When planning to go away for six months, we never even thought about not renting a car. For us North Americans, having wheels and the freedom it offers is a perceived necessity.
We have now been in Spain for 3 months and I can say that having a car is not necessary if you like to walk like we do and live close to the city center. Our house is a 20 min walk from the center of town and we love our walk to town every day. We often do it twice to run errands and go for lunch or dinner. We rarely use the car.
Having a car for us still makes sense because we like to explore and go on day trips and getaways. So far, we have driven to Madrid, Granada, Almuñécar, Frigiliana and almost weekly, to Malaga, our favorite big city. Next week, we are driving to Barcelona via Valencia and can’t wait to see the entire coast.
So, whether you want to rent a car or not is really a personal choice. If you are on a tight budget, you can certainly do without as most European cities are very walking friendly and you can rent a car only when you chose to go away for a few days.
If you decide on renting a car for the full duration of your long-stay, you will find that the cost is somewhat inexpensive compared to other countries. A week rental is about $250 Canadian dollars. It cost us $3600 for the full six months through a deal our wonderful travel agent, Regine Barry from the Travel Group, got for us through a broker and Europcar. This includes unlimited KM, insurance and two drivers.
Please note that the rental car company will contact you half way through your stay to change the car. Yes! You get a new clean car every three months. It is a requirement. We first got a Citroen C3 which I loved and now, we just got a brand new car Volkswagen Polo with only 7km on its odometer!!
Why such a small car, you might ask? Well, the streets are very very tight here and you will be smart to choose a smaller car, certainly in the first few months while you get used to driving in such tight spaces. The parking stalls are also ridiculously tight, so you will be happy not to be driving an SUV or other larger cars we normally drive in North America.
Happy driving and walking in Europe. Both are pleasant and easy!!