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How Issy kept her car in the city – even as a student

When Issy moved out of home, she found the rising cost of living hard to keep up with. She thought of selling her car, until her Mum, Kristen, suggested Car Next Door. Now she earns herself a weekly income from the car she nearly sold.

Linden Brown

Last year, Issy took that age-old leap and moved out of home to start uni in Melbourne. It changed the way she saw her car. As well as having nowhere to park a car in her building, she found she wasn’t using it as much and could no longer afford to maintain it easily.

When she mentioned the idea of selling the car, her Mum, Kristen, knew that Issy would miss it sometimes. She wondered if there was a better option.

Enter: car sharing.

Kristen first used car sharing in San Francisco, when she lived there for 6 months without a car. For the expat Aussie, it was an affordable and easy way to get to the beach to go kitesurfing.

So when Issy came to her Mum thinking she needed to sell her car, Kristen found Car Next Door. They decided to give it a go, hoping simply to cover Issy’s rego and maintenance costs.

“It took a little bit to set up and work out how to do everything. But even that was pretty easy, and once we were up and running the car started to get booked. It was just super easy.”

Since then, Issy has earnt almost $4,000 from Car Next Door. That’s about $2,000 in her pocket once rego and maintenance was paid. “It's allowed her to not only pay for her car costs but actually get an income each week as well.”

Independence in the city

Sharing on Car Next Door hasn’t only made a financial difference. It’s also allowed Issy to keep some independence, using her car whenever she needs it.

And it helps Kristen out too. Kristen’s only other car is a campervan, which can be tricky on a quick shopping trip or in heavy traffic. Sometimes she quickly books Issy’s car instead.

The little Hyundai i20 is parked across from a train station in Northcote. Kristen attributes a big part of their success to the inner-city location. Between lack of car parking and easy access to public transport, she says that more and more households are making do with only one car, or even no car at all.

Living without a car in San Francisco, she realised the ease of “just hiring a car locally and having freedom.” And it was so much cheaper than other options. “Even here in Melbourne, hiring a car can be double the cost. There’s a traditional hire car parked across the road from my home, and that car is so much more expensive than my car.”

And it turns out that Issy finds it easy to share her car and still use it whenever she needs to. Like the people borrowing her car, she uses a lot of public transport. But she also learnt to get in early to book her own car, because the car is so popular in Northcote.

Northcote characters

Some of the regular bookings collect groceries for an hour on the same day every week. And some take it for the weekend, heading to the peninsula with their little dog. With two dogs at home, Kristen’s more than happy to allow furry friends along for the ride.

Pictured: Dog friendly car rental
Dog friendly car rental

As we chat, she recalls one Friday night. The car was booked for 7.15pm. It was 7.10pm and she was stuck in traffic. Stressing, she texted the man lined up to borrow the car. “No worries,” he said, “I’m running late too. Take your time.”

She was grateful the app made it so easy to communicate and sort things out.

Connecting in a circular economy

Managing Issy’s car on Car Next Door isn’t the only way Kristen enjoys the sharing economy.

Like many of us, she uses AirBnB a lot. And her business helps older people connect with loved ones by providing access to upcycled iPads with her simple communication app, Dossy. “It’s rewarding to be a part of the circular economy, helping each other out.”

I asked her what she would say to other young adults considering listing their car.

“It’s a no brainer. Cars are expensive. Especially with fuel prices the way they are. And if you’re living in the city and catching public transport to uni, why have your car sitting at home when it can be earning you money? It's just an easy extra. You know, Issy’s making an extra 200 bucks a week. That goes a long way.”

She also had some quick tips for people who are just getting started.

  1. Make sure the keys are easy to find. “I just put mine on the letterbox so it's really clear.”
  2. Make sure the car’s easy to access. “Sometimes in our old house, where parking was horrendous, I’d have to move the car back outside the house or as close as I could.”
  3. Use the stickers on your car.
  4. Keep it clean and available as much as you can.
  5. Learn to plan ahead to book your own time, rather than using the option for automatic blockout.

And her final tip? “Just have a go. It’s really easy to update your car on the app when you need to make changes. The app is really intuitive.”

Interested in putting your car to work or starting a business like Issy? Learn more about sharing your car