Author Topic: One or two cars?  (Read 3300 times)

cool7hand

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One or two cars?
« on: February 05, 2021, 04:33:06 AM »
In June, my wife will move from CoastFire to join me in FIRE. She's not yet figured out how she'll spend all of her time, although she plans to spend some of it at a no-kill shelter that will require a car to get to. We currently have two cars, although the second does not get much use. We're thinking about dropping down to one.

Money is not the deciding factor but convenience. Forgive us if that upsets some folks, but we budgeted for two cars in FIRE in case our choices make two cars more convenient. So, responses that tend to debate the definition of frugality, mustachianism, or whatever won't really help us. So, kindly reserve those for another thread.

What we'd really appreciate are any anecdotes or heuristics to help us decide what situations might advocate in favor of two cars instead of one.

Thanks!

Cranky

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2021, 04:38:17 AM »
Well, we’ve always been a 1 car family, so we’re used to planning around that.

If you’re used to 2 cars, you’ll have to plan more, and some people don’t like that.

Otherwise, you do have to be able to roll with the No Car situation when your only car need work done.


cool7hand

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2021, 04:49:25 AM »
@Cranky Would you please say more about your experiences with down time when your car needs servicing?

nereo

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2021, 05:24:56 AM »
We were a bit anxious when we decided to go from 2 cars to 1, but what was most surprising to us about the change is how easy it was.  As soon as a single car was all we had, we almost unconsciously shifted out errands and car-trips around to group them together. I had always assumed there would be days when one of us would be frustrated that the other needed to use the car (and we wouldn't be able to), but those moments were surprisingly rare.

A few other advantages cropped up as well.  We live(d) in a snowy, urban city and it was nice not to have to shuffle cars during plowing. We were able to keep items in a single car (e.g. shopping bags, trail spikes, etc) and at was a bit easier to remember vechile maintenance (previously we'd ask things like: "wait, which car did we need X done on...:")  Minor things to be sure but they were nice surprises.

About 2-3x a year we'd rent a car for a few days (almost always when one of us needed to visit family while the other worked). I find car rental to be kinda fun - a shiny clean different car to experince for a short while - and the annual cost was still far less than just insuring a second vehicle.  Generally we were able to get a free-upgrade so our rental was almost always far more expensive than our everyday car.

Now that we've taken jobs which require commutes in opposite directions we've moved back to being a 2 car household and we really miss our decade+ of being a single car household. 
YMMV

Malcat

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2021, 05:52:29 AM »
Well first, no need to start off defensive, very few people here are going to give you a hard time about owning two paid off cars so that your wife can drive to her volunteer work in retirement. Also, if people here wanted to give you a hard time, they would, regardless of whatever caveat you put in your OP. In fact, 'round these parts, them's fightin' words.

Still, you're asking about such a reasonable thing that most replies are likely to be helpful and pleasant. Mention that you own 2 SUVs on the other hand??? Your entire thread is likely to derail into heated debate among members about fuel efficiency, etc, and your initial question will get drowned out among the stats about mileage and stats about mileage stats being inaccurate, or whatever, because shamelessly derailing threads is kind of our thing here. It's a lot of fun, but super annoying for the OP who phrased their initial post in a way that set off a derail-landmine.

Anyhoo, back to your actual question about owning two cars...wait, what's the actual question you're asking? I'm not really clear on that...

As for our personal experience, we only have one car, but it works out just fine because DH bikes everywhere year round and we live central in an extremely bikeable and walkable city. On the rare occasions that we need two cars, one of us will take an Uber. If we needed a car more often, we would use a car share service, which is so popular here that there's a station in our apartment complex, so the car is already here if we need it. There are stations every few blocks downtown, so it's very convenient. Whether or not this applies to you entirely depends on your city, infrastructure, and available services.

As for when the car needs servicing, most of that is planned, so we make sure that we don't need the car or take it to the garage that provides loaner cars. Or utilize the multiple options listed in my previous paragraph.

For most people I would recommend that they do an accounting of the cost of ownership vs the cost of occasional car service and see if the difference adds up to more or less than you are willing to pay/save for the convenience/inconvenience of ownership. However, you already made it very clear that it's not about money for you. So...what exactly is your motivation for considering getting rid of your car??

cool7hand

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2021, 09:25:25 AM »
Thanks nereo for your very thoughtful and helpful response.

Mr. Green

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2021, 05:48:33 PM »
When we FIREd we had two cars. After one of them didn't move for 4 months we realized we could drop to one car. If both cars were moving from time to time we would have kept both.

AccidentialMustache

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2021, 10:05:45 PM »
Mr. Green has the right answer. If you already own both, insurance and registration are pretty cheap per year. Hold it 1 year. See how many times you use both. It also lets you try both driving a single vehicle -- maybe you find you're constantly resetting seat/wheel/mirrors and it is annoying. That could be a reason to keep two (or buy one with mirror memory but that seems to be a luxury vehicle thing).

cool7hand

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2021, 08:05:24 AM »
Mr. Green and AccidentialMustachem, thank you both for your time and sage advice!

HipGnosis

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2021, 03:00:45 PM »
Other potential factors are:
Will she be on a consistent schedule at the shelter?   One that would let you drop her off and pick her up at a known time?
How available &/or easy is Uber, Lift & car rental where you are.

cool7hand

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2021, 03:30:20 PM »
Thanks HipGnosis! Very helpful!

Paul der Krake

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2021, 03:50:58 PM »
I can’t imagine ever needing two cars when nobody has a regular job. Our lone car sits alone most days.

Goldendog777

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2021, 07:05:31 PM »
We think about getting rid of our extra car too.  We live in an area that has ridiculous insurance rates and hubby’s 1998 Ford Ranger costs as much as my 2013 CRV to insure.  We mostly use the CRV so the truck sits for weeks at a time and we have to purposely drive it just so it gets moved every now and again!

Cranky

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2021, 04:34:56 AM »
@Cranky Would you please say more about your experiences with down time when your car needs servicing?

Cars - especially older cars - seem to plan a crisis for the worst possible time! Now, when dh had a pretty inflexible schedule and when we had kids who needed to be taken places, that took some schedule readjustment and often seemed upsetting to someone (not generally me.) There are ways around that - car rental, Uber, etc. - but they do require some $ outlay and planning.

Some people are very used to the freedom to come and go that a car represents for them, so there’s an emotional component here, too.

We are having a similar discussion in my evolving household but with larger numbers - in a multiple adult family in which only one adult will be working away from home, just how many cars will we need? Logistically, the two that we have seem like plenty, but the two people who drive those cars both seem uneasy at the prospect of not being able to come and go as easily as they are used to doing.

The Drawing Bird

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2021, 06:30:01 AM »

What we'd really appreciate are any anecdotes or heuristics...


Well, I had a similar thought process when our household was considering going from two cars to one.  You seem like a pretty logical person, so I'm sure you've thought through what-if scenarios that could necessitate two cars (i.e. what if she's out and you have a minor emergency... what if the car is totaled... what if we wanted to lend the second car to a friend...)  I think the main questions we considered were:

1. How often have we actually used two cars lately, and is there a reason this might change in the future?
2. Do we have other transportation options if something unexpected occurs (biking, public transportation, Uber, etc.)?

We were still leaning toward one car, so we parked our extra car somewhere it wasn't convenient to use for a couple months as a test run.  We didn't miss it at all.  So that was the nail in the coffin!  Maybe this extra step would be useful for you as well?

nick663

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2021, 08:43:59 AM »
Is your area bikeable?  Walkable?  I could see those things being a consideration or way of convincing yourself one way or the other.

We're planning to go down to 1 car soon with both of us working because I'm almost 100% WFH and my wife works a few miles from the house.  Worst case would involve me dropping her off for work (and that is likely to be very rare).  I have not seen a scenario on the weekends that could not have been planned around.

middo

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2021, 03:09:24 AM »
We are one car, but two motorbikes.  We have easy access to public transport.  Is that an option if walking / biking is not an option.

As for servicing, I do it on the weekends or holidays.  Our car has never seen a repair shop.  Well, not since we have owned it.

BikeFanatic

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2021, 03:34:45 AM »
I find the one car situation very easy to get used to if you have other options, like bike or uber.

cool7hand

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2021, 07:59:04 AM »
Thanks to everyone for understanding our need and trying to help. Appreciate it!

I think we'll give it a few months to a year, but I would be surprised if we ultimately kept both cars.

habanero

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2021, 08:20:48 AM »
In general I'm a bit surprised with people's relation to their car(s). Some do fine without, some need one and some need two or whatever, people's lives differ so I don't really have an issue with how many of the sort or which sort a household has per se. None of use use the car for commuting, so that alone means the sole car we have is generally available almost always and it spends the vast majority of its life in our garage idling.

When I switched to electric as our only car about six years ago I was worried that it couldn't pull a trailer (turns out I don't need to). A lot of people, and frankly myself for a short time, had worries about the range and charging speed of the car at home. You could easily get the impression that a surprisingly large part of the population's lives consited of nothing but long drives (while pulling a trailer most of the time) based on the importance given to these two issues. Most cars get surprisingly little milage in any given year - our national average is around 7500 per personal vehicle pr year. Would expect that figure to be higher for the US as gas is much cheaper and public transport muich worse. I'm at 8300 / year myself btw.

There is a rather large discord between how many people think they use their car(s) and how they actualy use the sort. If you dig a bit into it you often find out that its some fringe or rare use case that could frequently been solved another way than actually owning a vehicle capable of covering these rare needs. Like ordering drive-home for bulky goods, renting a car for the annual road trip, borrowing a big-ass car for when the boat needs transporting or whatever it might be. Or just using public transport, walking or biking for commuting.

It's not like I think the claim "we need two cars" or "we need this type of car instead of that one" is false when someone says so,  but it often turns out to be some fringe use case underpinning the idea and it has just become a habit.

« Last Edit: February 09, 2021, 08:22:47 AM by habanero »

ChpBstrd

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #20 on: May 27, 2021, 01:21:39 PM »
I suggest directly addressing the 2nd car anxiety by preparing a plan for that day when a 2nd car is needed:

1) Are you fit enough to bike 5 miles and back? Do you have a bike? If not, solve each of these problems.
2) Have you ever ridden a 50cc scooter? These can be had for ~$1200 brand new, depreciate $100/year, go 35mph, and don't require tags or insurance.
3) Have you ever used a ride share app like Uber or Lyft? If not, try it to see if this will address those outlier cases when you need to go somewhere far away at the same time the one car is unavailable.
4) Have you used delivery services for groceries, restaurant food, or shopping errands?

It may seem wasteful to go through these motions while you have the 2nd car, but the point is to reach a comfort level that will eventually save you thousands of dollars per year. There isn't really a need anymore that can only be addressed by owning a 2nd car. We truly live in the best of times.

 

Fishindude

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #21 on: May 27, 2021, 01:39:29 PM »
My vote would be to keep the second car.
However we have three cars and two drivers, so take that for what it's worth.

GuitarStv

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #22 on: May 27, 2021, 01:49:29 PM »
My vote would be to keep the second car.
However we have three cars and two drivers, so take that for what it's worth.



:P

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #23 on: May 27, 2021, 01:59:53 PM »
We have more than one car for, reasons (kids, lots of driving around & work commutes) but I like the framing The Drawing Bird provided. In your case, I'd probably lean towards one car, particularly if you have access to good alternatives, and can handle some chunk of your errands via biking or walking.

pbkmaine

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #24 on: May 27, 2021, 02:23:16 PM »
When we moved to Florida in retirement, we went to one car plus a golf cart for two years. As we became active in the community, we developed car-requiring activities in opposite directions. It inconvenienced us to the extent that we bought an inexpensive second car. We could have managed with one, but some activities would have had to be abandoned, and we did not want to do that.

iris lily

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #25 on: July 01, 2021, 08:33:45 PM »
Two adults.Four cars.

Two cars are regular drivers (one is a truck). Two cars are fun cars.

Squeezing down to the minimum number of vehicles we can get by with has never been our goal.

Fishindude

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #26 on: July 02, 2021, 08:22:17 AM »
As long as they are paid for, keep both cars just for the convenience.   With exception of insurance, it's not like a horse you have to feed and care for daily.
If you get to the point where one sits unused for long periods, time to reconsider.

jpdx

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Re: One or two cars?
« Reply #27 on: September 22, 2021, 11:21:17 PM »
It also depends on where you live. We have 1 car for our family but this only works because we can walk and bike to most of our daily needs. If you live in the country or suburbs that could tilt the scale towards keeping the 2nd car.