Can You Live In Australia Without A Car?

Can You Live In Australia Without A Car? If So, How?

Australia is a big place. A massive place. 7.7 million square kilometres big. On the face of it, it seems like that anyone without a car might be at a severe disadvantage. Australian car sales stats also bear this out: in November 2023 saw the monthly record for new car sales beaten by over 10,000 units, with 112,141 cars sold – an increase of 17.9% over the same period last year. It would seem that Australians clamour for cars due to the tyrannical distances they need to traverse on a regular basis. Is that true for every Australian, though?

Not so. In some places in Australia, especially urban and suburban areas, one can live quite comfortably without a car or buying a motorbike – and combine the best of both car ownership and well, non-ownership with ride sharing or car sharing options. 

Can You Live In Australia Without A Car Taxi Melbourne
Can You Live In Australia Without A Car Taxi Melbourne

European style car-free living

Though there’s nothing more Aussie than a cappuccino (well, flat white, which is derived from it) these days, we have also imported some of the aspects of European style living. Many European cities are known for excellent public transportation, easy access by foot, and in some cases, restrictions on car use. In places like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris, and Berlin, the cost of car ownership is 10 or more times that of taking public transportation. Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, Norway, and Finland, especially in suburban areas, are well served by public transportation offering a “door to door” car like experience using light rail, rail, or buses. 

Venice is walkable for obvious reasons (canals being the main feature) and in London, there is a “car tax” that aims to restrict car use in favour of the Underground, London buses, and walking.

Walkable and public transport-centric communities

If you plan to travel to Melbourne, you may marvel at just how well connected the CBD and the suburbs are with public transport. Busses, light rail (trams), and suburban rail that connect with regional rail means you don’t really need a car to get around; and in many cases will beat the traffic to and from major population centres.

Sydney is also one of the most walkable and PT connected cities in Australia, with buses, rail, and ferries connecting all the major business, commercial, and residential areas. In terms of getting around the city proper, walking is far easier than driving (trust us, it’s a nightmare.) New developments in Greater Sydney have baked-in public transport considerations, which ensures less dependence on cars. Of course, this means higher demand for living space, which in turn drives up rents. Living in a “walkable” area in Sydney can cost $600/pw up to $686/pw in rent (median.)

Brisbane has a good public transport system, running trains and buses all across Greater Brisbane and even connecting the outer suburbs such as Cleveland, Indooropilly, and Bowen Hills. The CBD and surrounds are easily accessible by foot or bus, and even the big nightlife areas such as Fortitude Valley are simple to access via train or even a short walk from the CBD proper.

Adelaide and surrounds are also eminently walkable, with the median price of rent in “walkable” or public transport friendly suburbs ranging from $442/pw to $360/pw – with a similar situation in Perth and Fremantle. 

Hobart is a small town, and you can walk the entire length and breadth of it in about 15 minutes!

Regional areas – cars may be required

In regional areas, usually buses are the only option for intra-city public transport. If you live 10km or more out of the town centre, relying on buses for your weekly grocery shop could take you the better part of a day. In that case, what are your options?

One option is to use taxi or ridesharing services such as Uber, DiDi, or Ola, which you can hire as you need them or hire in advance. Of course, this can prove costly if you come to rely on them, but splitting the bill with other users that are travelling close to your destination can mean significant fare savings. Of course, traditional taxis may be available – though this may depend on the population of your regional town.

In some regional centres such as Geelong, Victoria or Newcastle, New South Wales, you may be able to use car sharing services such as GetGo, Uber CarShare, FlexiGO, or FlexiCar give you access to a vehicle for a per-use hourly fee or an ongoing membership or “subscription.” 

This seems to be the best of both worlds when not living in a “walkable” area – though if you live in rural areas, your choice to own a car might be made for you!

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