As you may remember, we got rid of our car a bit over four years ago and haven’t looked back. While we have gotten pretty accustomed to walking and busing, we are thrilled to have a new toy that has significantly upgraded our lifestyle.
We now have a car-share car parked right outside our home AND another one right down the street! It’s almost like having our own car with none of the upkeep, responsibility or commitment.
Now that we’ve used it a few times (and fallen in love), we’re here to answer your questions.
Q. What is car-sharing?
If you live in or have recently visited a big city, you may have seen people zipping around on rental bikes or scooters as part of the city’s public transportation network. Car-sharing works on a similar concept, except that instead of scooters, you rent a real live five-seater car and instead of being limited to city limits, you are free to take it anywhere in Israel. Each car has a home base, and you must return it to the spot you took it from by the time your rental ends. It’s a fantastic option for people who could benefit from having access to a car occasionally, but don’t need one every day. There are several companies that do this in Israel, including Shlomo Sixt, City Car, GoTo, MyCar, AutoTel and others.
Q. How does it differ from a traditional car rental?
Car-share apps make renting a car almost as easy as getting into your own car and driving away. Cars are scattered throughout residential neighborhoods, so you may have one a short walk away. You book the rental on your app, and it sends you a code to open the car. That’s it. No need to schlep to a car rental agency, interact with humans, or fill up the gas tank when you’re done (unless the tank is near empty, and then fill-up is easy since the company automatically pays for the gas). Each company has a slightly different arrangement, but generally you pay by the hour and by the kilometer. This makes it easy to rent the car for as little as an hour to quickly run an errand. Some companies like CityCar forbid use of the car on Shabbat (and don’t charge for Shabbat) while others are available all days of the week. Make sure you understand the rules of your particular company before renting.
Q. Does it save us money?
That’s a good question. Like many things, it depends what you’re comparing it to. It is more expensive than public transportation, so now that we’ve been using it about once a month or so, we spend slightly more on transportation than we did before. But as we are busy people and our time is valuable, we find the times we do use it incredibly worthwhile.
Since COVID and the work from home era, many people let their cars sit idle for days at a time since they no longer commute. Depending on your needs and habits, using a car share a few times a month can definitely be cheaper than owning a car.
Q. How do we make it work with little kids and car seats?
We have a COSCO brand car seat and booster seat that have good safety reviews and are recommended for people who don’t have cars since they are lightweight and easy to install. We keep them at home and bring them down to the car when we use it.
Q. Are there any downsides to car-sharing? It sounds too good to be true. What’s the catch?
Unlike owning a car, which you have to pay for whether you use it or not, many (but not all) car-sharing programs have no monthly fee and only charge you for what you use. This means that your car-related expenses can range from zero (if you don’t use it at all in a given month) to thousands (if you use it to drive for many kilometers over several hours several times a week). Having access to a car can be addictive and if you are not careful, costs can easily add up. Additionally, most of the cars in these programs are compact with a small trunk. If you have a large family or want to schlep a lot of stuff, you may not have room.
Car-sharing is a fantastic option for people who could benefit from access to a car but don’t need one on a daily basis. You get access to a car when you need it without the headache of owning and maintaining a car. It’s perfect for errands, trips out of the city, or a quick hop to pick up a kid from a birthday party. And the best part is that you might already have one waiting for you a short walk from your door. Whether you’ve been car-free for years like us, or are considering getting rid of your car, it’s definitely worth giving it a try. Just make sure to stay within your budget. 😉
Have you tried using a car-sharing platform? What was your experience? If not, what other questions do you have?
Leave a Reply