Our Attempt at Being a One Car Family

Many families survive with one car.  In fact, there are families that get by with no car whatsoever.  My husband and I each had our own car when we met, and when we combined households, we kept both.

In March, my husband’s car started acting up.  But he wasn’t exactly using it all that much (he typically rides his bike to work).  So, we parked it in the driveway and were going to investigate what we could do to get it fixed…  (Don’t worry, my Ru-Ru is still doing fine!)

Then we got the notice that the insurance was about to expire, and it was time for renewal… this was right before we were heading out on our 3 week honeymoon, so we left it parked at the bottom of our driveway while we were away, and let the insurance expire.  The plan was that we would renew it when we got home and get it fixed then.

Well, we’ve been home from our honeymoon for around two months, and the car is still sitting there.  To be fair, we did renew the insurance a week or so ago, but we still haven’t actually taken the car in to get fixed.  So, for the last two months, we have been a one car family.  It has worked out okay, but probably only because it has been warmer and our normal fall/winter sports activities have ended and we are on our more relaxed summer schedules…

The weather has generally been cooperating and hasn’t been too bad so both my husband and I are trying to bike to work as much as possible.  But we are making compromises to make it work.  Just this morning, I abandoned my plan to do some yoga before work because the weather has turned kinda rainy and gross, and my husband didn’t want to ride his bike to work (plus we have dinner plans after work).  He starts work much earlier than I normally do, so I had to rearrange my morning schedule to drop him off on time and head to work myself.  Not really a big deal, but a compromise none-the-less.

Another example of the challenges we have had is when my husband’s daughter stays with us for the weekend (which is most weekends).  During the week, she lives with her mom and step-dad about 45 minutes away from us.  With two cars there are never any considerations for going to get her.  My husband will just drive and get her.  Sometimes I’ll go with, sometimes not, depending on what else is happening that day.  But now, with only one car, we definitely have to think this through.

One of the challenges for me has been my previous tradition of doing the week’s grocery shopping on Sunday night… With one car, my husband is typically driving his daughter home at around the same time I would be stocking up on a week’s worth of food.  I can do pretty well with smaller loads on my bike, but when I want to do a major stock up on supplies, the car is definitely required…

Of course, there are positives too.  We have saved money on car insurance… The car, uninsured, sitting in the driveway has saved us March, April and May payments for insurance… at $80/month, that’s already $240 of savings.  It has been absorbed in to other spending, so we haven’t exactly noticed that too much… but if we were to continue being a one car family, we would definitely be able to take that money and do something with it…

And our gas budget has decreased dramatically.  Car usage has to be coordinated and streamlined, so there are a lot less convenience-based car trips.  When I’m planning my days and riding my bike to work, I arrange things to minimize my back-and-forth (I’m an intrinsically lazy person).

And let’s not forget the benefits to our health and the environment of riding our bikes everywhere.  I have noticed that my ride to work is getting easier each week that I keep up with it.  Maybe it’ll help me with my new biggest loser challenge…  And it definitely aligns with my values to be as green as possible…

But… and there is always a but… I don’t think it’ll last in to the fall… When the weather gets worse, and all the fall/winter activities start back up, our lives will just be so much easier with two cars.  With me, my husband and his daughter being all quite active in various sports, there are a lot of conflicting events happening in different locations.  We could attempt to coordinate carpooling, and hopefully we can work on making that happen more in general.  But I would hate for one of us to have to miss out on our sports because we couldn’t get something sorted out.  So, for the next couple months we will try to keep this experiment up, but we will also work on getting my husband’s car fixed so when fall comes around we can have the option available to us.

Are you a one-car family?  What are the benefits to you?  And what struggles do you have to deal with to make it work?



13 thoughts on “Our Attempt at Being a One Car Family

  1. I wish we were a one-car family. My hope is someday we will be, and I’m currently making some small incremental adjustments to get us there. I like how you and your husband are experimenting with the idea, and I look forward to the updates…especially in the colder months because I also live in a cold climate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are lucky here that our winters aren’t really that cold… they are just dark and wet… But that’s really no fun for biking, so we will see… It’s definitely tough when there are multiple people and activities to coordinate. Even if you can’t go fully one car, maybe you can decrease your car usage and walk or bike a bit more?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I’ve been trying to bike a lot more…especially for those trips less than 3 miles. Also, trying to choose things that are close so instead of eating somewhere halfway across town I pick up something that’s nearby that I can walk or bike to. I’m only a bit into this, but it seems like most of my car use is based on a choice and not a necessity.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I love that you guys are doing this, even if it will be tough to sustain into the fall. We hope to be a one-car family once we retire, but for now need two because one of the cars is usually parked at the airport some distance away, while I’m off traveling for work. If we just had one car, Mr. ONL would be stranded, and not too happy about that! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We aren’t a one car family but I think there is a chance that we might be shortly. It will be a challenge for sure. Just like you guys we each had our own car so there might be a transition period if/when it does happen but the money we save is important to us so we will try to make it work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well good luck with the change if you do it. It definitely saves money. Give us an update on it when it happens. We have both cars insured now, so we are paying for that… but the money we are saving on gas right now is quite a bit. Last winter, I was typically budgeting about $200 for gas a month… And last month I think we only spent about $80. But we may have filled up right at the end of May…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved reading about your experiment. It sounds to me like even if you are a 2 car family again in the fall, this has still been a good experience and you’ve learned some things along the way.

    Your example of going “big” grocery shopping while your hubby is driving his daughter home strikes me. In similar situations, when I haven’t had something but get it back, I learn to notice that convenience and be grateful for it.

    Odd question–would you consider some kind of moped or using a bus or even a taxi or Uber instead if you wanted to be a 1 car family? I know that it’s often easier said than done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We have definitely learned and grown from the experiment, so it was well worth it. We are still driving a lot less these days, so that is good news.

      I’m not sure that I would go moped because the biggest reason I don’t want to bike is because of the weather… which isn’t really helped by a moped… And Uber isn’t in our city yet… but I could get back in to taking the bus. When I was a student, I took the bus everywhere. But then the bus pass was included in my student fees… Something to think about though. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We are! No idea if it would be manageable with kids in the picture, though.

    It’s not always easy but we make it work. I hate driving and work in the CBD. Doesn’t make sense to drive and I’ve always prioritised proximity to PT in deciding where to live.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is so awesome that you have made it work! I don’t work in an easy location for public transit unfortunately, but it’s more the after work activities that mess it up for us. It’s not exactly practical for my husband to lug his ice-hockey gear on his bike… and when I have soccer right after work that is across town (not in an easy transit direction)… But these are all excuses really. We now have two cars that are insured, but we are definitely driving way less, and it shows in our gas budget! 🙂


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