Having a car is expensive - Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Having a car is expensive

carBack in the fall, I wrote a post called How much is your car costing you?, where I calculated that I was spending around $300/month for gas and insurance (11% of my net monthly income). And that didn’t even include maintenance like oil changes, repairs, or the actual cost of buying the car.

Even though I concluded that having a car was a clear “want” and not a “need,” I still depend on my car to lead the lifestyle I want for myself. Deciding to live in the suburbs, that’s the choice I made. And it’s the right choice for me now, but I’m not sure if it’s the right choice for me in the future.

When I start my new job later this month, I’ll be commuting from the suburbs to just outside of the downtown core. In the 6+ years I’ve lived here in Vancouver, I’ve never actually worked in Vancouver before… so I’m not sure what my commute will be like. Based on where I’m located, I think it will be similar to my old job (35-40 mins.). But the big difference is that when I’m over at BF’s house, he lives just 5 minutes away. AND since I’m working in such a populated area, most offices don’t have designated parking – so I had to rent a parking spot for $65/month.

Now that $65 parking stall is almost 50% less than any other stalls I’ve found in the area. That’s because I’m renting a space in an apartment building about 3 blocks from my office, and not in a regular parking lot. But if you combine that expense with having to rent a parking stall near BF’s house, my car costs have immediately risen by 25% to approximately $375/month.

I ran the numbers again, comparing my car costs with buying a transit pass, and my car still wins out even with this added cost. But just barely. If expenses go up again, I’m going to have to make some serious decisions. Even though I love where I live and I love my home, I’ve been spending the majority of my time in the city, and that’s only going to increase with this new job.

So maybe it will mean moving to a more central location down the road. Or maybe it will be as simple as letting go of some of my hobbies and buying a bus pass instead.

About Krystal Yee

I'm a writer, personal finance blogger, and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I'm a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner's Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I'm not working, you can usually find me running, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.

8 comments

  1. Erin @ My Alternate Life

    Between the car payment, insurance, gas, parking pass, AAA membership, and repairs, it is way cheaper (like $400/month cheaper) to go the public transit route here. It also helps that I’m right by every transportation line I could ever need. I love living in the city :)

  2. I had this on my list of posts to write. Honestly, those hunks of metal are so expensive. I don’t even have the car payment anymore, but just gas, insurance and maintenance is substantial! I think I’ll probably cry when I have to get a new car (hopefully many years in the future).

  3. Vehicles are incredibly expensive and I am a ‘car guy’. We only have one but living in the suburbs it’s tough sometimes. Public transit can only go so far and it sometimes has limited service hours. We will be getting another vehicle in the future but for now I’m content with only having the expenses for one car

  4. I have absolutely been thinking about this a lot recently! I appreciate that you always re-visit the ‘car question’. I think sometimes folks just think of the initial cost and once they have a car, or paid it off that they never question whether or not it makes sense to keep it

  5. If you are trying to show the cost of owning a car and making a financial decision on it, why do you not include the cost of purchase (depreciation) and maintenance? It is a cost. CAA has a nice and tidy guide on estimating your full cost of ownership. A Honda Civic LX costs, on average, $6,439 a year which is about $536/mth (http://www.caa.ca/docs/eng/CAA_Driving_Costs_English.pdf). Is this closer to your tipping point? Is the transit pass still “more expensive”? Did you consider the federal tax credit for transit passes (I guess you could also write off some car expenses as you’re a freelancer). Your car costs are NOT cheaper than a transit pass.

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