money management

Being a one-car household: Could you do it?

Leslie's New CarLately, the idea of one-car households keeps coming across my radar. My friend Cordelia over at Cordelia Calls It Quits recently sold her car to pay for some big life changes, while a guest post over at Modest Money last week talked about getting rid of a second car to as a money and time saving move.

As a PF girl, I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of being a one-car household. There are so many reasons why it would be smart, and we have some couple friends who do it for various reasons. But I’m not sure if The Hubby and I are ready to take that leap just yet.

Here’s our pro and con list:

Pros

  • Saving on car expenses. Not just car payments (the ’Bee is paid off, and The Hubby’s Honda Civic only has a year left to go before it is too), but all the other costs that come with owning a car…gas, maintenance, insurance, inspections, registration, repairs. A car can be a huge expense.
  • Better for the environment. Obviously, having one less car would be better for the environment. We’d be more likely to walk to places that are close enough to our house. (Being in the suburbs gets you way too used to driving anywhere, even if it’s just to the corner store.)
  • Better for our health. Walking more would also lead to better fitness for both of us (and Big Dog and Little Dog, who I’m sure would love to come along whenever they can.) We might even invest in a pair of bicycles for longer treks!
  • Less commuting stress. No one likes driving during rush hour…being able to read a book or listen to some music on the bus while someone else deals with traffic and winter driving would be really nice, I have to say.

Cons

  • Less convenient. Yeah, I know…this is the worst excuse, but it’s true. It’s so much easier having two cars so that if we each have different plans (say, me going out with the girls and The Hubby going to a sports bar to watch the game), we can just take our own cars. I’m sure if we only had the one, we could work out carpooling with friends, taking turns with the car, and we’d be just fine. (Our friends who do it are.) It would take some getting used to, but I’m sure eventually we’d find a routine that would work for us.
  • Which car would we keep? The Hubby’s car is a few years newer, but the ’Bee is my baby. Just thinking of getting rid of it before its time makes me sad. Then again, I’m not sure The Hubby would love having to drive the ’Bee everywhere. I think he’s secretly embarrassed by it. J
  • What about emergencies? Let’s say The Hubby takes the car to work and I take the bus. What happens if he has one of his late work nights, and I get home to find one of the dogs is sick? How would I get them to the vet? I could call him to come home early and drive us over, but it’s unexpected things like that that make you feel more secure, I guess, having a second car on hand. Or maybe I’m just being paranoid?

What about you guys? Would you ever consider going down to being a one-car household? Are any of you already?

 

~Heart,

Em

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photo credit:  dbkfrog

About the author

Em (The Blonde)

16 Comments

  • A couple years back, I started to take the commuter bus to work and it was great (most of the time!). At this time, we discussed getting rid of a car. We did not have a car payment at all, but figured we could start saving on insurance. But there was one awful day, when I was newly pregnant and it started to snow really fast…and our bus got stuck on a hill. Long story short, the bus driver would not let us off for over an hour due to liability reasons…. and when he finally let us off, I had to walk over a mile in the snow to meet my husband (who came as close as he could in a car without the risk of getting suck as well). This ended my bus commuting and the thoughts of getting rid of a car.

    Now here we are, three years later, with a little girl and her mom taking the commuter bus again. We have toyed with the idea of getting rid of a car again (this time, we do have a car payment!)…. and decided… now is not a good time… with having to do pick ups and drop offs for childcare, its just to much! To many “what ifs” in my brain that I think the stress alone would make me go nuts. Since I work in the DC Metro area… I am always afraid being so close to the White House, that something will happen and I will get stuck and won’t be able to get home…. at least I can get close to my car and walk for 12 miles if I need to get home to pick up my daughter!

    • Yikes! What a story. I think it’s definitely a lot easier when there aren’t kids (or soon to be kids!) in the picture, so maybe if The Hubby and I want to give it a go, now would be the time to do it. If I’m already nervous about how to take care of the pups in an emergency, I can only imagine how freaked out I’d get when we have kids!

  • An easy way to try this out without taking the scary plunge is to invest in a car cover. Leave the ‘one-car’ out and easily accessible, and put the other one in the garage with the cover on it. That one extra step before being able to jump in the car is usually enough to make walking, biking, or transit seem more convenient.

    Then you get to try it out without being trapped in an emergency, and without having to get rid of your baby just yet 🙂

  • We could make do with one car if we really, really needed to, but to us, the cost of having two cars (both long paid off) is far outweighed by the freedom and convenience. Our schedules, especially on the weekend, are just too different with volunteering/errands/socializing and would make the person not using the car feel trapped.

    You could always not drive your car for 2-3 weeks to see what it would feel like to be a one-car family (just remember to drive it once in a while so the battery doesn’t die). That would be long enough to give you a sense of how doable this would be for your family, but without making any long-term commitments.

  • We are a one vehicle household and we are loving it and how much it is saving us! It also forces us to communicate about our plans. We are even trying to stay to one vehicle this summer when I’ll be in a different city. Boyfriend will rent a car for the weekends he needs a vehicle.

  • I’d love to be a one car family, and we sort of already are…I drive my car to work every day and Hubby takes the bus to work (work provides a special charter bus for all the workers – how good is that?!).

    However, he has a ute (I suppose Americans would call it a pickup?) that he’s rather attached to…so there’s no getting rid of that.

    And then the other day, he comes out and says he wants a sporty little weekend car! To which I replied…uh darling, you already only drive your car on weekends!

    Men. 🙂

    • Hahaha. I know, right? Wanting fancy sports cars, not being happy about having to drive bright yellow VW Beetles…What’s with them? 😀

  • I’d love to be a one car household, but the bus system is not great to get to my work or my hubby’s work. On the weekend, my husband meets up with his school study group and project group and I have to visti my mom. It would be too much of a hassle to only have one car. Maybe in a few years when he’s done with school and my mom moves in with us, but not right now.

    • That makes sense. There are definitely certain situations where it just wouldn’t be practical. You have to have a certain schedule in order for it to really make sense.

  • Mr Woodpecker and I have been living a single car family, mainly because Mr Woodpecker can’t drive right now. So my car has been sitting in our garage for over 6 months. Just sitting. We’ve talked about selling my car, but for us just knowing that it is there is a bit of security. Both cars are over 10 years old, and we don’t have the funds to buy a new one if one breaks down. So keeping the other one around just gives us peace of mind, but we’re not paying much on it (aside from insurance and registration, and very little in maintenance).

    • It does get tougher to sell a car the older it is. In your case, the security of having a “spare” on hand in case something happens to the other one outweighs whatever you’d get for a 10+ year old car.

  • I just came across your blog when googling “one car households”. We have 2 cars but our older one is starting to get real expensive to maintain. I’ve been thinking about getting rid of it and saving up a few months to buy another one. Both our cars have never had a loan and since I stay home with our baby most days I think we could do it…I think. I’m actually kinda excited by the challenge. Now I just need to talk my husband into it!

    • Yay! From talking to people who’ve done the one car household thing, it’s actually a lot less tricky than you might think…especially if one of you stays at home or works from home. I hope you guys can make it work! It would be a huge savings.

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