Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Why own when you can "Share"?

Who's have thought such a simple idea could
be so "smart"?
It seems strange to post this on a day when I actually wouldn't dream of driving, but I have a confession to make. There are times when having access to a car would make life so much easier, and is sometimes even necessary. Back in 2010, when we sold our family car, I knew there would be sacrifices, and I would have to get used to the idea of not being as spontaneous in our travels as we'd been accustomed to. We persevered, though, and have in turn had many new kinds of adventures because we could no longer rely on a personal automobile. My husband and I were acutely aware there would be times when we needed a car, though, and since day one, we have taken full advantage of the car-sharing programs in Vancouver. From Zipcar, to Modo and even Car2Go, we have discovered that life without car ownership is not as difficult as it seems, and would go so far as to say life now is actually easier!

Let me start off by saying this is in no way a sponsored post, but purely my opinions on car-sharing. And my opinion is that if you're wavering between buying a car or joining a car share, you should probably hold off on that big purchase. What I have discovered over the last three years, from being a member of all three of the major car share programs in Vancouver, is that it has given me freedom and flexibility. If it's nice out, I can easily go for a walk or a bike ride. If I'm going downtown, well public transit will generally be the fastest and easiest way to do that, and if the weather is less than desirable and I need to get somewhere not easily accessible by transit, then I can simply find an available car, and go. I don't have to stress about how to stay dry or warm, or worry about rising fuel and maintenance costs.

Let's take last Friday as an example. Here in Vancouver we were experiencing a severely cold spell. My husband and I were headed downtown for a lecture followed by a drink, but knew there would be times when we'd be outside for an extended period. So, we opted for warmth, and I quickly found a car using my Car2Go app, and we were downtown in no time for the same price as transit. We did that two more times throughout the evening, and were happy for the ease and convenience, and especially the warmth. Add to that the fact that the City of Vancouver has dedicated many parking spots throughout the city to car share programs, parking was a breeze, and cost us nothing.

Sure, owning a car would be "easier", in that we would always have a car readily available, because, yes, sometimes all the cars in our neighbourhood are being used by other members. However, it is definitely not easier on the wallet. We pay a measly $35-50 a year for membership in our respective car-share programs. On top of that, all we are responsible for is the per minute or hourly rate of the the car, which, since we usually only use them for quick trips, rarely costs us more than $10 a trip. That cost per trip and the annual fee covers everything - insurance, gas, permit parking, maintenance...EVERYTHING. So compared to the costs we used to have filling up the tank, paying for insurance, and all the maintenance that goes with it, I'll happily risk not having access to a car from time to time and put the money I save towards creating memories with my family.

At a time when we're seeing less and less young people saddling themselves with the debt of car ownership, car-sharing is certainly the way things are heading. The ease, the low cost and the accessibility make it an ideal compromise, without really sacrificing all that much. With companies like Car2Go and Modo (the programs we participate in) continually adding more vehicles to their program in wider reaching areas, it's clear the idea of sharing instead of owning a car is pretty appealing to a lot of people. For our family, we'll still try to get around without a car as much as possible, but it's nice to know we have options!

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