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You won't be able to hold a job very long if you can't get to the worksite on a regular basis. But owning a car is not the only way to get to work, and it's not a prerequisite to holding a job. Despite America's car obsession, getting a job with no car is perfectly possible if you are willing to make the effort. Here are some ways to "work" around the fact that you aren't a car owner.
Help! I Don't Have a Car to Get to Work
The United States has long been dependent on private vehicles. French working people catch super-fast trains to get across the country. In Japan, workers commute on packed public transport. But in most of the U.S., the private car has long stood alone as king of the hill; in fact, only 8.7 percent of American households don't own a car. But that doesn't make failure to have your own wheels a valid excuse for not getting a job.
Cars are essential for a few different occupations, but only a few. Most employers don't care how you get to work as long as you get there on time. And there are many ways to get to work without a car of your own.
Ways to Get to Work Without a Car
Public transport –
If you live in a big city, getting to work without a car is easy: Use public transportation. In cities like San Francisco or New York, it's the norm for people to commute to their workplace on buses, cable cars, rapid transportation systems, street cars or municipal rail. Even those who own cars take public transport because it's hard and expensive to find parking spots during the weekday.
Do people really use public transport? They do, and in increasing numbers. In 2018, Americans rode public transportation more than 9.9 billion times, 34 million times each weekday.
* Walk or bike to work –
Some 45 percent of the country's population doesn't have access to public transport, and your area may fall into that category. So try another popular trend: walking or biking to work. Find a job close enough to your residence that you won't collapse from the effort of getting there on foot or by bike.
You won't be alone. In Boston, 14.8 percent of people walk to work. In Washington, D.C., walkers are 12.6 percent of the workforce, while in San Francisco, it's 10.2 percent. As far as biking to work, 6.1 percent of workers bike in Portland, 4 percent in Washington, D.C. and 3.9 percent in Minneapolis.
* Car pool or ride-share – Another option for getting to work without a car is to catch a ride in someone else's vehicle. This is a great option if you live in a rural area or in the suburbs. Take a job in an area where your neighbors work; then catch a ride with someone having the same work schedule. Don't forget to kick in some gas money.
Often you can find car-pool sign-ups online, but if nobody has organized car pools in your town, do it yourself. Alternatively, depending on your financial situation, ride-sharing plans like Uber and Lyft may be right for you.
Ways to Get a Car Without a Job
If you just can't see getting a job without a car, turn your mind toward finding ways to get a car first. Do you know anyone who will let you use their car to commute to work? Parents or relatives are your best bets for this.
If not, consider buying a car. Some lenders will give you a car loan even if you are just starting a job. You'll have to have good credit and provide proof that you'll be earning a large enough salary to pay off the loan. Or, buy an old car with an agreement that payments begin after you start work.
Teo Spengler has worked as a trial lawyer, a teacher and a writer at various times in her life, which is one of the reasons she likes to write about career paths. Spengler has published thousands of articles in the past decade including articles providing tips for starting a job or changing careers. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, and Working Mother websites. She holds a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley, an M.A. in English and an M.F.A. in fiction.