As a broke college student who lived with 8 housemates, I never even thought of buying a car. As I graduated and started my job a few months ago, I decided to see how it is like to take an Uber and live without a car. If I finance a car, the monthly payment and the insurance would cost a few hundred dollars. I will also need to pay for gas and occasional maintenance. I wanted to see if using Uber all the time would be cheaper and easier.
Long story short, I came to the conclusion that I should buy a car, but Uber worked out really well in some cases. Here are some examples:
Uber website says “UberPOOL allows you to share your ride and split the cost of your trip with another Uber rider headed in the same direction.”
UberPOOL is much cheaper than a regular ride, even when you don’t get matched with anyone and don’t share your ride. Before you request UberPOOL, the app will tell you exactly how much it will cost. The price won’t change whether or not you get matched during your ride. Unfortunately, this service is not available everywhere yet. Here is a list of cities where UberPOOL is available. Link
UberPOOL is available where I live, and it saved me so much money. I live about 15 minutes away from work, and UberPOOL costs less than 5 dollars. With 50% off coupons I get occasionally, it costs pretty much the same as taking a bus.
UberPOOL is a good choice when you are going somewhere from an airport. Whenever I am traveling, taking a UberPOOL to the hotel makes my life so much easier with a reasonable amount of money.
No Need for a Designated Driver
When going out for a drink with friends, Uber is definitely the best choice. Everyone can drink, and there is no need to walk back to a parking spot. Uber app is very easy to navigate no matter how intoxicated you are. Uber costs more at night because there are fewer drivers, but it is still cheap and it has never been a problem for me.
I can totally see myself calling Uber when I might be drinking more than one or two beer even if I have a car.
However, there are some occasions where taking an Uber frustrated me. Here are some examples:
Stranger Every Ride
At first, I enjoyed meeting new people. Compared to taxi drivers, Uber drivers are usually friendly and easier to talk to. However, since I don’t have a car and I live in the suburbs, I have to take an Uber often. I carpool to work, but I usually take an Uber home. When I go shopping at Target, I need to take an Uber. I need to take an Uber to my gym. Now I’m sick of making a small talk with a stranger everyday. If you think about it, taking an Uber everywhere is not very different from having a stranger in your car all the time, and I don’t feel like talking to a stranger for 15 minutes every day after work.
Getting Stuck in the Middle of Nowhere
I had to go buy some clothes at an outlet, which is about 20 minutes from my place. Since none of my friends with a car were available, I just took an Uber. The problem is that just because you could take an Uber somewhere, doesn’t mean that they will come pick you up there. Fortunately, I was able to come back home by bus, but it was not a fun experience.
Long Trip Will Cost A Lot
Uber is usually expensive if I’m going somewhere that is more than 30 minutes away. Don’t get me wrong, it is cheaper than taxi. But I can get a car for a few hundred dollars a month, so I don’t want to pay 50+ dollars each way every time I go somewhere a little far.
It’s Not Much Cheaper After All
I take an Uber about 20-30 times a month. Most rides are about 5 dollars with some exceptions, so I pay about 150~200 dollars a month. If I go for a used car and finance it over 3~5 years, I won’t be paying that much more. Once I finish paying for the car, I won’t have to pay as much, and I also can sell the car in the future, which will be at least a few thousand dollars. With the convenience I would get with a car, I really don’t mind paying some extra.
Uber is a great, affordable alternative to a traditional taxi service, and I would definitely use it even after I buy a car, but driving seems so much more convenient and seems to work better with my lifestyle.