September 27, 2022

Getting Started in Canada Affordably: Getting Around

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One of the most important decisions that newcomers to a city will make is how they’ll get around. Proximity to work, school, required medical facilities, and other important places in your life should be a major factor in your decision, as should determining the best way to get there. The advantage of Mainstreet’s many central, inner-city portfolios is that we have places to live where you need them, and their central location means nothing is ever more than a short trip away.

Depending on where you choose to rent, you’ll have a different but relatively similar menu of options. Transportation options of all kinds are available in Canada, but certain options will only be available in certain cities. For instance, due to the large populations in Calgary and Edmonton in Alberta, the transportation systems offer light rail transit (LRT) systems; while those in Regina and Saskatoon in Saskatchewan are focused on busses as their primary people-movers.

There will be jobs or family situations that require a traditional vehicle like a car or a van, but before you decide you need one, we’d suggest considering all of your options. Living in a Mainstreet building enables you to live-car free to the greatest extent possible in most cases, so save some money and be 100% sure before you lay out the money for that new car, truck, or van!

1. Transit

Regardless of which Mainstreet city you’re in, you’ll find some level of municipal (meaning city or town) transit services offered. If you don’t need a vehicle for transporting work equipment, but only need to commute to work or school and back, buying a monthly transit pass can be a cheap and easy alternative to the high costs associated with traditional vehicle ownership (car payments, insurance payments, maintenance and repair costs, gas bills, parking fees, etc) that enable you to explore your new city at the same time! These transit passes will usually include an unlimited number of rides and transfers for the customer for an entire month, or a year if purchased as an annual pass.

To learn more about the transit options in the city you’re considering, just google the name of the city and the word “transit”, and you should easily find a guide outlining the options and prices available to you.

2. Cycling / Walking

Because so many of our buildings are located in central, strategic clusters, it’s not just the most environmentally-friendly way to get around, it’s often also the most convenient. Many of our properties have high WalkScores and BikeScores, meaning that you can accomplish nearly all of your daily errands on a bicycle or on foot, from shopping and school to picking up a new outfit. If you are planning to take advantage of walkability, ensure that you have purchased proper clothing that will keep you comfy during the colder months!

3. e-Scooters / e-Bikes

Mainstreet loves sustainability, and our awesome partnership with Bird Canada has enabled us to ensure that many of our customers in cities like Calgary and Edmonton have ready access to their innovative Micromobility solutions right at their doorstep. Bird e-Scooters and Bird e-Bikes are quick and convenient options for getting wherever you need to go, and without the hassle of traffic or driving aimlessly looking for a parking spot.

Once you download their app and sign up, it’s as easy as pulling out your phone and scanning the QR code before you’re off on your way. No waiting for an Uber driver, no worries about getting a bad rating, just convenience and sustainability in one. When you’re in a Bird zone, you can start your trip wherever you find a scooter or bike for rent, and when you reach your destination, just park the scooter out of the way of pedestrians and end the trip on your phone, and that’s it. You’re done, you’re where you needed to be, and you’ve done so in a fun way that helps the planet!

4. Buying a Vehicle (Car, Truck, Van, etc)

While there are many options for getting around the great cities where Mainstreet offers rentals, but in some cases there won’t be any other option except to purchase a vehicle. This has become a slightly more complicated process since COVID-19 and global shipping issues created a shortage of semiconductors, which has created supply issues in the new vehicle market and driven up the prices of many used vehicles.

While you may need to wait a little longer and pay a little more for a new vehicle, the warranties and features available to you may justify this time and expense. Used vehicles can be a little cheaper, but you are also taking on the risk of previous owners’ wear and tear and any possible unreported accidental damage the vehicle may have sustained. Do some research online about the type of vehicle you are looking for, and the latest information on the pros and cons of buying that vehicle new versus used. At the same time, research the best purchasing options from financing available to purchase for cash (entire payment up-front) which may offer you a better price.

Whatever you decide, ensure you do your research on the current vehicle market and what type of vehicle you need (not what you want, but what you actually need) before you set your sights on anything. Here’s a great guide from one of our partners to get you started!

5. Uber / Lyft | Taxis

Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft as well as traditional taxi companies can be a convenient way to get somewhere in a hurry, but the costs of this form of transportation can also add up quickly. Let’s start by talking about the differences between Ridesharing apps and taxis. Taxis can generally be hailed from the street, can be ordered by phone, and some taxi companies now have apps that allow you to order them digitally. No credit cards or account registration is required for taxis, and their fares are set by law regardless of demand when you call. Ridesharing services can sometimes be cheaper than taxis, but can also be more expensive; this is because Rideshare pricing (while also regulated in many areas) changes according to the demand at the time. So, Monday afternoon at 2 PM may be cheaper than a taxi, but at 1 AM on New Year’s Day, they will likely be much more expensive due to high demand. Because Rideshare apps make you enter your final destination, you’ll know the full price of the ride ahead of time and can accept or decline it. Taxis don’t offer this but sometimes offer flat rates to specific destinations. You may also be able to negotiate with your taxi driver to take you somewhere for a flat fee, but don’t expect this.

Beyond the pricing, Rideshares also work differently because you are required to create an account linked to your credit card, you can only order these vehicles through an app, and both you and your driver are able to rate one another to indicate if you are a good driver/passenger. These ratings matter and will affect the level and quality of service you’ll receive in the future, so it’s important to treat your driver and their vehicle with respect.

Whether you choose to take a taxi or a Rideshare vehicle, ensure that you are keeping your budget in mind, and always remember to budget a little extra for the tip/gratuity which is expected in both Rideshare vehicles and Taxis alike.