Tuesday, November 15, 2011

One Car Family

Hopefully, I'll be spending more time like this guy.

We have had the idea ever since Mrs. LIAYF took a job here in Seattle this summer, after working for the previous year in a city an hour away from home.  I say an hour away, but when you factored in commute time she had spent nearly three long hours of every day during that year navigating traffic. It was a long year for all of us.

But now things are different.  In a good way.

Now when we are at our jobs, or school, only a few city blocks separate her from Lukas and myself.  And we have taken advantage of our new found proximity by riding into the city proper together, as a family.  It affords us a great opportunity to turn off the music or the radio, and to chat about our day - be it upcoming or having just ended.  In fact just last night, on the way home, Mrs. LIAYF and I were treated to an animated story about the Superheros of the alphabet.  We made it all the way to the letter G which, by the way, was Girl Man.  Nice.

Given all that, along with my recent foray into riding to work, our proximity to a city bus line (and in no small part that we could save several hundred Washington's a month) we made the conscious decision to reduce our carbon footprint by downsizing and eliminating one of our two vehicles. 

Honestly, it's been a few weeks now and there has been absolutely no sellers remorse here.  We haven't missed the second vehicle at all.  Sure, there were a couple of times where it would have been convenient to have another set of wheels, but certainly not a necessity. 

On a side note I never realized how technically difficult it would be to sell a car to a private party when there is still a loan balance owed.  PAINFUL. Thankfully we found the perfect buyer, a retired lawyer who gave us few hassles.

Yes, I can anticipate that there will be situations which will arise in the coming weeks and months where we absolutely need the 2nd car.  That's why we also signed up for a the car rental service ZipCar.  There are several pick up locations near our home and work and we can reserve online, which we have already done once since downsizing.

We'll have to see how things play out when our second child comes along.  But for now this seems like a logical choice given our current circumstances.  Certainly not as dire as some of the scenarios that ran through my mind before selling, for NOT downsizing. 

Hopefully, it will end up being similar to our decision to ditch cable and local television a few years ago.  At that time I was so sure that was only temporary, but I didn't end up missing it much and it afforded us a lot of extra time to focus on more important things.

Plus, having the extra cash on hand every month while knowing that we are consuming less has been good for our feelings of well being in a tight economy.  I guess the real test will be how we handle that first situation where we are truly disadvantaged by not having the back up vechicle.

How about you readers?  Could you imagine a scenario where you could do without a second car?  If that came into play, would you be able to bring yourself to do it?


Idaho Dad said...

I've contemplated it. We could get by with just one car, but I could well see the minor inconveniences turning into the occasional major headache. My kids seem to be getting busier and busier, and my role of chauffeur demands a car apart from my wife's.

I wish we had the amenities of the bigger city and could take advantage of buses, subways, and trains. How cool would it be to hop on a high-speed bullet train and travel across the state of Washington in 2 or 3 hours!

Jack said...

I like the idea but I can't fathom doing it while living in Los Angeles. Maybe in a different city, here...not so much.

Kevin said...

We've been a one car family now for a year. It's been fine. I bought a bike and a trailer for the kids to ride in. The city I live in is not very pedestrian and bike friendly (at least the motorist aren't) but we have been happy with the decision.

However, last month our one car broke down and is sitting in the driveway. Which is all fine and dandy. We're taking the bus when we need to.

We'll be getting the car fixed next month. But, even paying bus fair, we're still saving $140 a month (insurance and gas) by parking our one car. And we kind of need that extra 140 right now. I just may have talked myself out of fixing the car.

danielpelfrey said...

We tried it - didn't work. Too many kids. We even had to "move up" and get a passenger van to supplement our minivan. Depending on where you work and how many kids you have, you can do it. Unfortunately our life just won't allow for it right now.

Homemaker Man said...

We've been doing the one car thing since the punt was born. My wife talks about getting another car someday, but it's mostly idle chatter. We carpool, spend time with each other, and save money. Not too bad.

Slamdunk said...

Good for you all.

Living in a non-urban community where everything is so spread out (really seems that way when snowing), that would be something we can't do right now. Maybe someday.

BloggerFather said...

I wish we could do that. That's the thing I miss most about living in New York.

Hey Monkey Butt said...

Though its really a good idea to live with one car, it really wouldn't work for us, I guess. I remember MANY years ago we HAD to live with just the one car and it was a hassle really. Commuting and all, doesn't work out well. But we managed. I'd love to help save on footprints. And selling a car with a balance owed is a pain, I did that earlier in the year and the buyer although he didn't put up to much of a fuss during the whole process, was OK. He got the car at a GREAT price and it worked out nicely if you ask me. No more car payment in which I couldn't afford at the time being a single parent inheriting the ex boyrfriends carpayment. UGH. Glad that didn't last and congrats on getting rid of yours. :)

WILLIAM said...

Not that I got rid of my car but I did the bike to work thing over the summer.

it felt good. Now that winter is approaching I will be increasing my carbon footprint. And my belt size.