The awesomeness that is Zip Car.

I am no dirty hippie or greenie however I have fallen in love with the concept of car sharing.

Last week we purchased a car for The Canadian to get to his new job.  We are living in downtown Toronto and he needs to travel a cruisy 45-minute drive against the traffic and into an Industrial area.

Up until the car purchase, we had rented a car for two weeks but found that because we are downtown it didn’t get used every day as we walked most places and explored on foot.  It ended up sitting in the underground car park for the bulk of the time as The Canadian was only using it to get to job interviews outside of Downtown Toronto.   We didn’t want to buy a car until The Canadian had a job and required it to get to work so worked out it was more economical to use one of the car share schemes for just the hours we actually needed the car.

Car share schemes are a new concept to me as we lived in the burbs of Brisbane and owned 2 cars.  I kind of knew they existed in major cities but had no idea how they worked.

In a city like Toronto, you have a choice between several car share company’s.  We ended up joining Zipcar as it’s one of the oldest (been going for 16 years) and had a lot of cars in our area.

It basically works by jumping online, joining up and you pay a monthly membership fee.  When we signed up they had a joining special and it was only $15.00 for 12 months.  You provide them with your drivers license details and a credit card and they either post you out a zip card or you can pick it up from the Zipcar office.  Once you get your Zipcar card you can get your first car.

You go online and put in your address and book the times that you will require the car.  The cars can be booked for a couple of hours, a day or up to 7 days.   A map will show up with all the closest zip cars, the type of car they are and the hourly rate for the car.  The rate shown includes all the insurance and petrol.  That’s right nothing more to pay.   I love this part because I almost break out in hives every time I step foot in a rental car office and especially in North America.  I never understand the different levels of insurance and I’m sure to end up getting screwed over because the car I have booked online at what seems like a reasonable price ends up doubling by the time I walk out of the office.

The cars are all given cute names, our first Zipcar was a golf called Garfield.   We loved Garfield, so much so that we ended up picking Garfield a couple of times.

The cars are usually parked in the street in designated Zipcar parking or in a parking garage.  You rock up to your car at the time you have booked and then use your zip car card to open the car by waving it over a scanner on the front windscreen.  It unlocks the car and the keys are left in the ignition.

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The cars have petrol in them and you are supposed to leave at least a 1/4 of a tank of gas.  If you need to fill up they provide you with a card to pay for the gas under the visor.

zipcar petrol

They have a huge variety of cars from small cars like VW Golf’s (not the dodgy diesel models LOL) through to people movers like minivans.  Perfect if we plan a trip to Ikea.

One day when we needed a car our trusty favourite Garfield was not available so we ended up with Bula the BMW.


If the Canadian did not end up working in Whoop Whoop we most likely would not have not purchased a car and would have just used Zipcars.

The cost of car insurance is outrageous in Ontario.  When we purchased our car and phoned around to get quotes I thought one of us may need to sell a kidney.  The quotes ranged from $2500 per year up to $6000 per year.  The minute The Canadian would add me onto the policy because I’m a “foreigner” the figures would start climbing.  Simple I thought, I’m just not going to drive here.  I find being in the car here a white knuckle ride anyway.   No not possible, because I live in the household and hold a drivers license it would not be possible to take out insurance without putting everyone in the house eligible to drive on the policy, even if they never want to drive EVER again.  WTF!!!!  After several torturous hours on the phone and pointing out that I have been driving for over 25 years, have not been at fault in an accident for 20 years, had a full no claim bonus in Australia and could provide a letter from our old insurance company in Australia, we ended up with a policy costing us more than double what we paid a month in Australia on a car that is half the value of our car in Australia.  When bitching about this to any other Ontarian that would listen it turns out that we got a deal and it was cheap compared to what they are paying!

It seems that despite Canadians being the kindest and friendliest peeps, I have encountered they hold in any aggression internally not healthy people, just saying and then let it rip as full-on road rage.  In Toronto, they are horrible drivers.  Say the motorway is 110 km’s and we will be sitting on that if not a little higher they will be flying by at 140.   They change lanes, don’t leave enough distance, are super aggressive and with speeding it results in carnage.  Traffic is horrible due to the amount of accidents and also results in the vile insurance premiums.

Cops on the road, never!  I have yet to see a cop pulling over people for speeding, in fact, we have seen very few cops actually on the freeways.  You know why??? Because they are doing things like working as lolly pop men on road construction.  I kid you not.  It almost makes me feel like running for Mayor of this town.  (except I can’t because I’m not a Canadian Citizen)

It’s not rocket science people – get the cops off the lolly pops, put them out on the freeways or put fixed speed cameras, raise a shit load of revenue and pour it back into more cops and better roads.  Fewer accidents, less deaths and LOWER FUCKING INSURANCE PREMIUMS.

Anyway if I ever do get up the guts to drive in Toronto, I’m zip caring all the way.  LOVE EM.

Oh and besides, we can’t afford to Insure 2nd car in this city without selling a kidney or perhaps our first born!

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