When I first moved to Ottawa, I made a conscious decision to pay more in rent and live downtown, and not buy a car. I wanted to try the "big city" lifestyle for awhile and since my shiny new apartment was mere steps from several different bus routes, including one that took me to work in less than ten minutes, a car seemed an unnecessary expense. I didn't mind taking the bus and Ottawa's public transit system was pretty reliable and got me anywhere I needed to go, and, sure, it was a pain in the ass sometimes to rely on the buses or the kindness of friends who offered me rides, and I *really* didn't enjoy carrying groceries several blocks, but I coped quite happily for five years like that.
But over those five years a number of things happened. First, I joined a couple of choirs, both of which rehearse and perform all over the city, not just in the downtown core. Then my workplace moved, to a building about 35 minutes from downtown on the bus. And then I met Serdic, and we moved in together, but we moved out of downtown and that extended my commute by another half an hour, meaning I am now spending about an hour each way on the bus to get to and from work, and that's if I make the connection downtown smoothly (which isn't as reliable as it used to be). It also means having to go into downtown to make the connection, which can sometimes be a pain given traffic congestion issues (like the 25,000 Tamil protesters on Wellington Street as we speak, for example), whereas if I was driving I could avoid downtown completely. Now, Serdic does have a car, and I'm able to use it to get to my choir and social activities, but I'm still commuting by bus.
Then we had the 53 day bus strike this winter, which eliminated a lot of good will I felt for OCTranspo, and changed things in some undefinable way. I can't really explain it, but the mood on the buses and at the bus stops is different now. People (bus drivers and passengers alike) are still angry, I guess. Plus, I got used to the 20 minute commute that came with driving (a colleague was kindly giving me rides). The buses have steadily gotten less and less reliable, and the one I take home from downtown after work regularly doesn't come.
And then this week, we encountered that proverbial straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. OCTranspo announced that they are eliminating service on the route I take from our apartment to downtown -- now I will have to get another bus to the closest transitway station and transfer to another bus to get downtown, where I will transfer to yet another bus to get to work. And I decided that I'm done with public transit (and sent a scathing email to OCTranspo to that effect, which was cathartic, I have to admit).
I had been tossing around the idea of buying a car for awhile already. For the last couple of years, to be honest, definitely since we moved to the new apartment. And after I finished paying off my last student loan last month and became (briefly, knowing me) debt free, it's now something that is financially feasible as well. I had pretty much decided to put it off until after the wedding and we buy a house, as parking two cars will be a little bit of an issue at our apartment, but the idea is becoming more and more tempting and I'm really not sure I want to wait another year.
So all that said, the real question is, what kind of car should I get???