Most of us take owning two or more vehicles for granted and would never think about making such a drastic change as reducing to one car. However, whether you need to cut costs or just want to simplify your life, becoming a one-car household might be a suitable or even desirable option at some point.
The decision to give up the convenience of multiple cars usually comes down to one of two things — saving money or simplifying your life. A few things that might just make you consider ditching that second vehicle are listed below.
Job Loss or Retirement
Losing a source of income — whether through losing a job or retiring — might make you consider becoming a single-car household for a number of reasons:
- The money you make from the sale of the extra car can be used to reduce your existing debt and lower your monthly output.
- If you owe money on the vehicle, selling it can give you the cash to pay it off, eliminating still another bill.
- Not having to pay the additional insurance and upkeep for a second car also adds extra cash to the monthly budget.
Sharing a vehicle is much easier when only one of you is working or when most of your travel is done together. While this arrangement still takes some coordination, the money savings are sure to make the logistics worth dealing with.
Opportunity to Telecommute
Landing a job that allows you to telecommute is another good reason to consider becoming a single-vehicle household. If one or both bread-winners can work from home, this greatly reduces the need for an additional car and saves money that can be used for other things.
Whether you want to make an environmental statement or just live more simply, giving up that second vehicle might be a step in the right direction. If you are in an area that supports it, exchanging your gas-guzzler for a scooter or bicycle can have a positive impact not only on the environment but on your physical condition as well.
Scooters and bicycles can even be an option if you live in a rural area. There are a multitude of bicycle cargo options available so you can transport groceries and other items you probably thought you could only carry in a car.
The move toward metropolitan areas is decreasing the need for multiple vehicles. Parking is premium, and public transportation is plentiful, making the expense of a second or even a primary car less appealing.
When you add parking fees, insurance, maintenance, repairs and gas to the cost of purchasing a car, public transportation looks like a pretty sweet bargain. Even factoring in the extra time spent on a bus or subway, you could rack up about $22,800 in savings over 10 years if you do the math.
While these are all good reasons to consider losing the second car, each situation is different, and there are a few things you should consider before taking the final plunge:
Walkability and Alternative Transportation
If you live in an urban area, getting around doesn’t take a lot of effort. You can usually walk, hail a cab or opt for the public transportation that is readily available. In these cases, the decision isn’t that hard to make.
If you live in a suburban or rural area, though, there may be a bit more to consider. Some cities are actually quite vehicle-friendly, and alternatives may not be as appealing. If you and your spouse work in different towns or have conflicting schedules, the lack of alternative transportation may make a second vehicle necessary.
If you have a large family, the logistics of being a one-car household may be a bit challenging, even if only one parent works outside the home. To be successful, each person must support the venture and cooperate with an elaborate scheduling procedure. While this is a great way to teach the spirit of cooperation and compromise, it may not be for everyone.
One way to alleviate some of the mayhem is carpooling. Ridesharing with other parents who may have scheduling problems of their own can make life easier for everyone.
Weather is an important factor in making the decision to survive with one vehicle. If you live in an area that maintains sub-zero weather for several months, bicycles and scooters probably aren’t ideal alternatives to a second car.
For those fortunate enough to live in a warmer climate, being exposed to the elements won’t be as much of an issue, so getting around on foot or a bike is a viable option.
Being a single-car household isn’t for everyone, but if you are determined and willing to make a few sacrifices, it can be a rewarding, healthy and cost-effective alternative to the traditional multi-vehicle lifestyle — no matter where you live.