I spent my first 3 years in Australia too scared to drive on the left side of the road.
I don’t have too many illogical fears, so I always knew this one was a silly mental block I had to get over. And ever since I did, I’ve been hiring cars and campervans to take myself on adventures around Australia. TRY AND STOP ME.
So when Car Next Door reached out and proposed working together, I said yes without a moment’s hesitation.
Flint and Steel Beach in Ku-ring-gai Chase NP.
Car Next Door is a car sharing service in Australia (at the moment they currently serve Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane). Much like Airbnb, it enables vehicle owners to rent out their car, van, or truck by the hour or day or even weekend, and make a little extra money doing it.
Unlike standard car rental companies, Car Next Door cuts out the paperwork, the commute to the rental office, and all the add-ons and offers an easier, hassle-free way to hire a car in Sydney and get around and out of the city.
I got to sample Car Next Door by hiring a vehicle for a day trip and again for a couple hours to get around Sydney. Was it worth it?
Here’s my Car Next Door review, including how I feel about using a car share for my car rental needs.
America Bay in Ku-ring-gai Chase NP.
Using Car Next Door For A Day Trip
My first adventure using Car Next Door was to take a day trip outside of Sydney.
Being mindful of the mileage fee (that is, you get charged per kilometer in addition to the hourly or daily rate), I didn’t want to venture TOO far from home. I ended up hiring a compact car and exploring Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, about an hour north of Sydney.
This is somewhere you really MUST have a car to get around, as there’s no bus that will shuttle you around the park, so I felt like it was an excellent reason to hire one via Car Next Door.
I made a few stops in Ku-ring-gai to check off some spots in the park that I hadn’t yet visited: the America Bay hiking trail, and Flint and Steel Beach. I won’t share too much about these though because I’m saving it for another blog post ;)
Then to round out the day, I drove back to Sydney via the Northern Beaches and caught sunset on Dee Why beach.
This day trip cost me AU$102 (day rate + mileage + booking fee) for the car rental, which included petrol and insurance. For me personally, this is much more than what I’d normally spend on a day trip when hiring a car from a regular car rental company… but only because I tend to book in advance when the rate is cheaper, and because I don’t take the insurance add-on as my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card covers it.
BUT, if you do need insurance for your car rental and you’re booking at the last minute (or even the week-of), it’s probably going to be worth going with Car Next Door because the price will be similar to a regular car rental company’s price. It’s definitely worth checking the rates for both options before you book.
I see myself sticking to regular car hire for day and weekend trips UNLESS I happen to be traveling with a group of people and can share the costs with them, and am not traveling too far from home… in which case Car Next Door would be much more affordable than it was for my solo adventure.
Using Car Next Door For A Couple Hours
Here’s where I think Car Next Door really shines: for a quick hourly rental, either to get to a location that’s not easy to reach by public transport, or to transport heavy or bulky goods.
Sydney is not known for its stellar public transport (*cough*), so having a car to get around really can save you a ton of time and frustration – particularly if you’re heading somewhere that’s not straight-forward to reach by bus or train. If you can split the rental cost with a friend or two, it actually becomes insanely affordable to hire a car with Car Next Door… and a no-brainer once you factor in the time saved.
For my quick hire, I opted to use Car Next Door to pick up a dining table set for my back deck (and also a shelving unit for my friend Anna). We hired a van that was parked just down the street from me in Bondi and drove it around the Eastern Suburbs for a couple hours to fetch our new (used) furniture from some sellers we found on Gumtree.
With weekend traffic being what it is in Sydney (i.e. the worst), we needed a little extra time to complete our thrifting adventure. Thankfully it was super easy to add on an extra hour to our rental using the Car Next Door app.
The van we rented was AU$9.50/hour, so our 3.5-hour rental ended up being around AU$50 including the hourly rate, mileage, and the booking fee you owe if you don’t have a membership. Contrast this with Ikea’s outrageous delivery fees and we ended up saving at least $20 (not to mention what we saved by buying secondhand).
One thing I will note is that I was nearly a half hour late in returning the van because I couldn’t find a place to park it (parking in Bondi on weekends is beyond a joke!). I ended up having to wait quite a while for one of the designated parking spots to free up at the petrol station where it was meant to be left. I don’t really think it’s fair that I was charged for an extra 30 minutes when it wasn’t my fault that there wasn’t anywhere to park.
However, I did appreciate that it was no big deal to return it a little late. And I don’t think that parking would be such an issue in most other places, so this isn’t something that would deter me from using Car Next Door.
All in all, I see myself using Car Next Door when I need to hire a van in Sydney for future furniture hauls, shopping trips, and perhaps even to get to some stand-up paddleboarding locations around Sydney where it’s too tedious for me to carry my board on public transport to get there.
My new table / outdoor office!
Car Next Door Review: What I Liked Best
My Overall Car Next Door Review: it’s a bit pricey for day trips but definitely worth it for short local trips, super convenient and hassle-free compared to a normal car rental, and a great way to put money into your local community.
Oh, you want the longer version? Good, because here are the best things about Car Next Door:
Everything is included
You know when you go to book a rental car and it says, like, $20 per day… but then when you go to pay for it, you actually end up paying at least $50 because of all the add-ons (insurance, tax, etc)? And then you have to worry about filling up the fuel tank when you return the car, too.
Well with Car Next Door, there are no sneaky add-ons! Insurance and petrol are included. The only “extra” is for mileage, which you won’t know til after your trip.
Pick up your vehicle just down the street
This is the BEST best thing about Car Next Door: you can book a car to pick up ON YOUR STREET. Like it might as well be your own car parked on the street.
Of course it depends on which cars are free and how popular the service is in your area, but on my street there were several different vehicles available. Because I was a little bit fussy about my requirements (needed an automatic, and a van for one of my trips), I had to walk 5-10 minutes to pick up both cars. But man, is that easier than having to take a train into the city to a car rental place, and then take the train back after I drop it off.
I will say, though, that it might be worth considering the parking situation for your vehicle before you rent it. I tried to pick cars with off-street parking because I don’t know how to parallel park, and because my street is notorious for having no available parking. I love that Car Next Door allows you to filter for this when you search.
Flint and Steel Beach in Ku-ring-gai Chase NP.
You don’t need to commit to a membership
Commitment-phobes, rejoice: you don’t have to sign up for a membership in order to use Car Next Door!
So if you’re not sure how often you’ll want to hire a car or when you’ll be traveling, you can still hire whenever you need to. There’s just a $5 booking fee with each rental if you don’t have a membership.
No paperwork or human interaction
The INTJ in me absolutely LOVES the fact that you can leave your house, walk down the street, and get into your rental car without filling out any paperwork or interacting with another human. It’s just like getting into your own car, really.
Car Next Door will text/email you with the exact location of the car 15 minutes beforehand, and then usually you’ll use the app to generate a code to open the lockbox at the car (inside which is the car key). The app walks you through the process step by step and it’s pretty dummy-proof.
Your money goes to a local, not a big rental company
Lastly, I love that my money is going to someone in my neighborhood, a fellow Sydneysider, rather than some big car rental company. I’m helping another person earn a little extra cash, just as I do whenever I rent apartments on Airbnb.