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In a world where an Uber, bus, train or electric scooter is never too far away – there have never been more options to get from A to B. Yet, buying a car is often still one of our biggest and most important purchase goals. Not only does a car provide the freedom and convenience to go about as we please, it can also give the impression of status and a feeling of self-worth that waiting for the bus on a rainy morning can never achieve!

However, not only is car ownership expensive at the initial outlay, but there are often unexpected costs that can arise such as parking prices, speeding tickets, servicing, repairs and breakdown rescue – not to mention the hidden cost of depreciation. It can be really hard to anticipate and prepare for these unexpected costs, and even harder still to weigh them up against the perceived benefits of freedom and convenience.

On the other hand, taking both private and public transport is a ‘face value’ cost. So, you know that if you check the train fare for a particular journey, this is all that it is going to cost you. Whilst the prices may change given the time and date, we know we can set that cost aside without the risk of another arising out of the blue.

With this in mind, let’s chat about whether ownership or ‘Ubership’ might be the best option for you – and whether you might be able to achieve the same status, freedom and convenience afforded by a car whilst still saving on costs.

Quick Facts

Weighing up the financial cost of car ownership vs alternatives

The average cost of running a car per year in the UK is £3,834 – or roughly £320 per month.

However, this will of course vary depending on the type of car you choose and how many miles it is traveling each year.

Let’s have a look at the difference in cost between owning and driving a Volkswagen Golf – a relatively premium and desirable hatchback car – against taking an Uber for every journey:

Credit for figures:

As you can see, it only becomes a cost saving to own a car once the 1,000 to 1,500 miles per year threshold is crossed. So, the chances are that if you live in or near a city center where most of your everyday destinations are easily accessible – then you’d save a great deal by going car-less!

You should also remember that this chart only compares taking an Uber for every journey. This is likely to be one of the more expensive transport options available. So, if you’re able to walk (for free!) or take a cheaper option like a train or bus for most journeys then you would probably be able to stretch your mileage even further without incurring extra costs.

Status, freedom and convenience - do it your way

Even if owning a car would cost more money than the alternative, chances are you may well still be tempted to buy one for the reasons we have discussed. The price tag of a car may well be justified in relation to what it can deliver in return for your status and freedom. 


The thought of turning up to a date or a reunion with old friends on public transport can certainly feel embarrassing. After all, pulling up in a shining new car is a sure-fire way to signify to everyone that you’re doing well for yourself – without having to say a word. It’s no wonder that taking public transport feels quite the opposite!

However, there are alternatives which still feel like a luxury without the ongoing cost or commitment of car ownership:

If you’re saving £4-6k per year on car ownership, then spending a few hundred pounds on a first class train or hiring a premium car for the weekend seems like a bargain – and with very similar outcomes! Plus, for shorter trips that warrant a bit more style, you could always consider taking an Uber Exec car for only a little extra cost.

Freedom & convenience

Another justification for owning a car might be that it’s handy to have for those spontaneous IKEA trips, long-weekend getaways or trips to the airport. But how often do we actually do those things? Once or twice a year? Often these ideas carry much more weight in theory than in practice! Plus, it’s often possible to hire a van or ask a friend or relative for a favour on these odd occasions. 

Although, it can be handy to have a car ready and waiting if you need to quickly pop to a nearby store or visit a friend after public transport has stopped running.

But how much is this level of freedom actually worth?

Putting a price on freedom…

One useful way of trying to calculate this is to work out how much of your disposable income car ownership might take up. 

For example, if you are living at home with a disposable income of £1,200 per month then spending £400 per month (30% of disposable income) on a nice car might be a luxury you choose to splash out on – even where taking alternative transport would be cheaper.

On the other hand, if you are a single tenant of a rented property with a disposable income of £500 per month (80% of disposable income), then it’s likely to be much harder to justify the extra freedom offered by a car – particularly if you live in a city center or well connected area. In this case, you may want to save on car costs but still put aside a little extra cash for the occasional hire of a luxury car or first class train ticket.

So, is it Ownership or ‘Ubership’?

The choice is yours! Whilst buying a car is often thought of as the default transport option, hopefully we’ve helped you see that it is usually possible to unlock the same benefits that a car offers with other means of transport – which is often cheaper.

Whenever you are thinking of committing to a big purchase, it is a good idea to look through all of your options before going ahead. We’ve put together a few questions that might help guide you thought process when deciding if car ownership is for you.

This information is intended for editorial purposes only and not intended as a recommendation or financial advice