The Pros and Cons of Owning a Car in the City


Owning a car is practical and is typically always a good thing. Well, not necessarily if you live and work in a big city.

While there are certainly great benefits to owning a car, like establishing a good credit history and the ability to travel anywhere at any time, there are also some downsides. Case in point: annual insurance premium costs, parking woes and hectic traffic.

With these and other deciding factors in mind, do you think owning a car in a bustling city is the right way to go? To help you decide what’s right, consider the following pros and cons:

The Pros and Cons of Owning a Car in the City
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1. Increased Professional Opportunities

Beyond getting from place to place, having your own wheels can also mean scoring a wider array of available job opportunities. Whether that means expanding your job search to areas not convenient from public transportation or considering jobs that require travel or car ownership as a function of the position, owning a car certainly has its benefits on this front. Indeed, if you work in an industry where being mobile is an asset, mark one for the pro list.

2. Easily Get Out of Town

Even people who enjoy living in sprawling metropolises like New York and Chicago want to get out of the city from time to time. While public transportation can make it easy to get around in many bigger cities, getting out of town is certainly more complicated without your own set of wheels.

Moreover, subways, trains and flights can be expensive — and, of course, you have to adhere to those schedules to get anywhere. Even just visiting friends and family in the suburbs can become a near impossible feat of logistics. Thus, if you don’t enjoy relying on others and getting out of the city is a priority for you, put this one in the pro category.

3. Reliable Transportation

Dealing with train delays and shutdowns or deciphering bus schedules can be a huge headache. Plus, these foiled logistics can also lead to severe repercussions, especially if you miss a big meeting or are an hour late for a date. Indeed, until you’ve used and relied on public transportation for some time, you can’t fully appreciate the value of owning a reliable vehicle.

Of course, the keyword there is “reliable.” If you do own a car, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you have to put in the necessary time and money to properly maintain it, including spending money on regular maintenance and oil changes, as well as on the right type/size of tires for your particular vehicle. If the public transportation available to you tends to be unreliable, then mark yet another one for owning a car.


1. Cost of Car Insurance

Beyond your own driving history, car insurance costs are often calculated based on factors like the traffic conditions and crime rates in the area in which you live, which is why car insurance rates in urban areas are often higher than in the suburbs.

For those who only use their cars sporadically, they may find the added cost of paying for car insurance isn’t worth it, especially when paying for rent, food, daycare and entertainment is also at a premium. Thus, if you find you aren’t driving enough to justify the cost of insurance, then perhaps consider renting a car or relying on your friends’ set of wheels when you need it.

2. Parking Issues

Parking in a big city can be just as frustrating as finding reliable public transit. So, if you plan to own a car, find out if you’ll have access to a garage or dedicated parking spot (and at what price), and if not, whether there is easy-to-find street parking near your home. Yes, you could drive to another part of the city quicker than the subway will get you there, but how long will it take to park once you get there?

And how much will that parking cost? If you plan to use your car to drive to work, determine whether there’s reliable and affordable parking nearby. And if parking spots are hard to come by near your home or office, then parking should go in the con column.

3. Unpredictable Traffic

One of the best reasons to travel by foot or public transit in the city is to avoid idling in bad traffic. In many cities, a three-mile drive could take you 15 minutes during ideal conditions or over an hour during a morning or afternoon commute.

With that in mind, check the estimated times it will take you to arrive at your destination during different parts of the day. If you would be spending more time sitting in your car than you would on the bus or train, then dealing with traffic is definitely a con.

The reality is that owning a car in the city will always be a mix of good and bad. But, once you’ve tallied up the pros and cons, ultimately the side that tips the scale for you will be clear.

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