Simple living is back in fashion. After a century of consumerism, millions of people across the world are embracing a more meaningful life with less. It’s a trend helped by the growing cost of living, but it’s also a result of people embracing the idea that less is more.

And then there’s the Marie Kondo effect. After her 2011 best seller The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and follow-up Netflix show, Marie Kondo’s method of ‘tidying up’ (really more like de-cluttering) has given simple living a huge boost in western countries. While Marie Kond’s method isn’t quite the same as modern Minimalism, the intent is very similar.

But how does this apply to cars? Well, we have a lot of experience in these matters, with GoGet helping tens of thousands of Australian’s get around freely without owning a vehicle. So, here are some ways you might want to think about cars as part of a minimalist, simple lifestyle.

A man holding a car key asking does Marie Kondo and cars make sense

Car ownership and the joy economy

First, here are the cases for and against owning a car, using joy as the main measurement.

How owning a car brings you joy:

  • Cars offer freedom of mobility.
  • They help you move your life around relatively easily.
  • Some people really love their cars.

How owning a car robs you of joy:

  • Cars cost you money, around $7,000 a year, which makes your life harder financially.
  • Cars take many hours of work. Maintenance, insurance, registration, and cleaning take time you could spend elsewhere.
  • Every extra car adds to traffic congestion, which you have to deal with daily.
  • Cars aren’t great for the environment, which makes life harder for you and future generations.

Depending on your circumstances, you might not need to own a car. Public transport, walking and cycling (active transport), taxis, and car share can offer a transport mix that suits you perfectly, without the need for a car at all (the academic term is Mobility-as-a-Service, or MaaS, if you want to geek out).

If a MaaS lifestyle suits you, it’s typically easier and cheaper than owning a car, while still giving you the freedom of going where you want, when you want.

A GoGet car share vehicle parked on the street, helping people live without owning a car, so KonMari and cars can work together

Can you be a minimalist and own a car?

Of course you can. You don’t have to live like a monk to be a minimalist, you just need to live as simply as makes sense to you. While we believe living car-free is better than owning one, there are two occasions where you should have no guilt about having a car:

  1. Owning a car is the most efficient option for your travel needs.
  2. Your car brings you joy.

The first point is mathematical. Take some paper and write out what your car has cost you over 12 months… include repayments, interest, maintenance, insurance, rego, parking, and fuel. Then list how much it would cost to get around with public and active transport, car share, and the odd taxi. Take into account the time spent looking after you car and the cash you’ll get from selling it, and it becomes a simple comparison. If you drive a car less than 10,000km a year you’ll probably save money switching to a MaaS lifestyle.

The second point is more subjective. Even if your car is more expensive than the alternative, if it brings you joy and happiness it can be worth owning. Do the sums above and work out the price you’re currently paying to keep your car… if the joy your car gives you is worth that amount, then keep your car and enjoy it!

A desk in a minimalist home with a white wall

How to live simply while owning a car

If you want to live a simpler life but you need to own a car, here are some things to consider.

Only own one car

If your family has two cars, think about selling one. With a little car-pooling and re-arranging of schedules, using public transport to get around becomes much more likely to work for you. Remember, GoGet gives you access to cars by the hour… so if you really need a second car for a few trips, use one of ours.

 

Walk and ride more

Assuming you haven’t de-cluttered your bicycle, use it for more trips, or simply walk more often. You might be able to work up to replacing your car with more active transport once you’re fit enough. In the meantime, you’ll save on fuel and car maintenance, help the environment, and get some chiselled calves!

Marie Kondo your car

Your car should be a stress free place, just like your home. If you’ve de-cluttered your home, don’t stop there! Take everything out of your car and decide if each item you removed needs to go back in. If not, thank it for its service, and let it go. Also, give the car a vacuum while it’s empty. 

About Tim Beau Bennett

Tim is an ex-journalist and radio presenter, and has been a professional writer for over a decade. He regularly writes about technology, lifestyle, and smart cities, and has written for news site including the ABC, SBS, and Australian Financial Review.