Author Topic: Car Conudrum  (Read 4651 times)

bikerider81

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Car Conudrum
« on: January 06, 2014, 11:39:46 AM »
Hi Mustachians,

I need some help. I've been reading a lot and devising my family's plan to be more bad ass in 2014. Over the past few years I've done some things that help to get us right financially--no cable tv for years, sold our second car and now I bike commute full time.  But my husband has had inconsistent income since we moved for my job last March, and has now taken a seasonal job that will provide more stable income, and better contacts and experience that will hopefully turn into something full time come spring. The issue is that the seasonal job has him based about 2 hrs away from our home in Columbia, SC. So that means that one of us is going to have to do with out a car for sometimes weeks at a time. There are a few logistical issues that have prompted us to consider getting a cheap 2nd vehicle. We have about 10K stashed from the sale of my husbands beloved VW bus last spring. But the used car options here are horrendous and overpriced. (search the Columbia, SC craigslist and you will see what I mean). I need help either feeling confident I can survive completely car-less in a not so bike friendly (but not particularly unfriendly either) town while my husband keeps the car so he can home when he gets time off, or advice on what used car to purchase (and maybe ditch it or a current vehicle later) when this situation passes. So the facts:

-We both own bikes
-Current vehicle is 1997 Toyota 4runner with 240K miles (actually in really good working order and well maintained)
-Hub's job is Jan-May. Provides housing and most meals.
-My commute is about 4.5 miles one way. Plenty of easy access to grocery stores, library, all on a bike.
-I'm mostly an all weather commuter, so no worries there. And have coworkers that live in my neighborhood that I can carpool with in emergencies
-have membership to hertz on demand rental service (never used it, but enrolled as a safety net, but there are only 3 cars available on campus, and while an ok option for planning in advance for hourly car rental, not a reliable emergency option--also can't transport pets which leads me too...)
-We own a 100lb dog. I worry about how to transport her in case of an emergency. (she's had one in the past year) I feel like I can borrow a friends car if I need help for routine vet visits.
-this is fear stuff, but I do weight it--I'm worried about all the time I'll be home alone with no car in the drive way (I know crazy but...). Yes I have the big dog, but we live on a busy street prone to break ins, etc.
-and also important--we are a fairly young marriage, and I worry how our relationship might suffer if we are forced to constantly juggle logistics for 5 months just to squeeze in a 48 visit here and there.

I appreciate any thoughts/insights to help us figure out the bad ass solution to this complicated scenario. Quality time with my husband when we can, and personal safety are my top values in this whole situation, so thanks in advance to any help you can provide.

Jamesqf

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Re: Car Conudrum
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2014, 11:57:12 AM »
Have you checked Craigslist where your huband will be working?

bikerider81

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Re: Car Conudrum
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2014, 12:02:40 PM »
I have, he'll be in Charleston. Not a lot of good economic buys to choose from. I'm hoping for a fuel efficient hatchback or wagon for ease in transporting giant dog and/or bikes. Also in a make that is reliable and not expensive to repair (we've owned subarus, toyotas, and hondas in the past and have been really happy). People in the south love domestics and 2wd SUVs. :)

Greg

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Re: Car Conudrum
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2014, 12:47:03 PM »
Although craigslist is meant to be local delaing only, no reason you can't search around in nearby areas.  Worth the extra drive if you can find a good deal on a better used car.  Consider a smaller station wagon for hauling the dog.

That said, unless you need a 4WD, you could do better with the primary car too. 

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Car Conudrum
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2014, 01:06:15 PM »
Would the dog tolerate a trailer? I've definitely pulled more than 100 pounds of kiddos in my trailer, though obviously they don't freak out like a pet might.

A good Burley trailer is $60 used in my area, $250ish new online. A lot cheaper than a car. A quality trailer helps with errand runs as well.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Car Conudrum
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2014, 01:13:50 PM »
These ads would make for decent occasional-need cars:

http://columbia.craigslist.org/cto/4261375617.html ("rebuilt title" sounds a little scary)

http://columbia.craigslist.org/cto/4275049811.html

http://columbia.craigslist.org/cto/4270988915.html (high miles, but you're not going to drive it a ton anyways)

But yeah, I see what you mean about the market.

Jamesqf

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Re: Car Conudrum
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2014, 09:21:31 PM »
Those do not seem to be unreasonable prices.  If I wasn't on the other side of the country, I'd be tempted by the '98 Civic myself, but it's no a family car.

The other thing to consider is that it appears you'll only need this car for about 6 months.  So you then sell it on Craigslist for about what you paid.

livraison

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Re: Car Conudrum
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2014, 12:15:37 AM »
Some thoughts based on the perspective of someone who's never really owned a car. I can't imagine going to all the hassle of finding a car, buying it, transferring ownership, insuring it, just for 5 months. Regarding the points you raised:

1. Seeing your husband: Greyhound seems to have 3 buses a day going from Columbia to Charleston. Regular price $28.50 one way, advance purchase price $14.50. Not sure where you are with respect to getting to the bus station, but taxis are always an option if Columbia public transit is less than ideal. The intercity bus takes 2.5 hours, only 30 minutes more than driving. And you can get a lot done on a bus (reading, working, e-mailing, etc) since you're not distracted by driving. It may add up,but it's got to be less than $10,000 plus gas and ownership costs.

2. Dog emergency: As you say, your friends can help out in a real emergency, which would be infrequent enough that you wouldn't be imposing. For something with a bit of lead-time, pet taxis can get you to and from the vet, for a lot less than the price of a used car. There's at least one company in Columbia (http://awayhomeandpetcare.com/services/pet-care/pet-taxi/). I imagine there are more if you spend the time to look. You could contact them to see how quickly they can respond in an emergency. Also talk to your vet - you never know, they might have some sort of pet ambulance thing going on.

3. Regular life: You seem to be set up for getting around without a car for work, groceries, etc. I see Columbia has a "humid, sub-tropical climate" -- being from Canada, I don't know anything about that, but it doesn't strike me that weather should be a problem unless there's a hurricane, in which case you shouldn't be out at all.

4. Unexpected, one-off events: Bike, public transit, friends picking you up, and taxis should all be enough to deal with these for 5 months.

5. Safety: I can't advise - I'm a woman who's lived on my own in a house with no car in the driveway for years and years and it never even occurred to me that the lack of car was an issue, but I have no idea what the situation is like where you are so you'll have to be the judge. If the car is really the only thing making your house looked lived in, maybe you could ask a neighbour with 2 cars if they'd be open to parking one of them in your driveway for the 5 month period? Or is it worth to advertise your driveway as parking space on Craigslist? You never know, maybe there's someone close by with 5 cars desperate to find a place to park one of them....

It seems to me that 2 of the 3 issues (husband and dog) are resolvable quite easily, but the 3rd (safety) is up to you. Good luck!

beanlady

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Re: Car Conudrum
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2014, 06:33:41 AM »
How about asking friends in advance if they would be willing to be on call for emergency dog transport? I'll bet you can find some folks who are either huge dog lovers or hugely supportive off the idea of going car-lite who would agree to it.

Two hours really isn't all that far for a weekend trip even if it means your partner is always the one coming your way. I think your marriage will do just fine. :)

fodder69

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Re: Car Conudrum
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2014, 06:50:58 AM »
Columbia is not really an easy town for bike commuting but not horrible and the weather is usually reasonable. I think you can find a car for <4000 that would get you around and then you can sell it later for close to what you paid especially if you are not putting many miles on it. You can check the charlotte craigslist as well which might help. Use Search tempest to search nearby craigslists.

http://www.searchtempest.com/results.php?location=29202&maxDist=200&region_us=1&search_string=&keytype=adv&Region=na&cityselect=zip&page=0&category=8&hasPic=1&subcat=cto&minAsk=1000&maxAsk=3500

In a different town I might say you could go totally car free for 6 months but I think it would be tough.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Car Conudrum
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2014, 06:56:47 AM »
How about asking friends in advance if they would be willing to be on call for emergency dog transport? I'll bet you can find some folks who are either huge dog lovers or hugely supportive off the idea of going car-lite who would agree to it.

Two hours really isn't all that far for a weekend trip even if it means your partner is always the one coming your way. I think your marriage will do just fine. :)
Agreed, if it truly is an emergency, just ask any of your neighbors, they will be glad to help- just make sure to thank them with gas money and/or home baked goods. That's assuming you live in an area where neighbors are willing to help each other out when their dog is dying (if you don't, you probably have bigger problems).

bikerider81

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Re: Car Conudrum
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2014, 09:00:34 AM »
Thanks all. Good thoughts. We have decided to no purchase a second car and plan on using greyhound and car rental weekend specials to facilitate getting us back and forth. I ended up keeping the car so I can transport myself and the dog down to the beach for visits when it makes sense, and hub will take the bus or rent a car to get Columbia when he's able. Whatever we spend on car rental or bus tickets over the next 6 months, will still be cheaper than owning/buying a second car. It was weird that what seemed like a logistical cluster at first got really simple when we just remembered our core value of just not buying stuff unless you absolutely have to. period. So this was a good exercise in realigning what matters most. Thanks!

fodder69

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Re: Car Conudrum
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2014, 12:15:54 PM »
Nice to hear a happy ending!