Dear, it’s time for your daily reminder that the cost of living is getting harder and harder by the day.
“Yes, dear” you might reply, as you resign yourself to putting back an essential grocery and only filling up your petrol tank halfway instead of fully.
We’ve all had to rethink our financial benchmarks lately. From shifting our dreams of one day owning a house, we’ve now also had to concede whether or not we can afford to keep our cars or even rent an apartment.
In 2022, research revealed that the average Australian would pay around $19,000 per year just from owning a car. Those expenses would include things from the price of fuel, to registration, car insurance and servicing expenses.
With the fuel crisis of last year, and further cost of living prices rising, that figure will most likely be higher moving forward.
The idea of not having your own personal car in Australia is a bit harrowing, however. Australia actually has the second highest ownership of private cars in the world, with more than half of Australians owning a second car as well. A statistic that doesn’t help the “Mad Max is a documentary” accusations. Car ownership was also projected to be on the rise, as in 2021, there were 20.1 million registered motor vehicles, a 1.7% rise from the previous year. (The Australian Bureau of Statistics has not conducted another census).
Despite this rise in motor vehicle ownership, 95% of Australian cars sit idle most of the time, and what’s more, car ownership costs the average Australian household $364 a week.
Personally, I only drive maybe under five times a month to make it to appointments or classes that are out of the way from public transport. I’m very fortunate as I live nearby a train station that can reach the city and work, and for this reason, I haven’t had to top up the petrol in my car once in 2023.
In a survey commissioned by the folks over at Uber, more than two in three Australians (69%) are concerned about the cost of car ownership, with the financial relief of finally ditching that pricey insurance and rego as the number one factor motivating metro Australians to consider reducing car ownership (37%).
We asked our readers what their preferred method of transport was, and how much per month it costs them.
Shantelle – $280 per month
Public transport around my area isn’t amazing and it’s easier driving myself rather than relying on trains or buses which can be delayed or not show up at all. But I do take it when I can. As a woman, I also feel safer driving in my own car if I was to travel somewhere at night because at least I’m in my own space and not constantly watching my back for people around me. $280 per month, but this is for both petrol for my car and expenses for public transport.
Kylie – $120 per month
Public transport as it’s a much cheaper alternative to owning a car. I’d say I average around $25-$30 per week. Usually, I’ll take PT to and from the office, which alternates between two to three days per week. I’ll also catch PT occasionally on the weekend, but rarely as I tend to walk a lot of places or carpool with my housemate.
David – $280 per month
I use a car and a train to get to work during the week. I like commuting by train because I enjoy feeling like being the main character, staring out the window on my way to work pretending I’m in a music video. Also, it’s pretty cost-effective and doesn’t take long. I’m very lucky, however, to have a direct service to Central station. For all other transport though, I’ll use my car.
I use the train around three times for return trips a week (costing roughly $11 per return trip). My car is for transport outside of work and to drive to the station. I generally spend $100 – $150 a month on petrol. It’s not too bad but being paid monthly, I definitely don’t use my car as much towards the end of the pay cycle.
Michael – Under $100 per month
Public transport for work and Uber for personal. To and from work, PT has a special place in my heart. I also just love people-watching – the PT characters bring me a lot of joy. Outside of my work commute, I either Uber or walk. I live inner-city so the Ubers are usually quite cheap and the walks are super short! (Side note – I have an irrational fear of driving and haven’t been behind the wheel in a decade, even though I have my full licence. This may explain why I love PT). Under $100! I work from home two or three days a week.
Anthony – $150 per month
I have come to equate owning a car with shovelling thousands of dollars into an open furnace. I travel by train now, which means my expenses come to $150 per month for Zone 1 and 2 Myki travel which is why I come into the office more than most staff, gotta get value out of the purchase.
Sarah – $300+ per month
I use a car mostly for convenience. I’m a “late for life type” of person so public transport doesn’t work well with me. My monthly expenses amount to $300+ a month I’d say, mostly because I have to take tolls.
Kara – $120 per month
I feel like I have much more control with my car. I don’t have to plan ahead too much and if I’m at an event, I can leave whenever I want and not worry about missing the train. I also feel safer (as a woman) when driving, since it’s normally just me in the vehicle. Especially if I’m coming back from something alone at night.
While I do prefer to drive, I use the train a lot more often. New South Wales Opal card caps out at $50 a week, so I always transfer $200/month whenever I get paid. Realistically, I probably only spend $120/month going to work but I like to have extra ready in case I go out on weekends. As for my car, since I don’t use it every day, I probably only spend about $60/month to top it up with fuel. When I used to drive a lot more, it was probably $240/month on petrol.
Ian – $542 per month
I usually take both as I need to drive to the station and catch a train to the city anyway. As a start, my expenses come down to around $263 (train) + $160 (petrol) = $423 per month. This is based on coming to the office four days per week. Although when I factor in how much driving costs as a whole, it will be $542 per month with tolls, petrol and parking.
Earlier this month, Uber announced a social experiment that will challenge fifty Aussies to give up their car for four weeks and use alternative modes of transport instead.
The ‘One Less Car‘ trial hopes to prove that by reducing car usage in cities, not only will congestion and air pollution go down, but on a personal level, it’ll be better on the wallet and for everyone’s well-being.
During the trial, participants will be provided up to $1,300 in transport credits.
If you think you’d like to take part in the trial and help prove the ‘car light’ lifestyle, you can register to take part here.Image: I Think You Should Leave with Tom Robinson