March 2, 2012

Being a One Car Family

One cost-cutting measure I've seen recommended numerous times is becoming a one car family. Ugh. Every time I saw someone make that suggestion, I cringed. I vowed that would never happen in our family. I'm sure part of my thinking came from my grandmother, who had her own car despite the fact that she almost never drove. Cutting back to one car just seemed too radical.

I started to think a little differently when we moved at the beginning of this year. Instead of being 20 miles away from work, my commute is about 0.4 miles. In other words, I can walk to work, home for lunch, back to work, and back home in less time than it took me to drive to work before. Do we really need another car when I'm that close? Even if the weather conditions make it unsafe for me to walk, it wouldn't be too inconvenient for a coworker to give me a ride. In fact, three people offered to take me home one day when it was snowing.

I still resisted the idea of going down to one car. I wanted to at least have the option to drive. But two weeks ago, Nathan's car died. Completely died. There's still a chance it could be fixed, even though we've been advised not to put another dime into it, but so far we haven't messed with it. Nathan has been driving my car to work, and I've walked every day, even in rain and snow. And guess what? It hasn't been that bad. Will we buy a replacement car? Maybe..maybe not. It will of course be necessary when we move or if I change jobs, but for now, one car is actually okay.

There are several advantages of not having a second car and walking to work...
  • I'm forced to get some exercise.
  • The walk to work makes me much more awake and ready to start my work day.
  • I can't go buy fast food for lunch (at least not on my own).
  • I sometimes see geese, ducks, and killdeer on my commute.  
  • We save money on gas, even if not a lot. 
  • If we do get rid of the second car, we'll save on insurance and maintenance. 

And the disadvantages?
  • I don't feel like jogging when I get home. (I do walk another mile with Nenya though.)
  • If Nathan has car trouble, I can't go pick him up.
  • I can't run errands during lunch.
  • It's not easy to go to doctor's appointments, although I found a dentist right by work.
  • People think I'm weird. Walking commutes are rare in the suburbs I guess.
  • I don't like inconveniencing people, so I hate asking for rides.

We aren't sure what to do about our car situation for the time being, but at least I know we can survive with one car.

Are you, or have you ever been, a one car family? If not, would you ever want to be one?



  1. My car died last year, hopefully not permanently, but we've been down to one car for several months. The school is about .8 miles away, so when Jeff has the car, the kids and I walk. they've stopped complaining - as much.

    You are right, it is inconvenient since appointments, shopping, etc, all has to be scheduled around when you get to have the car. And when the second car is ten years old... Well... I am not feeling so sure of myself!!

    We aren't saving anything on gas; we still go all of the places we went before and sometimes I can't avoid taking Jeff to work so I can have the did go down however, and we did register the car as a PNO.

    1. Gas savings would definitely be miniscule for us as well. Even if I drove to work and drove home for lunch every day, that would still only be about $50 a year in gas. But at least walking is better for my health and for the environment.

  2. My husband and I have been a one car family for the past 3 years - well it will be 4 years in May (if we do not buy another vehicle before then). Our first apartment was a block away from my work. It was so nice. We saved on parking, gas, insurance and maintenance.

    I have never missed a doctor's appointment - I just wake up earlier and take Nathan to work. He always gives me the car when I need it. After awhile you get use to it.

    We will be having our second child in May so we are looking into getting a vehicle for me. I am very excited. The girls are getting older now so I would like to be able to take them to the park this spring/summer and do different outings.

    When you do not have kids - being a one car family is great and even when you have a little one - Hailey will be 2 this year so it will be great to have my own car.

    Hope that helps you. It is a huge money saver for us.

    1. Sharing a car would definitely be a lot easier if I could take my husband to work. Since our jobs are 35 minutes apart, I would have to do 70 minutes of driving before 8:00. Maybe some day! Thanks for sharing your experience.

    2. Yeah that wouldn't really save you money. My husband's work is about 10 minutes from our house and everything else is pretty much after that. (stores, doctors, ect.) But if I couldn't take him to work, I just plan accordingly and go run my errands at night (free time for me. :D)

      Even so, we still saved money on insurance and repairs - a significant savings when we both had older cars.

  3. Obviously with both of us being college students and living on campus, our situation is a little different. We started out as a one car family, two weeks later added my car to the mix, a month later A's car died, and then we were a one car family again from Sept. to Dec. I rarely needed the car, but it was available any time before 5 pm - when A left for work. Now, since my internship is a 45 minute drive one way, we have two cars. We plan on downsizing to one car again in May after graduation/Baby arrives. That'll reduce our current monthly "outgo" by approximately $275 (gas+insurance, not including maintenance).

    While Nathan is using your car and you are walking to work, have you considered suspending the insurance on his car - until you make a final decision about what to do?

  4. We're a one car family. I'm the opposite -- I don't want to have two cars. Since Jeremy can bike to work, and we have church, a grocery store, pet store, and a couple fast food places (and a dollar and thrift store) all within walking distance, we don't need to use the car unless we want to go to Walmart or Lowes or some other restaurant or a doctor's appointment or something. So we definitely save on gas as well as insurance, registration, and maintenance. And I can park in my driveway; if we had a second car, it would have to be parked in front of the house, not something I would like.

    Yes, having one car can be inconvenient, but it isn't always. It depends on where you need to go and when and who needs to do the going. If we ever really need two cars we'll probably get a second one, but so far we haven't needed more than one.

  5. right now, i live about 3 miles from work. if it came down to it, i could bike to work. my husband's car is not going to last much longer (thats what I think, he thinks it will go a few more years) but I would try to become a one car family before adding more debt

  6. Hmm, I'll be interested to see if you decide to stick with one car!

  7. We're a one car fam, though since I hate driving I don't mind a bit! With public transportation we've only had car sharing problems a few times.

  8. I recently became a one family car due to a car accident I was in. We actually have made it work rather well. I am surprised.

  9. Last fall, we sold my husband's truck and he bought a moped. It's worked very well while he was in college last fall. This winter, when he needed to drive to school in the rain or snow (though it hasn't done much of either), he borrowed my car, or drove my parent's van. We are mostly a one car (but 2 vehicles) family. The moped takes a LOT less gas!! 120 miles per gallon!

  10. My husband and I became a one-car family this month (in my link)! We work at the same place so it's a little ridiculous that we had two cars to begin with, but it was a holdover from before we got married. We love it so far! It's a little less convenient because now we can't run errands separately as easily, but now we just go on the weekends or stop on the way home. We're spending a lot more time together and our schedules are synched, which is great.

    It's so great that you are walking to work. Even if you jog less often I think it's an overall net gain.

  11. We are a one car family. My husband bikes(about 5 miles one way) to work and I stay at home with the car. It can work, but, can be a bit of a pain. The plus..only one car payment, one car to insure, one to gas up, etc.
    Have you guys decided yet?


Let me know your thoughts on this. I love reading all my comments!