Late last year, the lease was up on one of our two cars. We decided to delay replacing it. We turned the car back into the dealer and became a one car family. This was not an easy decision and only happened after intense discussion within the family. We live in Texas for goodness sakes!
Timing is Key
We do not live in a city with fantastic public transportation. Becoming a one car family requires sacrifice of individual mobility and a willingness to plan ahead. In this case, the timing of the return was good. I was about to leave for two weeks in Spain. Then, we knew we had a bunch of holiday travel so “No Big Deal”, we definitely did not need a second car during December and probably even January.
Any family considering making this change needs to consider where they are activity wise. For us, it was a drastic change but we were able to ease into it due to travel plans.
Family Change = Family Decision
Three months later, we do not regret going down to one car. Circumstances can change but right now, we are saving money. There are no monthly payments on a car. No insurance company payments required so we can drive our car. No preventive maintenance that tracks with time instead of mileage.
However, the change reduced our overall mobility. Our family has to coordinate schedules and think about the costs involved with transportation. As possible, we schedule only one activity after school. When the adults need to go places after school, we use Uber or Lyft but now consider the cost of the trip when making plans.
The kids noticed the change too. Activities that require long transits in the car or the bus have been canceled. We also now have only a “family car”. Previously, they were accustomed to having a “fun car”. They are young enough where they think the experiment is fun.
More than Saving Money
Going to one car is creating good changes for our family and moving us toward our family goals.
- We have been learning the public transportation system of Houston. It’s actually really easy considering that Google Maps gives us all of the options and keeps me updated on the timetable. (Plus, we are lucky enough to have multiple bus stops within a 10 minute walk.) On the negative, using public transportation adds a significant transit time – in most cases.
- As of this week, all four of us have a working bike. We just invested in a chain and lock so we are riding our bikes to places.
- Our garage is super uncluttered! The car and four bikes fit easily.
- We are using Uber more when we go out which allows us to really relax together and both have a few drinks if we want to do so. When one of us attends a happy hour, the other one automatically gets the car so there is no fear of misjudging ourselves after the happy hour.
We live in Houston so it is a little bit odd for us to not have one car per adult. Many of our friends cannot imagine it. The math is pretty straightforward: at an average Uber rate of $30/ride (high range for sake of argument), we can take 20 rides a month for just the cost of insurance and gas for one car. As an average bus rate of $1.25/person for 3 hours of rides, we can ride the bus as a family of four, 100 times per month.
Everyone has to be flexible around the new arrangements. This means also that sometimes some family members have to extend their flexibility. For example, if work requires the use of the car, the rest of the family has to figure out another plan. To make the plan work, the whole family has to be open to changing their habits.
So far, it’s been a cool experiment. Other cities are much friendlier for a one car family but I think we are going to be able to make this work for us. Just last week, a friend forwarded “The Rise of the One Car Family” from Nationwide with the note “you are not alone”. They were actually surprised.
This is an affiliate link for my husband’s new bike: A Mongoose Dolomite Fat Tire Bike. The fat tires make for a super smooth ride. This isn’t a racing bike but it is perfect for rides with the family.