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Could you last on one car for your family?


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Could you last with just one car, a fairly new one, for your family? My husband currently works from home. His non-working 17 yr old car is on the other side of town, not working. It is a 2004 Honda Civic. We are thinking of not repairing it or replacing it. My husband won't always work from home as this is a Covid thing, however, when he does go back to in person work, the current plan is two days a week. I am starting to think that it is not worth paying for a second car for him being gone twice a week. 

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For most of our life together we haven’t had any car - by choice - so yes. I think it’s easier than ever not to have a car, let alone two.

How far from work is he? Could he ride a bike? Take public transit? Uber?

Edited by bibiche
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We've been a one car family for well over a decade now. But we live in an urban area where we can easily Uber/Lyft or take the subway/bus. And we used to do one of those little daily car rental memberships as well.

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3 minutes ago, bibiche said:

For most of our life together we haven’t had any car, so yes. I think it’s easier than ever not to have a car, let alone two.

How far from work is he? Could he ride a bike? Take public transit? Uber?

We live in a suburb with no public transportation, surrounded by major roads. His commute to work is 45+ minutes each way. So Uber would cost more than a second car.

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Whenever DH or I used to work in downtown, we would take the bus and park our car in the park and ride. We have mostly had two cars and this was pre-COVID. Now, if you homeschool, are primarily at home on those days, can schedule things, your husband is vaccinated and perhaps would wear a mask, I would ask him to take public transport for those two days. You are with kids, in an emergency you should have the car. Companies used to pay for bus passes. It was hard to pay for and find parking in downtown, rush hour was a pain. DH and I along with many preferred to get on the bus, turn out our iPods (in those ancient days smart phones did not exist) and even take a short nap while the bus drove us home.

In short, one car is doable if you make a few adjustments. In the very beginning of our marriage, both DH and I shared a car as we bought it new. We had rather junky cars so we sold them both and got one new car. He or I would pick up and drop each other, we did that for almost a year until we got a second car. We were saving for a house too, had no kids, so we did not want to buy a second car until we needed it.  We got a good deal on a barely used car of an older person, so we bought that as our second car.

Edited by Dreamergal
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1 minute ago, Janeway said:

We live in a suburb with no public transportation, surrounded by major roads. His commute to work is 45+ minutes each way. So Uber would cost more than a second car.

I see. But if he’s only going to be working a couple days a week, why would you need to replace the car? Do you both absolutely need a car every day?

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This answer will vary for everyone.   Proximity of services/transit.  How many kids are at home - and their ages.  how often the car would be "gone".

there are people who live in areas where you can get whatever you need on transit/walking.  there are areas services are miles away, or otherwise inconvenient. (our transit agency tried to prove to the kids how convenient they were. . . . 1ds's first job, was 15 minutes up the freeway if he drove - and right off the freeway.  it was a two hour bus ride with a transfer, even if he started at the transit center in the city.)

 

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12 minutes ago, Farrar said:

We've been a one car family for well over a decade now. But we live in an urban area where we can easily Uber/Lyft or take the subway/bus. And we used to do one of those little daily car rental memberships as well.

Same. 

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Do you have any neighbors who work in the same area he does, or coworkers who drive near to or through your area? Carpooling is a cheaper option than uber, and more environmentally responsible.

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We were able to do one car for the first seven years or so of marriage - DH worked within walking distance of our house for a few years, then we moved to a major metro area and picked a place to live near transit options to ride the bus to work. Our kids were little and didn't have much going on so even if DH did need the car for something it wasn't a big deal. City was also very bike friendly, which made another good transport option.

 Now we live in a smaller city with fewer transit options and some destinations aren't very bike friendly.  Even though DH only needs a car once a week for work purposes, with two teens (one who can drive) and two younger kids with activities, two cars barely seems like enough. 😁

Edited by kirstenhill
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If DH could continue to work from home, then yes, definitely. We didn’t even bother taking the snow tires off his car last spring, and probably won’t again this year.

But since his office is 45 minutes away and I’ll have to work again eventually, it’s probably not feaseable where we live. One car is a #lifegoal for us, though. 

Edited by MEmama
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No. We live in a rural area with almost no public transit, I have to run kids to multiple places, and my DHs work takes him to multiple locations most days. 

Edited by Forget-Me-Not
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I could definitely go twice a week with no car, even more really. But I have a teen who drives and works. However, that is a double edge sword. He has complained endlessly about having to drive an old car. He also has, many times, just up and gone out without asking first. My husband feels that having the second car gone and not replaced will teach our teen to appreciate what he had and reel him in. 

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We are in a similar situation with my husband's beloved 2004 Honda Accord (boy, those things last). It has always had electrical problems (bad year for Honda Accords) and the battery is often drained. There have been many many jump starts in its long life. It cannot be counted on to start on any given day. Now it is doing some strange jerking hesitating thing when pushing the gas pedal for which it is going to the garage on Friday. 

During the past year having one of our cars be unreliable has not really been a problem. But now we are getting vaccinated and my elderly MIL is desperate for one of us to drive to NY to help her for a week a couple of times a year. I am not comfortable using public transportation (train, flight) to get there even though we are vaccinated. 

We have the Accord and a 2019 CRV. We both work from home. We live in a rural area. My son has his license and works nights at the grocery store. I have to drive up to my parents' an hour away once a week. And I do all the errands and take my daughter to in-person school. My daughter would be taking drivers ed this summer if they weren't so backlogged, she will wait until the school year. 

I feel like having one reliable car and a car that may or may not start is not enough for three drivers, especially if one of them has to be hundreds of miles away tending to an elder every third month. Also, I have felt very constrained. What if I were in a minor accident or ran out of gas, my dh or ds might or might not be able to come get me. If left with the Accord, it might not start on a night when ds needs to get to work. If left with the good CRV, the Accord might die on the side of the road on my way to my parents' house. So I hesitate to go anywhere fun, hiking destinations that I would normally go to or visiting friends within a hour, because there is no guarantee the Accord will start. 

Because my husband is bonded with the Accord and it is in such bad condition that I am sure it is worth nothing, I told him I have no problem if he wants to keep it, we just have to have an additional car that is reliable. He didn't think the few extra trips we make warrant it, but with the new problem with the stuttering/jerking, he seems to be coming around to reality. 

Edited by Kalmia
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We have had only one working car basically since DH started working from home due to covid. It is working fine now, and we thought about not replacing his car even when he needs to go back to working in person (which might end up being just 2-3 days a week - they don't know yet). If it were just the two of us, we could make it work. But once the kids are involved in activities again, we will inevitably have times when we need to be in two places at once and we will need the second car.

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We have two cars, but DH's is a 1990. Until this past semester, I'd say that it maybe got used once a month, and usually that by choosing to use it vs my minivan so it got exercise. This past semester, I have a class that starts right when L's ends, and since the library, cafeteria, etc aren't open, it isn't reasonable to wait until I can get there, so DH has been doing the run to campus weekly, but truly, it is the first time since the local office here closed and he started working 100% virtual that there has been that regular of a need for two cars. It would be far cheaper to use an Uber once in awhile. Next year that is likely to be even more the case, since it will just be the two of us. 

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I almost said yes, at least short term, but then remembered Dh and dd are volunteer firefighters, so that could put us in some real binds! Otherwise, we could do it short term, but I’d go nuts long term. (We’re in the middle of nowhere.)

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My husband has worked remotely for 20+ years.  Until 3 years ago, when we moved across the country from his employer, he would have to go on site occasionally and I had 3 kids at home homeschooling, then they were living at home attending school and work while youngest homeschooled. 

Now we could do it.  We might in the future when we give youngest one of our 2 cars.  Husband works from home all the time and is an extreme introvert. Youngest is in her mid teens and will homeschool for an other year or two (depending on if her math skills are high enough to attend cc early.) Most of my spare time is spent gardening in my permaculture food forest garden, so I want to be home most of the time.

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90% of the time we could get by with one vehicle.  If it were just the two of us we could make it work all the time.  But, with children in school and in-person activities resuming, not having ready access to a vehicle isn't feasible.   

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No.  We don’t have any public transport available and we need to have a vehicle available in summer for evacuation due to fire risk.  If DH had a job where he was always at one location we might get away with it if I dropped him off and picked him up each day but it wouldn’t be ideal.

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Our lifestyle? Yes. Our actual family? No. If we had to go to one vehicle, it would be the van that can seat everyone and hold my chair. She is a thirsty thirsty girl and she is a horrid grocery getter. We also have a 17yo, 16yo, and 14yo with activities and jobs. 
 

I could do without our truck, mostly, but we do a lot of projects so it’s nice to have. 
 

DH works from home now (and permanently) so theoretically we could deal with just one vehicle, but IRL? Not in this season. 

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If it were just me and DH we could get by with one vehicle. But DS22 is here and has a non-remote job. So we'd have to schedule all our car usage around his job, which isn't feasible. We each have our own vehicle and are used to that, and I don't have any desire to change. But DH and I mostly always use "my" CR-V. His truck is a gas hog, but it's nice to have around when we need to haul big or messy stuff, and he drives it on the rare occasions when he and I need to go in different directions at the same time.

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Yes. However I don’t have a driver’s license, only my husband has. So there is no point in having more than one car. We do pick homes based on public transport and how walkable the neighborhood is since none of us ride a bicycle. We do plan activities around public transport and also preferably on weekends. We use Uber too.

Medical appointments isn’t an issue since my husband can take paid time off to drive immediate family to appointments. 

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Yes, and that was actually something we determined to do (or at least aim for) from day one of our marriage. We had one vehicle for the first 8 years of our marriage as we chose to live within 1-2 miles of where my dh worked. He biked to work, even in the Phoenix heat. Two vehicles were necessary when we moved and he worked 10 miles away and could not find anyone who was willing to carpool. Thankfully, we moved again and he can bike to work so if need be we would be fine with one vehicle.

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No, it wouldn't work for us. My husband travels in his vehicle to other states every week for work. I could wait until the weekend for grocery/Target/drugstore runs but I wouldn't be able to take the kids to their activities during the week or drive my parents to their appointments.

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Ditch the second car and try it for a while. You can bank the money you save and use it towards another car in the future if you decide you want one.

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During covid, yes, absolutely.  When both of us were working outside of the home and my kids were attending brick and mortar schools that did not provide transportation, we could have if we absolutely HAD to, but it would be very, very, very hard.  I lost my license for six months after being hospitalized for depression, and I don't know what we would have done if we hadn't had grandparents in town who could help with transportation needs.  (And don't get me started on the idiocy of losing your license for depression.)  We live in an area where there is NOTHING within walking/ biking distance, there is not workable public transportation, and Uber/ Lyft are not super prevalent.  

I have lived in places where it was much more doable.  

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One car family for ... 12 years now?

Our last house was walkable to most places, and DH only commuted 2 days a week, otherwise worked at home. We just scheduled with each other’s needs in mind.

Our current home is not walkable, but we are 3 minutes from a commuter train, should he need to go in (pre-Covid that was once a week).  He Ubered to the airport for travel. If something came up and we both needed vehicles, we used Uber.  Still less than a second car, and really - we didn’t need it often.

With Covid ... ha! We barely use our vehicle at all.  It’s even easier.

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For most of the past few decades we would not have been able to.  But, we would be able to at this stage in our lives.  DH is retired and we live within walking distance of where I work.  Sometimes it would take some coordination/planning.  

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Our current household is myself, dh working from home, 18 yo ds, and 12 yo dd. Most days we only need one car. We had planned to buy dh a new car before Covid but now we are making due with the family minivan and an old beater. I would say we could mostly get by on one car but things keep popping up and we really do need both cars at times. We do not have public transportation or family that could help out. If Grandma lived next door and could help out with loaning a car or giving a ride it would be different. But it would be hard for us to operate with one car and no backup. 

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We might decide to do this for a while when dh's 2002 Suburban finally dies.   We both work pretty much full time out of the house but we are both within 5 miles of home and his job is pretty flexible.  We occasionally will be down to one car temporarily and it's not difficult for one of us to drop the other off at work and pick up at the end of the day.   It may mean I have to get up earlier in the morning or he doesn't work his preferred hours (6am to 2pm-ish) but we can make it happen.   

I'm actually going to be working on building up to walking to work over the summer.  Still not good as a daily thing since I often have a lot of heavy supplies to bring in with me, but as an occasional thing it could work.   

The kids have activities but they are generally in the evenings so aren't impacted by work schedules.  

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We also have a 17+ year old car and are hoping we can get at least another year or two out of it, but I understand why you don't want to buy another car. I've been thinking about what we'll do if we can't drive that car and, no, we couldn't get by on one car. We could probably walk to church, restaurants, or the library in nice weather if we really had to, but not a lot of other places and not for most of the year when sidewalks are icy/snow covered or the weather is cold/rainy/snowy.  I live in an area with very poor public transportation. I'd have to walk miles just to get to a bus stop and the routes are very basic and don't connect to other routes. There's no taxis at all. Uber/Lyft might be an option, but that gets expensive and isn't convenient here. DH often leaves for the day/evening for client meetings and I need a car to get my teens to any activities they have. Other times one kid is going somewhere and the other needs to go somewhere else or dh and ds go to an event far from home and dd and I need transportation. When we've had a car getting repaired, we've almost always needed a rental or we've had to plan every detail of our day and usually greatly inconvenience at least one family member.

Edited by mom2scouts
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With my DH working from home lately. We have discussed this as an option... we will wait until middle child moves out and youngest is consistently driving at least (though that will be like a year! AcK!) But it is something we are seriously considering it.  (For the two of us - with teen equipped with his own car ... so not a one car family.)

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I manage with no car, but by choice, we live in a walkable suburb of a big city with easy access to frequent, safe public and other transport. 

There are plenty of places I'd like to live but don't, because being without a car (or two) makes it impossible. The ability to go carless or use one car only is entirely dependent on your local conditions. 

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No.   We have 4 drivers in our home.   We all have different schedules.   I work full time outside the home.   DH needs to get the toddler back and forth to preschool even thought he is working remotely.

If I weren't working, DH worked from home, and we didn't have a choice, we would make it work, but that isn't our situation.

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We have for most of the pandemic because our second car was bought back by the dealer after years of transmission issues.  In your situation I wouldn’t like it, but my DH only has a 15 minute drive to work so if I needed the car I could just take him in and have use of it for the day.  We also live in the village and can walk to the library, stores, restaurants, the groomer, the salon, the pharmacy, music lessons pre-Covid, the park, and even a Save-a-Lot.  We are literally the last house on the edge of the village, so it’s a long walk in really hot or snowy weather but it is doable.  My teens were ready to start looking for jobs right before the pandemic started, but there are so many options within walking/biking distance that they could even with just the one vehicle.  In your situation I would save the money you would be paying towards a second car for a while and see if it is manageable.  If not, buy another at that point.  

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We did it for the first few years of DD's life and it was a logistical PITA.    Now it would be impossible.

DH worked full time, so I had to bring him in and pick him up 2-3 times a week and literally stay home the other days.   So it was "doable" in the sense that DD had nothing going on at that point in her life, and I could stay home a couple of days a week.   But things would come up, like we have to get our cars inspected every year (or the 27 random other things...sudden doctor visits etc).   The second car is priceless in these situations, when your alternative is to wait at the mechanics for hours, or walk 4 miles home.   The more people you have living in a house, the more these random situations will come up.  We don't have great access to public transportation/Uber, and don't have family around to help us.  We live in the suburbs,  it snows a lot, and the sidewalks are barely cleared and all that.

Remote work, and good access to other transportation would make a huge difference.    

We have 3 adults with 2 cars and honestly, it's the best we can do.    When DH is retired, we will go down to one again.

It completely depends on your specific situation.   

 

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We went down to 1 car early in our marriage, and have remained a 1 car family for over 20 years and 4 teens. 

I would just do some number crunching and look at the actual costs of insuring, maintaining, parking and fueling a second car. In our case, it was not worth the expense at all. We make use of public transport, cycling, walking, car pooling and renting or borrowing a second vehicle on the infrequent occasions we really need it. 

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In your situation, it sounds like it could work since your husband is working from home. When I was homeschooling four kids, there were so many activities to get to. And some days, I just needed to get out of the house. Back then I was better at planning 7 days of meals and doing shopping one day a week. But I still found myself needing an extra ingredient from time to time. Or we were all just having one of those days, and a spontaneous trip to the library or museum was just what was needed. I'm not a homebody like some people are, so I would feel the lack of freedom even if I didn't use the car every day; I'd want to know if was available. 

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Not for normal life, no. Dh has a work car and we have thought about just having one personal car. But we have 4 kids doing activities and we often need to be two different places at once.
 

Our second vehicle is very old. I’m thinking when it dies our oldest will be close to 16 and we can get a vehicle he and Dh can share. 

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We had one car for many years, because dh walks to work. We finally needed two cars when we had middle school age children with conflicting activities, and I was especially happy to have the second car with a teen driver who could get herself to school, sports, work etc. 

With such a long commute on the days your dh does go in to work, he would clearly need to take the car, and anyone else would have to get a ride, bike, Uber/Lyft or rent a car. 

Some things to consider: will it be cheaper to pay for the occasional Uber/Lyft or car rental than to replace the car? We rented cars 3 or 4 times a year and that was definitely cheaper for us. How will you get to and from the mechanic? Our mechanic is in biking distance, and that helped a lot. Do you have family or a friend who could offer a ride in a pinch? Can you walk, bike or take pubic transport anywhere from your house, like the pharmacy, grocery store, bank? How often does your teen need to drive to work, ie, would transportation be an issue every day your dh commutes? What are your car needs?

Finally, I think handling car access with your teen is a separate, albeit related, issue that you need to talk more about together. As a rule, I expect my teen to let us know when she's going somewhere in the car, even with two cars. It's a safety issue, and if she persisted in not letting us know after we'd discussed it, she'd temporarily lose access to the car. I'd make sure she knew that in advance, though, and wouldn't spring it on her. Dh and I let each other know where we're going, too, with some exceptions for quick local errands, so for our family that's just everyday communication.

With one car, communication between drivers in the house is paramount. It's very easy for different people to schedule simulaneous events and only realize later that there's a conflict with access to the car. Everyone will need to share calendars and check in about scheduling, and no one should be taking off with the car without checking in with other drivers. TBH I'm glad we have two cars with a teen driver so there's more flexibility. You could always try it out for a while, and if it's too much trouble buy a second car then. 

Edited by Acadie
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We have 3 drivers, one car. We've been doing this for a few years now. We both work from home, dh has the occasional meeting in the city (not since Covid, but I'm sure they will start up soon with a few of his customers) and mil has doctor's visits and will want to be out and about once we are all fully vaxxed. Pre-Covid she would take the car and disappear for hours and hours and it was occasionally a problem. We always give notice for any appointments or meetings and write it on the calendar (mil not so much) and there is local family that can take her anywhere if there isn't a car. We have had to rent a car on occasion for meetings and trips, which we are fine with.  

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We've done it and it wasn't fun but it was during a time period where the children were active in sports and homeschool activities. Unfortunately at the time, DH worked a 30 minute commute away (if traffic was moving) so I would have to get up early to drive him there and then go back later to pick him up. One DS played for school and rec soccer teams and another played school and rec baseball in different counties. It was a mess and I was a mess with all that driving. I hated it.

Then later DH started taking the car to work leaving us with nothing unless we had something planned so all impromptu stuff was out. I hated that even more. I felt so trapped.

Now we have one car again but DH has a motorcycle he rides if the weather is nice and the kids are all grown and moved into their own homes, so it's not so bad. I think I have a sort of PTSD from the stress from the past years though because even if I have no plans to go anywhere and DH takes the car to work because it's freezing or raining, I feel anxious all day because I can't leave if I want to.

So I would say try it for a while but don't put yourself through prolonged stress if it doesn't work out. 

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We can and have but it's a real pain.  DH has to find a vanpool or carpool for work. Which is fine until overtime causes problems.  Than we are stuck without a car on sometimes short notice.    He can't uber, be dropped off due to security.  No buses run out there.  He has ridden a bike a few times but it's a pretty miserable ride.  

Right now we have 4 vehicles my car, his truck used for hauling camper and boat.  The old suburban that runs fine but it's completely worthless so we are holding on to it for the teens. Plus DH's motorcycle that he uses to commute whenever it's nice.

Edited by rebcoola
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