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The Hidden Cost of Transportation for Seniors


Because cars are the norm for most Americans, we tend to forget the cost of transportation when we consider our cost of living. Even for a person who owns their vehicle, every trip costs money.

If you’re wondering how much your car is costing you, take a look at these hidden costs of transportation.


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How Much Does Transportation Cost?

In 2017, AAA estimated the annual cost to own and drive a car ranged from $6,345 for a small sedan to $9,399 for a large sedan (based on 15,000 miles per year). That figure includes:

  • Fuel (estimated at $2.329 a gallon)
  • Maintenance
  • Tires
  • Insurance
  • License, Registration, Taxes
  • Depreciation
  • Finance Charges (5-year loan)

That figure doesn’t take into account unexpected costs of driving, such as

  • Accidents that aren’t your fault
  • Rental car if your vehicle needs extensive repairs
  • Repair of luxury electronics
  • Parking tickets and traffic violations
  • Parking permits or fees

It also doesn’t include the time spent washing the car, getting an oil change, scraping snow off the car and driveway in the winter, or the cost of the garage.


Related: 20 Unusual Money-Saving Tips for Seniors


Seasonal Costs and Challenges of Senior Transportation

As people grow older, travel — especially in the Midwest where weather can be dangerous — becomes a problem. And not only can the extreme weather be dangerous, but it can also be costly.

Winter Costs

The biggest cost? Preparing your car for the cold. For your safety, it’s always a good idea to winterize your car as the temperatures drop. This typically includes replacing fluids like coolant, oil, and wiper fluids, inspecting tires or replacing them with snow tires, and maintenance check with a mechanic you trust.

Additionally, you should also have an emergency road kit with things like flashlights, blankets, cat litter or sand for escaping slick situations, a small shovel, and some snacks. Granted, some of these costs are minor, but the yearly hassle of battling the elements can get old fast.

Not surprisingly, winter weather is also responsible for a high amount of costly crashes. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that each year, 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet.

Summer Costs

While many of us know the cold winter months can be tough on cars, not everybody realizes that the long, hot days of summer pose their own challenge. When it comes to summer car care, these are some things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure you have enough coolant. Just be sure you don’t open the lid while the engine is hot.
  • Tire pressure should be checked regularly, because the hot summer months can cause the air in your tires to expand, making it tough to get an accurate reading. To be safe and avoid blowouts, don’t use the maximum pressure listed for your tire.
  • Keep your car as cool as you can when not in use. Purchase a sun shade or park in the shade when you run errands, if possible. Be sure your exterior is protected with a regular waxing.

Alternatives to Owning a Car

There are, of course, alternatives to owning a car. In a city with reliable public transportation, the bus or train may be options. Of course, as any commuter discovers, getting to your destination always takes longer than it would if you drove.

In a small town, residents can walk or bike to most destinations. You won’t, however, be able to carry your groceries home on a bike.

Some people depend on friends or family to drive them, but that can get old fast. Most of us don’t want to constantly be asking someone else to take time out of their day.

Transportation at a Senior Living Community

Another alternative solution for solving transportation frustrations? A senior living community. One of the perks of living in a retirement or senior living community is that most transportation is provided. At The Esquiline, for example, we provide regular trips for shopping, as well as outings to local attractions.

Another benefit is that you won’t have to drive as much, because of the variety of amenities at our senior living apartment community. For example, we offer the following to cut down on the hassle of driving to errands, appointments, and more:

  • Daily Mass, weekly Protestant services, and morning prayer in the garden. Also available is our Pastoral Care team, which offers Taizé prayer, retreats, and speakers. The Esquiline is the only retirement living community located on the grounds of a national Catholic shrine.
  • Frequent campus visits from doctors, podiatrists, massage therapists, and medical specialists to provide customized services to patients who are residents. Residents can also visit the nurse at our Wellness Resource Center with questions and health problems.
  • Personal trip requests. Residents can request trips to local doctor appointments or one-on-one local trips for any reason for a small fee. For example, if you want to visit your children and grandchildren in Belleville, Fairview Heights, and O’Fallon, and you don’t feel like driving, all you have to do is request a ride.

We provide residents a continuum of care—from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing. If you’d like to learn more about all the amenities we provide residents, call 618-394-6400 or 800-533-6279 or contact us online.

And of course, transportation isn’t the only cost consideration to take into account when deciding if a continuing care retirement community is the right financial decision for you. For a complete list of the costs of living at home, download our free Cost of Living Comparison Guide.

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