Published in cooperation with Pricewise
Having your own car is great; it gives you the freedom to go wherever you like, whenever you like. It’s faster than public transportation and you never have to wait 30 minutes because you missed your train. There is one downside though: owning a car can be very costly. Since life as a student is already expensive enough, here are some tips to make owning a car affordable.
Brand, age and kilometres
You can start saving money by choosing the right brand. Midlevel brands like Opel, Citroën and Toyota are cheaper than luxury brands like BMW and Audi. And more durable than cheaper brands such as Kia and Dacia. Older cars are generally cheaper, but very old cars need more maintenance so they will cost more over time. How many kilometres the car has driven influences expected maintenance costs. A car with over 200.000 km driven will require more maintenance, and cars below 100.000 km are expensive to purchase. For a student car, between 100.000-150.000 km is good, and until 200.000 is still ok.
Calculate road tax
Road tax is charged to all owners of registered cars in the Netherlands to fund road maintenance and construction. Tax height is determined by a couple of factors: car weight, the place you live in, kind of car and fuel type. Lighter cars wear roads down less, and carry lower taxes. They’re also more fuel efficient, so you’ll also save money on fuel. Whether your car uses iesel or gasoline is also important. Diesel is cheaper per litre but is taxed more because of its environmental impact. Cars that use gasoline are therefore cheaper in the end. The Dutch government provides an online tool to calculate road tax for your car.
In car insurance, there are three choices: liability, liability + limited damages or all risk. Liability covers damage to others, and is required by law. Added limited damages covers some damages where no one is to blame like broken windows and damage due to extreme weather. All risk covers everything regardless of blame. Liability is the cheapest, and all risk the most expensive. For older cars, liability with or without limited damages is recommended. For a small fee you can add legal representation insurance to prevent high costs in case of conflicts over blame for damages. Compare car insurances and you will find the cheapest car insurance.
Maintenance and usage
Although maintenance can be expensive, a well-maintained car is less likely to have serious problems. Ask a Dutch car owner about a good garage that doesn’t do unnecessary work and get regular maintenance to keep your car in shape. Also keep an eye on your oil, coolant and windshield washer levels and replenish before they run out completely. Finally, use your car wisely. Drive safely and in a fuel efficient way and only use the car when you can’t cycle where you need to go.
Carpooling and car sharing
Besides keeping the costs of the car itself as low as possible, there are other ways to save money on car ownership: carpooling and car sharing. In carpooling, you use one car with several people, for example fellow students, and share the costs equally or depending on usage. There are also platforms such as Blablacar, which allow other people who want to go to locations in the Netherlands or even all over Europe to carpool with you, for a small price. The other option, car sharing, is becoming more and more popular, and there are various platforms specifically for this purpose such as GreenWheels and ConnectCar. It is based in private car owners renting their cars out to other people for a small fee. If you rent out your car at times you don’t need it, or take people with you when driving to a certain city or place, you can easily make up for a substantial part of the costs of car ownership and maintenance. That way, you get all the benefits of having a car, at a fraction of the usual costs.
If you follow these tips, car ownership should be within your reach. Happy driving!