Car Sharing: Uber Silly, or Should You Just Get a Lyft?

If you’ve considered car sharing vs. owning a car, you join the legion of New Yorkers who wonder if it’s worth it putting down the cash to buy their own vehicle. Read on to get info that will help you determine which makes the most sense for you.

If you’re a New Yorker who has considered the option of car sharing vs. owning a car outright, you’re not alone. Many folks wonder if their lives would be made a million times easier or a heck of a lot more complicated if they owned a car in the city. Owning a car, especially in this already pricey city, is an expense that folks should think carefully about before plunking down a deposit and driving off the lot. If you’re on the fence, consider the following.

Do You NEED a Car or WANT a Car?

Many people who live in the city are transplants from suburban and rural locales around the country. They’re used to throwing on their sweats, dressing up the kids, locking up the house, and hopping in their cars to drive five miles to get a container of milk. In NYC, milk is around the corner or an app tap away on your mobile phone. If you’re new to the city and you’re thinking about getting a car because you need to go shopping, ditch your suburban psyche and cancel that car loan application. You don’t need one. You can become part of the car sharing crew by renting a car on an as-needed basis. Car share companies like car2go and Zipcar allow you to register on their sites for a small fee, use the car for an hour or all day, and drop it off wherever when you’re done. That’s way easier than a car loan for someone who only needs to drive on an as-needed basis.

Can an Uber Do Instead?

You may think you need your own car, but what you actually need is a friendly, responsive driver whose only mission is to pick you up in a clean, late-model car and get you where you need to go with minimal fuss. If the latter describes you to a T, ditch the car and embrace (or continue to embrace) the ride-sharing economy. With companies like Uber, Lyft, and Gett, you can summon a car to your door in minutes, with a driver ready to take you where you need to be. Fares are usually reasonable (except on “surge” days when rates can double or even triple). If you’ve loaded down three carts with new towels, dinnerware, and glassware at Bed, Bath and Beyond, a hired car summoned with nothing more than a couple of fingers tapped against your phone’s glass surface can be a godsend.

Can You Afford to Have a Car in the City?

Affording a car doesn’t just mean making the car payment every month. In addition to the monthly note, you’ll also have to pay for things like gas, insurance, unexpected repairs, and preventative maintenance. Since this is NYC, it’s unlikely you’ll have a free, designated parking spot — so when it comes to finding parking, either your pocketbook or your sanity will take the hit. You’ll either have to pay for parking each month to keep your car housed in a garage or parking lot, or you’ll have to hunt for free parking every single day. If you live in a neighborhood with a lot of other car owners, prepare for an endless game of find-a-spot. It may be easier to just brush up on your taxi etiquette and grab a cab.

At the end of the day, only you can determine if owning a car makes sense in your circumstances. Just remember that once you pull the trigger on a car loan or lease, you’re in it for a while. Choose wisely.

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