Advantages of a One Car Family

When I got my new job in December of last year, much of my life changed. One of which was the transition from a one-car family to a two-car family. At the time, my wife was driving to work and school in the opposite direction as I would be traveling to my new job. I had long dreamed of having two cars and being able to drive to work, especially in the winter. If you were a reader of my blog way back when, you will remember my pity party when I had to walk 1 mile to and from work in sub-freezing temperatures – WORST THING EVER! In that post, I talked about wanting to buy a 2nd car.

Well, getting this new job would mean we’d have to get a 2nd car. I did some research and bought a 2nd car a week before I started my new job. I made sure not to lock up too much money in a second car because I wanted to keep more money in my emergency fund and keep my money working for me, instead of in a depreciating asset. Remember, older is almost always better when it comes to cars.

Car # 1, which we'll be keeping because I love our wagon!
Car # 1, which we’ll be keeping because I love our wagon!

Why I’ve Changed My Mind: One Car Family is Who We Are

While I don’t mind the cool AC in the summer months and the car heater in the most frigid temperatures, I have come to hate having two cars. Not only are we paying higher rent for living closer to town and public transportation (which, doesn’t go to my work, in case you are curious), but we are paying for two cars. Both cars are paid off, but having two cars means the following:

  • Paying twice as much in insurance
  • Paying twice as much for registration
  • Paying to maintain TWO cars
  • Twice as much value (or close to it, as one car is worth more) depreciating
  • Twice as many inconveniences when things go wrong with one of the cars
  • Parking problems (navigating using two cars in one parking spot is getting old – although not THAT bad)

If I really wanted to, I could probably go on and on. While it’s clear that cars cost money and it takes time to care for them, the most important thing to point out is that I have come to realize that luxury is not always a good thing. This is a prime example of ‘The grass is always greener on the other side’.

Coming to these realizations is a big step for me to curb my drive for consumerism even more. I now realize that worrying about who is going to use the car on certain days was a luxury, because of the many benefits that come with it. Now that we have lived with two cars for almost a year, I can happily say that I don’t need two cars. If we are going to continue to live in the northeast, near public transportation, which we are, there’s no reason to have two cars – at least not after the big move coming up – where I will be able to take public transportation to my new office.

Ultimately, our decision to be a one-car family is based on the following reasons:

  1. Less car repairs to take car of, and ultimately less stress
  2. Less expensive all around (depreciation, insurance, maintenance, etc.) which we can put to other things we enjoy more, like vacations, financial security, etc.

While I understand that some families may need two cars because of where they live, I also know that there are other options available to you. No one ever HAS to have two cars. And for me personally, I much prefer to live in an area where I can get by with one vehicle. In fact, I’m counting down the days until I can sell our second car. How’s that for ironic?

Are you a one car family? Or two? More? Do you think it’s practical to live with just one car?

8 Responses to Advantages of a One Car Family

  1. I’m a one car family, but really wish we had two. Usually car insurance costs don’t double with a second car because almost every insurance provider offers multiple car discounts. When we went from 2 cars to 1 car, our rate only went down by $150 per 6 month premium.

    The reason for wishing we had a 2nd car isn’t so much of commuting. My wife lives further from her job than you do, but still walkable and you have to pass it to get just about anywhere, so she gets plenty of free rides from roommates and her parents who live a block over. But we have different days off, so on her days off, she is stuck at home unless she can find someone to drive her around to do errands.

  2. We have two cars for our family, because our work schedules are very different and there is no public transportation close to mine or my husband’s job. Fortunately, we don’t spend alot on our cars (knock on wood) in terms of maintainance, one care is paid off fully, and the other is 1/3 paid off at this point. Gas is the only real major cost for us, but we have been trying to be concious about how much we spend on gas as well.

  3. There are times when I wish we only had one car, but then things come up where my wife and son have to be in one location and I have to be at another that’s in the opposite direction. Public transportation could be used for some errands, but Google Maps shows that it would take nearly 2 hours, with 2 transfers, to ride the bus the 13 miles from home to work.

  4. Are you planning on selling one of the cars then? If yes, will that create transportation issues for you and your wife?

    My wife and I probably could make the move to being a 1 car family especially since I’m a teleworker. That said, I don’t think we could pull it off. Our schedules are already so hectic that trying to coordinate travel schedules would be too stressful.

  5. Up until my early 20s, we were a one car family. It was fine when I was younger, because my dad was the only driver in the family, my mom didn’t drive. However, when I got my full license, it was a bit of a nuisance having to work around everyone’s schedule. People had to be picked up and dropped off. Mind you, I didn’t have the common sense to save up for my own car.

    When I was deciding on whether or not to go away to university, my parents said that if I stayed home, they would get me a car. I decided to go away instead and never regretted it.

    My common law partner and I each have our own separate cars. We both work very different hours, plus I have another job. We each had our own cars before we started dating each other. Unfortunately for us, it would not be practical to have just one car.