Author Topic: Should I buy a car?  (Read 1387 times)


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Should I buy a car?
« on: October 30, 2018, 10:26:37 AM »
Figured I'd try to get some input here on an upcoming decision. I am thinking about getting a car with my partner. I've never owned one, and never really had much interest in it, but he wants one and I can see some benefits. I bike and transit almost everywhere and that would continue even if we owned one, since parking where we work is crazy expensive and traffic is horrible.
However, his family lives kinda far (1-1.5 hours by transit) or a 25 min drive, and we visit them at least weekly. He has a family cottage about an hour away (inaccessible by transit/bike), where we go almost weekly in the summer. We have some weekend activities that a car would be very convenient for (we currently carpool or transit or borrow a car for those). We sometimes borrow his parent's extra vehicle or they drive us, but we feel like it's a bit of an inconvenience for them. If we had a car, we could use it to visit friends and family who live further away, which would usually be a bus or plane ride, and we'd probably do rideshares to save on gas. We don't have a driveway, and it would be street parking (with a permit, about 70 a year, or non resident spots are free but more limited). Car share programs don't work for us given the type of driving we need.
We are thinking of getting a cheap used car if we do buy, and these are some options.
1. parent's extra vehicle, van, not great on gas and not in great condition, but cheap
2. grandparent's vehicle, they are getting a bit old to drive, and might be willing to sell to us (we'd get the use of driveway in this case, but would probably share the car if they still needed it/were capable of occasional daytime driving)
3. another used car, maybe 2-6k, try to find something that was good on gas and in decent enough condition
Just wanted to get some thoughts from the community. We can afford to buy a car but I'm a bit wary of unexpected repairs. We don't necessarily need the car, it would just make certain things more convenient. We wouldn't use it for commuting, but we'd probably drive it once or twice a week.
Is it worth it? What type of car should we be looking at?


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Re: Should I buy a car?
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2018, 11:41:09 AM »
I lived where you live (QC) and we shared a car, so here's my perspective. 

Owning a car, even a cheap one, is a sizable expense that also requires your time.  We, too, drove ours only a couple times/month, and loved how it allowed us to get to places which were otherwise problematic (e.g. the Sepaq's, skiing, friend's chalets).

The street parking permit is cheap, but you'll have a dozen+ deneigements.  In our neighborhood that meant garage parking, which we spent about $150-200/year on. The biggest challenge for us was if we were away for a few days when they announced the deneigement and we had to find a friend to move our car, or if we were there we had to shovel it out, put it in the garage, and then wake up at 6:30am to move it out the next morning. switching winter/summer tires will require a space to store the tires as well as either an appointment to 2x/year to have them changed (around $60 each time) or the time to do it yourself. You can learn some basic auto-mechanics yourself or be prepared to shell out $500-1000+ each time your car has a problem, which shouldn't be often but will happen.

The CAA estimates each family spends >$10,000 year on each car; with less driving you can certainly cut that way down, but its still going to cost a few $k each year beyond the purchase price.  Only you can decide if that's worth it.

On the plus side, it certainly made us more mobile, and we did a lot of hiking and skiing with friends.  Then again, what we spent each year on our car was probably comparable to using Communauto and renting the few longer trips. For us it was less of a decision to make because i) we already owned the car and ii) we had to go back and forth periodically to the US to visit ailing parents, so Communauto was out.

As for what car to look for - any small fuel efficient vehicle should fit your needs. Look for one that's several years old but doesn't have rust issues (yet).

hope that helps


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Re: Should I buy a car?
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2018, 12:07:38 PM »
@nereo thanks for the input. Those are the exact type of things I'm worried about, especially the deneigements and moving the car to the other side of the street on certain days. And we don't really know any neighbors who could easily help move the car for us when we're away. I want to wait until we can get the grandparent's car because then we wouldn't have to park on the street, but I don't know if they are ready for that yet. We've been making do with borrowing the car and nobody is complaining, but we don't think it's sustainable long term and we don't want to mooch forever. (We do put in gas of course, but still).
There's also the fact that I'm kinda proud of not owning a car, and I'd like to never have one, but my travel needs have shifted a bit since moving in with my partner and I might have to accept that it's time. It would give us a lot more freedom and flexibility to do stuff outside of the downtown core.