The United States is a nation built on having an automobile. Everyone has a car, with many families owning more than one. Large highways traverse the nation, and the idea of a road trip is a long-romanticized way of seeing the country. It seems that owning and driving a car is inevitable, but is it?
With cities becoming more densely populated and easy access to on-demand ride services like Lyft and Uber, the way we get from point “A” to “B” is changing.
We think it’s worth exploring a simple question — “Is it better living outside the city with a car, or living in the city with a car?” It’s a complex question with varied answers, so we’ll break down some of the most common areas and explore what could influence your decision. People are increasingly moving into larger cities, with a 12% increase in urban populations between the years 2000 and 2010.
Since Lendbuzz makes it easier for people to take out a loan to buy a car, we naturally think car ownership is a good thing. That said, we know there are plenty of other options available, so it’s important to look at the data to work out the most effective and economic way to travel around. Check it out below:
The cost of property and the cost of cars
Buying or renting property in a city is more expensive than in more rural or suburban areas. The further you get from major population centers, the cheaper it is to live there. However, if you live in a more rural area you will need a car. The combined cost of a cheaper home and a car is still less than the cost of living in the city.
Property taxes and other costs are also higher in cities, as city municipalities need more funds to pay for services and maintenance. It’s a balancing act between the greater cost and convenience of being in the city versus cheaper housing but less access to transportation services in rural areas.
A report from Zillow states that houses in urban areas are 25% more expensive per square foot than suburban houses ($198 vs. $158) and are almost double the cost of houses in rural areas ($198 vs. $108). If you want more property, then living outside the city makes sense, even factoring in the cost of a car. In fact, one report from 2011 says that urban and rural families spend around the same on transportation, about $8,500.00 per year.
Time and effort spent commuting
Americans spend a great deal of their time commuting to and from work. For most of us, that means driving an average of 60 minutes a day. If you live in the city near your place of work, that’s going to give you more free time and lower your stress level. Of course, if you want to avoid owning a car, you will also need good public transportation, or be able to walk or cycle.
Another aspect to consider is the time you will save on commuting when driving. You are not restricted by public transportation schedules, meaning you can fit in a few extra minutes at work. That can translate to better pay for overtime, and getting promoted for being a hard worker.
Of course, you could use a service like Uber to commute every day, but that is also going to cost you. One analysis estimated the Uber costs at being over $18,000 a year!
Access to local facilities and shops
A big advantage to living in the city is having access to the services you need at smaller, local branches, but the selection and range can be limited. If you need access to larger shops that have more specialized items, you will need to go to a larger branch. These are located in more remote locations, and you will normally need a car to get there. Large shopping centers and malls are almost always outside the city center, and have ample parking for cars.
For people living suburban or rural areas, it’s slightly more difficult to get to shops and other facilities like banks, medical care, and shopping. Since there are many strip malls and shopping centers on the highways, having a car will make this convenient for you. Extra driving and gas prices can also push up the cost of living in rural areas. There’s no denying that for convenience, living in the city makes things a little easier.
Public transportation options
If you want to live without a car, you will need good public transportation. Many cities are too big to walk around easily, so access to buses, subways, trains, or trams are vital to getting where you need to go. If you’re living in a suburban or rural area, you will not have good public transportation options.
One issue to think about with public transport is the cost. For example, a monthly bus pass in Boston, MA, or Chicago, IL, will set you back around $100 per person. San Francisco passes run at around $75, and these are typically just within the cities themselves. If you need to take a train into the city you could easily add another $200 or $300 to that cost. Combine these expenses with the need to hire a car occasionally, and public transportation looks like a much less attractive option.
An analysis on Nerdwallet shows that owning a car is always cheaper than using Uber or Lyft, especially if you are using it to commute on a daily basis. For example, in Austin, TX the annual cost of a car was estimated at $11,500, while it would cost over $27,000 to use Lyft to replace all those journeys, and over $30,000 to use Uber!
Getting the kids where they need to go
If you have children, you know they always need to be taken somewhere! In most cases, a car is your best option. Taking kids on public transportation can be inconvenient, especially during rush hour or in bad weather.
Balancing the convenience and the cost of owning a car
Ultimately the choice of whether to own a car comes down to two things — convenience and cost. There’s no doubt that for most people owning a car is simply more convenient. The ability to just jump in and drive to the local grocery store or to pick up the kids whenever you want is something many of us take for granted. T
he cost doesn’t have to be prohibitive either. Many cars, especially on the resale market, have excellent features at very reasonable price.
For people who live in cities with excellent public transportation, short commutes, and who don’t need to be somewhere in a moment’s notice, not having a car is a viable option. For the rest of us, being able to have an affordable car is crucial.
Financing Your New or Used Car Purchase
We specialize in financing and car loans for expats and international students. We work closely with individuals who don’t have a credit history in the U.S. and provide automobile loans at competitive interest rates to let you buy the right car for your needs.
Car loans for International Students
As an international student, you have plenty to think about when you’re buying a car. We take your unique circumstances into account including:
- Having an international student visa and not being a permanent resident.
- Not having a social security number or credit history in the U.S.
- Your educational background and your potential earnings.
We provide car loans at competitive rates that meet your budget and help you build your U.S. credit history and score.
Car loans for expats
When you’re moving to the U.S. as an expat, you’ll need a vehicle to get around. We provide comprehensive car loans to immigrants and other expats and take into account several different factors.
- A lack of a credit history in the U.S.
- Your profession in your home country.
- Your financial stability, and ability to repay the loan.
- Different types of residency, citizenship, permits, and visas.
It’s important to build a credit history in the U.S. Our simple car loans are competitive and let you improve your credit score.
Applying for a loan with us is quick and easy, and we’re here to help you. Why not apply today?