Tub Thoughts

The Car Question

4 years ago by

The Car Question

OK, so it’s been over a year since I moved to LA, took my driving test and got my license on the first try – that’s how good of a student I am – but ever since, I just keep taking Lyft.

(No, not Uber – even though it seems like everyone’s gone back to Uber, I don’t know what to think, so I’m sticking with Lyft)

I can’t decide.

Car? No car? Little car? Big car? Bike? Scooter? Roller skates?

As you may know, I’m the queen of not making up my mind – which will probably be the end of me. Instead of listening to what my heart is telling me “buy a car, you’ll enjoy it, voilà” I’m spending my life (I mean it, my whole life) weighing the pros and cons.

With my guy, with my friends, and even with my Lyft driver, actually.

Part of me wants to keep being the cool, relaxed girl who lives in Venice and rides her bike everywhere.

Another part of me says that cool girl could have a little hybrid car that doesn’t pollute, and she can use it when she wants to go someplace other than Gjusta.

That part of me says yeah, but if you’re only going to use it two or three times a week, does the world really need another driver?

Especially because the practical girl in me is writing to you from a Lyft, where she’s getting quite a bit of work done instead of driving around wasting time in traffic like everyone else.

And besides, with the money she’d put into a car, she could pay for a trainer and be totally hot within a year.

So hot, in fact, it would be a shame to not be driving a shiny convertible to the beach with music blasting.

Or a super classy SUV if I want to be one of those girls.

Yes, but… says the hot, responsible woman in me. Borrowing Chris’s car works too, if it’s only a couple of times per week.

But ew to asking to borrow your boyfriend’s car.

And especially ew to being a Sunday driver. Driving rarely means driving BADLY.

Since you can’t see it for yourselves, every time I end up behind the wheel of Chris’s car, I become an extremely focused grandma (no music, window open so I can hear traffic, heaving a sigh of relief as soon as I park because the experience was so intense, then forgetting to put the car in park, so the car rolls backward, oh shit, oops, sorry!) who gets honked at at every intersection.

And don’t get me started on left turns in LA, please.

So yes, maybe it’s a good idea to buy one, just so I don’t risk my life every time I borrow Chris’s car to go to Whole Foods.

And then, like any real, self-respecting Angeleno, I’ll be able to live in my car.

You can’t really say you live in LA if you don’t have a car. It’s a trap. Not having a car in LA is kind of like an eternal vacation. And it’s not so bad, actually.

Or is it…

Having your own car means you can leave all kinds of things in it, you can go to Opening Ceremony, then stop to see a friend, then buy a lamp, then go to an exercise class because you always keep your workout clothes in the back of your trunk.

You can sing at the top of your lungs. Secretly check out hot people at red lights. Take off to Big Sur for the weekend on a whim.

So, what do you think? Car or no car?

And what about you, do you drive?


Translated by Andrea Perdue


Add yours
  • Yes! If you’re living in LA, you need a car. Full stop. Get a hybrid or electric vehicle so you’re not increasing your carbon footprint as much. Your whole experience of living in CA will be better.

  • Laura V. April, 2 2018, 12:39 / Reply

    No car!

    I’m a Vespa rider (with occasional Lyft/car rental/Metro use). I last had a car 10 years ago, and when it was totaled in an accident, I realized I was cranky about spending so much money for a vehicle that was supposed to bring freedom, but I spent way too much time strategizing about parking to call it freedom. Ooh, do I want to go out for impromptu drinks on a weeknight… ah but I have such a great parking spot and I’ll never find another one when I get home! Etc.

    Just bought a new Vespa this weekend and am thrilled. (PCH Powersports on Lincoln woot!) I don’t go on freeways (although you can), but you’d be surprised how much of your driving, with or without packages to carry, you can do on surface streets. You do have to get a motorcycle license, and I’d recommend taking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course to learn to ride and pass the DMV driving test.

    That’s my advice!

  • Linda B April, 2 2018, 1:01 / Reply

    I grew up in LA a million years ago. Cut my driving teeth on the freeways; when I visit after all these years, I can slip right back into that groove. (However, I should note that in the days before pollution controls on car emissions, every summer day my lungs would be hurting so bad by dinner time I couldn’t eat. Ew.)

    Part of me can’t believe you don’t own a car there. It puts such limits on what you can do! But part of me admires you too. You have made your own life in a healthy way, staying focused in a neighborhood that is fantastic. Why lose that?

    In other words, I would be having a hard time deciding too.

  • Cars are high-maintenance money-pits……but if you must then electric is the way to go!

  • My dream car is a 2CV converted to electric. Hey, Citroën, I’m waiting!
    My other dream is to move into town, instead of being in the admittedly beautiful French countryside, where I have to drive to get to Pilates, to buy groceries, to take my kid to gazillion activities. Where Internet is at 1990 speeds. I would ride my bike to town but there are no shoulders and many big trucks. Also many hills–yes, a challenge for pedaling up, but mostly a worry about whether impatient drivers will try to pass and end up in a head-on collision with someone coming over the hill (which happened to someone, fatally, near our house).
    I think there’s nothing better than not having a car. Especially with all the car service options. No business would invest in equipment that sits idle 99% of the time. It’s a huge expense for just occasional convenience–an expense I have, admittedly, and would love to get rid of.

  • I am currently coming up on my 10 year anniversary in LA—and dun dunnahhh—- never owning a car! // I currently utilize public transportation and I love the freedom of zoning out during my commute. Understanding –public transportation isn’t for everyone– and I hate the stereotype of people telling me— “You have to have a car in LA” well it all depends on your patience/lifestyle and finances (for me especially). Don’t get me wrong, when Uber/Lyft came out — was a life saver in certain instances— I think it is great you can borrow your BF’s car— and I like your bike and Venice lifestyle– I hope to live in that neighborhood someday—Think you are just fine, Garance— do whatever you are the most comfortable with, trust your gut :)

  • Natasha April, 2 2018, 2:24 / Reply

    Never been to L.A. (reading and writing from Europe) but a car for me is a constant worry. Never want to own a car anymore. But still I think you should buy one and see if you like it.

  • Teresa April, 2 2018, 2:34 / Reply

    No car. Maybe an electric bike with a big basket for groceries.

  • Teresa April, 2 2018, 2:34 / Reply

    No car. Maybe an electric bike with a big basket for groceries. :)

  • Hello, une petite ford maniable pour les créneaux avec un joli design et..; un son de ouf pour écouter de la musique. Focus pour un coffre qui tient la route (je suis bordélique). ;)

  • therese April, 2 2018, 3:30 / Reply

    I spent Saturday test driving cars to replace the one that was totalled the week before. It used to be fun and free to own a car in LA , now it’s a track meet. I do have to replace mine but if you can just invest in one great car between the 2 of you for getaways, (best part of owning a car in Cali.)
    I love to drive but the appeal is disappearing with all the crazies here. No one obeys the laws and hit and runs are out of control.

  • Benedicte April, 2 2018, 4:04 / Reply

    On habite en plein Paris et on a chacun notre voiture (je sais…). J’adore conduire, j’adore avoir ma voiture, je me sens indépendante. Ma précédente auto a rendu l’âme et je me suis dit “j’en rachète pas, c’est tellement ridicule d’avoir DEUX voitures à Paris, bal-bla…”. Au bout d’1 mois j’étais tellement malheureuse que mon homme m’en a racheté une.

  • No! Just say no! You can continue to borrow Chris’s car. Your bike rides are good for you, for other bikers (more bikes = more safety), and the planet. Cars are a trap!

  • Rosita Wheeler April, 2 2018, 4:29 / Reply

    Why not a 2CV. It is convertible (very LA) and super easy to drive. Plus you build arm muscle with the steering wheel, that’s a bonus! My first car was an orange 2CV just like your pic. Martine (that was her name) still has her place in my heart!

  • Fabienne April, 2 2018, 5:04 / Reply

    Voiture….mais petite voiture économique. Je viens juste d’acquerir une Fiat 500, la plus basique, neuve pour $ 13 000, taxes included.. et cela a changé pas mal de choses : se rendre plus souvent aux Pilates, aller justement chez Whole Foods sans attendre que l’epoux ne soit rentré du boulot, rejoindre les copines à un après-midi piscine….etc… tout comme vous, l’achat d’une voiture me rendait perplexe (dépenses, pollution, etc…) Les transports publics à Los Angeles sont quasi inexistants… et conduire une petite voiture, rien que pour vous, Malibu, Santa Monica et le Ghery Muséum seront à un clic de contact. Bien à vous.

  • Girl, you need a car in LA. And do not get a stick (manual shifting transmission), that’s part of why you’re not enjoying driving. The only way a stick makes any sense is if you have fantasies of being a racecar driver or you have a very strong (obsessive) need to always be in control. A car represents freedom. Also, since you work from home, you have the freedom to adjust your driving schedule so you’re not on the road between 7-9:AM and 4-7PM. If I’m honest a car represents your style too. It’s like having well cared for and selected handbags, jewelry and shoes. Yeah, so get a car you like and learn the best routes to take from natives or longtime Angelenos. Waze helps but will not always suffice. Talking about your route is what keeps us connected in LA, like SNL The Californians.

  • I have friends who live in LA sans cars!
    I don’t have a car and I share my boyfriend’s (and contribute to the car payment when I use it a lot). Biking is the way to go, if you need extra motivation watch the documentary “Home” or one of Al Gore’s, or see how they made fun of the guy with the Tesla because most of his electricity comes from unsustainable and polluting sources so it’s not actually that “green.”

    How chic is a woman on bike? So chic! And smart!

  • Ha, ha I was just reading through the comments (which I never do) this time only to see what advice readers are giving you. After doing so, I would be more confused than ever. It’s all over the map. If you want to remain in Venice beach you obviously are ok by bike, but living L.A. in general means you want to move around from place to place (read store to store). I can relate only in the way that I’m not used to driving in lots of freeway traffic – makes me nervous. I’m now living part of the year in Palm Springs from Vancouver Canada and hired a driver to drive my RR (by the way a Range Rover is an excellent choice) here for me…with me and my two dogs as passengers. How weird is that? I’m totally ok driving around PS, but now I have to go back to Vancouver at the end of April. Not sure yet how I’m getting there. Must either drive the car myself or hire someone. Oh decisions….

  • Melissa April, 2 2018, 9:49 / Reply

    my husband and i made it 4 years in santa monica (commuting to weho everyday at 3pm) and never owned a car! it’s so possible, la especially does not need another car driving its roads. there’s so much pollution and traffic (not to mention awful drivers). cars are by no means necessary at all, just a security blanket.

  • Melanie Steinemann April, 2 2018, 11:21 / Reply

    I once worked with a woman who would not make a left turn period. I get it now…they are terrifying. I also have a friend whose car always smells like a locker room because she was always changing in and out of workout clothes. I’m sure the pressure to get a car is huge in LA, but I say keep your sanity. You have access to one, that’s better!!!

  • The future is not individual car ownership – there are so many more sustainable options now like car sharing, electric scooters, slowly improving bike and pedestrian infrastructure. Hybrid cars still have an enormous carbon footprint – the production, batteries, electric generation, landfill waste, city infrastructure built to support cars. Garance, you are a role model for so many, and your transportation choice can be a style statement!!

  • Christina April, 4 2018, 1:49


  • I live in LA and absolutely abhor traffic. Even though it’s troublesome, I schedule my entire day around avoiding traffic (except those awful days when it’s 23 hours a day!). But I still vote yes to having a car! I love that I have the freedom to go anywhere I want! I love not paying for surge pricing and timing when to finish getting ready with when my Uber/Lyft driver will arrive. I love listening to podcasts in the car! I love having a mini portable home with me wherever I go. I still Uber/Lyft though…especially if I know the area I’m going has terrible parking or expensive valet (I’ve seen way too many valet drivers be reckless with cars)!

  • déjà: une électrique. Pour la planète! (moi j’ai une 206 diesel bien polluante. PAS BIEN)

  • I’m like you with weighing the pros and cons and this is how I worked around it when I bought my car: Buy it and if you don’t like it sell it. Set a timeframe of 6 months to use the car as driving practice, drive often and everywhere (money spent during this time is education + freedom). Then evaluate, was it good, do you need it, is it worth it. I sold my car after 2 years because i dont need it anymore, but it was so worth it driving and in the city now is so easy. Good luck!

  • Christina April, 3 2018, 2:47 / Reply

    Car sharing is the magic word!

  • I own a car, scooter, and a cycle. But, if I could re-do it all, I’d stick with my scooter and my cycle and suggest the same to others.

    Transportation is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, and so I strongly feel that owning a vehicle or not is not as important as the ratio in which you chose the various modes of transport to commute.

    Your commutes ought to be in the following order/ratio (so as to reduce your contribution to the worsening the environment) –

    Walk or cycle the most (good for you and the environment)
    Use public transport (good for the environment, and generates revenue for the government and creates jobs)
    Use shared cabs (good for the environment, and generates revenue for the individuals and creates jobs)
    Use a two-wheeler (good for the environment as compared to a car)
    Use a car (the worse of the lot, even the most eco-friendly car has a stronger footprint than all of the above and you aren’t helping the economy in any considerable manner beyond making rich and spoilt automanufacturers and oil corporations richer)

    My personal suggestion – Do not get a car until you can master the above ratio. If you genuinely master it, you will realize, you DO NOT need a car.

  • Sabine April, 3 2018, 8:47 / Reply

    Remember that VW van you rented for fun?
    That’s what you need. It’s room enough for shopping ;) (kidding), you can take it for short camping trips when you need to get away, transport your bikes and dog, nap when you feel overcome with your over-worrying, and it just feels cool. All the time. I love my van.
    Enjoy :)

  • Can’t you just decide together that Chris’ car will be from now on the ‘Chris’ and Garance’s car’? Why have two cars in one family, if you don’t need to drive every day? Then it’s not a question any longer of borrowing your partner’s car, but planning when somebody is using the car. In the rare case it doesn’t work out you take the Lyft.

  • Bonjour Garance!
    J’ai été très chanceuse de voyager à LA pour 5 jours en février. J’ai beaucoup aimé la ville, mais je n’ai pas de permis de conduire et je ne sais pas conduire. J’ai pris le bus – metro (système peu fiable et dure à comprendre) j’ai pris quelques uber et le vélo me rend anxieuse, surtout dans une ville comme LA. J’ai beaucoup aimé mon voyage, mais sans voiture, je n’ai pas pu visiter tout les vintages clothing store que je voulais et les dispensaires pour acheter des souvenirs à mes ami.e.s. Ma suggestion: achète une voiture. Elle n’est pas obligée d’être dernier cri, mais elle sera payée entièrement et te permettra d’aller où tu veux quand tu veux. Et je dis ça en tant que fière piétonne qui n’a toujours pas de permis malgré avoir franchis le cap de la 30aine (mais j’y travaille, pour au cas où je retourne à LA.

  • i drove during high school, but once i went to college i was all done with cars. however, i’ve always lived in places where walking, biking, and mass transit were great options (chicago, now madison wi). i love not having a car, and i love walking and biking everywhere. and taking the bus feels relaxing because even if it’s crowded, you don’t have to pay attention to anything and you can just relax. so… big proponent of the no-car lifestyle here. PLUS, it’s kind of silly to get one these days, isn’t it? with all the car-sharing options out there? you can just rent a car when you need one and the rest of the time you’re free!

  • Voiture, sans hésitation. Au delà du plaisir de conduire (qui justifie à lui seul l’achat d’une voiture), la voiture ouvre tellement d’horizons, offre tellement de possibilités. Elle repousse les frontières de la ville. Pour le modèle, je dirais une décapotable, parceque LA quoi !

  • Hi Garance !
    I love my car here in L.A. Have lived in London and San Francisco without a car, and that was OK. But here in Los Angeles with all the interesting areas and things to do, a car is fun (with radio and air conditioning of course)
    Living in Los Angeles without car is like living in the old West without a horse :-))

  • sylvie April, 4 2018, 7:05 / Reply

    Depuis que j’habite en plein Paris j’ai lâché ma voiture avec un immense plaisir .
    J’en avais plus que marre de devoir prendre systématiquement chaque matin ma voiture . Il est vrai que de mon nouveau chez moi je peux tout faire à pieds en métro ou à vélo …un grand luxe de mon point de vue.

  • Quand j’habitais a Paris, je n’avais pas de voiture, j’allais partout en bus ou a pieds.
    Depuis que je vis aux U.S. je suis toujours en voiture, n’ayant aucun autre mode de transport la ou je vis.
    A LA peut-etre une petite decapotable, parce que conduire au bord de l’ocean c’est magnifique.

  • When I lived in LA 10 years ago, a car was a must. But with Lyft and living on the west-side, a car is a nice to have at best. If you’re only driving a couple times a week then I say for-go the car and instead enjoy your free time being productive as a passenger in Lyft. Also being a good driver is over-rated and driving in LA is the most stressful out of any city I’ve ever driven (except maybe for NYC). But LA drivers are super aggro and you’ll still be stressed out (or even more so) when you have your own car and have to drive yourself everywhere.

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