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Why I rent my car out: a Melbourne car owner explains what sharing means to him

While earning money by renting their car out is welcome, it's not the key reason why Doug and Sally decided to rent their car with Uber Carshare. It's part of their commitment to using resources more efficiently through sharing.

Amanda Grace Wall
Amanda Grace Wall

You could say that Doug learned to share on his mother's lap. His mum was a librarian while he was growing up in Canada, so the ethos of lending and sharing always seemed natural to him.

Now living in Melbourne, Doug's a big advocate of Melbourne's growing sharing economy. As well as sharing his car, Doug volunteers every week for the Brunswick tool library and manages the Blank Canvas co-working space in St Kilda. One day, he'd love to set up a classic car club where people can share the ownership and maintenance of beautiful old vintage cars.

"The money isn't the main reason."

While it's a great way to offset the costs of owning a car and the extra income is welcome, it's not the key reason why Doug and Sally decided to rent their car with Uber Carshare. It's part of their commitment to using resources more efficiently through sharing.

"We inherited a car from Sally's aunt," says Doug. "So we had this car that ran really well and had sentimental value to us, but we didn't drive it much - so the idea of making better use of it and sharing the resource just made a lot of sense," says Doug.

"It doesn't cost us that much to own," says Doug. "Since it was inherited, there's no car loan to pay off; and because I'm trained as a mechanic, I can do the servicing myself."

Having the income coming in to cover the insurance and rego means that Doug and Sally can use their car when we want to, but without the financial burden of paying for the standing costs and having it sit idle.

It's also been good to get some use out of their car when they're travelling. Doug and Sally asked a friend to manage their car's bookings while they were overseas for a few months.

"It went really well," says Doug. "The car earned money and got used, instead of just sitting doing nothing all that time."

"Now we're on the other side - car-sitting for a friend who's working overseas for a few months."

"Like having your own fleet of cars."

Being able to drive other members' cars has come in handy for Doug when setting up the St Kilda Hub co-working space.

"I'll rent a van or ute from someone else in the neighbourhood when I need to move things," says Doug.

"It's cheap, and really convenient."

"We've had to collect and move a lot of desks, chairs and supplies. I wanted to reduce waste and minimise the environmental impact in setting up the co-working space, so I've sourced all of the furniture from corporate offices or friends of the St Kilda Hub."

Doug also makes things out of old wooden pallets - veggie planters, tables, and other cool stuff.

"I've rented a big Pathfinder near me a couple of times to collect the palettes," says Doug. "I always put a tarp down in the back to make sure I don't scratch anything."

A sense of community

"We started getting bookings really quickly," says Doug. "And now we have a group of regular borrowers - I notice the same names popping up regularly in the booking notifications."

"I generally don't meet the borrowers in person - usually they just come and go while I'm doing other stuff. So I don't know where the car goes on its adventures."

"You find little things in the car sometimes - parking tickets from over at the beach, a little bit of sand from someone's shoes - so you sort of get little hints about where it's been. It's nice to think that it's been out helping people getting around instead of just sitting here all day."

Doug says that some of his neighbours have alerted him to suspicious-looking activity: people hanging around his car and taking photos. He laughs. "I think they're used to it now!"

"I live in Fitzroy North, and I kept seeing these Uber Carshare faces on cars in the area," says Doug. "Now that we've listed our car, I really like seeing more and more of these faces pop up on cars around the area - it feels like I'm not just renting my car out in isolation - there is a nice sense of community."

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