No matter where you live, car ownership is expensive.
Living in a rural or suburban area might mean that you’re paying for more gas to get from point A to point B, but those who call dense cities like Chicago or Denver home might have to pay more to park their car in a garage or on the street. All drivers will eventually pay for fuel, maintenance, insurance and other costs.
So how much can you expect to pay over a given year? Our car ownership cost calculator can help you find the answer.
If you’re surprised at how much you pay each year for your vehicle, you’re not alone. That’s why many people — especially in cities and suburbs with other transportation options — seek alternatives to car ownership. Read on to learn about some of the best alternatives to buying a car.
Transportation alternatives to a car
A car is one of the most convenient ways to get around, especially if you crave transportation flexibility. Most car owners can hop behind the wheel at any time and run errands or take a road trip. But it might not be necessary for people living in urban areas.
Before we dive into alternative transportation options, we should note that not all options may be convenient for everyone. For example, your work or errands schedule may not be conducive to carpooling. But if you’re looking to reduce costs related to your vehicle, the following options can help you save money.
With all that said, what are some substitutes for buying a new car?
1. Car sharing
We’re starting our list with car sharing because it’s our favorite alternative to owning a vehicle. Car sharing works much like car rental, but instead of dealing with a rental company, you’re borrowing the car from another driver in your city. Car sharing is a fantastic fit for those who want to take a day trip, have errands to run or are just visiting.
Rideshares are another popular option if you prefer not to drive and are just trying to get to a specific destination. With the most popular rideshares, Uber and Lyft, you request a ride via an app and wait for your driver to pick you up. Rideshares work best for big events like concerts, sports games and even just a night on the town. You won’t have to pay for parking when it’s time to leave, and you don’t have to worry about bus or train schedules.
3. Public transit
Depending on your city and personal schedule, public transit is a fantastic alternative to a car. Hop on a city bus or train and take it to the stop nearest to your destination. Buses and trains usually run on a consistent schedule, but make sure you check for delays on your city’s transit authority app or website.
4. Commuter Train
What’s better than buses for those far-flung suburban areas? The commuter rail. Commuter trains are another great option if you need to get into or out of the city and don’t want to deal with the hassle of traffic or driving. A city with a thriving subway or light rail system makes it easy for residents or visitors to get around town without navigating busy roadways. Some cities rely on a combination of commuter trains and buses to ferry people about town efficiently. Combine that with intra-city metro train travel, and there’s no shortage of ways to get around.
For those who want to get some exercise, biking is an excellent way to get where you need to go. It’s faster than walking and gets your blood pumping. In many cities, bike share programs allow you to take advantage of this mode of transportation without investing in buying a bike. And if biking seems too strenuous, scooter-share programs offer many of the same benefits without breaking a sweat.
Walking is one of the best ways to get around because it’s fantastic exercise and lets you enjoy your neighborhood without navigating traffic jams. If you live in a town with many sidewalks and plenty to offer in the way of accessible shopping, dining and entertainment, take a stroll to your destination. If your feet get tired, there’s a good chance you could hail a cab or request a rideshare to get back home.
It may not be as popular as it once was, but carpooling is another easy way to get to work. Find some coworkers who live nearby and chip in a few dollars for gas each week. If that isn’t possible, you can always seek out carpool partners online, though make sure you take your safety seriously and avoid any sketchy situations.
8. Online ordering
What happens when you need something, but don’t necessarily want to leave the house? Why not let the food, toiletries or clothes come to you? Online ordering is a great way to reduce your need to go anywhere that usually requires a car. eCommerce brands and last-mile delivery services make getting just about anything you need simple, and membership programs to food delivery services can slash your delivery fees even further.
9. Rental cars
While many of our alternate transit options help you get around your city, what happens when you need to trek out of town? A rental car is still an option for people who want to take a road trip or need to haul something to a destination. Renting a car can be expensive — especially once you add in fees — but it can be a real boon for longer cross-state or cross-country travels. Just make sure you opt for a rental car with no mileage limit, or be prepared for extra fees if you drive too far.
The best alternative to a car for you
Depending on where you live, you might want to use a combination of every option on our list. Your comfort — with riding the bus, driving or walking — will help dictate how you get around town.
If you’re in Denver or Chicago and need a vehicle, car sharing through Avail is one of our favorite means of transportation. Avail offers the flexibility to borrow a car for one day or longer and is a perfect alternative to expensive car rentals. You could borrow a car in Chicago or reserve a car in Denver for great prices. We have a generous daily mileage limit so you can easily take off on a road trip adventure or drive around the city and make a big dent in your to-do list.
If you’re ready to find the perfect vehicle for your next adventure, download the Avail app or book your reservation online today.
Frequently asked questions about alternatives to a car
What are the options instead of buying a car?
Instead of buying a car to get around town, you can try several different transportation methods, including rideshares, car rental, public transit, or walking and biking.
What is the cheapest alternative to a car?
Walking is the cheapest (and only free) alternative to driving a car, but it might not be the best fit for your commuting needs. Public transit or riding a bike can help you reach destinations that might be inconvenient or take too long to reach by foot, and are generally the cheaper alternatives available.
What is the best transportation when you don’t have a car?
The best transportation to use when you don’t have a car is the one that serves your needs. If you need to haul something or transport multiple bags or boxes, using car sharing services like Avail allows you to pick up and drop off those items. If you know you’ll only need to make a single trip, rideshares like Uber or Lyft can work just as well.