in town, there is public transportation and I could probably take it to work and it would take about an hour to get to work taking the bus vs. my 10 minute commute.

    Our my horses are about 40 minutes out of town (no bus or public transportation) and we spend a good deal of time in our cars. My husband works 30 minutes from home and 10 minutes from the horses and requires a car. Having horses, of course, require me/we to own a truck. One day when we are debt free, I'd like to get a 3rd car to save my truck for horse activities….but I have a dream truck (my husband is not a truck person, yet we both love horses) and a dream car, but my dream car is a used car that was made in the 80's. And I plan to buy one and probably restore it to drive every day…

    Fun read! I also took my drivers test twice. I was so nervous the first time and driving a car I had no experience with. I think I failed in the first minute.

    1. 17 is pretty young compared to me :p I did have a boss rooting for me to get my licence too – to deliver flowers for her floristry business. I definitely remember driving her home when she had too many and I was staying with her! I certainly feel like one's work and hobbies often necessitate a car, and I've been more or less lucky to not need one, though getting to water polo is difficult without a car, though it's not quite as out of the way as your horses are.

  5. I also got my license really late, which meant I didn't get off my Ps until a week before I turned 25 🙂 It was mainly for the same reasons – I lived in inner-city Melbourne and my uni was also in inner-city Melbourne, and I just used to cycle or catch trams everywhere. I couldn't afford a car as a uni student and didn't really have any inclination to get my license.

    I only really got a car because I needed it for my PhD fieldwork. Through a series of unfortunate events I've been through three cars in three years, but that's another story…

    1. Oh you should post about your three car story, I'm sure you'd have interested readers! I think there's a decreasing rate of licence holders, as more people are like you and I, and see less of a need in those early years at university. I think by the time people have children though, it's much harder to live carless!

  6. My brother has a similar story of mishaps but he did eventually get his license like you. At least he stayed in the same place the whole time, and didn't have to deal with changing regulations as you did.

    I would love to be car free but it's not possible given where we live. Commuting seems like time wasted every day (I keep wishing google would hurry up and get their computer driven car on the market). I've been listening to audiobooks lately and that seems to be helping me feel a little more productive.

    1. I don't mind commuting, because I usually have no traffic, so it's a smooth quick trip of about 15 minutes. If I didn't work such 'odd' hours, I'd sit in traffic and then I'd hate it more! I've yet to try audio books, but there are some good radio programs I enjoy listening to.

  7. I got my license a bit late for when most people do around here. My school did not offer a course and my birthday was later, so I got my actual license after I graduated high school. I was only driving to work with my permit, and it was five minutes away so that wasn't too bad. I also couldn't imagine being this long without a car, though! The train stations aren't incredibly convenient here – most people use them just to get to the city.

    My dad had an Accent, and my mom and boyfriend both have a Hyundai Elantra. They've been pretty reliable thus far, though the i30 isn't available here. I have a Honda that I love. Audi's are really nice, but I would be afraid to own one as the maintenance and upkeep seems too expensive (as is with any luxury and German made cars…).

    1. You're right – the European cars come with a higher maintenance price, but they have such big strong engines, it's hard to compare to Hyundais!! I'm surprised the i30 isn't there, it's the chocen fleet car in Sydney, and you see them EVERYWHERE, it's insane! They must have been the cheapest car on the market when a whole host of people were renewing leasing contracts. They also make it in a hatch back as well as the wagon (which I drive). Thank for the link!

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