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Who has converted into a 1 car family...?

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Who has converted into a 1 car family...?

Old 12-09-14, 01:13 PM
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RyeRey521
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Who has converted into a 1 car family...?

Hey guys,

As the title states, I am looking for other people who have converted to a single car family. My wife's lease is due up in April and the more I think about it, the better the idea of ditching the second car sounds. I certainly do not commute by bike as often as I could (Avg. 3 days a week), but with no other option to get to work I would have to make it work. Not having a car payment and dropping a car from the insurance seem like they would be worth the changes required for it to work.
My question I suppose would be more along the lines of logistically how do you guys deal with those days where both people "need" the car, or how was the transition from a fair/ dry weather commuter to a "anything goes" one? Did your wife welcome the change with open arms or did the added inconvenience require some selling? I live in South Jersey (The densely populated part), have a 11-mile commute, and sometimes need my vehicle for work (Infrequent and can be planned ahead of time).
I did some searching, but the only thread I found was a situation that stuck out to me was where a guy dropped from 2 to 1 cars himself while his girlfriend had a car of her own also, so sorry if I am a bad searcher..
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Old 12-09-14, 01:25 PM
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I am in a similar situation as you. My commute is about 11 miles. I have often contemplated ditching one of our cars, but I haven't really been doing this long enough to know if this is biking to work is a sustainable option for me long term. I've only been at it for about six months, riding 2-3 times a week. It's kind of a nice relief when, after riding a few days in a row, I can drive and just take it easy. I suppose, like you said, if you had to do it then you'd do it. Right now I don't have to ride everyday, so I don't.

If I can ditch one of the cars I'd save a lot of money. My insurance would be halved. Fuel saving is substantial, as well as maintenance of the cars, registration, etc.

We also have three young children who need to be driven everywhere, A second car does come in handy when we have each child has a different place to be at the same time.

I, too, would be interested in hearing from others about their experience going from two to one vehicle.
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Old 12-09-14, 01:27 PM
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We don't have small kids but we're down to one car. I commute by bike. On those rare days I need a car to get to work, I can carpool with a friend. Basically I gave up the car during the week to make this work.
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Old 12-09-14, 01:35 PM
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We do not have kids which simplifies the situation, but there are plenty of weekends where the two of us are doing our own running around. Her schedule hasn't been very structured though also (work-wise) and that will be changing so I am thinking that will help us out.
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Old 12-09-14, 01:44 PM
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My wife and I have been a single car family since we got married 2 years ago. We work 5 minutes from each other, so that is why it works. Our schedules aren't always the same, so sometimes it requires me hanging out around our work area (19 miles from home), or if she has more work to do, coming back to get her. It is definitely a sacrifice in convenience, but the $700ish a month that owning a car costs (payment, insurance, gas, upkeep, parking) is very motivating. About 6 months after we married, I bought my bike, and that has helped. Many times I bike home (or to work) just because I can. But other times, I do it because it makes it WAY more convenient. I'm commuting through the winter 1-2 times a week for the first time. So far, that's been fun enough. (:
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Old 12-09-14, 01:53 PM
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My wife and I only have one car. But, we work at the same place, and only live a bikeable 5 miles from work, and don't yet have kids.

So, I can't offer any real info.
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Old 12-09-14, 01:55 PM
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It takes two to tango.

We've been a one car family with three kids for most of the last decade. Getting my wife to give up the car long enough to change the fucing oil has been a nightmare, much less those couple of days a year when I actually needed to use it myself. Just make sure your partner has a plan B before you commit.

Last edited by TheReal Houdini; 12-09-14 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 12-09-14, 01:57 PM
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Ha yea, it is seeming like a lot of better situations than my own. I am not going to let that discourage me. My wife is all for it except she knows I will favor her needs over mine and feels bad about that. We have some time so I guess the only way to know if it is worth it is to park the car for a week or two and give it a dry run, while we still have a bail out option.
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Old 12-09-14, 02:17 PM
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I'm not married, and no kids... so one car would be plenty.

However, the first of October, I decided to see if I could drop the insurance on my car. It has been parked with the exception of one trip to the end of the driveway to snag a too-heavy bike trailer. It gives a good incentive to get out and ride the bike, and takes away all excuses of no time or too bad of weather to ride. I built a cargo bike & trailer for any cargo needs, and have my road bike for road stuff. I'll probably insure the car for one month or so every once in a while for dump runs and etc.

When I was growing up, our family was always a 1 car + 1 pickup family. 99% of the time, only one vehicle was in use at a time. My parents would always carpool to work (20+ miles in the same direction, and about 1 mile difference at the end), and my father would periodically ride his bike for one or both legs of the commute. The pickup was around for the rare occasion when two vehicles were needed (and became used more once my brother and I got our drivers licenses).
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Old 12-09-14, 02:20 PM
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You should check out the Living Car Free forum here- they like it whenever someone decides to n-1 on autos.
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Old 12-09-14, 02:22 PM
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When I retired, we moved to a town with bike trails that are plowed in winter and ground that is flat anywhere I am likely to want to go. We got rid of one of our cars and it has worked out pretty well. I work part-time at a job that is about 2.5 miles down the bike path, can go to the recycling center on my bike (a mile + away), can go to any of a number of grocery stores that are less than 3 miles away, can go to any of a couple dozen restaurants in a five mile radius, and can get to a wealth of birding locations that are all less than 10 miles from our front door.

The key to it working out for us is that one of us (me) was very anxious to stop using a car. I felt that my commute was killing me when I was working -- spending at least 2.5 hours a day in traffic, and staring at a computer screen for another 8-10 hours a day. I feel liberated on my bike, be it raining in summer or snowing in winter. My wife almost always has a use for the car, not having felt like its prisoner before we retired. On rare really ugly weather days, I can generally get her to give me a ride to work. Once, I had to take a cab, but that is once in about a year and a half. At that rate, the costs are clearly in our favor. But, if it were just about money, I would probably not be doing it. If it isn't something that you draw pleasure from even in the bad weather days, it isn't likely to be something you'll stay with. Or so ISTM.
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Old 12-09-14, 03:10 PM
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We are down to one car. However, we have an almost perfect-world situation for this. My bike commute is only 3 miles one way. The weather is almost always great. And (this is the kicker) my wife works about half-time and usually has all day off on Thursdays. So, I try to schedule errands and medical appointments for Thursdays. OR...I can drop my wife at her job, if needed, and she can often get a ride home with a colleague.

As much as love bike commuting, I might be intimidated by your situation. One partner seemingly would need at least mass transit as a backup.

OR...maybe you could make one car work if you joined a car-sharing service (like zipcar) for those days where both needed a car.
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Old 12-09-14, 03:10 PM
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We made that transition.

My wife had a severe medical ordeal in 2010 that left her disabled. I sold our '2nd car'. This worked fine for about two years. Thanks to therapy and time, she has partially recovered, enough to make local (1-2 mile) trips to the grocery or other short errands. I leave the car with her and ride my bike to work.
I've been an 'every day' rider since May 2012.

It's 15 miles with lots of rolling hills into work. However, I do have the option of shortening the route to about 3.5 miles and getting on a local bus, just a little further to a park & ride where I can catch an express bus. I take advantage of the bus (MTA) this time of year, especially in the afternoons but tend to ride all the way in the mornings.
We have 3 kids still at home, it gets tedious at times but it is doable.
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Old 12-09-14, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by tclune View Post
When I retired, we moved to a town with bike trails that are plowed in winter and ground that is flat anywhere I am likely to want to go. We got rid of one of our cars and it has worked out pretty well. I work part-time at a job that is about 2.5 miles down the bike path, can go to the recycling center on my bike (a mile + away), can go to any of a number of grocery stores that are less than 3 miles away, can go to any of a couple dozen restaurants in a five mile radius, and can get to a wealth of birding locations that are all less than 10 miles from our front door.

The key to it working out for us is that one of us (me) was very anxious to stop using a car. I felt that my commute was killing me when I was working -- spending at least 2.5 hours a day in traffic, and staring at a computer screen for another 8-10 hours a day. I feel liberated on my bike, be it raining in summer or snowing in winter. My wife almost always has a use for the car, not having felt like its prisoner before we retired. On rare really ugly weather days, I can generally get her to give me a ride to work. Once, I had to take a cab, but that is once in about a year and a half. At that rate, the costs are clearly in our favor. But, if it were just about money, I would probably not be doing it. If it isn't something that you draw pleasure from even in the bad weather days, it isn't likely to be something you'll stay with. Or so ISTM.
Hello tclune, You make a great point. I love the days that I commute by bike. I feel better starting my day with fresh air and enjoy the reduced stress from not having to deal with the traffic involved with driving. Obviously my mind is also on the economics of it, but I would see this more as a lifestyle change than just a plan to save money.
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Old 12-09-14, 03:46 PM
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I did this a few years back and I'm loving it, although it was an easier choice for me since there are some good public transportation options in my area. I can usually get where I need to go without a car, plus my wife like to ride her bike too when possible or preferable. Therefore, conflicts are rare.
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Old 12-09-14, 04:14 PM
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I think that I worked closer to where I live I would get rid of one of the cars in a heartbeat. Riding for 45-75 minutes, depending on the weather is wholly different than a 15-minute ride or 45-minute walk. We like our neighbourhood and I like my job where it is, so we are continuing with the status quo.
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Old 12-09-14, 05:12 PM
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I got rid of my car five years ago and have not regretted it at all. Initially, I started spending some of the money I saved on gas, parking and insurance to buy bike stuff. I was spending about $50/month on average, and now have all the gear I need to commute year round.

On the days when I need a car, I organize it with my wife who works about 8km from our house. I got her a hatchback that the bike can fit inside, so if needed I can ride over, grab the car for an hour or two, then drop it back at her office and ride home.
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Old 12-09-14, 05:37 PM
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...Nope, I'm a 1 driver family with 3 cars and N bikes!
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Old 12-09-14, 05:39 PM
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We were a one-car family for the biggest part of our 26-year marriage. Being in a city with a functional transit system made it doable for us. For the first 15 years or so, I was a skateboard/bus commuter. I took up cycling when my office was miles past where the last bus ran.

I've had a 20+ mile commute for most of our marriage as well. On the days I didn't feel up to riding the whole way, (due to injury, weather or just plain laziness) I'd shorten my commute and ride to the bus stop.
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Old 12-09-14, 06:41 PM
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I have 2 school age kids and we junked our second car in 2012. I use a bicycle and light rail or my motorcycle for commuting and my son could get to school using the same rail line when he missed the bus while my daughter could walk to school. As a result we use the car for long trips, grocery shopping and hauling the whole family places that are inconvenient to bike to.
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Old 12-09-14, 07:55 PM
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I started bike commuting 6.5 years ago. Initially I still had a car but when I realized how much I liked commuting and how little I drove the car, we parked it for a couple of years at my In-Laws. Eventually we just donated the car. We have 2 kids who have activities that can conflict but one will just have to get somewhere early the odd time this happens. I do only live 5 miles from work and my wife works from home so I suppose I could drive but I really don't want to. Overall, it has worked out well for us. It is a huge cash savings. I just had to do some maintenance on my bike and spent $200. In car terms, this would have been $2000.
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Old 12-09-14, 08:12 PM
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My wife and I have fluctuated between 0 and 2 cars over our marriage, with most of the time (including currently) at 1 car. In my experience, there are a couple things help make it work.
1) Willingness (and maybe an odd excitement) to occasionally go out in crazy weather.
2) Ability to slightly rearrange your day (both partners) based on the weather; this can mean waiting out a thunderstorm, then biking in to work, or one partner getting into work a few minutes late because they dropped the other off at work
3) Both partners can get into work without a car. Even if one of you bikes 99% of the time and the other drives the same proportion, occasionally the biker will need some way to get to a meeting 50 miles away or will be rather sick (so biking just isn't an option), but unable to call in sick because of a major deadline or...
4) A method to transport your child(ren) without the car
5) Movement toward organizing your life to minimize "necessary" driving. This can be moving closer to work (or finding work closer to you), finding daycare near to work or home, shopping and socializing nearer to home, etc. Of course, this doesn't happen overnight. We selected our neighborhood based on a number of these factors, and daycare in part based on the ability for either my wife or I to pick up our son by bike.

In short, it takes commitment, compromise, and a bit of gear helps. It also helps to have a job that generally doesn't have a hard start time, which is a luxury, I realized, that not everyone has; it just makes the morning transition a bit less harrowing if one single thing goes wrong (especially if you have a child to get off to school or daycare).

As a frame of reference, I have a ~3 mile commute each way, a bit more if I drop off our son at daycare, and I bike commute basically no matter what; barring the "I have a meeting I can't miss," if I feel too sick to bike, I am likely going to stay home. I usually drop my son off (he rides in a bike cart) and my wife picks him up; daycare is less than a mile from my work, and on the way home from my wife's work, which really helps. My wife rides a few times a week in the summer (she has a 20 mile rt commute), and maybe twice the whole winter, but one of her coworkers that lives a few miles away has a sufficiently similar schedule that my wife can catch a ride if needed, and she has taken public transportation a couple times as well (which is a significant time commitment).

Sorry for the book, but hopefully thinking through some of those logistics helps!
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Old 12-09-14, 08:50 PM
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3 cars. We could sell one but our daughter will be 16 in a month...
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Old 12-09-14, 09:20 PM
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My son will also be 16 in a month, so the 2nd car stays....but I don't see a need for a 3rd car....yet.
My husband's work is about 18 miles RT; he drives. My commute is 23 miles RT; I bike by choice.
Late this past Spring we had one car for about a month. My husband's car was totaled in a hail storm. He was in no hurry to replace the car because I don't really use my car. While car shopping he even told a salesman that he could take his time looking because I don't use the other car.
It was difficult at times when I needed to get groceries or my son wanted to go anywhere (he doesn't like to bike more than 10 miles). There's no public transportation here and I do drive in the winter when we get ice or a lot of snow. I don't think I could do it long term where we live.
I wish I could.
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Old 12-09-14, 09:28 PM
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We sold the second car about 1 1/2 years ago. It hasn't been an issue. I live about a mile from work and we're in southern California where weather is rarely an issue. I ride to work every day and I can walk in about 20 minutes if needed. My wife has been going to school and working part time and uses the car more often. I use it at night or weekends for errand etc as needed. Our schedules are different enough that so far there has never been a time where we both have "needed" the car at the same time.
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