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The Pros and Cons of a One Car Family

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There’s no getting around the fact that cars are expensive. And having two cars certainly doubles the cost. So you and your family might be wondering what the pros and cons of a one-car family are? If you have two cars can you get rid of 1? Can you live with one car? Find out what you need to know about being a one-car family before you decide to get rid of your second car.

Pros and Cons of a One-Car Family

If you have two cars currently you may be thinking it’s impossible to just downsize to one.

It might not be easy but you can do it.

Your personal situation is going to play a big part in whether or not it makes sense for you to live with one car but let’s go over some of the pros and cons and see how it can work for you and your family.

Pros of Having Just One Car

There are several pros of having just one car.

Here are some of the top ones that you should consider when you are thinking about buying a second car or getting rid of your second car.

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1. You’ll Save a Lot of Money

One of the most important pros of just having one car is that you’ll save a lot of money.

Certainly, you’ll save thousands of dollars a year on car payments but you’ll also save on maintenance costs and gas money.

If you live in a large city and have to pay for parking this can also save you hundreds of dollars a month.

This extra money can go to paying off your mortgage or savings for a down payment on a house or your kid’s college education or even a nice trip every year.

You’ll have a lot more discretionary income, and that can make life less stressful and a little more enjoyable.

If you’re short on cash each month and you have two cars and you are making two car payments, getting rid of one of the cars should be one of your priorities.

Yes, not having two cars can make life and your schedule a little more difficult but one-car families certainly have more wiggle room in their budget each month than two-car families.

2. It’s Good for the Environment 

If you’re concerned about the environment, being a one-car household makes a lot more sense than being a two-car household.

If you are only driving one car chances are you will be creating fewer emissions.

You can feel good about that and the fact that you’re helping keep the world a better place for your children and your grandchildren.

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3. You’ll Get More Exercise

If you’re driving everywhere now and you get rid of your second car there’s a good chance you’ll have to walk more than you currently do.

This can be from the bus stop or the subway to your job or maybe just in your neighborhood running errands.

Yes, it’s really convenient to just hop in the car and drive half a mile or mile to your destination but having just one car will nudge you in the direction of walking or riding a bike.

Again, that’s good for the environment and is also good for you health-wise.

All of us can use a little more exercise in our daily lives and even having to walk a short distance every day does add up over time.

Cons of Having Just One Car

Of course, not everything is great about just having one car.

There are certainly downsides to getting rid of your second car.

These are some of the issues you may have as a one-car family.

1. What Happens When Your Car is in the Shop

When you only have one car as your mode of transportation things can get really difficult if your car needs to go into the shop.

Whether it’s for an accident or just regular maintenance or maybe your carburetor goes on the fritz, what do you do when you don’t have a second car to fall back on?

Having a second car gives you a backup in case you find yourself in this situation.

Without a second car, you’re going to have to rent one.

If you’re lucky your insurance will cover the cost of a rental while your vehicle is being repaired.

If you’re not so lucky the expense will have to come out of your pocket.

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2. Possible Longer Drive Times

If you and your spouse both work then you’re going to have to drive to work together.

If you’re both working in the same area that’s not so bad but if you are going to different parts of the city then one of you is going to have to commute longer.

One of you might have to get up earlier as well.

A friend of mine and her husband both worked in the same city but he had to be at work an hour earlier than she did. 

That means she had to get up earlier than she normally would and she ended up at work an hour or so earlier than she needed to be there.

Since she wasn’t a morning person she wasn’t thrilled about it but there was really nothing she could do.

It made for a much longer day for her.

This is one of the difficulties of only having one car and two adults having to get to work each day.

3. The Car Might Not Be Available When You Need It

Let’s face it, if one of you is using the car then the other one is not going to be able to use it at the same time.

This may mean one of you’ll have to drive the other to work and then pick them up in the evening or it could mean you’re stuck sitting at home while your spouse is out doing whatever they need to be doing.

This can be very problematic if there’s an emergency.

If you don’t have the car available and say your child falls and hurts themselves you won’t have any way to get them to the emergency room

You need to think about these things in advance so you can have backup plans.

4. Freedom Goes Out the Window

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with not having the car when you need it.

Chances are now if you have two cars and you want to go somewhere you give it little to no thought. You grab your stuff and you hop in the car and go.

When you don’t have a car available some of your freedom goes out the window.

You can’t just hop into a car that’s not there.

You again will have to make plans and schedules and spontaneity is much more difficult.

For some people this may not be an issue for others this could be a major hurdle when it comes to getting rid of a second car or not buying one.

If you have an active family, having one car can be very difficult.

Is it Possible to be a One Car Family?

Yes, it’s possible to be a one-car family.

As I mentioned, my friend and her husband have lived with just one car for a number of years now.

They figured out what works for them and it’s not always fun or easy but it does work.

Just keep in mind that the more activities your kids are involved in and if both you and your partner work outside the home it can be difficult.

While everyone would like to save the money you spend on a second car it’s not always feasible.

You’re just going to have to take your situation into account and think through what life would be like if you only had one car and you end up losing the freedom that comes with a second car.

For some that’ll be fine.

For others, it will be impossible

Just determine what your priorities are: freedom and ease of use or saving money.

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Becoming a One-Car Family

Before you decide to become a one-car family you want to take into consideration your options for your mode of transportation. 

You should make these decisions before you get rid of your second car. 

Here are a few options that will make having just one car a little easier.

1. Public Transportation

If you live in a larger city with public transportation options, only having one car will be a lot easier.

Buses and trains and subways all provide easy access to where you need to go.

Of course, if you live in a small rural area such as myself you might be in trouble.

There are no trains here. There are no subways here and there aren’t even any cabs where I live.

However, in most cities, you have more options that allow you to get to work and home and even to a store without having a car.

You might also enjoy:

Thinking of Downsizing to One Car? Here are 6 Factors to Consider

Should I Buy a New Car or Keep My Old One?

2. Cycling

If you live in a bike-friendly city and you enjoy riding and you don’t have to go too far, cycling can be a great option.

Not only is it good exercise, but it is also good for the environment and it’s a quick way to get from point A to point B.

There was a time in my life that I didn’t have a car at all so I rode my bike everywhere.

I was living in Florida at the time so it wasn’t always fun in the summer, but it certainly got me to where I wanted to be and got me back home.

When you go from walking to having a bike to ride it can seem like you’ve won the lottery.

So don’t count out biking to work

You might actually enjoy it.

3. Car Pooling

If you live close enough to some of your fellow workers, carpooling can be a great way to get to work without having a car.

You might not be able to take a turn driving but you can at least pay for gas money.

It also helps keep the roads a little less congested during rush hour.

Check around where you work and you might find one or two or three people who are up for sharing a ride.

4. Work from Home

More and more people are working from home nowadays.

Employers are finally figuring out that working from home can be productive and save them money.

Talk to your employer to see if a work-from-home option is available for you or maybe a partial work-from-home option.

It does make it much easier having one car in your life and might be a little more enjoyable than sitting in a cubicle all day.

You might also enjoy:

You Have Decided Downsizing to One Car is Right for You, Now What?

How to Purchase a Car and Save Money – 11 Tips

To Sum it All Up:

Having only one car does have its challenges. There are some pros as well. Saving hundreds and thousands of dollars a year is one of them. If you decide 1 car for your family is right for you, then test it out for a week or two before you actually make it happen. Schedule who needs the car and when. Having an understanding of what life is going to be like with just one car before you get rid of your second one will make the transition easier in the long run.

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