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Car Share Co-Ops and Downtown Living

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By : M Shane    99 or more times read
Downtown real estate sales may have declined, but the urban condo lifestyle is still in demand. In the past, we saw sell-outs that occurred within hours of a condo grand opening. Today's sales have been replaced with a consistent flow of cautious buyers, taking extra time to make that important purchase.

First time buyers are attracted to the smaller affordable units that allow them to get into the real estate game with a mortgage payment no larger than they paid for rent.

The convenient urban location offers proximity to work, public transit, shopping, and entertainment. Most downtown areas have more than their share of gyms and parks with public walking paths for those daily work-outs. If something isn't within walking distance, it's usually no more than a short bus or cab ride away.

The double-paned windows in today's condos do a good job of filtering out the traffic noise. In fact, many say that after the first week, they don't even notice it.

Some condo owners opt for the additional parking spot, which usually costs well over $20,000. Others, decide it's time to do away with the extra vehicle altogether. Many downtown Canadian cities have car-share co-ops which provide a cost-saving, environmentally friendly alternative to owning a car.

With a co-op, those who require occasional use of a car, pay a membership fee and become joint owners of several vehicles which are shared among all the members. This puts less cars out on the roads and makes it easier on the environment, as well as people's wallets.

The insurance is included in the fees and if a member has an accident, they are responsible for the deductible. Everyone is listed as a separate driver under a fleet insurance plan. Usually, members pay a refundable deposit (on average about $500) and then a $20 non-refundable registration fee to cover lockbox key and credit check. If a member leaves the co-op, their $500 deposit is returned. Usually a minimum time frame of 6 months is required.

Depending on the size of the co-op, they may offer various operating rates based on usage.

- Higher usage (251 or more km) - $40.00 / month administration fee plus .18 per kilometre

- Moderate Usage (81-250 km) - $15.00 / month administration fee plus .28 per kilometre

- Lower Usage (1-81 km) - $6.25 / month administration fee plus .38 per kilometre

- Zero Usage - No charge

Special daily rates may apply for trips 3 days or longer and may vary slightly for the type of vehicle being used.

All these fees include gas, maintenance, insurance, auto club membership, parking permit and cleaning. The driver is expected to keep the vehicle tidy and refill the tank if it goes below halfway. Receipts for any gas expenses is submitted and deducted from the monthly dues.

When a member wants to book a car, they just go online and use the web-based reservation system to reserve a vehicle. Every member has their own lock box key which gives them access to the car key.

Car share co-ops aren't for everyone, but for those who require a vehicle an average of 4 days a week or less, this system can work out perfectly.

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