To rent or to buy…a car?

Our family does not own a car. Gasp.

This is something I’ve pondered on a lot these days. While it was a decision we made in NZ not to own a car once we moved here, sometimes I ask myself whether we should back out on it. Along with that decision was to choose living near to downtown Portland where both Jonno and I work. We live so close that it takes 15 minutes or less to get to our offices including walks to and from bus stops.

In a way, it’s very refreshing. I like taking public transport — it’s cheap and convenient. We don’t pay for car insurance and we like that very much. We don’t have to worry about parking fees. We don’t have to worry about fluctuating costs of petrol.

And yet, we spend at least $250/month on Zipcar in the first 2 months of membership. We are on occasional driving plan, which means we pay for what we use. We are considering moving to the next plan level, but that entails $50/monthly plus an x number of hours we could use Zipcar free of charge. This could be the best option to take next. Going for the occasional driving plan was a test, and what a surprise to see how much we have spent so far! I can’t help myself going on Craigslist to check some cheap cars that are still in good condition. I filter my search for cars to sale price up to $5k only. I’ve seen some good ones for $4k! I need to also add that it is summer and we have been proactive about taking our child to activities outside of Portland, and just generally taking advantage of our first summer as a family in this beautiful town.

There’s always an effort to remind myself that not owning a car means something good financially. I have to constantly identify that it is a want for now. It may never be a need. A car makes some aspects of life convenient, but having one makes it easy for us to decide to just drive somewhere to dine out or buy something. Being frugal can be difficult sometimes.

Happy 4th of July!

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