Friday, April 04, 2008

One car family strategies

We're still doing the one-car juggle--it's only the doctor appointments and storms that throw us.

Jordana and I have been talking about one-car living this week. And then both Carrien (in the comments) and Mod Girl mentioned their one-car situations. I'd love to know how many of you are able to manage with just one car.

What is your strategy for getting the family where it needs to go?


Martha said...

We currently have 2 cars; but for years - and with small children - we only had one. If I had a Doctor appointment or needed to go out - I would take my hubbie to work and have a lunch packed for him. Or, if he came home for lunch and my appointment was in the afternoon - I would take him back to work after lunch.

I made full use of the grocery store that was within walking distance - it really was not that hard. I actually missed only having one car after we purchased our van - because when you only have one car - you are not tempted to go out as much. I found I got more done - was able to bow out of things I really did not want to do - and be a true homemaker with only one car.

I love your posts!! Thanks for keeping a great site Merideth.


Anonymous said...

Meredith In my early years of marriage with 2 young children and one car I would take my husband to work once a week. Then I had the car to do errands and I would pick him up after work.
Also did this if I had any special appointments
At that time he was paid every two weeks and I would grocery shop in the evening leaving the children with him.

Mary Ann said...

We have one car now, too. I work at home so the only time it poses an issue is if I have an appointment or something, then we work it out and I take my husband to work and go back and get him. I run errands either on Saturday morning or in the evening. Or I have my husband make a couple of stops for me on the way home if I need it.

We are within walking distance of a park(where I take my childcare kids to play), the bank, library and the Farmer's Market.

Sometimes having one car can mean saying no to certain activities or one of us having to wait to be picked up for a little while, but overall it is a positive experience and is worth the savings at this point in our lives.

Anonymous said...

What is the word on the Volvo? When do they expect to have it repaired? Also glad to see that you now have a stroller.

Tamara said...

We are a two-car family. Currently, we both work outside of the home (no kids yet...working on adopting, and then I will stay home). However, we have driven to work together for the last 2 years as a means of saving money. We work within 3 miles of each other. My work hours are 8:30 - 4:30, his are 8 - 5. He drops me off early, and I usually get some extra work done, or blog, or read a book. I do the same after work. We run errands together most of the time. When one of us has an appointment or needs to be at work earlier or stay later, we take 2 cars. This has really helped us save gas and minimize errands. We will have to come up with a new system when I am home all day, but I think we could still survive with one car, based on our experiences over the last 2 years.

Anna said...

We only have one car, and we like it that way. A big reason we chose our neighborhood was that I could walk to work and my husband could take the bus (no kids yet-for another few months anyway!). We could have found a cheaper place to live somewhere else, but being able to walk and take public transit to get most places is worth a lot to us. It gives us a slower pace of life, more exercise, and more contact with our neighbors and community. We pretty much only use the car for grocery shopping, longer trips, and in bad weather (and, okay, when my pregnant exhaustion and sciatica kick in, I admit it).

Rachel said...

We just went back to having only one car this week. It will take some getting used to, though we are planning it only to be a temporary situation. This week my husband was able to get a ride to and from work one day so I could attend Bible study, but the other days I have been home with the 3 kids and without transportation. Nothing is within walking distance (with kids in tow at least) as everything would be more than a 5 mile round trip and my huband's work is a 35 mile round trip, so taking him to work is not a great option. I'm trying to make the most of it and just be content. Staying home has its benefits, too!

TracyMichele said...

We are also down to 1 car this week and it has been HARD. It is difficult with MD appts, I will agree. If we were to take Daddy to work, it would mean waking the kids up at 6am and really, who wants to do THAT?! :) So these rainy days have been interesting as far as finding things to keep the Littles (and me) from going stir crazy.

Anonymous said...

We only have one car, but my husband works nights. The only time it really creates a problem is trying to get to church on Sunday nights. My husband can drop me off, but I have no way home. :)

Queen of Carrots said...

We have had just one car for several months now, and don't plan to get a second car for at least three years. (Not only for financial reasons, but because I just can't see myself heading out alone much until the twins are potty trained and the bigger kids can get themselves buckled in. :-) )

We do errands on Saturday because we're both too exhausted in the evening. We don't do many errands or shop for anything but groceries. For doctor visits we either go together, I drop him off (on days when the kids are at Grandma's--no way could I have everybody ready and out the door by 7!), or he catches a ride with his sister. We keep trying to figure out how to make the bus work, but the stops are farther than he can walk. Maybe with a sit-down scooter?

Fortunately we do have a park within walking distance. I think I could technically walk to a grocery store, but I have no idea how I would haul things home. We do better with minimizing our shopping--a quick stop at Aldi's for produce once a week and a visit to a bigger store once a month. DH stops by the library on the way home from work and I reserve things online. The internet is really a big help!

Angel Funk said...

One car family here! My husband works on Music Row and we live in East Nashville so he rides his bike to work 3 or 4 times a week. The other days I either drop him off and pick him up or he takes the car and I either stay home or walk where we need to go.

Weekends get complicated when we're wanting to go in opposite directions, but for the most part we figure it out. It's a big financial help for us, we use a lot less gas and don't have a car payment to worry about. Also, it helps our carbon footprint dramatically! Another bonus is that we are definitely very involved as a family, b/c we go almost everywhere together!

Teri said...

We have one car- and I love it! It is almost more freedom then 2 cars.

We have ballet 2 days a week and I do my best to schedule all our dr's appts on those days. I typically run errands at night (which means I don't have to take the 3 kids,) on Sat, or on my car days.

When I need the car, we drive Mark to work at around 6am for the hour or so round trip. I pack some snacks and we listen to books on tape. Ballet is only a couple of miles from Mark's work, so picking him up is easy.

The kids LOVE the car situation. They know that when the van isn't in the driveway, we are spending the day at home. We don't live in walking distance of anything besides a convenient store.

In the event of an emergency, several of my neighbors stay at home and I could borrow a car.

Being one car has eliminated many last min. trips for one thing, we make do with what we have. We've even done breakfast with no milk.

Joyce said...

We got by with one car easily until we had several teens in the house with all their many activities. My husband has pretty much always ridden his bike to work, about 4 miles one-way, and in really bad weather he takes the bus. It has saved us the cost of renting a parking space on campus. Our kids rode their bikes quite a bit too, once they were old enough, to things like Scout meetings, youth group, etc. It is hard with very small children. I did my grocery shopping once a week in the evening, going to the drugstore at the same time. We just didn't go out and about very much when they were very small, and ultimately that kept us from spending too much. has a True Cost of Ownership calculator on their website, and it is eye-opening to see how much it really costs to own a car! I think many people could afford to live closer to their workplaces if they gave up a car, and in the long run, it saves on time as well, making for more family time when you eliminate those long commutes.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

In nearly 34 years of marriage, we have rarely had two cars.

Both times we had a second car was because we were given the extra and at a time we really must use two cars.

The first was when we received my FIL's car after he passed away (my MIL never drove). My husband traveled a lot so that arrived just as it was necessary.

The second is within the last couple of months. My son-in-law's parents gave us their really nice "older" car. We kept our really, really old car since the insurance on both cars is cheap and my son is still commuting quite a ways to the junior college.

With the price of gas going up, it was far cheaper for us to get plates and insurance for our old car rather than driving my son all the way to the college and back to pick him up on those days we had to have a car (especially doctor's appt. days!).

Isn't it interesting that God provided each time just as we really needed one?

Anonymous said...

My biggest concern about being home with little ones without a car would be what would you do in case of an emergency. I know the odds are favorable, but what if you need to scoop up a kid and get to an emergency room asap? Of course there is always 911 but sometimes you could get there faster and also sometimes a small child can become very ill very quickly and you need to get to the doctor's office that day. I think just knowing you could not go anywhere (I would miss never being able to meet a friend for lunch or go to grocery store, etc.) would be something one would have to get used to. My husband and I managed with one car for several years (both of us worked and I was dropped off earlier than I needed to be there)but once we had a child and I stayed home, we felt a 2nd car was needed. Once he started school, I also needed a car for his transportation to school and activities. I know I could have no doubt found a way to manage and I don't mean to sound spoiled (our money then was very tight) but the peace of mind and convenience were worth the cost of a 2nd car.

Anonymous said...

Meredith, I'm so glad you posed this question and I'm enjoying all the comments. Talk about a counter-cultural idea - an American family without two or THREE cars! With rising gas prices, you and your single-car-family readers may well be on the cutting edge. We've had only one car several times during our marriage, primarily when stationed overseas, and I sometimes wonder whether we could pull it off again once the kids are all out of the house.

Susan in San Antonio

MamaBirdEmma said...

We have had one car for the past two years. Since my husband works from home mostly, it usually doesn't pose a problem. When things conflict, we usually say "no" to the least important thing or do a drop off/pick up thing. I am looking forward to when the grocery store that is under construction a few blocks away goes up... it will make things even easier!

Christian - Modobject@Home said...

Thanks for the link, Meredith! I'm really enjoying reading about other families that operate with one vehicle.

Adie said...

In 29 years of marriage, we have been a one-car family for 18 years. We raised our children with just one car and, although there were difficult moments at times, it really wasn't a hardship. We sometimes walked to the grocery store; sometimes I went in the evening.
In one home, we lived 50 miles from my husband's office. Baby and I sometimes rode the bus various places. The Dr office was TWO bus transfers and an all-day event. I hated that part of having only one car.
The next home was 2 miles from my husband's office so he walked. Sometimes a neighbor would pick him up as he walked.
Our current home is 14 miles from his office, so I would take him to work once a week and then cram all my "away" activities into that day. Only twice did we have urgent medical needs. Once, a friend came immediately to take us. The other time, we walked to the peds office just up the street. I felt badly later for my 3 yo son, when it turned out he had pneumonia!
We have had two cars now for the past 6 years. With three teens our cars stay busy! In the fall 2 kids will be at the local State U, so we might even need to get a third car. We'll see.

Amy Ellen said...

For our entire 16 going on 17 years of marriage we have only ever had one car. My husband drives it to work everyday, except when we only lived a mile from work and I would run him over there and then pick him up. There was also a point where he carpooled with some other guys. Now he has to drive 25 miles to work everyday, and unless I need the car for appointments, he takes it. Now if I have to have it, I drive him to work at 5:30 in the morning, and then go home do whatever it is I have to do and then pick him up at 4:30. Thankfully he has Fridays off, so I really try to do things on Fridays. Also everything is so much more expenisve in the little town we are living in now, so I do my grocery shopping on Sunday after church at the Walmart in the town we used to live in.

Anonymous said...

Currently we have NO car, since our one car went kaput about 2 weeks ago! My situation is a bit reversed though as I work outside the home and hubby is a SAHD. I am fortunate to be able to take the bus to work (only a 15 minute trip) and since we live in an urban environment he has taken the bus to the library, the mall and other places. The park is around the corner and grocery stores are within walking distance too. The kids, 4 and 7, think riding the bus is super fun and I swear I've lost weight from all the walking.

But for the big stuff, like major grocery trips and the dr's, we've sometimes had to rent a car , about 45 dollars for 3 days. Not my first choice on spending money but it worked.

Could I live completely without a car, probably not, at least not with 2 young kids. But living with one is easy for us since we live in the city and can use public transportation for almost everything.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic topic! My family is currently in the process of purchasing a home right down the street from my husband's employer, so we will soon be a one-car family, too. Not only will be husband be able to walk to work, but we will also be within walking/biking distance of a grocery, park, school, restaurants, library, & light rail station (commuter train). Although the house is more expensive than those in the neighborhood where we are currently renting, I am absolutely certain that the extra money will come back to us in decreased transportation costs & health benefits from all that walking/biking.

P.S. For the poster who was concerned about getting groceries home from the store, Wald (waldsportsdotcom) makes really sturdy & roomy bike baskets. It's amazing what you can carry on a bike with a good attitude & the right equipment!

Kelly said...

Dan and I have only had one car since we've been married. We currently live in a city and have public transportation and are able to walk to places like the grocery store, so it's not been very tricky at the moment. We have lived in the suburbs with only one car and Dan's work was just over a half-hour away, but it wasn't too bad. I would just end up having to drop-off and pick-up Dan from work if I needed the car that day - maybe make a day of it in the city.
It may be a bit of a hassle, but with only one car you sure save a bunch in insurance, gas and repairs. By the way, and maybe you already know this, but you can notify your insurance company and let them know that your car is in the shop and you should be able to get a discount for the days it's not out on the road.

Anshu said...

mee tooo! We are also doing well, with our Honda. It helps that both of us work very close to our home, with me being on a walkable distance. I never really felt the need for another car, so far.

The Nester said...

I only want 1 car! I am so jealous of all of you! Our 2nd car won't even be paid off for a year! My husband's truck is technically a work truck but it has a back seat so we all could fit!

Wendi said...

We are currently a one car family because my husbands truck is broke. A $400-$800 fix. Ouch! I stay home alot so the only problem we have run into is shopping. I use to take one morning a week to go to CVS, Walgreens, the grocery and do any other errand. Now I have to go in the evening. Not fun. I lose out on our family time and it takes longer because the stores are much busier.

With the rising cost it might be worth it to have one car and cut our insurance payment.

Rachael said...

We do the one car family thing, and since its just me, my hubby and my baby we do the one small car thing (honda civic). We done with one car for 1 1/2 years so far and its gone fairly smoothly overall. We both work at the moment (myself part-time) so I use the car for my nearby 3 day/wk job and hubby rides his bike and then takes a ferry to his job. It is a lot cheaper than doing the second car for us! The only issues come up when we need to be two different places at once, but usually we can find a friend from church to give the other a ride, or we just end up skipping some events. Makes life less stressful sometimes!

Beth said...

We have been a one-car family for 14 years, and we have no plans to get another car any time soon.

The cons:

1. I can't go anywhere on the spur of the moment...thrifting, park, groceries, get-together with friends.

2. If our car breaks down we have to figure out how to deal with it.

3, My kids have missed out on some social opportunities with the homeschool group because we can't just pick up a go.

The pros:

1. In our state insurance, taxes, inspection fees, and licensing are expensive. We can opt to use this money for something else.

2. I get so much more done with my day when I don't have the option to go anywhere. Likewise, my shopping has to be planned carefully and that saves me money, too.

If I know I'll need the car for an appointment or something I can take DH to work and then pick him up. My parents live next door to us, so we have them as an emergency back-up, but we did get by without a car even before they moved here.

The only time I've needed to get a child medical attention so fast that there wasn't time to call a friend or call a cab was a time when I felt I had to call EMS anyway...even if I'd had a car I would not have taken the time to transport this child to the ER.

texasmcvays said...

We had one car until my Dad gave us a car last year. It just takes a lot of planning and we did not do anything extra...all of our activities were well thought out! I hope you get your car out of the shop soon. Our 2nd car is up on "blocks" right now while my dh puts a new "thingy" in because its leaking oil. So we are also 1 car folks for the time being.

Anonymous said...

We only recently added a second car. It can definitely be done. In fact, in the city we got by with no cars for several years.

Is there a car share program in your area? That might help bridge the occasional gap.


Loretta said...

My husband and I have been married going on 35 years and were always a one-car family until our daughter (adopted in our 17th year of marriage) turned 16, two years ago. I don't drive and my husband is a trucker, so he's gone for days at a time. But I am a true homebody and never minded not having another car. Whenever we needed to go somewhere when he was on the road, there was always a friend to give us a lift, but that was not very often.

Three years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so it got more difficult during the 13 months when I was at the cancer center pretty much five days a week. But even then, we had wonderful church members and friends who stepped in and helped me get to all my appointments when my hubby was on the road.

The one-car challenge can be difficult--much more so, I imagine, for those who are accustomed to having a car at their disposal--but it's definitely "doable".

Meredith, this is my first comment but I want you to know I enjoy and appreciate your blog very much.

Anonymous said...

I've done it most of my life. I enjoy being at home and prefer it. If I want to enjoy the sunshine, I step outside my door. If I need to see a friend or family, I work it around my dh's schedule or perhaps they can come here on occasion. We live in a town so I don't have easy access to stores. Shopping is done opposite to his schedule, but there have been many times in my life that I've shopped at night or on the weekends, because that's what I had to do.

I think having 1 car is more common than you would think, especially these days and for those who are lower income. I agree with Beth that there would be very few situations that you may need a car for emergency and then you'd want the EMT anyway. Unless one has a child (or parent) that has a chronic or life-threatening illness, I don't see the real need.

By having creativity, teamwork and a willingness to work things out, a family can make it happen. It seems though that there are a lot of Americans who are spoiled in this area when having even 1 car is a real blessing.

Mom of Five said...

I have mentioned us becoming a one-car family in the past, but Dh won't hear of it. We live way out in the country, and none of our neighbors stay home, so I wouldn't have anyone close by in case of emergency. Dh drives 20 min. to work each day, and he worries about what I would do if I needed to take one of the kids to the ER (this has happened a few times in the past two years...three boys in the house!), or if he had an emergency and needed me. Since he's the provider, and it is more important to him to pay for an extra car in insurance and gas, that's what we do for now.

Candace said...

We ahve always had one car, from the ime that we were dating until nine years into marriage. It was never managable for us to lease another one so we didn't. We work opposite shifts so that one is always home with our children and we make plans in advance to go places. It is a pain for one of us to have to ask off for Dr. appt, etc, but we make it work.

Dianna said...

We have one car. We don't want another one. My husband bikes 4 miles to work (and enjoys it). In bad weather, he takes the car or carpools with a co-worker/neighbor who also bikes.

Sometimes I have to forego or reschedule errands, or sometimes I have to drop him off, but it's not a big deal. We enjoy being a one-car family.

Elizabeth said...

We are a family of 6 and have been a one car (or mini-van) family for 12 of our 15 married years. The only really compelling reason we have to get a second vehicle now is because we can't fit the power wheelchair in the van with all of us now that my son's outgrown the preschool/elementary sizes he used to have.

We chose where we live by the terrain and the bus routes even before I worked out of the home, and we also try to be where we can walk to a library and grocery store or drugstore. Before Philip got his first powerchair, I had a Peg Perego triple limo style stroller and we quickly learned which places we could get in and out of.

Now our real challenges are when we all need to go somewhere and one of us can't get there by bus. So we're looking to get another minivan, which will get only minimal use, but there ya go....

Nikki @ Saving For A Rainy Day said...

We are a one car family because I have not yet learned how to drive!
We have 3 kids and minivan. DH drops the 2 big kids off at school on his way to work and most of the time I walk (about a 20 minute walk)to get them. It's great exercise for the baby and I. We live in a neat little town with a great business district and if I need a few things I can grab them while I'm up there. If it's raining too hard,(or like when my ankle was sprained.) He can leave his work to get them.When I work in the evenings DH drops me off and I usually get a ride home with a co-worker. We do most of errands together as a family which can be frustrating sometimes but thats our life: )

Anonymous said...

For the first 4 1/2yrs of our marriage, we had no car at all. My husband would walk to the grocery store (often picked up by someone cuz we lived in a small town at the time and most knew him) ... he wouldn't have to worry about a ride home because he used to work at the small grocery store he went to, so they'd give him a ride home. IF there was something that wasn't in walking distance that we needed to get to, we tried to arrange a ride with someone. It was tough, but we made it through.

We got our first car last year (and it died 3 months later so we traded it in for the car we now have) ... and we plan to stick with one car only until we own our own land and need a truck to pick up feed and such for the animals we'll get.

It's not hard for us. I take my husband to work every night (he works 3rds), pick him up in the mornings .... he's up with us until 3 or 4pm, then goes to bed. Any errands are done while he's up. But there really aren't a lot of errands we do. I try to get it all done in one shot (like on grocery shopping day) -- saves gas that way lol.

Anonymous said...

We went with one car for a few months after my husband's car died and it wasn't that horrible ... he carpooled with a co-worker and he took the car a couple of days a week. It actually drove him (no pun intended) more nuts than it did me and we did find another car for him (a small used car that is more fuel-efficient).

Fortunately we did not have any emergency things come up where I was left without a car, but I think that concern was always with my husband, that he would have the car and we'd have an emergency here where we'd have to get to town.

Like trying to save on gas, it does come down to planning and combining as many errands as possible, as well as being understanding of each other's needs and concerns. :-)

ADish said...

We have been a one car family for a little more than 3 years now. But I'll admit up front that our situation is a peculiar one. My husband works from a home office all the time. His employer is in Pittsburgh (we live in Dallas) and he only travels up there about once a year.

I usually have the car, because I take the kids to school and run errands. If my husband needs it for a lunch appointment or doctor visit or whatever, he takes it and we work around it.

The only tricky thing we've run into is the scheduling of evening activities. My husband is now an elder in our church and he has a few extra meetings in the evenings. I'm involved in women's activities at church, also, so that has to be tweaked. And then there's the shuttling around to the kids' activities.

In the 3 years we've been doing this, only one time did we run into a problem. One of my children was hospitalized and my husband had the car at the hospital and I couldn't get the other child to school. But that's just one reason God created nice neighbors!

Great post topic! Thanks for letting me play!

Sharon said...

We have owned one car ever since we were married-almost 5 years now--and have gotten along fine. It helps that my husband lives less than a mile from work and that he can drive a work truck home. On the weekends we make plans together or we work something out--drop off one or another. I think since we have only had one car for so long that it just doesn't seem like a big issue to us. Kind of something you just get used to.

Camille said...

Wow! I'm thrilled to see so many people with one car!! We've been a one-car family for 4 years now. I have to admit that I get stir crazy often when I can't go out whenever I want during the day -- and I prefer to do errands in the morning, but can't. DH is a teacher, though, so he's home around 2 PM everyday. We just schedule appointments around that. When I was pregnant, I had a doc office re-schedule me for the morning, and it took me two days of calling and insisting to get them to understand that we only had one car and I couldn't be there at that time.

It is so worth the gigantic savings in insurance, title, registration fees for us. Plus it's only 9 months out of the year with a teacher!

Amanda on Maui said...

The BF and I have only one car. Luckily he works from home, and I can take it to go to school, go to the store, etc. Sometimes it is annoying though when he goes to play music with his friends and I'm stuck at home without a car.

Angela S said...

Ya know, for me its about planning 95% of the time and sucking it up the rest. Organizing errands into one day a week when I'd suck it up and wake up the kids and myself at the crack of dawn to take the hubby to work so I'd have the car for said errands and a few doctor appointments. Very rarely did I have to ask other people for rides. I'd also walk where ever I needed to with the two kids or even better, ride our bikes. We could rack up 100+ miles in a week riding places we needed to go. While I am in shape at times, I'm really not all that in shape so it was hard but got my exercise taken care of for the day.

Anonymous said...

We don't like cars all that much, so we bought our house within walking distance (10 minutes) of both our city church and my husband's job downtown. I have the car, then, for errands or appointments with the kids. We also have a bus route in front of our house and park behind it, library is a block away, groceries a few blocks away, so often the car just sits. My husband and I are BIG advocates of location, location, location when you consider being a one or no car family.
I was fascinated by all the people who commented that it's no big deal and worked around spouses' work schedules and not living in walking distance of anything. Really cool!

Erin said...

We only have one car and it works well for us. But, we do live on the air force base so everything is within walking distance for us. And if I need the car my hubby can get a ride or bike to work. Even though at times it's annoying only having one car the savings makes it all worthwhile.


Anonymous said...

We are a one car family. There are two reasons for this, number one, we do not have the means to buy and insure a second car, and number two, I have never had a driver's license. It is like a vicious circle, though. I do not get my license because I would never have use of the car during the week.

It is not easy for us. I have a system, though. My best friend lives on the same street that we do, and our daughters attend the same school. If she drives us, I get out and get the girls from their classes, so her younger kids do not have to get out of the car. When she runs to the store, she asks if I need to go.

I try to do things to repay her, like having my hubby take the girls TO school in the morning, or I sometimes babysit for her. It is a good arrangement, and there is no strain, because she is like a sister, more than a friend.

Anonymous said...

We are a one car family. My husband trains for triathlon (he has finished an Ironman and several half-ironman races) and so he rides his bicycle to work three days a week and takes the car the other two days.

I get my errands done on the days I have the car. On the two days that I don't have the car I use the stroller a lot - we live in a very walkable neighborhood and I can walk to the grocery store if I just need a few items.

It's really ideal: I get the convenience of a car most days and he gets tons of exercise and a chance to complete some of his training. We drive a lot less overall, and while his racing bike is expensive its still way less than buying, insuring, and maintaining a second car.

Anonymous said...

We are currently a NO-CAR family! We started our marriage with no car, had one for about the first two years of my son's life and a year ago, decided to go car-less again. But, we live in the middle of Chicago and DH takes the bus to work (which takes approximately the same time as driving used to take and he can read while riding). He gets a monthly pass which works out to a lot of savings.

My son and I take the bus or train pretty much wherever we need to go. There are plenty of stores, parks, etc. within walking distance (Target, CVS, a thrift store - surprisingly, the distance you're able to walk lengthens when you have no other choice!).

The biggest obstacles are, of course, grocery shopping and visiting out-of-town relatives. We use a car-sharing program (iGo) for groceries sometimes but through the winter, actually opted for delivery (PeaPod) several times (costwise, it works out similarly to a trip to Aldi plus paying for the car). Then we take trains to relatives.

It's working out for us. It feels very budget- and eco-friendly!

walkmom said...

I admire all of you who can do it, but my husband lives a 45 minute commute (with no traffic) from work--his work has changed since we moved here. And the bus schedule doesn't fit his crazy schedule. Buying bus passes for the other 7 of us would not be very cost effective, and the timing wouldn't always work with our activities. We are only involved in a couple of things outside of church, but they are often outside of bus routes are not at the right time. And the extra gas to take my husband to work and get him--not to mention the 2.5 hours to do it would take way too much time.

San Antonio

Sheila said...

When the kids were small we only had one car.

When we lived in Toronto, a city with a great subway system, I'd just hop on the subway. It was easier than driving anyway. I got really good at carrying the stroller up and down stairs! I'd usually have one kid on my back, and a stroller, or else one kid on my back and one on my front. Of course, I was only 27 then.

When we moved to Belleville, a small town with only buses, we did the bus thing for a while, too. The kids loved it. They still love buses. Sometimes we'd drive my husband to work so we could have the car, but it wasn't always feasible.

When the girls were young, I found buses were great ways to plan my day. I knew when they came and could plan my downtown route--library, banking, etc.--all to get back on the bus. It helped the days go more quickly.

It is easier with two cars, but we enjoyed our one car. And it was a lot cheaper!

Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

Anonymous said...

We are a one car family, and it is a blessing. I do wish I could get to some more daytime events, but dropping DH off at work is not an option since he is often driving to other locations from the office. We can walk to a park and have close neighbors, and work hard to plan timing for the other things we need to do. Now I can't imagine how we did as much as we used to do outside the home. I am so busy, I wonder how I could have been busier running around. Slowing down has been the best!

Indie Pereira said...

When we first got married, neither one of us had a car so we rode bikes everywhere. We had to borrow a car to go on our honeymoon.

For most of our eight years of marriage we've had just one car. Sometimes it is a pain. I don't particularly enjoy getting up at 6am and getting three kids into the car to take my husband to work three days a week. And there are frustrating scheduling conflicts sometimes. But the only way we could afford two cars would be for me to go back to work.

We're in the process of buying a house and we've found one that is within walking distance of our church, mothers day out, and the public magnet school that I hope to get the kids into (and they can ride the bus if they don't get in). Technically we could walk to the library and grocery store too, but the roads are a bit busy and narrow with no side walk so I don't know how much we'll do that.

As for medical care, its never really been an issue. If its a real emergency I would call 911. If it was not that pressing, I'd get a ride from a friend or call my husband to come home. My kids rarely get ill and when they do my doctor never tells us anything we couldn't find out on the internet anyway.

Lucy said...

Only having one car seems very normal to me. We do what people all over the world do - we walk, cycle, take a bus (not often as it is pricey) or dh cycles to work and the children and I have the car. We shop once a week - we used to go en famille when dh was home, now one of us goes one night when dh is home and the children are asleep.

Anonymous said...

We only have the one car - it works for us. We moved to a smaller place much closer to dh's office so that he could bus there (nearly twice as fast as driving in rush-hour, and cheaper than paying for gas and parking), we moved to a neighbourhood with lots of spaces for kids and near a shopping district, this way I can walk most days.

Generally, our car sits. It is there for emergencies, or major grocery shopping, or trips that are too far for walking. As spring and summer get going, we will be taking transit far more often.

I've never owned more than one car and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. For us it would simply be gratuitous.

Unknown said...

We were once a one-car family, too. I bought my little car about a year ago, after two years of being a one-truck family. We have basically the same work schedule, so we drove together. On weekends I either took him to work (he works 8-12 on Saturdays) and did my running around or went at night. I would love to go back to it now, but alas, he has other ideas. Since we live in the country, walking is out of the question. I suggest shopping at night, stores are usually empty, too. For Dr. appts, and the like, drive him to work, do it all in one day, then pick him up in the afternoon. That is what I did, and it also make you plan very well (not that you need help in that department.)

~Karen_ said...

We're currently a no-car family, but we're overseas.

Pros: 1.Stores and stuff are closeby
2 public transportation is affordable
3 most places we want to go are on bus routes
Cons: 1.Going to the store too many time per week, you can only carry so much!
2. Busses are crowded
3. A few in our family get motion sickness on hot, stuffy mini-busses with a crazy driver!

We've also been a one-car family in the US. We survived, but if we didn't have friends and family who helped in some way, we would have had a harder time.

Anonymous said...

We live in Philly, and we've stayed in the city in large part due to walkability, it is cheaper even with our private school costs for the boys. DH figures that gas is only going up. Plus, he gets more time with the boys since he doesn't commute 45 to 1 hour each way to work.

DH and I both can walk to work. I work from home most days but sometimes I have to run in for a meeting. We walk a ton. I bought a used good hiker-style backpack for the kids when they were younger. It was much easier to deal with the bus and the subway with the kids in the pack over a stroller. A boogie board on the current stroller is great when the older one gets tired. Although kids can walk a lot farther once they get used to it.

We currently drive DS to his school but if gas prices continue we could get him to his school on the subway. When he gets a little older he can take the school bus.

I usually shop the close Asian markets, and the local indoor farmers market since it is way cheaper than the big box grocery stores. We also got several small mom and pop stores, a new bakery and a co-op is coming. We've seen a huge rise in families staying in the neighborhood lately.

We get groceries home with a large granny cart or a wagon. It helps keep the budget at the store when you realize you've got to haul it all home. :)

Like someone else said, the car share program is the best thing ever. More and more cities are getting them

We don't pay for a membership and can reserve anything from a minivan to a mini cooper the day of. We have lots of "pods" in the neighborhood. We can rent it for an hour or two. The cost of the rental is around $3 to 5 an hour( depending on size) --gas and insurance included and no maintenance on our part. We could opt for the $15 a month frequent user membership would lower the cost even more. We don't use it enough, just in a pinch when we both need the car. aq

We have one car paid for that we use or long trips. If it is an East Coast city my DH needs to travel to he often takes the Chinatown bus which connects most of the major Chinatowns and is SUPER cheap ($20 roundtrip to new york city). If you have a Chinatown ask around about a bus that connects to other Chinatowns.

It is an adjustment, we came from a part of the midwest where you drive to your mailbox at the end of the driveway. We much prefer the lack of driving and I don't see us leaving the city anytime soon.

Carolyn said...

We've had two cars until last July when we moved across the country and my husband began graduate school. So far it has been just fine. Luckily, my husband can ride the bus (free) every day or walk the two miles to school when the weather is nice. I sometimes drive him to school too. Since I'm a stay-at-home mom to our two little girls, I don't have to go out every day anyway. We don't have any stores within walking distance except for CVS, so I try to group my shopping trips so I'm not running to the store every day for something I forgot. Sometimes other people around here say they couldn't imagine having only one car, but it isn't that bad.

Meredith said...

Thank you ALL for responding! I have to say, it is really motivating to read your stories!

You have encouraged not just me but so many people reading : )

I am much more on the 1-car bandwagon than my husband is.

He has to be at work about 6 am, so I must wake the kids early and get them all in the car if we drop him off.

Depending on his work situation, we may no longer live nearby next year--and he'll have to have a car at his disposal just about every day.

I'm hoping--if the Volvo repair doesn't work--that we can go to one car through the summer and work things out at our leisure.

Anonymous said...

We are a one car family as well :) It is hard because I cannot take my husband to work, ever. It was also very hard moving across the country, being a first time mom, and having a newborn by myself during a cold winter. We had weeks where we could not go outside.

It is wonderful now that the spring weather has hit! We can go grocery shopping, on walks, and only go to play dates that we can walk to.

Also, not having to fill up two tanks of gas and pay two sets of insurance for a young couple is very nice on our saving account! :)

Anonymous said...

We have two cars, but have often contemplated getting rid of one. Dh works 3pm-midnight so I could feasibly run errands in the morning. I think it's just the 'what ifs' that get me and a feeling of being trapped. As it is, we rarely go anywhere when he's at work b/c he takes the van (it gets better mileage), and stuffing my 3 bigger kids and the infant carseat into a cab-n-a-half pickup isn't my idea of fun!