How to Survive College Without a Car: Tips & Tricks

By Brittany Hawes on July 3, 2017

When I first arrived at my college’s city last August, I didn’t have a car, I knew I wouldn’t be able to buy a car, at least not for a while, and I was admittedly scared out of my head.

How was I going to make it to class on time? I wasn’t going to be living on campus; in fact, it would take me around 30 to 40 minutes just to walk to the stadium. The nearest grocery store was at least 10 minutes away from my apartment and carrying more than 50 pounds of items back home was out of the question. How was I going to go anywhere fun?

Had I made a big mistake in coming to my dream college before getting a car?

Of course not!

When you’re in a new city, being a student in college without a car might seem challenging, but it’s a lot easier than you may think. I made a list of things that I found to be a big help to me since coming to Florida State University last August without a car.

The bus = free transportation (pixabay.com)

Tip #1: Use Your School’s Bus System to Get to Class

Do some research into the modes of transportation your school offers its students. Florida State has numerous bus routes that are scheduled to go into neighborhoods that are near campus and pick up FSU students for free. Your school’s bus line may also have a real-time app that allows you to see your bus’s position via GPS. This can help you get to your stop on time and avoid missing class because of any changes in the bus’s schedule.

A great app that I use is the TransLoc Rider app. It can show numerous bus routes at one time, tell you what time a bus is scheduled to arrive at a stop, and notify you of any upcoming route changes. The app is available to download in both the Apple Store and the Google Play Store.

One thing about riding the bus is that you need to make sure you know the bus’s schedule. Make note of what time the bus usually picks you up from your stop and what time you get off at your destination. This, paired with your app, will help you make sure that you’re not late to class.

Tip #2: If You’re Going to Be Working, Consider Riding the City Bus

When I moved into my shared apartment last fall, I knew I was going to have to get a part-time job in order to pay my half of the rent and to buy necessities like groceries. The ideal job to apply for is one that’s close to where you’re going to be living or at a place that’s near or on campus. This way, you’ll be able to catch a bus back home or you can hop in an Uber after your shift is over.

I ended up applying for a job I really wanted that was at least an hour’s worth of walking away from where I lived, but I was determined to get this job, even with that distance. Since I started riding on FSU’s school buses, I noticed other buses picking up non-students at bus stops. I did some asking around and found out that these other buses are run by the city and go all over Tallahassee. After doing a little bit of research on my TransLoc app, I found out that a city bus stopped right at the business I was going to be working at. This was a huge discovery for me! Since FSU also offers students free fare on city buses, all it took was a short (and free) bus ride for me to get to work at a job I love.

Remember to stay safe on the bus. Don’t take any sensitive phone calls where you have to give out personal information such as your address or social security number. Stay aware of your surroundings when getting off the bus. If it’s late and you don’t feel safe walking home from your bus stop, see if any of your coworkers would be willing to give you a ride or if a friend could meet you at the stop and drive you home from there.

Ubers, Lyfts, and taxis can get you to and from places, fast (pixabay.com)

Tip #3: Use Uber, Lyft, or Another Taxi Service If You’re in a Pinch

I love Uber and Lyft! Both of these services have gotten me out of a pinch or two. I have used both taxi apps to get to places when I needed to be somewhere fast and a bus just wouldn’t make the cut. When I first started riding the bus, I had no idea that some of the city buses stopped running around 10:00 p.m. One day, I came out of my workplace, completely unaware of that fact. I waited for a while, thinking the bus would show up sooner or later. And … it didn’t.

It was getting pretty late and I didn’t want to bother my roommate, so I downloaded Uber right then and there and got a ride home in less than 20 minutes. If you’re going to a party or somewhere else at night and you need to get home before the rest of your friends are ready to leave, Uber and Lyft are the way to go. They both offer rides for cheap and I’ve met nothing but nice drivers while using both apps. You can find both apps in the Apple and Play Stores.

Real friends will help you out when they can! (pixabay.com)

Tip #4: Make Friends and Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

If you hate asking for help and don’t like to imposition others, you need to push that part of your personality way to the back of your mind while you’re car-less. If someone offers you a ride and they seem like they genuinely want to help you out, don’t reject their help! This is coming from someone who is super stubborn about getting help from anyone. I didn’t want to accept help from anyone when I first moved to my college’s town.

But over time, I came to realize that accepting help is okay. They wouldn’t offer it if they didn’t want to help. The same goes with asking for help: if you need to get somewhere and you know that your roommate/friend/coworker isn’t busy and you feel comfortable asking them, go ahead and ask! The worst they can say is no.

Skip the trip to the store and save time and money. (Image via pixabay.com)

Tip #5: Get Groceries Delivered to You

Imagine a world where winding your squeaky cart through busy aisles packed with other shoppers is a thing of the past and where you can have groceries, toiletries, and other household goods delivered right to your door in just a few hours. That world is actually a reality, as I recently found out, thanks to a thing called Instacart.

Instacart is a website that allows you to choose items from a local grocery store and then have one of their hired shoppers go and pick up these items. Afterward, they deliver them right to your door. The prices of the items vary from store to store and in some cases, the prices offered by Instacart are lower than the prices offered by the actual stores.

The charge for this service is only $10.00 and the delivery fee is $10.00, with a lowered delivery fee of $5.00 being offered for orders over $35. I’ve used this service a few times and I love it. It’s a super easy and time-saving way to shop for groceries, plus it saves me from having to lug heavy and refrigerated items on the bus or having to pay for an Uber ride to and from the store.

Final Thoughts

Attending college without a car doesn’t have to be tough! Are you planning on attending college this fall without owning a car? Share your future plans with others in the comment section below!

Hi there! My name's Britt and I'm a senior majoring in English major at Florida State University. I have these crazy, big dreams of traveling the entire world and writing novels in my spare time. I love music, food, and the Japanese culture. I plan on teaching English in Japan upon graduation from Florida State. My first YA novel, Twisted, was published by Deep Sea Publishing Company in 2014. It won a Readers' Favorite Book Award that same year. Alongside schoolwork, I'm working hard on the second book in the Twisted series as well as a number of other novels.

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