Living with One Car Without Going Crazy
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Exchange favors (someone gives you regular rides, you mow their lawn)
- Use public transportation
- 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?