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    To Own or Not to Own? The Car Debate for Apartment Living

    While owning your own car is a great ticket to freedom and flexibility, if you live in an apartment or have moved into a block of flats in the heart of a busy town or city, perhaps it’s time to question whether your vehicle is a luxury that you can live without.

    With today’s cost-of-living squeeze still making the headlines, you might question whether 2024 is the year you can do without a trusted motor. From the hassles of finding a parking spot to being more eco-conscious, are you ready to give up the freedom of the road in return for the fantastic public transport on your doorstep? This article explores the pros and cons of car ownership when you live in a centrally-located city apartment.

    Freedom and Flexibility

    To begin with, there is no denying that having your own car provides immeasurable freedom and flexibility compared to relying on public transport, lifts, taxis or ubers. With a car, you can plan your own journey, in your own time and on your terms. 


    Workwise, having a car is a real bonus and is arguably a major benefit whether you live in a city or out of town. You might need a car to reach your place of work, if it’s a distance from your home and not so well serviced by public transport, or your job itself may depend wholly on owning a car or having one provided by your company. The RAC reports that 19% of jobs advertised in the UK request for an applicant to be a driver, so having access to a car can aid employment. According to the Office for National Statistics, London has the highest percentage of households with no cars or vans (42.1%), while 40% of people living in city apartments (outside the capital) own cars despite limited parking and the proximity they have to public transport.


    If you do live in a central apartment, your daily commute will look quite different with or without car ownership. In addition to enjoying a more flexible commute, the benefits of having a car allow further spontaneity to go anywhere on a whim, explore great places at the weekend, travel further distances for less, do your weekly shop or transport heavy items when you choose to rejuvenate your apartment surroundings. There is the further family consideration that you may depend on your car to complete school runs or sport drop offs, as well as as to carry out regular errands for family and friends.

    Costs versus Benefits

    However, owning a car does carry significant ongoing costs, including petrol, maintenance, insurance and road taxes; in fact, the total expenditure can amount to upwards of £6,000 a year. Although the cost of fuel does make driving prohibitive for many, in recent news, the cost of petrol has dropped to its lowest rate since October 2021. The added costs of running your own car might be the biggest reason for letting your car go. 

    If you live in an apartment in the heart of the city, the freedom and mobility of car ownership needs to be weighed against challenges, such as whether you have a garage or space to park, the extra running costs, responsibilities and environmental impact. To make car ownership more manageable, it’s important to budget wisely and be prepared for ongoing maintenance and repairs. It’s counterproductive to ignore looking after a car and important to ensure that you book in regular services, to prevent missing faults and failing MOT tests in the future.

    Eco-Friendly Alternatives

    If you live and work in central Manchester, buses together with the city’s amazing Metrolink will get you around trouble-free and far more sustainably than driving. Today, drivers (especially younger ones) are looking for alternative ways to travel to save money and be eco-friendly. 

    While walking or cycling are great options if your city apartment is close to your office and the weather is good, the spirit and determination needs to be a little stronger when having to walk, cycle or wait for the bus when the weather is terrible.

    Manchester Metrolink Tram

    While these more eco-friendly modes of transport may not provide door-to-door convenience, they will allow you to travel more affordably longer term. Public transport might only set you back a few pounds per month, and depending on where you live, cycling, walking and car sharing can be a fraction of the cost of running a car. Obviously, public transport may present unexpected delays from time to time, and not always be as reliable as your individual journey planning via a car. However, buses, metros and trains are usually well-connected and, if you’re on a low budget, it can be less problematic to live minus a car, and enjoy the benefit of getting to work without sitting in such potential heavy traffic, or worrying about finding a parking space.

    Factor in Parking

    Finding a place to regularly park your car can be another major headache when living in the city centre. Dedicated off-street parking will be at a premium and is an important factor to check out if you’re new to an area. Our team at Julie Twist will happily advise on the parking options available to you with our various apartment properties, so please feel free to ask for guidance.

    On-street parking can also be limited and options like parking metres or residential permits come with their own challenges. The comfort and time management element of driving yourself, may easily be superseded by traffic congestion and limited city-centre parking. If you are fortunate to secure off-street parking or benefit from dedicated parking provision at your workplace, driving becomes more appealing. However, hunting for a new street parking spot every day or paying for daily parking, whether for home or work, can become frustrating and expensive. Parked vehicles are also susceptible to break-ins, vandalism and theft – especially overnight.

    Join the EV Revolution

    If you aren’t ready to give up your car but want to be more conscious of the impact your travelling or commute to work has on the environment, perhaps you’re ready to invest in an Electric vehicle (EVs). They produce no emissions, help improve air quality in cities and also run quietly, reducing noise pollution that can disturb nearby residents. You might be fortunate enough to have a city centre flat with dedicated parking for EV charging, which may ease your parking dilemma slightly, although EVs are on the rise and charging station availability will need to keep pace with this take up. Without home charging access, you’ll have to use community charging points and may face limited availability.

    Electric Vehicles

    Ultimately, owning any car (petrol or electric) and deciding not to have one comes down to personal choice. Only you can decide the best mode of transport based on your individual situation, needs and priorities. City centres provide a hub of transport networks that may provide a better level of flexibility and freedom than you thought, compared to the necessary logistics and expense of owning a car in a densely populated urban setting.

    Written By Annie Button

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