Alternatives to Buying a Car

A car can be more hassle than it's worth.

A car can be more hassle than it's worth.

Although you may have the means to buying a car, Nesties who live in large cities can find that owning a car can be a nuisance. Some apartment buildings, condominiums or co-ops do not offer parking, or they may charge outrageous rates to accommodate a vehicle. Although a car is convenient for traveling for work or pleasure, the alternatives offer their own conveniences and, as a bonus, tend to be more environmentally friendly.

Public Transportation

Public transportation is one of the safest and least expensive ways to travel through a city. According to the Worchester Regional Transit Authority, riding a bus is more than 170 times safer than riding in a car. Because a bus cuts down on emissions, riding a bus is also safer for the environment. Verify with your local transit authority that your job and regular hangouts are included on a route. Also, find out whether there is a discount for regular travelers.


If your work and hangouts are close to your house, using a bike as your main form of transportation has several benefits. Not only will your wallet thank you, so will your body. If you sit behind a desk for eight hours a day, odds are you are not getting enough exercise. Riding to and from work each day can increase your energy, mood and metabolism, while decreasing your expenses, pant size and cholesterol. A bike also produces zero emissions.


Motorcycles and scooters use significantly less gas than cars. Because of their light weight and smaller engines, they can go as far as 100 miles on a gallon. Motorcycles and scooters with small engines are often safer and cheaper to insure than larger models, and their small size makes it much easier to find street parking. Before purchasing a two-wheeled vehicle, do your research. Check consumer guides to find the safest, most cost-effective models, and inquire on the cost of insurance. Also, consult with your state's Department of Motor Vehicle, or DMV, to determine whether you need a special license or training to drive a scooter or motorcycle.

Renting a Car

On days that you must travel long distances, renting a car can be a reliable alternative to purchasing a car. Some rental companies will offer unlimited mileage and special discounts on weekdays. When you rent a car, you do not incur any maintenance fees, although you must pay insurance to use the vehicle. Consult with several car rental agencies in your area and compare prices before jumping in to rent a car. City dwellers may also have access to car-sharing programs like Zipcar, which let you rent a car by the hour or day without having to waste time at the rental counter. Gas (up to a certain number of miles) and insurance are usually included in the rental rate.

Leasing a Car

Depending on how long you need a vehicle, leasing a car can offer many benefits. Generally, car companies offer lower monthly payments, no down payment and less maintenance fees on leased cars. Leasing a car also has many negatives. Renting a car is similar to renting a house: you make a payment without building any ownership equity. If you terminate your lease early, you will incur a high early termination fee. In addition, if you exceed the mileage allowance during the term of your lease, you will acquire an excessive mileage charge, which is generally 20 cents per mile. If you don't want to commit for a two-year term or longer, you can investigate buying out the remaining term of someone else's lease through sites like or


About the Author

Angela M. Wheeland specializes in topics related to taxation, technology, gaming and criminal law. She has contributed to several websites and serves as the lead content editor for a construction-related website. Wheeland holds an Associate of Arts in accounting and criminal justice. She has owned and operated her own income tax-preparation business since 2006.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images