One car family

One CarKJ: I’ve read a lot about people taking the plunge to live in a one-car (or no car!) family. It’s a bit challenging with where we live to do this given that the public transportation in our area is horrendous (would take me two to three times as long to get to work, plus Angela doesn’t have a single option to take public transportation between our home and her office), but if you live close to your work or in a city with great options, this could be a perfectly viable option.

If you live close enough, maybe you’re able to bike to work, walk to work, or take a combination of buses, subways and walking. If you’re not able to do these, then consider carpooling.

The benefits
There can be some significant benefits that add up meaningfully over time in addition to the obvious environmental benefits. Consider the following benefits:

  • You save on parking. Many individuals working in a downtown setting not only pay in time looking for a spot but also to park each day.
  • You can do other work, read, or sleep! This can be valuable too in a carpool setting – as I frequently take advantage of all three (when not driving of course)! This can allow your mind that extra time to unwind, read what you want to read, or catch up after a crazy week.
  • You can potentially save time. You might be one of the lucky ones that can actually save time as well by taking public transportation. With traffic causing a huge amount of delays across the country, you might be able to bypass the standard stopping time and get there more quickly.
  • You save money. You can save money on not having a second car payment, and your net worth would be happier over time. Think of the tolls you don’t have to pay, the gas savings you have, and the wear and tear on a car that ultimately would add up quite significantly. Check with your employer benefits program and see if they offer subsidized options for public transportation. The more people that ask too, the higher the likelihood that it could be a new benefit in the future! Don’t forget the insurance money you could save too. I’ve literally saved thousands and thousands of dollars on wear and tear and gas over the years by carpooling with a coworker.
  • You can get more exercise. If you are able to bike, run, or walk, then you can improve your health and get some cardio on your way to work. Think of the cost savings you have now, but also the long-term health benefits you could enjoy too!

  • So how can you make it work?
    As with any calculated decision, put pen to paper and brainstorm on ways to make it happen. Maybe you can walk, run, bike, carpool (and split the costs), take public trains and buses, etc. Look at the added productivity you can have with the extra down time that you would otherwise spend frustrated in the car in traffic.

    Is the lack of flexibility causing concern? If you have one car in your family, maybe you can trade-off every other week. What do you do if both you and your significant other have an arrangement where you both need the family car? Do you find another person to take you, can one drive and then pick you up, do you reschedule, or what are your options?

    Also, you may be limited to what times you can get to or from your destinations if stuck with public transportation. It’s also not without flaws (just like traffic) where there can be delays.

    What if one car seriously isn’t a viable option?
    Like in our house, one car isn’t a real option, but there are still measures you can take. Consolidate driving where you can. If driving to your job is the only option for both members of your household, then be more thoughtful about the trips you take outside of work and combine multiple trips into one. Some areas really aren’t conducive to being a one car household, but there are always ways to reduce your costs associated with owning a vehicle, so consider them thoughtfully…like carpooling!

      Do you have one (or no) car in your family?
      When did you decide to make the change?
      Was it for cost and/or environmental reasons?
      Tell us how you made it work!

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    3 thoughts on “One car family

    1. Running or biking to work has never seemed like a serious option to me since I don’t want to arrive sweaty, but I remember a boss from long ago who had been transferred to Texas from New York. One of his laments about no longer taking the train from Connecticut to NYC was all the lost reading. It was not wasted time at all.

    2. As much as it would be a nice option, its not always practical. The benefits though are quite numerous, from savings on the cost of another car, gasoline, maintenance and even insurance. I think also when you are a one-car family you have more “family time” during those long/short commutes 🙂 Nothing like a long jam to make you talk (or not!)
      All in all, if a family can go the one-car route, by all means go for it, if not, look for ways to cut the use of the second one whenever you can.
      Great post!

      • As you said, for some of us, it’s really not practical, but going through the thought process gets you to think about other ways you can cut costs if it’s not an option. Half of the battle is just being consciously aware of the expenses and figuring out ways to reduce them!

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