How to Reduce the Cost of Urban Commuting – Get a Scooter

According to Chelsea Fagan, founder of the Financial Diet, transportation is one of the biggest unseen costs in people’s lives. Americans on average spend about “9% to 25% of their monthly budget” on transportation. That’s a pretty large portion of one’s take home pay. ๐Ÿ˜ฎย The surprising thing is, most people can easily cut their transportation costs down by half, according to Chelsea. In today’s post I’ll write about my new vehicle, and how I plan to save money with it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Recent Purchase: Used Scooter

Motor scooters are like motorcycles; they can sit up to 2 people. Here in Vancouver, Canada, all you need to ride one is a helmet and a regular class 5 driver’s license which most people have already.

I started to look into buying a scooter after I drove to a restaurant last month and had trouble finding a parking spot. But I saw a scooter that sat comfortably in a small space between two cars on the road. So then I did some research and calculations, and realized that I wanted to get a scooter for economic reasons.

So earlier this month, after checking out some used scooters on craigslist I ended up buying a 2009 50cc Derbi scooter for $1,400 including tax and registration. It only has about 2,250 KM on it. It’s really enjoyable to ride and easy to control.

Here’s a photo of my new ride in Batman’s favorite color. ๐Ÿ™‚

Cost of Owning a Scooter

Like I mentioned, I bought the scooter for $1,400 tax included, which is much more affordable than a car or even a motorcycle. The seller accepted e-transfer and the transaction went smoothly. Now let’s talk about the ongoing costs of operating it. Spoiler: It’s cheap. ๐Ÿ™‚

Insurance: When the value of the scooter itself is only $1,200 the insurance for it would naturally be affordable as well. I insured the scooter for a whole year, and the premium came to $180. This covers 3rd party liability up to $2 million, theft, fire damage, and other basics.

Maintenance: Because it’s a 2 stroke engine, my scooter never needs its engine oil changed. The old owner put in a new battery and spark plug last year so I shouldn’t have to worry about anything in the near future. The tires, belt, and brakes would all eventually need to be replaced, but it’s still relatively cheaper to service a scooter than my car. Overall I estimate $120 per year on average to keep my scooter in good shape.

Gasoline: This is where motor scooters really save money! ๐Ÿ™‚ A typical small car such as the Honda Civic can get about 30 mpg, (or run 10 KM per liter of gas.) But a 50cc scooter has a fuel economy of 130 mpg (roughly 50 KM per liter.) I only live about 5 KM away from my job. So if I take my scooter to work everyday, I would travel about 200 KM per month, and burn only 4 liters (1 gallon) of gasoline. That’s like $5 for fuel cost. Most scooters have a 5 to 7 liter fuel tank.

Summary: Monthly Operating Cost of my 50cc Scooter:
Insurance: $15
Maintenance: $10
Fuel: $5
Total: $30/month

If I were to live 10 KM away from my work it would be an additional $5 per month of gasoline cost. That’s still much cheaper than a monthly transit pass.ย $30 to $35 a month to operate a scooter is way more affordable than operating a car, which usually costs hundreds of dollars. Additionally riding a scooter gives you that cool factor which driving a Civic certainly does not. ๐Ÿ˜›

Drawbacks to 50cc Motorized Scooters

If scooters are so much cheaper than cars, why don’t more people use them to commute in the city? Here are some reasons scooters aren’t for everyone.

  • More hazardous than cars. Scooters offer less protection since there are no walls. But scooters have a step-through frame for the rider’s feet, (unlike a motorcycle) so at least your legs won’t get crushed from the side.
  • Not good for travelling long distances. ๐Ÿ™
  • Less durable than a car. The flimsy plastic and mirrors can easily crack even if the scooter falls over on its side. And they tend to fall over easily because scooters are two tired. ๐Ÿ˜€ Lol.
  • Cannot go on fast highways. Where I live it is prohibited to take 50cc scooters on freeways that have a speed limit of 70 KM/hr or higher because most scooters can’t go that fast.
  • Not fit for all weather conditions. Similar to cyclists, nothing will protect a scooter rider from rain, hail, or strong winds. Raincoats are recommended when it’s wet. And if it snows or if the ground is too icy it is not recommended to ride mopeds at all. For this reason scooter season matches that of motorcycle season.
  • Harder to control than a car, and requires the rider to have a basic grasp of balance.
  • Less visible to other vehicles on the road.
  • Have to manually stop the turn signal. (Same problem with motorcycles.) Actually, a lot of criticism about scooters can be said about motorcycles as well.

Despite the problems I still think it’s worth it to own a scooter for me. Whether it be a Vespa, a Yamaha, or something else, there is no shortage of quality brands to choose from. A brand new, 2017 model scooter would only cost about $3,600 CAD including tax and freight.

I won’t ride my scooter to work every day. Sometimes I will still drive. And when the roads are icy in the winter I will probably take the bus. But on a nice day, having a moped makes urban commuting very fun and affordable. ๐Ÿ™‚

Currently I use my scooter to go grocery shopping, run bank errands, attend social events, and sometimes just ride around the suburbs for fun. I’ve even used it to take my girlfriend out on a date. Chicks dig scooters. ๐Ÿ˜‰

People in many parts of the world prefer scooters over cars.ย In Taiwan for example, there are over 11 million scooters in a population of 23 million. That means on average nearly 1 out of 2 people own a scooter, lol. A few years ago in France,ย the President at the time, Franรงois Hollande was seen riding a scooterย to meet up with his actress lover. So yeah, it’s like I said, chicks dig it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Maybe some day scooters will become more popular in North America like they are in Europe and Asia.

For financial reasons I think scooters or mopeds are worth considering for college students, or single people who want an affordable way to get around town. A scooter can give them the freedom to go anywhere they want, whenever they want, like a car. But it doesn’t carry the heavy cost of owning a car, and doesn’t require a motorcycle license in many cities. And unlike riding a bicycle, you never have to worry about pedalling uphill on a scooter. ๐Ÿ˜€


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06/29/2017 11:04 am
Mrs. Picky Pincher
06/30/2017 5:35 am

I LOVE this!!! What a neat idea to opt for a scooter! It’s definitely easier to use than a bike, which requires quite a lot of manpower.

11/13/2017 1:28 pm

It really helped when you mentioned how you should take the time to consider the maintenance and the replacement parts of the scooter you want to buy before investing in it. My mom has problems getting around and we want to make sure we find her the best electric scooter for her, so I’m glad I found your post. I understand that taking the time to understand what the needs are can help you find the best one for the type of mobility you need.


[…] 2017 I purchased a used scooter for $1,200. It was cheap to run and I thought I could use it to get dates. […]