... but how do you buy groceries?

Autoshare and why I love the Sharing Economy

So yes, we still drive.  We don’t own a car, but we drive.  Most months we use Autoshare maybe once or so a month.  In winter, we use it every weekend to go skiing.  Let’s take a moment to comment on car sharing groups. Hands down it is one greatest things to happen to urban living.  Why own a car only to have it sit in your driveway 5+ days a week.  Think about it.

Drive to work?

Let’s take our situation.  2 working parents, both with jobs in Toronto with good transit options.  Would we actually choose to drive to work?  Not a chance.  Stress of driving, traffic, road rage? Not interested.  Additional auto fume sludge into the environment?  Pass.  How about cost of parking? Near my office going rate is about $260 a month.  And then there’s the fact that it’s just plain faster to not drive. And if you really want a good read on the silliness of driving in situations when you can easily walk or bike… have a read over at Mr. Money Moustache,  Are you ready to cure clown car disease? For us driving to work in Toronto just seems silly.

Once you make the leap to not drive to work, you’re looking at 5 days a week that your hugely expensive asset you bought is just sitting there in front of your house waiting for you to get home.  $15 a month goes to the city to park it in front of my house (no driveways in our downtown hood).   Then insurance of about $160 per month*.  Our starting rate is $175 a month to just sit there waiting for us to come home from work. Then we need to factor in the cost of buying the car (car payments are not), and gas.  But forget all the that, let’s do with the $175 just to park it and insure it, let’s not even consider actually buying it or putting gas in it.  $175 a month to do what?  For the times I’m not working, what do I really need a car for?  The mighty weekly grocery trip (you know that one thing that seems to trip everyone up)?  Shopping? Kid activities? Visiting people?  Where are you going in your evenings and weekends that can justify the cost?  $175 a month can buy you about a 9 $20 taxi rides or about 2 rides a week (let’s save Uber for another time).  A week!

Now bring in the might car share program… wow.  We use Autoshare, now owned by Enterprise.  We’ve been members since 2003.  A 2-hour car trip on the weekend will cost us $17.74 in a Nissan Hatchback or $22.26 in a Mini Countryman.  That $175 just to insure and park a car in front of our hosue can buy us 9.9 trips in the hatchback a month or 7.8 trips in the Mini.  Your weekly grocery trip (if that is something you’re really still doing, although you really shouldn’t, you gluttonous stereotype) is easily covered leaving you 5.9 hatchback trips a month to do with what you please. Remember, our car share cost includes the cost of the vehicle, repairs, maintenance, insurance, parking and gas.  That quick math we just did only looked at insurance and parking.  Layer in the cost of the vehicle, repairs, maintenance, gas…. I mean it’s not even comparable.  I’ll say it again.  If you live in Toronto and drive to work in Toronto, chances are you are blowing so much money on the privilege parking a giant depreciating asset in front of your house.  It’s nonsense.

And so, the sharing economy.

I’ll admit I didn’t really realize this was a thing until recently. But since we’ve been Autoshare members since 2003, I guess we’ve been part of the sharing economy for over a decade.  Maybe longer if you count Toronto Library card membership.   Here’s a great read about the Toronto sharing economy.  And that is really what being car-free in Toronto is about.  We take transit, we walk, we bike.  And yes, we still drive on occasion.  But we don’t own a car, we share.  Here’s what I love most:

  1. We don’t own a car, we share access to a fleet of over 300 cars.  And variety is key.  No one car is perfect for every use.  Hatchbacks, compacts, minvans, SUVs… Actually, having access to cargo vans alone is worth so much more to me than owning just one car of our own. I cannot stress enough how useful that is.
  2. Maintenance is included.  Beyond cost, the sheer annoyance of dealing with surprise maintenance issues is completely eliminated in a car share. That in itself is incredibly liberating.
  3. It’s just plain awesome






* These estimates came from CAA’s website that estiamted $1904 per year.