Sep 282012

Benefit of one car: only one car to dig out of the snow

It’s fairly rare here in the US these days to find families with one car. We’ve been married nine years and have only had one car for eight of those years. If you do have one car, or are headed in that direction, here are some tips for staying sane.

Know Why

It might sound funny, but the best way to cope with one car is to know why you’ve made that decision. Perhaps you don’t need two cars. When we lived in Chicago, public transportation and the ability to walk many places made it rarely inconvenient to only have one car.

Are you trying to pay down debt? Saving for a future expense? Trying to lead a simpler life? Wanting to walk more? Whatever your reason, keeping that in the forefront of your mind will help when you get frustrated or others question you.

Plan Ahead

We have a plan for how we use our car. We know which days the other person needs it and when we’ll have to get a bit creative to meet our scheduling needs. This can be a pain if I’m in the middle of baking a cake and realize we have no eggs but boy does it encourage thinking ahead.

Get Creative

One car isn’t for everyone. Each family’s needs are different. But it might be more doable than you think. We’ve had one car while living in downtown Chicago, on the North Shore of Boston and now in a small town in the Deep South. We’ve done it as full-time students, part-time students, with five different part-time jobs between the two of us and with Dan working and me staying home. Each time we had to get creative to make it work.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Carpool
  • Exchange favors (someone gives you regular rides, you mow their lawn)
  • Use public transportation
  • Walk
  • Ride your bike
  • Combine errands and outings into fewer days of the week
  • Take your spouse to work so you can have the car
  • Look for work close to your house (we did that in college and grad school) or housing close to work (that was a high priority for us when we bought our current house)

Do you live with one car? Any tips to add?


 Posted by at 6:00 am

  6 Responses to “Living with One Car Without Going Crazy”

  1. We are a 1 car family too, and frankly I love it! I hope that we can always be a 1 car family, but I know that if work,etc weren’t so conveniently located it might be harder.
    For now we just plan ahead and if I need the car Brian rides his bike. On huge benefit of a 1 car family is that you are forced to think through your days ahead of time and really determine whether the excursion is necessary or beneficial!

  2. Granted, we still live in Chicago, but the best part of my day is when only having one car forces us to schedule in 15 minutes in the morning to hang out for my commute.

  3. That’s a great benefit to one car. I’ve always enjoyed car trips with my husband – even short ones.

  4. Sadly, we are a two-car family and will probably forever be, living in Southern California. We have a pretty terrible public transit system, and my husband’s work requires him to drive around everywhere, while I need it to pick up my kid and go home.

    I think if I lived in a different city, we’d be more likely to drop a car. When I visited SF, NY and Portland, for instance, I was amazed at their public transportation and that there was really no need to have a car. We love walking too and try to be eco-friendly, so it’s really ironic that we still have to have two cars, but it is what it is!

    I’m sure there are ways to have one car even where we live but considering our jobs and what we do every day, I can’t imagine the stress of trying to get everything done with one car, complete with the terrible traffic that we are known for! :D

  5. We had one car for over a year and while there were DEFINITELY times it drove us nuts, it was worth the sacrifice in the long run. We made “inconveniences” work, chipped in for gas when we carpooled and walked more for closer errands. Sometimes it was stressful, but it made us learn to make do!

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