Due to a mixture of chance and design, I’ve lived most of my adult life in places where I didn’t really need a car to get around, places with extensive subway networks, high speed trains, great cycling cultures and once even an island where everyone used electric golf carts.

I don’t like driving and I used to move around internationally, so it never made sense to spend a lot of money on something I may need to sell again in a hurry. I also find the running costs a bit of a deterrent: registration, insurance, parking permits, fuel, maintenance… Plus, the environmental and societal considerations stack up: do I really want to be responsible for adding to dangerous emissions and traffic for the sake of my own convenience?

In Sydney, I like to walk so I do that as much as possible; I live close to everything I need, and have good access to public transport. I’ve worked largely from home, even pre-pandemic, and when I have to go to an office, public transport or walking is more appealing than sitting in traffic and paying for parking.

My partner has a car (which I can’t drive) that we use for weekend trips or big grocery shops and I pay for Ubers if we’re going to have a drink. But increasingly, as friends move to further-out suburbs that are badly serviced by public transport and I need to take my large dog places, I’m thinking about cars.

I like renting or borrowing things you’ll only use once or occasionally: it’s easier on your pocket and you don’t have to worry about storage, maintenance or clutter – so rather than buying my own car, I wanted to look into car share services. I’ll compare the cost of my partner’s car to Car Next Door and Go Get, with the idea that I’d only use it to get out and about on weekends and for big grocery shops.

Car Next Door

Initial outlay: $0 (no joining or membership fees)

Cost per kilometre: from $0.21 per kilometre

Cost per hour: from $5 an hour or $25 a day PLUS $6.99 booking fee

Insurance: $1.50 an hour or $18 a day (this reduces the excess from $2000 to $500)

Registration: $0

Maintenance: $0

Convenience: There are currently around 40 cars available within a ten minute walk of my house. For the most part, parking it on my return would be easy.

Rough annual cost: Say I was going to take a car for two full days a month for weekend day trips (day rate of $25 + distance and fuel of average 60km for $19.80 + booking fee of $6.99 = $51.79 x 24 = $1242.96) plus three hours a fortnight for big grocery shops or trips to Bunnings  (three hours for $30 + distance and fuel of 15km for $3.15 + booking fee of $6.99 = $40.14 x 26 = $1043.64). I’d spend about $2286.60 a year on Car Next Door (assuming no accidents incurring the insurance excess).

GoGet (on the GoOccasional plan)

Initial outlay: $25 joining fee plus $12 a month membership fee

Cost per kilometre: $0.40 per kilometre

Cost per hour: $9.90 an hour (or $86 a day inc. 150km)

Insurance: $1.75 an hour or $18 a day (this reduces the excess from $2000 to $300)

Registration: $0

Maintenance: $0

Convenience: Right now, there are about 15 cars within a ten-minute walk of my house. GoGet has specific “pods” set aside for its vehicles so there should always be a spot to return it to.

Rough annual cost: For the same two day trips a month (day rate of $86 (inc. 150km) x 24 = $2064) plus a fortnightly big grocery shop (three hours for $29.7 + distance and fuel of 15km for $6 = $35.70 x 26 = $928.20). Add the membership fee of $144 a year and the joining fee of $25, and I’d spend about $3161.20 a year on GoGet (assuming no accidents incurring the excess).

The car

Initial outlay: $16,900 for a second-hand Toyota GT86. Assuming the car lasts 10 years (he ran the last one for 13!), I’ll call it $1690 per year.

Cost per kilometre (fuel): About $0.20

Cost per hour: $0

Insurance: $991

Registration: $381

CTP: $800

Maintenance: He estimates an average of $1000 per year (assuming no accidents)

Convenience: 10/10 – it’s always available and parking near our house is good

Rough annual cost: If I compare his to car to the way I would use a car share service, with two day trips a month (60km of fuel is $12 x 24 = $288) and a big grocery shop once a fortnight (15km of fuel is $3 x 26 = $78), plus the upfront costs ($4862), for a total of $5228 a year.

 

Of course, these figures could vary wildly depending on a range of factors and the cost climbs steeply when you increase your use of car share services. Plus, you have to consider the convenience of having your car available to you anytime, versus having to find and book an available vehicle.

But for the way I would use a vehicle, Car Next Door makes the most sense to me financially, environmentally and lifestyle-wise.

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