In the United States, there were 222 million people who had a driver’s license in 2016. People are driving to work, school, vacations and other personal reasons. When living in rural or suburban areas, owning a car is a must. Work, grocery stores and local schools can be over 15 minutes to an hour away. In addition, public transportation can be nonexistent, along with sidewalks and walkways in your area.
Yet when it comes to living in the city, you have more transportation choices. From ride sharing services such as Lyft and Uber, to car sharing services like Zipcar, you can get to your destination without personally owning a vehicle. The city can also provide mass transit options such as subways, metro trains, and public bus systems.
So you may be wondering about whether or not you should buy a car when living in the city?
This is a difficult question to answer. Your personal lifestyle will have the biggest impact on whether you need or want to own a car. Let’s take a look at certain factors which can impact your purchase.
Reasons to Buy a Car in the City
You may have a job that requires personal transportation, such as a handyman who goes from job-site to job-site throughout the day. You may need to carry tools or repair supplies with you. For other professions, it may be a requirement for you to meet different clients scattered around the city. Having a car available will allow you to meet deadlines and arrive at meetings on time.
Just because you live in the city doesn’t necessarily mean that public transportation options will be available to take you to certain locations. Some cities don’t have huge transportation routes or they have consolidated public transportation systems. So while getting to work or to the store is as simple as hopping on the public bus or train, getting to doctor’s appointments, college classes, or recreational options may be tougher to reach when not having a personal car.
You could be the type of person who is always taking mini weekend getaways out of the city to go hiking, mountain climbing or surfing at the beach. Your personal lifestyle may be one where it makes sense to buy a car. Any time when you are traveling out of the city on long or short trips, you can bring the items you need without being limited based on how much room you have on a bus or train seat.
Reasons to Skip the Car Purchase
You Don’t Drive Enough
Sometimes the cost of buying a car and making payments won’t make financial sense. If you see yourself only using a car maybe once or twice a month and using public transportation the rest of the time, you could save more by not making the purchase.
Parking and Fuel Costs
Parking and gassing up your vehicle in the city can be a nightmare. The costs can put a significant dent into your weekly budget, and it can be difficult to find a parking space in the city. These costs, along with paying for insurance, registration, and maintenance, may push your daily expenses into the red where you are struggling to make ends meet.
Not Comfortable Behind the Wheel
Driving along congested city streets can make a person feel uncomfortable or anxious. You may not be a confident driver when behind the wheel. Instead, you let other people do the driving for you most of the time. In this instance, it would make sense to take public transportation and skip the car purchase.
Look at Your Lifestyle to Determine Your Car Purchase Options
Every person has different needs, behaviors and driving expectations when living in the city. For some people, taking public transportation and being so close to other transit travelers are situations that are best to be avoided. For you, taking the train or bus is the perfect way to travel around the city while not being bothered with fighting through traffic.
Always keep in mind that if you already own a car yet never drive it because you mostly take city public transportation, you may want to hold on to it. Instead of selling it right now, you can stow it away in long-term storage. Then you’ll have the car available if you move out of the city, or when you want to use it again. You’ll also still have the car available as a trade-in to upgrade to a new vehicle.
Ron Ingber resides in Long Island and enjoys spending time with his family, golf, and travelling. Mr. Ingber is also the managing partner of Siler & Ingber, LLP where his favorite part about being a lawyer is helping accident victims get their just due.