Money

What’s The Day-To-Day Alternative To Buying A Car?

With a bunch of other options on the road and associated apps in the palm of your hand, sometimes getting behind someone else’s wheel is your best bet. Getting around town can be a drag – there’s no denying it. If you’re one of those brave souls who doesn’t mind taking their life in their own hands and zooms around on a bicycle then more power to you – you’re doing it more efficiently, more cheaply and in a more environmentally friendly way than the rest of us. But, you do have really unattractive helmet hair and arrive at work or where ever you’re going all sweaty and stinky. And did I mention the taking your life in your hands bit?

For the rest of us, the daily slog on public transport can be pretty tedious. It’s cheap of course, and happily lycra-free. But, depending on your city, it’s not exactly reliable. And it can be flat-out demoralising, especially in winter when the interminable wait in freezing rain under a leaky bus shelter makes you want to take out a loan and run straight to the nearest car dealer so you can commute in something warm and dry.

Trust me, I know the feeling. But steady on. Tempting as that may be, there are a few other options worth considering.

Subscription car share

GoGet has been going strong since the early 2000s and is one of Australia’s most popular car share services, along with the likes of Flexicar, and Car Next Door. If you’re not a user, you’ve probably been one of those people who cursed loudly when the car space they thought was free turned out to be designated for car share vehicles only. A sign perhaps to give it a crack?

GoGet has been going strong since the early 2000s and is one of Australia’s most popular car share services, along with the likes of Flexicar, and Car Next Door.

If you’re considering using it instead of your own car, then you’re looking at a membership of around $205 minimum per year (calculated using GoGet rates) which covers all your set up and admin fees. Then it’s from $6.35 an hour plus 40c per kilometre, or $AUD74 a day which includes 150km – handy for weekends away.

Say you use a care share scheme eight times a week for getting to work, the gym, to a mate’s house, where ever it is you like to go – a rough total of four hours car hire per week and around 20km per trip. That’s approximately $25 plus $64 for mileage per week. Used over a year, that rounds up to around $5,200. Plus $30 per month after you’ve seen through your initial six-month contract. Yep, you’ve still got to make sure the petrol is topped up and you’ll have to pay for any other parking as if it was your own car, but it’s pretty good value, right? And make sure you check for student discount rates with any of the car shares services.

Ride share

With Uber’s arrival in Australia everything changed. Every excursion from a Saturday night out on the town to a weekend trip to Bunnings suddenly became refreshingly easy.

Gone are the days of standing shivering on the roadside praying for an available taxi to appear and leaping into it before someone else nabs it. The convenience, the efficiency, the competitive rates, the mints, the teeny bottles of water – what’s not to like about it?

In terms of day to day usage, it’s a bit harder to estimate the cost given distances, price variations from city to city and the dreaded surge rates but just for consistency’s sake, say you’re using it eight times per week at around 20km per trip for 40 weeks of the year, you’re looking at – wait for it – around $20,000 a year. I know right? Pretty substantial bucks.

Of course, if your distances are smaller or your trip less frequent, then Uber can be great value. But as an everyday alternative to buying a car for a reasonable commute, perhaps not so much.

Car hire

A hatchback hired for a week at a time will cost you around $230 (equating to nearly $12,000 per year) plus your assorted insurance options. Yes, the GoGet daily rate is likely to be higher but the value for money depends on what you use it for.

Traditional car hire is good if you need a vehicle on hand for a few days at a time or you’re hitting the road for the weekend, but otherwise the car-share services give it a serious run for its money. As a daily alternative to buying a car? Nah, unlikely to be worth it.

Buy your own car

The stuff of dreams, sure. But not necessarily the stuff of healthy bank balances. At least not for many of us. If you’re considering buying a car, remember that the cost of the car is not the only outlay. You’ll have to take into account the cost of insurance, registration, maintenance, petrol, and parking, as well as interest if you take finance. The final cost and worth depends on the price of the car, plus the above, as well as how long you plan to keep the car.

Driving your own car can be awesome – no doubt about it. But buying and keeping a car can turn out to be expensive as all get out.

The upshot

Car-share services seem to be where it’s at – though every person’s circumstances and requirements are different. Before committing, ensure you’ve planned for the costs of however you intend to use the vehicle.

Remember you should also consider public transport as a regular transport medium. It’s cheap and effective. If you can’t do that, these may be the better option.

The initial outlay for purchasing your own car may also be a barrier. It takes time to save up enough money for those dream wheels. Until you’re in a position to make the most out of your own set of wheels, use someone else’s. It may work out cheaper and it’s better for the environment. Win-win.


Tess Durack is a Sydney-based writer who loves the ocean and the desert in equal measure. And olives. And corgis. Witness her attempts at witty hashtaggery @tessdurack.