Friday, 13 January 2017

The actual cost of buying a car in Ontario, Canada

I always tell people to not buy a car until they really really need one.  There are so many hidden costs with a car.  I miss the days when it was just me and my bicycle.

My first tip starts with: get the Canadian Drivers licence first. If you've had your licence for a year before you buy a car then your insurance is going to be so much cheaper, if it's been two years all the better!  Remember, Canadian insurance companies only care about your Canadian Drivers Licence, it mostly doesn't matter how long you've had another country's drivers licence for.  When I arrived I was quoted $4000 for the year.  In fact I am still in that category.  Here are the results of an online quote request done on
(You can write to me on the contact page if you're looking for an insurer willing to take your foreign driving experience into account, I am now paying about $150 a month.)

Ok, so, insurance is the most obvious extra cost of a car, the next is licensing.  At the time of writing this it is $120 a year in Toronto which you can see on the Ontario website here.

Next is parking, maybe you get a parking for free at home, sometimes you have to rent it, but going to town the Green P is going to charge you at least $3.50 for the privilege of leaving your car on their premises.  Maybe you park an hour in a month on the weekend trying to find free parking and taking a longer walk to get to where you want to go.

Of course, there is also petrol, let's say you have an economical car and you do around 8 litres per 100 kilometres and you do very little driving in a month, maybe 500km's.  If the average petrol price is lucky enough to remain around the $1 mark your cost for the month will be $40.

Then there is the problem of washing the car.  For a Basic car wash at your local petrol (gas) station it's going to cost $9 a wash and you should probably wash it once a month.  In winter you are going to need to wash it twice a month to get the salt off (and prevent it from rusting)

The other fun thing I found out was that my insurance was going to be another $500 a year if I didn't buy winter tires, so I spent another $600 dollars on buying winter tyres so that I can save that in the second year.

Estimated Monthly costs of a car: $52.50
Estimated Yearly costs of a car: $4,120 + ($52.50 x 12 month) = $4,750

As some nice alternatives there is public transport and then there is car sharing.  The only one I know about at the moment is Zip Car and usually they are only really available around Down Town.

Estimated yearly costs of taking public transport: $1,820.  That is a 61% saving per year (I assumed you would travel twice each work day).

Estimated yearly cost of Zip Car: $650. (I assumed you would take a single one hour trip each weekend, while the lowest hourly rental is advertised as $7ph I could only find cars that were $11.75 an hour).  While this is cheaper than public transport I am sure you will also take public transport on occasion.  Even if you combine a daily public transport commute with 1 Zip Car weekend trip each month you will come out around $2,600 for the year, some 45% cheaper still.

What's my conclusion?  Take the TTC for your commute if you are able to and add Zip Car for when you really would like to have the luxury of a car.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Driving in snow

This was quite an interesting first-time experience.  It basically snowed heavily just before heading home for work.  The snow ploughs were out and about, but they hadn't been able to start their job yet because the traffic was so heavy.

We all had to crawl along at 20 kilometres an hour, so it took quite a bit longer to head home than usual.

In the light of my previous post I am still thoroughly enjoying all this.  It was fascinating to realise that my car didn't just spin out of control like you sometimes see on Youtube (like this one).  I saw the exit of my office as a rather steep slope where you have to stop and I was worried the car would just slide backwards! I approached it tentatively but had no problem stopping near the top and getting going again.
I did have one moment when I got going again after a red traffic light and on a slight upward slope.  My front wheels started spinning and I didn't realise it, I found the car was angling slowly to the left and I couldn't figure out why, I just turned the wheel left until I could figure it out, but it started angling more to the left.  Then I heard the vehicle's engine was running a little quicker than the speed I was travelling so I lifted off the accelerator and it was all good again.  I realised you have to be careful accelerating in snow, of course, that applies to the braking as well.  No sudden deceleration either.

In my first year here it has snowed many more times, but I haven't driven in snow again, but then winter isn't over.  Every time it has snowed the ploughs have come quickly and cleared everything before I got onto the road again.  So far it's mostly snowed at night and then everything is cleared by morning.