Thinking of Downsizing to One Car? – Here Are 6 Factors to Consider

man holding glowing car -thinking of downsizing to one car

Are you thinking of downsizing to one car? Is that a good idea or a bad idea? The answer is, it depends. That means it depends on your personal situation and the reasons you are getting rid of your second car.

(You can read how I got myself drowning in debt here and how I got out of it here and here.)

6 Major Factors to Consider When Downsizing to One Car

Before you kick your car to the curb, there are several factors you should take into account. Here are six of the most important.

Your Current Age and Health

How old you are should play a part in your decision whether or not to downsize to one car. If you are an adult in the prime of your life and in good health, downsizing can make sense.

If, on the other hand, you are older or have health issues or someone in your family does, you might want to have the extra car for emergencies and trips to doctor’s appointments and so on.

If you or someone in your family does have health issues that require a lot of doctor or hospital visits you will want to consider what happens if your one car stops working.

Something as simple as a dead battery can cause an issue and you won’t have a backup car to jump into and get where you need to go.

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Downsizing to One Car in Retirement

If you are of retirement age and no longer work then having one car makes a lot of sense.

You don’t have to drive to work every day and if you are a couple neither does your partner if they are retired as well.

While you may have more doctor’s appointments and the like, you have a much more flexible schedule, so sharing a car becomes much easier.

Where You Live

Location is a major factor if you are thinking of downsizing to one car.

If you live in a good size city that gives you easy access to trains, buses, subways, and cabs, then downsizing isn’t nearly as difficult.

It’s true that if both partners in a relationship work, one may have to drop the other off at the train station or bus stop, but that is doable.

Of course, if you live in a small community without all the typical transportation options that come with a large city, getting rid of your second car might be problematic.

For example, I live in a small farming community where I have to drive 30 minutes to get to a “large” city with a population of about 80,000.

That means most people here, unless they are farmers or work at a local restaurant, have to drive 30 plus miles to get to work.

There are no trains or buses to get them where they need to go.

Not to mention, if you want to get around anywhere in my small town you need to drive as there are no cabs or buses for local use either.

In a case like this, a second car is almost required.

However, if you are lucky enough to have public transportation, then give it a try for a couple of weeks or a month and see how it works out. 

If you decide you’re okay with it, then getting rid of your second car might be a good idea.

cars and someone holding a chainsaw -thinking of downsizing to one car

Your Family Status

Are you single? Then it’s a no-brainer. Ditch the second car. Yes, it’s nice to have a back up in case something goes wrong with your car and it has to be in the shop for a few days, but the extra expense really isn’t worth it.

If you have kids, then things get a little more complicated.

Kids tend to have:

  • School activities
  • After school activities
  • Sports
  • Sleepovers
  • Getting to and from school in general

In other words, kids need rides to a lot of places. If you only have one car, it can make it difficult for two parents to get to work and back and get their kids to all the places they need to go.

So, if you are in this situation, check out carpool options with other parents and ask your kid’s school if they have any transportation options as well before you get rid of your second car.

Your Financial Situation

If you’re looking for ways to save a lot of money, then thinking of downsizing to one car is one of the best ways to do so.

You can quickly eliminate several large monthly and yearly expenses such as:

  • Second car payment
  • Insurance
  • Gas
  • Car maintenance – think oil changes and new tires/batteries
  • Car repairs
  • Parking
  • Tags and license fees

Also, some states, like South Carolina have property tax that you have to pay on all of your vehicles each year and that can really add up over time.

When I lived in South Carolina, I had an older car – not old, but not new, but I still had to pay about $260 a year in property tax on my car.

Depending on your situation, you can easily save between $2,000 and $4,000 a year. It could be even more if you are paying a car payment on this vehicle. 

On the other hand, if you are in the enviable position that you have plenty of money and your savings accounts and investment accounts are healthy, then you may decide that the convenience of having a second car is worth it, and that’s okay.the number 1 and a closeup of the inside of a car

Your Lifestyle

Finally, you want to consider your lifestyle before you decide to get rid of your second car.

If you are kind of a homebody, like me, and you don’t have too many outside obligations or activities, then it does make sense to have only one car.

However, if you are a family with many activities and with everyone going in different directions all the time, you might want to reconsider giving up that second car.

When it comes down to it, convenience can override saving money.

Sure, you want to cut costs where you can, but you also want to enjoy your life and reduce stress, and having only one car with a family can cause a little stress.

Even so, my parents did it. My father walked to work and my mom took the car to work. I was never involved in that many school or after school activities, so it wasn’t really an issue.

Even when I was in my teens and able to drive, my folks let me take their car out in the evenings. Back then, it seems completely normal.

Thinking About Downsizing to One Car – Does it Make Sense to Become a One-Car Family?

It all depends on the family. Just take some time to imagine your typical workday and weekend. What would it look like if you only had one car?

Does the thought send you running in terror or is it kind of okay?

As I mentioned, there’s no reason to get rid of your car to find out. Just leave it parked in the garage for a week or two and do a test run. Add up all the money you will save not having that extra car and then compare the two. That should give you all the information you need.

So, when it comes to thinking about downsizing to one car, is it better to have one car or two? You’ll have to decide that for yourself and your family.

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