On Being a One Car Family

Growing up, I actually spent the first 10 years of my life in a family with a 1 to 5 car to people ratio. Pretty rare, even back then. And my parents did it while living in a variety of settings: Providence, Rhode Island; Culver City, right outside of Los Angeles; College Station, TX; Bowling Green, OH. All college towns, but all very different vibes and walkability.

I distinctly remember my dad strapping on his bike helmet many mornings and heading a couple miles to work on two wheels. I also remember being piled in the car with my two younger brothers occasionally to do a drop-off or pick-up. But the crazy thing is… I never really noticed that we had one car (and that that was kind of wierd) until, well, we got two cars.

Fast-forward a decade, Mike and I are newlyweds, and contemplating giving up my car and living the one-car-lifestyle. The decision, honsetly, was pretty easy. It’s cheaper to live with one car, and in some ways, it’s simpler. When we thought about it, we were nearly always going the same place at the same time, or we didn’t need the car at the same time as each other. When we both needed transportation to a different destination at the same time we came up with simple one-car solutions like having Mike carpool to work, and, now that we live in a neighborhood with sidewalks, walking to the places that we need to go instead of driving.

So… here are the things I have enjoyed about being a one-car family:

Less Gas Money Spent

Sure, we’re still going to two different places to work each morning, and so we’re still consuming gas, but having one car is like having a smaller versus a larger purse. Despite your best efforts at simplicity, you’ll wind up filling the larger one up with twice as much junk just because it’s there (and if you are a male, insert garage or toolbox or something else for purse…) I know for a fact I’ve saved myself a few hundred in gas money since making the switch to one car, if for no other reason than that having one car really makes you think about how you are going to use it, and that things like carpooling and walking more, which you end up doing with one car, cost less.

Lower Insurance Costs

This one doesn’t really need much explaning. We’re now paying for a policy for one car instead of two. Easy.

We Spend More Time Together

Having one car means that we get to spend more time together. Since we recently moved, Mike is no longer a part of his old carpool. Since his work is less than 10 minutes from our house, I usually take him to work before I head over to my part-time job, and then pick him up in the afternoon. We love having those few extra minutes together!

It’s One Less Thing to Worry About

We have one, reliable, completely paid for car. It’s getting a little older, but we take good care of it, and expect it to last us a few more years. It is sooo nice not to worry about car payments, and not to worry about the upkeep of two different vehicles, both logistically and financially.

It’s Not for Everyone

Having one car is certainly not for everyone. It wouldn’t work, say, if Mike and I each had more than a 15 minute commute in the morning in different directions, and we both had very rigid work hours. But we have specifically chosen our situation to make it work for our family. Literally, in the year or so that we have only had one car, there has only been one instance that it was a problem that we only had one car:

Mike had a job interview about 30 minutes away in the middle of my work-hours, and my job was 30 minutes in the other direction. I ended up having to call off work that day, but they are so flexible with me, it was fine.

How About You?

Do you live in a one-car family? How has that worked out for you? Or, if you have multiple cars, what are some of the reasons you choose to have more than one? I would love to hear!

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4 thoughts on “On Being a One Car Family

  1. Our situation is a bit unique-because of the kind of work my husband does his employer gives him a work car and gas card, as well as pays for insurance/maintenance etc. If he quits his job then they get it back so it’s not really ours, and the family is also not allowed to be in it (it doesn’t even have a back seat lol). So technically we are a one van family, but I have our van during the day, which is necessary for driving my kids back and forth to school every day. We also have a classic 1970 Cadillac deville, and a 95′ Jaguar-both in various stages of restoration, so I don’t really count those. Hubby is a car buff 🙂

    • Wow, what a blessing that your husband has that car as a resource! That’s fun that your hubby is a car buff. 🙂 The people we are living with have a Mazda Miata that was a 60th birthday gift and they loooove driving around on nice days with the top down. I personally will never quite understand the car fascination thing, but, hey! I collect kitchen gear!

  2. My wife and I only have one car too! It’s a nice 2005 Vibe that her Dad basically gave to us (very generous). When we got married we each had a car, but mine was older and we didn’t need two, so I sold mine for $3,000 to a younger sister and paid that on student loans. It was great! I actually work about 100 steps away from our house, and my wife will soon be home full time with our new little one (she’s been doing part-time sub. teaching). We’ve not had a single conflict with it. But I guess we’re just about always together… Love it!

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