One question that countless people ask about moving to London is whether or not they will need a car. Many Londoners are perfectly happy to rely on the extensive public transport network, while others prefer the freedom and independence that comes with having their own vehicle. There is no right or wrong answer to this question; it depends entirely on your personal and professional circumstances and preferences.
To help you make the decision, here is a list of the things you need to consider when owning a car in London.
Where you live
Whereabouts in London you live will influence your need for a car. Close to the centre, the transport links are extensive, and the streets are heavily congested, particularly in rush hour. You may often find it’s quicker to take public transport. However, many people that live on the outskirts will own cars as the distances between stations and amenities are much greater.
Where you work
If you are considering a car for driving to work, this can be a good idea or a bad idea depending on where your workplace is. If you work in Central London (Zones 1-2), you will probably find that the heavy traffic and scarcity of parking make it too much effort. Public transport will be an easier option, particularly as your workplace is unlikely to be too far from a tube station or bus stop.
If you are going to own a car in London, you need to be able to park it. Parking in London is notoriously difficult to find and can be very expensive. Most residential properties in central London don’t have designated parking, and you will have to rely on finding on-street spaces. Parking becomes more accessible and cheaper the further out of London you go. There are several apps which can help you find cheap parking across London.
Your next consideration in buying a car is whether or not it is a financially sound investment. On top of the costs of purchasing the vehicle, taking out insurance (click here to find car insurance deals), and parking, you also need to pay a congestion charge to drive in the most congested parts of London. At the time of writing, this is a daily cost of £11.50, so it may be more cost-effective to rely on public transport instead. The type of vehicle is also important. If your car doesn’t meet the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) standards, you must pay an additional charge.
One of the best things about living in London is how well connected you are. Many Londoners do not need to own a vehicle as the extensive TFL (Transport for London) system fulfils all their needs. Not only are there wide-reaching bus and underground networks, but it is a city that is becoming increasingly designed for cyclists. With multiple cycle hire schemes and a growing cycle network, more and more Londoners are taking to two wheels to travel around the city. As well as being often cheaper, travelling by public transport, bike or on foot is a much more eco-friendly alternative.
In summary, whether or not you buy a car depends entirely on your situation. The location of your home and workplace, the ease of parking and the costs involved in running your vehicle should all impact your decision.