Things to consider before buying a car in London

Owning a car pretty much anywhere can be expensive, with upkeep, servicing, insurance premiums and fuel as just some of the costs to incur.

However, in the capital there is even more to think about. Homes and offices to rent in London, or indeed even to buy, seldom come with a parking space, but there is much more to consider before committing to a new car.

Public transport

In London, the public transport network is fantastic. It is really easy to get around the city without a car and is often much faster. This, of course, depends on the time of day you are travelling and where you need to be, but generally, thanks to the vast network of bus lanes giving them the ability to bypass traffic jams, using public transport can get you around the city quicker than a car would.

Zones

London is split up into travel zones and depending on which zones you live and work in, you might find a car really useful. The closer you are in towards zone one, the closer amenities tend to be. Living in zones further out can mean that things such as train stations, supermarkets, restaurants and shops are about 10 minutes drive away. Depending on how well an area is connected, a car can often be better, the further outside central London you are.

Parking charges

The closer you are towards the centre of London, the more expensive it is to park as parking spaces become increasingly rare. Few properties offer onsite parking, and it is not uncommon for a parking facility to be located 15-20 minutes walk from your house or office. Parking around an office space in Mayfair, for example, can easily cost upwards of £10 per hour and the charges vary depending on the age of your vehicle and whether it is petrol or diesel.

Congestion charges

Although driving itself is ‘free’ in the rest of the UK, much of London is so congested that you need to pay a fee for driving in the parts of the city that are most polluted. The Congestion Charge is £11.50 per day that you drive a vehicle within the high emission zones, Monday to Friday between 7am and 6pm.

In a further bid to improve air quality, London also introduced the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). This operates 24 hours a day, seven days per week and covers a larger area than the initial congestion zone, with plans to expand in the coming years. Vehicles must meet the ULEZ standards or pay daily charge to drive there; £12.50 for most cars.

Car sharing

In London, there are a number of car-sharing businesses such as Zipcar, which enable people to be able to use a car when they need, without being tied to it full time. Billable by the day, hour or even by the minute, members pay a monthly or annual fee for membership and have access to cars when they need, without the responsibility and expenses of full-time ownership.