I’m a little late to the party when it comes to Uber, as I caught my first fare only a few months ago.
I was prompted to finally give it a go when I was in Sydney on business, and a friend convinced me it would be a safe and affordable way to get to the airport.
And he should know: he’s become an Uber driver himself!
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“I make about $200 a night, driving for about 4 or 5 hours,” he told me proudly.
This is work he does in addition to the full-time hours he works in a digital marketing business during the day. He’s got three small kids, and living costs in Sydney are sky high, so he sees Uber as an easy way to top up his income.
But is it really all that worthwhile?
I read, with interest, a recent piece about the cost of driving an Uber; it was written from the perspective of a money blogger who calls himself Mr Money Mustache, who has retired from the rat race. He went “undercover” to see what driving for Uber was really like, as he was dubious about how financially lucrative it could be.
“Imagine developing a company specifically to take advantage of people’s ignorance of how expensive it really is to drive their own car,” he writes.
“What would this company look like? The answer is of course that it would look like very much like Uber or any other ridesharing company.”
On his first drive, he made about $32 in two hours. But after calculating the costs of petrol and wear and tear on his vehicle, his pay packet equated to around $7/hour – before paying income tax.
Driving for Uber was “a lot of fun”, he concluded, “but [I] made very little money”.
“My favourite times to be a driver were Friday nights. It was fun to feel the energy of people going out on the town, and find out what was going on. I could see Uber driving to be a good escape for single people looking to meet new friends (or romances), because I almost always got along well with the customers,” he says.
“But in the end, it was hard to stay motivated… with the financial gain of rideshare driving being negligible, I am surprised that there are so many people who do it.”
Anyone considering picking up some holiday cash by ferrying holiday shoppers home from Pacific Fair can read his full overview about being an Uber driver here.
As a sociable job that almost anyone can do, it ticks plenty of boxes. But as a career that actually puts any decent cash back in your pocket, it might need more than a second glance.