We’ve joined a car club

We don’t own a car and we have no intention of buying one. It’s very easy to live in Aberdeen without a car as we can walk and cycle everywhere. This is our car (photo was taken a couple of months ago when there was snow and ice on the ground and I think Ben must have been shivering when he took it as it’s all blurry):


For longer journeys we catch the train which we love because train travel is just the best. Very occasionally though, it’s nice to have a car. For instance, over Christmas we went to Ballater and there’s no train out there so we hired a car for a week. We’ve also caught a handful of taxis since we got here.

Just recently we discovered there’s a car club in Aberdeen called Co-wheels so we decided to join up. There’s a one-off membership fee of £25 and after that it’s £5 per month if you don’t hire a car, free if you do hire a car. There are 18 co-wheels cars in Aberdeen, and they’re a mix of petrol, hybrid, and electric cars. Members can book the cars online for as little as 1 hour at a time or for as long as you want. The electric cars are very cheap to hire at only £3.75 per hour and there’s no fuel cost because they plug into public charging stations. Registration and insurance are fully covered and the maintenance and cleaning of the car is also taken care of. So essentially we get the use of a car whenever we want, without all the hassle and expense (including the depreciation) of actually owning it. And let’s face it, who wants to spend their free time washing and vacuuming the car?

Something else which struck me as very useful is that there are co-wheels cars all over the UK and we can use any of them. So we could catch the train to the Lake District for a holiday. Then if we want a car while we’re there, we can book one of the co-wheels cars in the area. We haven’t used the cars yet and I’m not sure how often we’ll actually want to use one but it’s useful to have and I like knowing that we’re supporting a great social enterprise. It might come in handy for picking up family members from the airport when they come to visit or for taking a drive one Sunday to see a castle which is not on the train line.

26 responses to “We’ve joined a car club”

  1. Wow, fantastic idea Rachel. 🙂

    Sounds too good.

    1. The car club is a great idea. I’ll have to write about our experience when we book one of the cars.

  2. That is great you live in a community where you can walk and bike! Very few spots like that in California. Cars everywhere! My hubbie and I have three between us (well, one is a truck). That’s why American’s are obsese 😦 Love that “car.”

    1. I really love living somewhere I can walk and cycle everywhere. We were hunting around for a place to live and this was a top requirement for us. So this was one of the reasons we chose Aberdeen as a place to live. And wow, three cars is a lot! We had one car in Auckland and I longed even then to live without it.

      1. We also have bicycles, too and need to ride them more. We have a beautiful bike trail. Enjoy!!

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  4. I’ve heard of these car clubs. Sounds like a great idea. 🙂

    1. It is a good idea. I’ll write about it once we’ve had a chance to try out one of the cars.

      1. What a great job! How do I sign up? 🙂

        I have been carless for 4 years. Well, kind of. I have a car but very seldom use it. I let my daughter, who graduated from university last year, use it to commute to work. I walk or bike everyone I need to go. These past few years were an experiment to see if I could survive without a car once again. It was a different matter when my children were young. It appears I can.

        1. It’s quite easy to live without a car in British cities. It’s much easier here than in Antipodean cities which tend to be urban sprawls that are designed for the motor vehicle. Most cities in the UK were built before cars were invented and this, to me, makes them much nicer places to live.

          1. I would agree! I have cycled north of London (and Wales) some years ago and loved the narrow, scenic rolling country roads. I haven’t tried Scotland yet although that is where my paternal grandparents are from. I understand it’s a beautiful ride at the right time of year.

  5. Have a car, but not much used, but nearest car share is a wee bit away. Usually take the bus or train places if we can, ah the power of a bus pass!

    1. For some reason I’ve never liked buses as much as trains. I’m not sure why. There’s something about the sound and the motion of a train that’s very relaxing which is absent on a bus. However buses are still very useful for parts where there is no train.

  6. I wish that was possible here. New Orleans is not walkable and has limited public transportation. There’s no way for me to cross the river at certain times of the day without a car.

    1. That sounds like Auckland which was also impossible to live in without a car. The Harbour Bridge in Auckland is the only crossing between the CBD and North Shore (where we lived) and is only crossable by motor vehicle. Pedestrians and bicycles are banned from the bridge. How absurd is that!

  7. I was having a conversation with a friend just the other evening about how I wish we could get away without having a car. Maybe years from now life will take us to a place we can live without one.

    Even if we moved just as far as our local city they have a Car Share program there and much better public transportation. That will be years away when the kids are grown, if ever.

    1. It’s hard to live out in the country without a car. In the city you can walk to most places like shops, libraries, doctors, dentists, and so on. Cities are usually better serviced for public transport too.

  8. Trains are OK when they are running, lol. Locally to where I live, the Leamington to Banbury line, which is part of the cross-country network that stretches from the north of Scotland to the south coast of England, re-opened yesterday after having been closed since the end of January due to a landslip:


    As in most parts of overcrowded England, both the road and rail networks operate at full capacity. One road accident on the M40, the M6 or the A46, results in gridlock for miles around.

    1. Perhaps it’s all relative. Where I come from there are very few trains and the trains that are available are not very good. You can’t travel around New Zealand by train like you can here. I think the situation might be a little better in Australia but it’s still fairly dismal. Here there a plenty of train journeys to choose from and almost every train we have caught has been running on time. Only once was a train 20 minutes late and it didn’t matter. We always book our seat so we never have to stand and although a few trains have been crowded, most of the ones we catch are not. But we tend not to catch trains during peak times. My only complaint is that if you’re travelling with luggage, there’s very little space to put it. From my perspective, the British train network is wonderful.

      1. NZ is so sparsely populated that I understand that planes are used for a lot of internal journeys, which in Britain would be made by train, coach or car. When I visited NZ, the three internal flights I took operated more like a bus service. Having said that I have done Birmingham to Edinburgh as a return day-trip by plane and it was less expensive and quicker (obviously) than the equivalent rail journey would be.

  9. […] had a superb day today. We booked one of the Co-wheels cars to try out and went to Balmedie Beach where I went for a swim in the North […]

  10. We sold our one car last month and it is quite liberating without it. Sure it was convenient, but it was also expensive (especially when we only used it a few times a month). I love the idea of a car club and it is something I have looked at in the past. At the moment though the nearest Co-wheels car is a good hour away (walking/train) which doesn’t really make it feasible. This is the downside to living in a village.

    For now I am seeing how far my legs and bicycle can take me 🙂

    1. Walking and cycling are the best forms of transport so I think being depending on foot and bicycle is a great way to live. We rarely used a car before so we might find the car scheme is not worth it, but we’re going to give it a try anyway. Having a train nearby is great too. We’ll still use the train for longer trips because we love train travel so much.

  11. I’m in the process of joining Co-wheels, I know I have to send something off, but I’ve forgotten what it is… anyway I didn’t realise that I could get a Co-wheels car in other cities too! That’s great! There are 4 cars in Lewes, I think it is a popular scheme. One of them is parked 2 minutes from me – yay!

    1. WooHoo! That’s fantastic. You don’t have to send anything off. Just fill in their application form and they’ll ring you to organise a three-way call with the licence office. It took about 5 minutes from memory.

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