Before we decided what kind of car to get, we actually had a bigger decision to make: whether or not to get a car. So early this week we did some research into what kinds of options we have for going "car-free" as they say (many people here in Seattle actually do this and it works for them). There's quite a lot of good stuff going on, like:
1. Public transit. This works well here. Buses go to useful places and run all weekend and late into the night. My Studly Hubby currently takes the bus to work every day.
2. Bike. This could work well here, because the weather is very mild (when it rains, it's just a light drizzle). Unfortunately, it doesn't. Seattle is a little behind on making this a bike-friendly place, although they claim this is on the to-do list. Here are some examples of lost potential: (i) Everyone is very proud of this awesome bike trail that goes around North Seattle (the Burke Gilman), which is a pretty good trail. But, it's only one trail. And because it's all there is, it is so crowded with bikers that it is notoriously unsafe for pedestrians. Plus it's not well lit (making it worse for pedestrians) and there are no enforced speed limits (making it bad for both pedestrians and mediocre bikers like me). (ii) Many buses pick people up at hubs that you can bike to. The hub my Studly Hubby bikes to was recently "renovated," which meant that all the bike racks were ripped out about a month ago. We're not sure what they're planning to do next. Therefore my Studly Hubby can't bike. (iii) The city took the initiative to add bike lanes to all the streets. This was very nice of them, but they didn't physically add anything. They just painted lines on the street designating two feet of space for bikes between the already-narrow car lane and the already-narrow parked car lane. Would you feel safe biking here?
3. Flexcar. This is awesome. It's a car rental program with a twist: you can rent by the hour, and the cars are parked in convenient locations all over the city so you can usually walk to one from your house (there are four within ten blocks of our apt). Unfortunately it is not so great for long weekends (too pricey), car availability is sketchy, you still have to carry car insurance, you may have to pay a monthly fee, and the hourly fee is not that cheap ($10/hr in our area). But I know several people who have it and rely on it and love it, it just depends on how flexible you want to be.
4. Standard car rentals. This is still the stand-by for my car-less friends. For only $100 or so, you can rent a car for the entire weekend. If you rent a few weekends a month, it's still way cheaper than insurance and car payments. I think this is a pretty common thing in Seattle because there are car rental places everywhere and one close enough for us to walk to.
Well despite all that good stuff we decided in the end that we still need a car. Mainly because I work strange hours sometimes, we aren't very organized, and we felt like we could afford it. So when I get a chance I'll update you on our ongoing Adventures of Car Shopping.