Author Topic: We've been demoted to a one-car family...  (Read 4509 times)

jeromedawg

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We've been demoted to a one-car family...
« on: June 03, 2015, 07:37:18 PM »
And not by choice but more by stupid absent-mindedness...long story - I posted here about it in another thread.

You know what though? It feels kind of good; at least, for me... my wife isn't that fond of the idea even if I try to convince her that we get to spend more time together :D hahahaha. I calculated that we're probably saving at least $6-$8 per month now with just one car (wife's Rav4) which also gets better mileage. Currently I've either been biking in (if flats on my bike aren't a problem) or my wife has been dropping me off and picking me up. It's not *too* bad but I think we both agree that we'd probably pay the extra $6-$8 for added convenience at least. The good thing is that we're both not far from either of our workplaces. I'm about 5 miles away and she's about 7 miles away.

The bad: my car has been sitting in the garage waiting for my wrist to heal-up before I can work on it again and try to replace the fender and door. Consequently, the entire 2-car/2-port garage has been taken over with the car, spare parts, and tools... it's a mess in there, so we've been having to park the Rav4 outside.

I keep going back to the day that I caused all this, and how much more normal life would be if not for what I did :(

With a kid on the way come August, I'm not quite sure what we should do. I think we could pull off the one-car family but it would be quite an adjustment. If I can fix the Camry too, I think it would be nice having around; especially since the only costs that I've had to deal with on it historically have been minor/major repairs (it's hand-me-down). So aside from gas, which isn't a big deal because I was only commuting with it, it seems like a no-brainer to hold onto till it completely dies. I was considering donating but I think it's a good project for experience in learning some body work; no matter how much it sucks and frustrates me... part of it too I think is the mentality that "I need to fix this because I'm the one who broke it" - I just hope I don't have to go back to the junkyard ever again.

Anyone else wrestle becoming a one-car family? Failures? Successes?

Of course, I'm sitting here starving and waiting for my wife to come pick me up as she was held over for over an hour at her work. I probably would have been home almost 2 hours ago now.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2015, 07:42:12 PM by jplee3 »

darkadams00

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Re: We've been demoted to a one-car family...
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2015, 08:30:50 PM »
One-car family here--me, wife, and a son in college who lives at home. I sold one of our cars to my older son who moved away to go to college leaving us with one car. This has been an interesting experiment for us. Here are the things that helped us and the things that cause the most issues.

PROS:
  • My son and I are extremely patient about the issues that occasionally arise due to the one-car choice. The wife is usually okay with it, but not in every situation.
  • We bike everywhere, every day, in almost all weather (son and I). The wife bikes in warm months as well.
  • We live in a suburb with close, local access to places we go weekly, except for our church.
  • We have public transit about a mile from our home that reaches some of the more distant areas (e.g. son's college, my work when I was injured last summer).
  • We live fairly close to work. I'm a little over 9 miles one-way, and the wife is 4.5 miles one-way. My son's two part-time jobs are 3/4 mile and 1/4 mile away respectively.
  • I have shower facilities at work, and I have my own office where I can store shoes, toiletries, sports coat, extra clothes, etc as needed.
  • I have a willingness to learn DIY stuff, so I learned how to set up, maintain, and repair our bikes without going to a bike shop.
  • I like tracking my bike savings against the average monthly money I would expect to spend on a second car. It's my own game, and I am absolutely crushing it.
  • I'm in better health and physical shape than most of my peers.

ISSUES:
  • Rain can be a pain, but fenders, warm temps, and a smile go a long way. However, I'm still a wimp when I look outside in the morning and it's pouring steadily. For those days, we just do the one-car ferry dance.
  • Winter weather can include ice/snow, and it will definitely include cold temps. The learning curve is not bad, but you have to be willing to learn by a bit of forum reading and a lot of your own personal experience. Starting out on your commute colder than you like to feel and in the dark can be a challenge between the ears for the first couple weeks. Do not start bike commuting in the winter. Start in warmer weather and progress to winter biking when it gets here.
  • Schedules can sometimes require two concurrent trips that cannot be biked by either person. We've used cabs and even rented a car, but the constant monthly cost of second-car ownership outweigh those occasional costs. I have the numbers to prove it.
  • A car can haul more stuff as well as heavier stuff, especially if your main routes back home include moderate to steep hills. You might have to time some of your trips to times when the car is available.
  • I take ride in/ride out showers in hot months, but that's offset by the ride in shower being at work. I would still bike even if I could only access our bathroom and sink, but the shower is a nice touch.

All of this changes as well once you add in young children--extra clothes, dressing for winter, dealing with rain, heavier load due to a toddler, toting stuff when you're already near your max with the kid in tow, navigating daycare/school/work routines if distance/time tables are not favorably selected, etc. I started biking consistently when my sons were in high school, so I didn't have kid-related issues to address.

Good luck! Don't forget. Even if you're left with just one car, and you scrap the others, on any day of the week there's a salesman who will sell you a second car. Think--research--think some more--discuss with the wife--and be willing to try an experiment. You can buy another car in August if you decide it doesn't work for you. Even if you DIY your own car repairs, bike purchases/public transit win by most metrics.


jeromedawg

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Re: We've been demoted to a one-car family...
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2015, 09:36:23 AM »
One-car family here--me, wife, and a son in college who lives at home. I sold one of our cars to my older son who moved away to go to college leaving us with one car. This has been an interesting experiment for us. Here are the things that helped us and the things that cause the most issues.

PROS:
  • My son and I are extremely patient about the issues that occasionally arise due to the one-car choice. The wife is usually okay with it, but not in every situation.
  • We bike everywhere, every day, in almost all weather (son and I). The wife bikes in warm months as well.
  • We live in a suburb with close, local access to places we go weekly, except for our church.
  • We have public transit about a mile from our home that reaches some of the more distant areas (e.g. son's college, my work when I was injured last summer).
  • We live fairly close to work. I'm a little over 9 miles one-way, and the wife is 4.5 miles one-way. My son's two part-time jobs are 3/4 mile and 1/4 mile away respectively.
  • I have shower facilities at work, and I have my own office where I can store shoes, toiletries, sports coat, extra clothes, etc as needed.
  • I have a willingness to learn DIY stuff, so I learned how to set up, maintain, and repair our bikes without going to a bike shop.
  • I like tracking my bike savings against the average monthly money I would expect to spend on a second car. It's my own game, and I am absolutely crushing it.
  • I'm in better health and physical shape than most of my peers.

ISSUES:
  • Rain can be a pain, but fenders, warm temps, and a smile go a long way. However, I'm still a wimp when I look outside in the morning and it's pouring steadily. For those days, we just do the one-car ferry dance.
  • Winter weather can include ice/snow, and it will definitely include cold temps. The learning curve is not bad, but you have to be willing to learn by a bit of forum reading and a lot of your own personal experience. Starting out on your commute colder than you like to feel and in the dark can be a challenge between the ears for the first couple weeks. Do not start bike commuting in the winter. Start in warmer weather and progress to winter biking when it gets here.
  • Schedules can sometimes require two concurrent trips that cannot be biked by either person. We've used cabs and even rented a car, but the constant monthly cost of second-car ownership outweigh those occasional costs. I have the numbers to prove it.
  • A car can haul more stuff as well as heavier stuff, especially if your main routes back home include moderate to steep hills. You might have to time some of your trips to times when the car is available.
  • I take ride in/ride out showers in hot months, but that's offset by the ride in shower being at work. I would still bike even if I could only access our bathroom and sink, but the shower is a nice touch.

All of this changes as well once you add in young children--extra clothes, dressing for winter, dealing with rain, heavier load due to a toddler, toting stuff when you're already near your max with the kid in tow, navigating daycare/school/work routines if distance/time tables are not favorably selected, etc. I started biking consistently when my sons were in high school, so I didn't have kid-related issues to address.

Good luck! Don't forget. Even if you're left with just one car, and you scrap the others, on any day of the week there's a salesman who will sell you a second car. Think--research--think some more--discuss with the wife--and be willing to try an experiment. You can buy another car in August if you decide it doesn't work for you. Even if you DIY your own car repairs, bike purchases/public transit win by most metrics.

Thanks for the feedback and sharing your experience!! Really good to get some perspective from others on how they've done this. I think the key here, as you have alluded to, is to remain flexible. It's OK if you don't feel like riding on some day and you shouldn't feel guilty about it, etc. My wife has encouraged me not to ride if I don't feel like it, though she does tend to be a worry-wart about me getting into work safely without getting injured. As far as "winter", I'm in Southern California, so I'm pretty sure I have no idea what that word really means LOL! That said, I feel comfortable riding in most days except for when it's raining or wet... especially after the rain. With the route I've been taking into work though, I mostly remain on multi-use paths or commercial-area sidewalks where biking is OK and there aren't many pedestrians. And I try to leave home and work at times where traffic is lighter. It has been working out OK so far. My rear tire suffered from a goat-head puncture recently as well as a failed patch-job, so I was out of commission most of this week. Rode in today though. Fortunately, my commute is slightly over 4 miles each way on bike, so it's really not bad at all.

As far as the baby, I am a bit concerned with what things will look like. But once he comes, we will also be transitioning to a single-income family as my wife plans to stop working and be at home. In that case, things could potentially work out if we're still on one car, as she would just drop me off and pick me up and bring the baby... on the other hand, loading/unloading the baby all the time *seems* like it could be a hassle too.

catccc

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Re: We've been demoted to a one-car family...
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2015, 11:15:15 AM »
I looked at this and thought "demoted?!"  This is better!

We are a two car family and I wish we could get away with one, but we can't at this time, and I'm not sure if we ever will.

 But I think it is awesome that you are going to try to do it!  you might be able to take the car to and from work if your wife doesn't need it when she is a SAHM.  She can drop you off and pick you up only on the days she needs to run errands or be someplace.  Getting a baby in and out of the car is kind of a hassle, esp if it interferes with natural sleep/wake times.  But we didn't have a bucket seat with a base, we had a convertible seat that stayed in the car.  It might be easier with a bucket seat.

vhalros

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Re: We've been demoted to a one-car family...
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2015, 11:21:48 AM »
We are currently a zero-car family; both the wife and I have jobs that are easily reachable by bicycle/foot/public transit. This might change when children arrive, I do not know. But at the moment, I like it this way. I ride through almost all weather (this is Boston, so the winters are mostly mild, with fits of psychotic rage, and the air turns into hot soup in August) and also get all the groceries etc. this way; she is more apt to take the bus or train if it is cold.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2015, 11:27:01 AM by vhalros »

jeromedawg

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Re: We've been demoted to a one-car family...
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2015, 11:28:15 AM »
I looked at this and thought "demoted?!"  This is better!

We are a two car family and I wish we could get away with one, but we can't at this time, and I'm not sure if we ever will.

 But I think it is awesome that you are going to try to do it!  you might be able to take the car to and from work if your wife doesn't need it when she is a SAHM.  She can drop you off and pick you up only on the days she needs to run errands or be someplace.  Getting a baby in and out of the car is kind of a hassle, esp if it interferes with natural sleep/wake times.  But we didn't have a bucket seat with a base, we had a convertible seat that stayed in the car.  It might be easier with a bucket seat.

LOL, I sort of used "demoted" tongue-in-cheek-ingly :D

Well, we've kind of been more "forced" to do it in a sense more than anything (I guess not "forced" because I could pay someone a lot of money to fix my car). If I didn't screw my car up, I don't think I would have consciously or intentionally tried to do it this way. My car was always my "fallback" and usually became the norm if I was too lazy about biking. Now it's not that easy. In any case, I was talking with a coworker who just got a Honda Odyssey and he was saying sliding doors make a *huge* difference when you're parked next to another car in terms of the hassle of getting the kid(s) in and out... that makes sense when I think about it. As far as car seats, we definitely want to get those removable ones with the base that stays in the car. 

seattlecyclone

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Re: We've been demoted to a one-car family...
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2015, 11:38:46 AM »
When my then-girlfriend (now wife) and I moved to Seattle, we each had a car. My workplace was easily accessible by bus, which I happily used rather than paying insane downtown parking prices. After a few months we realized that we basically never both wanted to drive different places at the same time. I was starting my car much more often to move it to a different parking spot (we have a 72-hour limit for on-street parking spaces) than I was actually using it to go somewhere. I sold it. That was over five years ago and we haven't looked back. Since then I can probably count on one hand the number of times it would have been nice to have a second car.

Seattle's transit system still isn't good enough (especially on nights and weekends) that I would want to give up our one car, plus it's nice to own one to get out of town for outdoor activities. I have no plans of ever going back to owning two. Congrats on taking that step!

KCM5

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Re: We've been demoted to a one-car family...
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2015, 11:47:13 AM »
We're a one car family with a toddler. Similar, slightly closer distances to work (3 and 7 miles). We made the one car thing work most of our marriage with the exception of 6 months when our child was 6 months old and my spouse worked 15 miles from home with no good public transport options. The logistics of getting my spouse to work at 6 am, baby to day care, going back to daycare to nurse baby twice a day, then back out to pick up spouse was too much. So we bought another car.

Once the child was old enough to ride on a seat on my bike we were back to one car. I can do pickup/drop off in all but the worst weather and my spouse can do that, too. When the weather is too bad we share the car and one of us just has to work late/get to work early. It's not that big of a deal and doesn't happen very often. And we live in the Midwest - its not like we're in paradise, weather-wise.

When calculating your money saved, don't forget insurance! And, personally, not having to spend mental energy on worrying about fixing one more thing on my car is really worth a lot more than the monetary savings. I realize this is not universal.

expectopatronum

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Re: We've been demoted to a one-car family...
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2015, 12:16:48 PM »
I'd love to hear other one-car stories. I'm considering selling my car, but don't really know what to do. It's a 2005 SUV worth about $5K. My insurance runs about $60/mo. I would guess maybe $10 on maintenance?, excepting major disasters. Gas - I don't quite fill up once a month, maybe $45 unless we take a trip. All in all that's $100+ of savings.

The likelihood is that I WON'T really need a car until at least January...but it sure as heck is convenient...I need to work on my mustache for sure. It has been raining here for what feels like the past few months and now it's hot as hell.

We do really well on weekends lately. I just can't let go of the "BUT WHAT IF I NEED TO GO SOMEWHERE?!?!" that's probably unrealistic. Husband works 22 mi away, so we would only really be missing a car when he's a work...and like seattlecyclone says, it's actually somewhat rare that we want to go different places simultaneously. Agh.

greenleaf

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Re: We've been demoted to a one-car family...
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2015, 12:20:44 PM »
Southern CA with a 4 mile commute on what sounds like a reasonably safe route sounds ideal!  I would definitely be a one car family in your situation.  We are in New England with a baby and a toddler and have one car, and we're in a town/suburb, not in a big city where that might be expected. So it can certainly be done. Though I have to say this winter was awful and almost broke us, due to partly to unusually snowy weather (bike path that my husband usually takes was unpassable for much longer than normal) and partly because I started a  job in January that required a longish car commute a few days a week (before that I had a crazy long commute one day a week but it was all on public transit, so he always had the car as a backup).  But, I've just taken a new, semi-retirement job at the same, bikable place as the husband, so we definitely won't be getting a second car anytime soon now. 

Some things that help our situation:
We're really into cycling (or rather were before the kids), are both pretty committed to it, and are experienced (spent years riding for sport and commute, so not much phases us and we don't think biking with a young child in tow is crazy)
We very deliberately chose were we live to be bikeable
We have a nanny, so the toddler has to be taken to preschool some days a week but we don't have to pack up the baby.  This seems like a crazy 1% expense, but the cost of nanny <= two kids in day care+ second car expenses.  We could  still do it with one car and day care, but I think it would be harder.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: We've been demoted to a one-car family...
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2015, 03:44:50 PM »
One car was easy for us when we lived a little closer to my husband's work, I did not have a job, and we lived across the street from Walmart. I could easily bike to preschool and the Y most mornings and his bus ride, if I needed the car to go to Costco or something, was only about a half hour.

We have two right now and are thinking through whether we need to keep both. Bus ride to work for either of us is about 45 minutes versus 20-25 in the car, and me taking the bus would mean extra time in day care for Little Brother, so I dunno. (Mr. FP has to leave the house at like 5:45 AM to take the bus, so that's rough, too)

PawPrint53

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Re: We've been demoted to a one-car family...
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2015, 08:11:09 PM »
We've been a one-car family for over two-thirds of our 34 year marriage. When we lived in the Portland area, my DH took our kids to daycare and I took the bus to work. When we moved to Colorado, I walked to work and my DH took the car. If I needed the car, he would bike to work. In Boise, he'd bike to work, and I took the car. We bought a truck at one point, but used it mainly for hauling stuff. Anyway, we managed to make it work even with young kids. Now we live in Seattle and only take the car out once a week. It will be a bit more complicated when we move back to Boise after retirement in a couple of months. Not great public transportation or walkability.

CanuckExpat

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Re: We've been demoted to a one-car family...
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2015, 02:58:10 AM »
you might be interested in this writeup: http://www.bravenewlife.com/10/how-to-be-a-one-car-family/

We've been a one or no car family the entire five years we've been married, I don't think it's that big a deal