One Car Family The Prudent Homemaker

Twelve years ago, after our third child was born, we sold both of our vehicles and bought a single vehicle for our family. We needed something that would fit three car seats and have rear air conditioning and tinted windows. In our heat, it can easily get to 140º in a car in the summer, so having these features in pretty essential in making sure that passengers in the back don’t overheat; we run the air conditioning in our vehicle eleven months of the year.

After our seventh child was born, we needed a larger vehicle that would fit our larger family. We sold what we had and bought a used van for $500 over what we sold our previous vehicle.

Why I Love Being a One-Car Family:

1. We only have one car to register.

In our state, registration for a vehicle is pro-rated by the vehicle itself as well as the age of the vehicle.  It’s several hundred dollars a year, even for older vehicles.

2. We only have one car to insure.

This easily saves us hundreds of dollars a year.

3. We don’t have car payments.

Not making payments on multiple vehicles saves us a ton of money.

4. I have plenty to do at home.

Being home more often rather than running around gives me more time to do the things I want and need to do.

5. I am happy at home.

I have been asked if I don’t feel “stuck at home” with just one car. I have never thought of being in my own home as being stuck. Home is not a place I want or need to leave and get away from in order to feel complete each day. I try to make my home a beautiful place to be where I am surrounded by the people and things that I love.

The practicalities of living with one car: 

1. Most of the time, I don’t go further than a two-mile radius.

Within that distance, I combine trips to save time and gas. We have a lot of stores within that distance. Once a month I’ll go to Sam’s Club (which is 5 miles) and a couple of times a year I run an errand a bit further out.

2. I will make a trip to the store usually very early in the morning or late in the evening.

Stores are blissfully empty early in the morning, making it easy to check out quickly without a 20 minute time spent waiting in line. Late evenings are good for that as well, depending on the store.

In our summer heat, running an errand during the day will literally wipe you out. Sure, it may only take 5 minutes to get to the store, but your vehicle is 140º inside and it doesn’t cool down by the time you’ve gotten to the store. Then you get back in on the way home. This makes a person exhausted and in great need to cool down when they return home–and leaving you too tired to accomplish much for the rest of the day. In the summer, I try to go shopping less frequently. No matter the time of year (but especially important during the summer) I’ll try to go super early (like 6 a.m. if the store is open then, or right at 8 if it opens later) or go after the children are in bed, so I can come home and go to sleep afterwards. Going shopping during those hours means I don’t interrupt our day and my husband has our van to take to work.

3. I don’t go shopping very often.

I try to limit my trips to the store. I keep a well-stocked pantry, which means I don’t have to go to the store every week and can wait to find the best deals.  Staying out of the store also makes it easy to stick to my grocery budget.

4. I do my shopping research online ahead of time.

If I know what I need but I’m not sure where to get it, I’ll look at several stores websites before venturing out to see if the stores have what I need. This saves a ton of time and gas. It’s much faster to “go to” 10 stores online and figure out if they have what I need before I go. Another bonus of looking online ahead of time is that I can often find out if the store has what I need in stock.

5. I shop online when possible.

This saves time and money. I look for free shipping deals whenever possible.

6. My children use bicycles.

My older children get to where they need to go on their bicycles. Last week when my husband was at Scout camp with one son, my daughter attended a swim party and my son attended Boy Scouts. They took their bikes where they needed to go. They learn independence.

We bought used bicycles and solid tires for their bicycles to keep costs down and keep them from getting frequent flats.

7. We carpool when possible.

When my eldest has a church dance she wants to attend, she’ll go with a group of friends all together and one of them will drive or one parent will drive. They have more fun being together in the car. We’ll likewise do the same for church activities for our younger girls.

8. We have piano lessons at home.

We have a piano teacher who comes to our home every other week. I don’t need to drive my children to lessons. (Bonus: I get to accomplish more things at home while they have lessons!)

9. I homeschool my children.

Driving them to school and picking them up isn’t something on my to-do list. This alone gives me a ton of time in my day which I can use to do other things.

We generally put between 8000 – 10,000 miles a year on our only vehicle. We save not only gas, but wear and tear on our vehicle.

I know being a one-car family isn’t practical for everyone, but if you can make it work for you, it’s a great money-saver!

Are you a one-car family? How do you make it work for your family? Do you have great public transportation where you live and go without a vehicle?

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  1. I wish we were… My husband is a contract carrier for the postal service (mail person with no benefits available and pays for all vehicle expenses out of pocket in exchange for an annual $ amount) and his contract requires him to have a second vehicle for back up. I also work out of the home and use that second vehicle. I love that some people are able to do with one automobile, and some to do with none even! (We live several miles out of town=not feasible.) I actually encourage my young adult children to live near enough to a large city so they can use mass transportation, bikes or feet.

  2. No public transportation where I live. My son’s school is too far away for him to walk or bike there, especially in winter as we get a lot of snow.

    To top it off, someone stole my son’s bike right out of our yard the other day:o

  3. We are a one car family as well. We sold my vehicle earlier this year when we got married as I now stay home and my husband works only 5 miles from home. On days that I have appointments or errands to run, I drop him off at work and use the car. I don’t feel stuck on the days that he takes the car either. I’m a homebody! It has saved us money on our registration, insurance and the deletion of the monthly car payment. We do have some public transportation where I live as well, there is a bus stop just down my street. Great post!

  4. I live in rural Maine where this is no public transportation. My husband and I work about 25 miles in opposite directions so we’re a two-vehicle family now. However, when we were a one-car family when our teenage son was a baby and my husband was home as the primary caregiver.

    We try to reduce the demands of being a two-car family on our budget by not having car payments. It makes a big difference.

    Also, vehicle registration in Maine is also costly. I’m driving a seven year old car and my husband a 10-year-old car and the excise tax and registrations are about the same as the year we bought them. 🙁

  5. We only have one truck, which my husband uses for work. My adult son with special needs and I stay home most of the time. My husband works odd hours, so even taking him to work and using the truck during the day would put a strain on everyday life. So I wait until after supper and my husband is getting ready for bed (around 7 p.m.) to run any errands we need. Thursday nights the library is open late, so that’s our book and movie replenishing time. We only live 3 miles from the center of town, so in cooler weather, we strap on our backpacks and walk to do any needed shopping. In the summer, due to the intense heat here in Texas, we wait until the weekends to take care of things. No, I don’t get to ‘pop into town’ for any little reason, but that helps keep me focused on home. I get it!

    1. This is an older post but I am rereading a lot of your posts lately! (Times are changing again!! Time to brush up on our frugality skills!) We went to one car about 3 years ago. We’re retired. I have one social event at someone elses home once a week , from 9-1, and my husband hikes one day a week (must drive to trail about 10 miles from here.) We always had 2 cars when we worked but it seems excessive in retirement! Maintenance, tires,oil changes. INSURANCE!! My husband was a little worried about giving up one of the cars but we did it and have not looked back.It is NEVER an issue.Of course we are retired, no kids or jobs,so it is easier than for most, but I still have friends who “worry” if Ken is gone with the car and I am “home alone without transportation!!” I have friends and neighbors and of course UBER, in a pinch. My hub drove up North to camp this summer and I was car-less for 4 days. I Did not need the car! I like being home.. I did have a lunch date and my friend picked me up and dropped me off. In an “emergency” I would not be able to drive myself to a hospital,right? THAT seems to be something I hear a lot. Also, as a young Mom we had one car and I was home a lot without one.It never was an issue! I love the savings and I also love being home a lot. We look at our schedules and see if one of us has a need for a car on a certain day and we schedule around it (my haircut appt once every other month, his camp. trips or hikes.) The savings are big.

  6. This is really interesting! I had never thought of your heat being a problem when you run errands. I also prefer to shop late at night after the kids have headed to bed. It’s so nice not to have to fight the crowds.

    But we do have 2 cars. We don’t live in town and I have to get the kids to school and appointments during the day. Getting rid of one car is something I frequently wonder about, but for now we are content to own my 11 year old paid off van. If Hubby found a work from home job, we could pull it off!

  7. My mom was talking about being “wiped out” the other day after running errands during the day, and my husband finds that he has to sit down and cool off for about 30 minutes after being out in the car during the day for a 10-minute ride. My husband and I both feel completely drained of energy after being in the car in summer to go anywhere, even after a 5-minute drive.

  8. I live alone and my kids are grown but I guess I am a one car family…lol. I agree with you that I have never understood folks who talk about being “stuck” at home. I am 57. My four kids are in their 20’s, to early 30’s and when they were young, I loved being home with them after work because it was the only time I could see them. I still love being home, and given my line of work, I am very cautious when I go out. To be real, I can hardly wait until I retire so that I can stay home more. I think go,go,go all the time is highly overrated.

  9. Too funny!!! I hope your dad is doing well. He is probably right. All of my vacation time has been used up caring for ailing relatives and by the time I retire, I will be the one going to the

  10. I think your Dad is right, Brandy!
    We have a bus system. But, the first and only time I called them, they never came. You can’t call after 5PM because there’s no-one to answer phones. We have two cars because my husband is in construction. He never cleans the car he uses. Never! It gets loaded down with dirty, grubby tools and travels lots of back roads. We tried going one car. He’s so hard on a car that it made me crazy! It still does but if it’s ‘his’car, I don’t mind.

  11. We are a three car family for two adults. I’ve tried to convince my husband to sell one. I despise all the costs associated and we’d be able to mostly pay off the one loan we do have.

  12. We have been a one car family for 8.5 of the 10.5 years we’ve been together. My husband started his own business a little over 2 years ago and works our of the home now which makes it easier. He only needs to use the van a few times a week. We all walk to where we need to go weather permitting. We get oppressive heat/humidity in the summer and below freezing in the winter so there’s usually 4 months a year when we are car dependent. We put around 12,000 miles a year on our van but I only drive around 2,000 of those. Back when I was a single Mom working and going to school I drove 40,000 a year. I think it’s nice not having to drive much.

  13. I have an auto start on my car and I will never be without one again. After grocery shopping I can start it while walking across the parking lot and by the time the groceries are put it in the car and I’m ready to leave cold air is blowing from the ac. They can be installed on older vehicles and sometimes I will see a great deal through Groupon.

  14. When we lived in Europe we were a no car family and that was glorious. When we moved to the Toronto area we had one car. That was also great and a huge money saver. Alas, my husband changed jobs and could no longer take the train to work. And we had kids who need to be delivered to childcare on my way to work. We have had 2 cars for 4 years now. The benefits outweigh the cost in our case, but in different circumstances I wouldn’t hesitate to get rid of a vehicle.

  15. I know people who have this here and I think it’s wonderful! I don’t know about putting one on our vehicle as we don’t even have an auto lock/unlock. Perhaps one day when we replace this one that will be an option. I can see why this is a huge blessing in cold areas as well. With our large vehicle, it takes about 20 minutes to get cool inside. On a smaller car it goes much faster.

  16. We are not a one car family. In Pearland, Texas, there is no real public transportation and things are farther away with no sidewalks on the older side of town I live in. We didn’t have one car in Las Vegas, either, but I did walk quite a bit, pushing a loaded double stroller, usually to take/get my older kids from school (even in August , September, October, and May). We took several desert hikes in September in Palm Springs and Anza Borrego in CA with 2 toddlers and one strapped into a baby wearer. Good times.

  17. I’m lucky enough to live in a city that has quite good public transportation, so the DH and I have…no car! We’ve calculated that this saves us $10,000/yr, even after monthly transit passes. The Canadian government actually has a tax rebate if you submit your monthly transit passes with your yearly taxes (although it’s being eliminated shortly, boo). We also buy our monthly passes as part of a 12 month program, which means we save the cost of 1 month/year each. Personally, I would much rather pay an extra $10k to pay down the mortgage, as opposed to being used on transportation.

    There is a slight trade-off, as it means we can’t drive out of the city on day trips, and it’s MUCH harder to visit friends who have moved to outer suburbia (i.e. a city or two away) but other than that, I don’t miss having a car. I don’t like carrying heavy bags of groceries home on the transit, so my husband and I have a deal: I clean the bathrooms (he hates cleaning toilets) and he grocery shops from a list I email him weekly (compiled of loss leaders, naturally!). When he grocery shops, I meet him at the door with a nice cold drink and unpack and put away all the groceries, so he feels appreciated. (Actually, I try to meet him at the door and offer a nice cold drink most evenings, but he especially appreciates it after shopping in the summer).

    My parents have a car though, so if they’re visiting us, we’ll often run errands together, and that’s when I’ll buy heavier items, whether it’s dirt for my balcony garden, or cases of pop.

    I deliberately bought a home on the subway line, so I can easily hop on the subway to wherever I need to go. A home near the subway was one of my key criterion when looking for a condo, and I actually bought a condo at the other end of the city from my then job. My rationale was that it was the perfect condo and I didn’t plan to move, ever, at that time, whereas I didn’t think I’d be in that job for the rest of my life. It was perfect planning, as I now have a job walking distance from my home. My husband takes a single bus to work, and has less than an hour commute round trip each day, door to door.

    I also have a bike, but I don’t use that as transport, but as recreation.

    And, bonus, I rent out the parking space that came with my condo for extra cash! At one point, I rented out my spare room in my condo, and because it came with a parking space (and a private bathroom), there was a huge demand for it and I was able to be very selective in whom I chose as a roommate.

    We live walking distance from my sister, so we’re able to hang out with her easily, which I appreciate, and are there quickly for each other if needed.

    Toronto is actually a very green city, so I don’t feel stuck in a blob of concrete (which is why I chose not to live downtown). I also belong to an outdoorsy club, where carpooling to events is recommended, so going for hikes with friends or camping trips is extremely easy.

    I’m also lucky enough to live in a very walkable neighbourhood. There are lots of shops and services as well as a children’s park and splash pad, literally around the corner. And, very importantly to me, there’s a library within walking distance. I really like having to walk to places, as it helps keep me fit. I easily get in over 10,000 steps a day, which makes me happy and healthy!

    All of which is to say, with some forethought, it is entirely possible to go without a car and not feel that you’re going without anything!

  18. Our situation is similar to others, I drive 18miles west of where we live and my husband drives 25miles east every day. For a long time we were a one car family but right now it just isn’t feasible. We do pay cash if possible and pay them off asap if we can’t – we currently have a car payment for the first time in years but it should be done before the end of the year. We keep paying ourselves the car payment so we have the cash to do that when the time comes.

    Does keeping the car in the garage help with the interior temperature? I know here it keeps the car warmer in the winter but we don’t get anywhere as hot as you do so I don’t know much about that.


  19. Most of his work is not showing houses. The real estate search program allows houses that only fit in with what clients want to come up in the search, so he and they don’t have to waste time seeing houses that don’t have what the clients want.

    There are lots of emails and phone calls. Digital signature technology means his clients can sign additional papers from home, and he does not have to drive to them. He primarily works this part of town.

    His agents send in their files to him by email (he is the broker and owner of the company). He spends a lot of time going over their files to make sure they have everything required by law. Most of his work is office work, and he does a lot of it from home.

  20. We’re a one-car family. We have two kids, 4 and 2, and we are and will be homeschooling them. We live in town, and my husband has a bike with a two-child trailer attached. Most everything we need is in a 1 mile radius – church, library, grocery store. We don’t limit trips out, though, with the car, and I live close enough to work that my hubby and kids can take me to work and pick me up if needed (we do this every Tuesday so my 4 yo can attend speech therapy). My work is 5.86 miles from my home 🙂

  21. We were a one car family for 13 years then we moved in with family now we are a three car family and one day we will be back to two car family but for now we own three and it is a major headache! But necessary given all of the schedules .

    I wish we could go back to one.

  22. We are also a one car-family. We use bikes or walk everywhere we need to go. The train station is not far away as well. We specifically chose the village where we live because it is possible to run all usual errands without a car.

  23. I appreciate the validation for shopping in the evening; this time always works better for me, as I home educate our son, and don’t enjoy being in crowded stores. My son enjoys doing errands with me, so if we go out just before or after dinner, we can both walk around and talk, his schoolwork is done, the temperature outside is usually cooler, and the stores are typically quieter.

    My son and I are heat intolerant; we actually get overheated/sick easily. I thought it was just us who feel badly when we go from the air-conditioned store to the warm car and then into another somewhat-cool environment. One day last week, we needed to take care of some errands during the heat of the late afternoon (I was dropping off donations at our local thrift store that has limited acceptance times) and my son informed me he was starting to feel sick. I turned on the A/C in the car as cold as it would go and offered him some cold water I had in a coolie lunch bag. Fortunately, he recovered quickly. Even though we now live in GA, I keep up my FL practice of using a sun shield on my dashboard anytime we leave the car to go into a store. I do believe it helps to keep the temperature from soaring higher in my car, and also protects the dashboard. I am blessed to be able to park my car in our garage, so that helps to keep it cooler most of the time.

    Even though I am a stay-at-home-educator mom, having only one car will not work for our family at this time. My husband drives one hour to/from work in an area that is not desireable for us to live. We are each invested in our church, and participate in various activities during the week that my son and I would have to miss out on if we had only one car. I am in the orchestra and handbell choir and need to be available for 1-3 music rehearsals per week, which occur before my husband arrives home from work. My son will soon be on the A/V team and needs to attend training sessions. My husband goes to a mens meeting at 6:00am one morning per week on his way to work, which is great for him. My son and I would not be able to go to the dentist or (rare) doctor appointments because there is no public transportation in our area, and it’s too far to walk/bike. Plus, as I mentioned above, he and I are heat-intolerant, yet fit and active. We just have to wait until the evening during the summer for our long walks around our neighborhood. When the temperatures are cooler, we can go out later in the afternoon, before I prepare dinner.

    Since we are a two-car family, we choose base-level, practical vehicles that best suit our needs. My husband is 6’4″, so we purchased the biggest small vehicle (a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport) he can comfortably fit in whenever we travel together as a family. That is the vehicle I drive. It is a 4-cylinder vehicle, yet peppy, so that saves us $ on gas. My husband drives a two-door pickup truck, and he is the only one who uses it. It is also our “Home Depot” vehicle, since anything we do around our house, including our ongoing roofing project, is DIY. We purchased my husband’s previous trucks used, but in recent years, since he puts on so much mileage due to his long commute, we found it is better for us to buy a new vehicle with the warranty and then keep it until it wears out. My current vehicle is the 3rd new car I ever owned in my entire life, because even though I don’t put on a lot of mileage, I keep it for many, many years, until the repairs become too costly. Once we get to transmission issues, it’s time to replace. I am thankful that the Hyundai warranty is 10 years…my previous two vehicles came with only 5 years warranties. I am also grateful for my husband’s ability to maintain and repair our vehicles beyond the warranties so as to extend the life and use of them.

    I do see ourselves going down to one car when my husband retires. Until then, two cars will continue to be a necessity for us, especially once I start teaching our son to drive. Then he and I will share the car, rather than pay for extra insurance and the purchase of a 3rd car. He won’t need his own vehicle until he moves out on his own!

  24. I wish it was, but being a one-car family is just not feasible for us. We have really reduced our gas expenses and car use in the past two years however. My husband works 30 minutes away, and we aren’t on a bus line. It would probably take 90 minutes on a bus to get to work. Staying within our school district is very important to us, because our kids have access to an excellent gifted program and special education support, and it is so hard to fund school that will support a twice-exceptional child. My two older kids take the bus and when I work my PT job I telecommute, so I use our van for shopping, activities, and medical appointments. Our youngest will be in preschool, but it is 1 mile from the house and I plan on walking or biking her there as much as possible. Our medical appointments are pretty overwhelming. Our son gets PT and OT 4 times per month,and I have to pull him from school to take him and drop him back off afterwards. School will not provide in school services for them at the moment. We also have dyslexia tutoring every week and our tutor is very in demand and does limited hours. We meet at a library 15 minutes away, since she sees 3 students in a row. Our 6 year old will probably start seeing her by the end of the year too. Our son may add speech/social therapy soon, and there is talk of equine therapy and continuing swimming lessons to help with his dyspraxia at our low-ratio local Aquatots. We have Daisy girl scouts and Cub scouts and sometimes the meetings conflict and my husband and I each take a child and go in opposite directions. We also tend to have 4 or more additional medical appointments per month.Our youngest has asthma, and if I am working sometimes I have to duck out and check on her/give a nebulizer at the sitter’s house or take her to her regular asthma checkups. And then of course the regular school meetings/IEP meetings I have to attend. I am basically a full time case manager. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have a car during the day. Thankfully most trips are local and I average 30 miles per week, unless we have to go to the children’s hospital.

  25. My husband and I were talking about this very thing just yesterday. His sister and her husband have only had one car for several years now and it works well for them. We are technically a two-vehicle family, in that we have a truck for hauling our 5th wheel camping trailer and the fishing boat. But most of the time we try to just use the car, as it gets much better gas mileage. In the future we can see ourselves only having one car. Like you, Brandy, I love staying home.

  26. We are a two car family of two people, which seems silly to me, yet we use both, even though my husband can no longer work. We have no public transportation and no sidewalks or bike lanes from our house to town. He carries the big stuff like bags of concrete or soil and large household items in his 13 year old old SUV and pulls the trailer with it to haul even bigger things like the riding mower or to go to the dump (we have no garbage pick up service available, and I’m not putting stinky, possibly leaky garbage in the trunk of my car, yuck). We use the little car mostly to ride — I go to work with it, we take it to church in the next town 50 miles from us, drive it for doctor’s appointments, many of which are 50-70 miles away — the curse of living in a tiny town in a rural area — and to travel to visit family. It can’t be used to tow. We think, once I retire, that we can downsize, but it will need to be something that can tow or at least haul, like a pick up or smaller SUV. Even with one vehicle, we will still have a trailer to register each year. Our registration is based on vehicle weight and whether or not it is heavy-duty (this is pick up truck country and some rate as heavy duty), so smaller cars are cheaper to register. The trailer is cheapest of all to register.
    I hear you on the heat in the car, since I live in the swamp, otherwise known as Florida. This wastes gas, but we always start the car and open one or more doors to exhaust it, until it’s at least nearing the outdoor temperature. Our car we have now will let us start remotely, which does help. When I had youngsters to be strapped in car seats, it meant I had to take even more time to get the car cool and then strap them in once it was cool enough for them, so I tried not to take them if I didn’t just have to. We use the a/c in our car about 9 months out of the year, so this is a way of life for us, too. I once foolishly bought a car with black leather seats. Never again! I had to cover the seats with thick towels or risk scalds in the summer. Our current car has tan cloth seats, at my insistence.

  27. Since retiring we have downsized to one vehicle and do fine. Many days neither of us uses it especially right now. We live in Phoenix and also have the heat related problems. Your dad is right about retirement. In the three years since I retired, I have had four surgeries. I need to go back to work!!

  28. What amazing timing your article today is Brandy! Our second car, an older minivan I usually drove, had the transmission go out 3 weeks ago. I went through a lot of emotions trying to decide what to replace it with, esp with our limited budget. The end decision was to just park it and let things/me ‘chill’. Now I have been riding my bike around town full-time, for work, errands, etc., when my husband’s car is unavailable during the day. I have found I enjoy it immensely, using a tow trailer to haul my things. My teenage daughter, who is used to riding her bike to ballet, now doesn’t even hint at the hot day, just goes off. My husband and I will try to do without for an extended period of time when school starts, his work hours will allow us to get our daughter to and from school, we believe, for 99% of the time. I am so relieved to have the decision/financial cost off our backs! Your article helped reinforce the ideas I had about going down to one car, and sounds so practical as well. We are lucky we live quite near to the center of a small town, and expect virtually no rain until Halloween time, so we can adjust to our new situation. We may as well take advantage of our location.
    Keeping our fingers crossed it works out well. Thanks Brandy for a timely article!
    BTW: finally made your Bean burgers with the suggested Steak Sauce. Oh. My. Goodness. Wow!!!

  29. The time we had one car was so nice for the reasons you listed! We lived on the bus line (it was a small town but had excellent FREE bus service!) so I was able to take my children to doctors’ appointments, activities, and we lived pretty dental so we could all to the library, store, park, etc. I hope we’ll be able to go back to one car (or no car!) in the future!

  30. While we own a second vehicle, we only use one car. We live in Alaska with the nearest town 12 miles away. My husband commutes to Anchorage every day – about a 45 miute drive – while I stay home and home school my son. I have a disability and quit drivng 16 years ago, but even before then, I rarely drove into town with my older boys.

    We love our home which is surrounded by tall mountains on two sides and a river on another. We have spacious room on our 5 acre property and have everything we need at home – a large personal library of books on nearly every subject and high speed Internet service. People would kill to live where we do, so why would we want to be anywhere else?

    When we need to go somewhere, we schedule it so my husband can take us. He is off on Mondays, so we schedule doctor and dental appointments or do errands then. Sooooooooooooo happy at home. We are BLESSED!

  31. Yes! We have been a one car family since my husband started law school six years ago. When he graduated 3 years later, our 92 Honda Accord was literally dying, and we were pregnant with our 4th, so we got a used reliable minivan. We did have to finance it, but we reasoned that a reliable model would only need maintenance and provide greater peace of mind than a less expensive and less reliable car. So far we have been proven right on the maintenance.

    I homeschool too, and my husband works exactly one mile away, so he can either bike or walk to work if he wants, but I usually do not need the car that much. The only exception was when we had swimming lessons and summer camp in June, and it was such a hassle doing all of the drop offs and pick ups! It made me glad that I homeschool – the day is so much more peaceful when we stay at home more. My sister lives in a larger metropolitan area and has two kids to take to different schools plus practices. She said she drives at least two hours a day.

    Our house is also located within 2 miles of all major shopping including malls/Target/grocery stores. I try to plan my shopping for early Saturday morning and take one of our children each time to run errands. It gives me some one-on one time with them and they like stopping at Target to get a free piece of fruit.

    I would still like to work on getting our mileage down, though. I would like to see if we could make it through the month on just one tank of gas.

  32. Great topic – I’ve been trying to get our family down to one car for the last ten years – so of course, we have five. We have the same issues many have already discussed – poor public transportation and weather (cold for us).

    My oldest attends the University of Minnesota which is a 35 minute drive from our house unless you take public transportation. Then it takes her 1 1/2 hours to get to the campus. So one of the cars we have is for her to drive to the train station (we have light rail) which cuts down significantly on her commute. It’s a Prius which gets great gas mileage and we paid cash for it (used of course). She also works at the St. Paul U of M campus and drives directly. She waited until she was 20 to get a driver’s license and would love to be car free, but it just isn’t an option right now.

    Our second car is a 19 year old truck which is officially my 19 year old’s but he goes to college about an hour from here and doesn’t need a car when at school. He uses it during the summer to drive to work and my husband uses it for hauling stuff. We got it super cheap and the insurance is practically nothing.

    We also have a van (which is 15 years old). I’m hoping to get rid of this one soon but again, the insurance is so low and my husband uses it to transport Boy Scouts to different camps and events. We’ve decided no more repairs unless super cheap. It’s been a good car but it’s time to put it to rest. Knowing where we stand with the van we bought another Prius for my husband and I to use (and both boys prefer it to the truck). We bought it used and paid cash. Love the gas mileage but unfortunately with five adult size people (three of them over 6 feet) and a 60 pound dog, we can’t all ride in it.

    Getting the Prius’ increased our insurance which does not make me happy but we’ll keep them until they are no longer safe to drive and the insurance expenses will go down eventually. Licensing here in Minnesota isn’t too bad although it’s been so long since I’ve purchased a vehicle I was shocked at the sales tax and licensing. Yikes!

    Our final car is a classic Mercedes convertible. It’s my husband’s and he loves it and I love him, so there you have it. We paid cash (amazingly good deal) and only insure it for three months out of the year. Since it has collector plates we only had to pay licensing fees once.

  33. We were a one car family for so many years. With three children in seats/capsules it was a tight fit at times, especially on our twice yearly trips to visit family (think luggage, nappy bags, prams, travel cot etc.) but we managed. Like Brandy I was, and still am, content to stay at home. We lived rural and I had the car one day a week. It meant getting up at 2.30am, taking the children from their beds and driving 30km to drop my husband at work, then home. In winter when it was -4C, it was hard, but we managed. Then for that day I’d do playgroup, any shopping, doctor if necessary, pay bills etc. Then in the afternoon I’d put everyone back in the car and go and pick him up. Once the children started school he had changed jobs and had a work vehicle which took the pressure off, although other than the school run I still only went out one day a week. We couldn’t afford registration and insurance on more than one car for 25 years. Then five years ago we were blessed with a second vehicle which we use for our camping and holiday travel. My husband does the servicing and maintaining of both vehicles, and we shop around for any spare parts, tyres etc. to keep the costs down. You get used to having one car and adapt accordingly. If we lived in the inner city I’d be happy to give up the car and just hire one for the odd weekend away or holiday.

  34. When we lived in remote Alaska villages, we never owned a car. It was wonderful to be able to walk everyplace. And, since there were no stores in the town except for a grocery store (and this was pre-Amazon!), you’d be sure to allocate a lot of time because you would end up meeting half the town there and chatting.

    We live in Fairbanks now and I hate not only the fact that we have to have a car but having to drive most every place. Funny, you stay home in the summers and we try not to run a lot of errands in the winter. At 20, 30 or 40 below zero and 20 hours of darkness in mid winter, it takes a real need to get me out of the house. Plus, I love our home and enjoy being there. As you said, around the people and things I love. Luckily, my husband is a homebody, too.

  35. I wish we could be a one family car since there’s only two of us! We tried carpooling over the summer but sadly, with both of us working, it’s just more convenient to drive separately. Maybe in the future if we have children and one of us decides to be a stay at home parent. I can dream haha.

  36. Forgot to mention – I also tried taking the metro. Where I live, it is still not the norm so I thought maybe it wouldn’t be crowded. Turns out, plenty of people have the same idea about saving money. It gets pretty competitive during the mornings and early evenings! I would stay for a later train ride but I have to take a connecting train in downtown where you meet some hairy characters and worn/dirty seats smelling like pee. The seats I could handle but my husband wasn’t comfortable with me riding the train at night by myself.

    It was totally different story in Korea. The trains came quickly and on time, in 15 min increments, and were incredibly clean and safe. But public transportation is the norm in Korea whereas in CA, they are still seen as for the homeless/poor and very outdated and undependable, which doesn’t help. Hopefully one day there’ll be a greater demand for them.

  37. Our car situation is complicated at the moment. I almost typed the whole story then decided that no one would want to read it haha. Basically we are a two car household but I can’t use my car during the day because it doesn’t fit three car seats and I just had another baby. We can’t switch cars because I never learned to drive a stick shift and had no desire to while pregnant. It’s a bit frustrating at times because our apartment is small and we don’t live in an area where we can walk to places, but it is saving us a ton of money in gas and I shop way less. We will upgrade me to a van once we move, which we are hoping to by the end of this year. We currently live in Hawaii and I don’t want to buy a new vehicle just to turn around and ship it, plus we are hoping for lower car prices on the mainland. If my hubby worked from home or if we moved into an area with great public transportation that was also walking/biking friendly, I’d consider getting rid of one car.

  38. I think it’s funny that you ended up in Las Vegas when you are clearly a New Englander at heart…even the name of your blog speaks of it. 🙂

  39. How nice it would be to have costs for only one vehicle. I have a child going to college in a few weeks. We live in a rural area so we will continue to need two cars. Sadly the insurance rates for my son are unbelievable. At 18 he has never had a ticket but because he is a boy he gets hit hard. His insurance on a 22 yr old small truck is 350.00 a month on his own. To add him to my policy for the same vehicle is 140.00. In order to promote the best college experience for him, I will add him to mine. Paying for college is tough without the outrageous insurance. Being young and responsible is downright difficult for a young male. That quote is per month too.

  40. This is very interesting. In Illinois (generally crazy high taxes on everything) our vehicle registration is only $101/year per car, regardless of age of car, type, etc. We also must buy a city sticker; the cost varies by city but is also per car, regardless of age, type, etc. For us the city sticker is approximately $130, so $231 total per car. Can’t believe I finally found something where we are not on the high tax end of things!

    Living in Chicago, we use lots of public transportation, but it doesn’t go everywhere and it’s not always safe, so we also have cars, but don’t put many miles on them. Kept the last car for 17 years. Others in my family have cars they’ve had for 20+ years that still have only approximately 150K miles. That said, many people who both live and work in the city (especially transplants who don’t have relative in the suburbs) just use public transportation, cabs, zip car, etc.

  41. I agree–I’m sorry to say–about going to the doctor. Next Monday I start a week which includes 4 doctor appts for me, one for my husband, and even one trip to the vet to get a booster shot for the cat. This is a bit more than normal, but hardly a week goes by without one doctor appointment.

    We are 74 and 75 years old so I guess it’s not too surprising. My husband has some skin cancers (no melanomas yet) and I have heart disease and arthritis and some other minor things. My latest annual test has turned up something that needs further investigation, so some of these appts are for further testing. I’ll let you know how it turns out–could be nothing much and could need surgery if it’s bad enough. I’m hoping for “nothing much.”

  42. We are a one car family. We both work within a couple blocks (and for several years worked in the same building) so we take our daughter fo a friend in the morning, ride to work, and then pick her up afterwards together. It took forever to get my husband to sell his old car once we working together, but I don’t see a neeed for it.

  43. We are a one car family. I ride my bicycle to the train station and catch a train to work. We walk to our supermarket. If I require another supermarket I go to it on a Saturday as that is when the children have their swimming lessons and it is conveniently en route. I am sure to combine this with other errands or something for the children (library visit, fete, play date, beach or park…all 10 minutes or less drive).

    We live in an excellent area with everything close by. We are blessed with year round sunshine and a mild winter. It is a tropical and very humid climate, so the extreme heat is always a consideration. We don’t go out in the middle of the day, we always take hats, sunglasses and sunscreen no matter what. We park our car in an enclosed attached garage which helps so very much with having a cooler car to get into. We also chose a light coloured car as lighter colours absorb less heat.

    A few times a week we walk to the lake at the end of our street and to the park that is about 50 metres from our house.

    Our fuel costs are around $50-65 every three weeks. Schools are within walking distance too, as is the public pool which we take great advantage of during the summer months.

    We have a four cylinder car so it is economical. Our registration is based on the vehicles number of cylinders. So a four cylinder is the cheapest vehicle to register, at around $680 per year (age of vehicle is irrelevant).

    We have had our car for 4.5 years and paid cash. I plan to keep it for another 7.5 years at least. It’s in great condition with very low mileage and suits our needs.

  44. We plan to be a one car family after my husband retires. In the meantime we drive our cars a long as possible. My husband’s car is ten years old and mine is 20 years old. We think it’s great when we get the tax bill each year (it’s so high on cars in our state) and have to pay so little. We think it’s a lot cheaper to repair a car as needed than to buy a new one!

  45. Our life currently demands that we have 2 vehicles, plus my mom (whom we live with) also has a car. I have discussed the idea of going to one vehicle, but my husband is not ready to try that. Most of the time it would work. However, with my daughter on the Autism spectrum, there would be times that limited vehicle access would be a huge problem. So for now, it’s 2 vehicles for us. We did pay cash for the second vehicle, so we only have payments on 1, which helps a great deal on our budget!

  46. My husband and I did the one car thing for many years in :::gasp:::the Los Angeles area! We car-pooled after we first got married because my job was on the way to his and he started 30 minutes after me. When we bought our house, we specifically looked to be near the Metro (train) station. He had shower facilities at work and rode his bike/took the train. Then, they built the subway and it had a stop literally yards from his job. I fully credit that decision (one car) as instrumental in saving up for a down payment for a house in 16 months. We sold the car with the payment for more than we owed so we lost the payment, insurance, maint., & registration. That was about $500 per month. We had a lot within walking distance of our home so it worked great. I repeatedly got the “Oh, I could NEVER give up my car” comments, as if I had amputated a body part lol, but we did fine. Like anything else, you learn to adjust and change things up. It turned out that thinking about it was far worse than actually doing it.

    Now, we’re in a town of about 10k in KS and have 2 cars. No public transportation, nothing nearby, etc. While I love being home, I also love my church activities & volunteer work. I combine them to 2 days a week and use the same days to run other errands. I fill my car about once every 6 wks. so gas is cheap. I think the average monthly cost for my car, including maint., is about $100 per month. My husband works in a nearby city so he drives about 20 miles. I think our cost of owning two cars here is less than the one was in Los Angeles. I know that the insurance is significantly less. If we had to, we’d sell my car (not for much, it’s almost 14 yrs. old!) and go back to owning just one. I wouldn’t be miserable at home at all! I love it here. However, I would be sad to give up my church & volunteer activities.

  47. We became a 1 car family about a year ago which greatly reduced our financial strain. We sold our second car to my brother who then had to pay almost $600 to register it in Seattle, Wa!! Its a 12 year old car.

  48. We have 5 months of above 90º temperatures and 100 days of above 100º temperatures. The rest of the year is pretty nice 😀 Our children’s activities are not too far; scouts was 1/2 mile away, so it only took 5 minutes or less to ride there, and there are fewer meetings during the summer for Cub Scouts (and for Boy Scouts, they have camp for part of summer). Meetings are about a mile from home, so not too far, and in the evening. Early morning seminary for my high-school aged children is just over 2 1/2 miles, and it is cooler in the early hours during the school year, though the school district just changed and we will start mid-August! So we’ll have a couple of hotter mornings in late summer.

    They take water with them too. Short rides are not too bad; the cyclists out there are going for much longer! And technically it is cooler on their bikes than it is in the car for the same distance. . . a 5-minute drive is going to be between 120 and 140º in our van.

  49. I have no car. I cannot even imagine the costs of having a car, let alone being able to pay for a cab. I don’t go many places or often. I am disabled and hope to have a volunteer for the one or two trips that I have to take to doctors’ appointments every month. There is now a society that has such volunteers. I hope to have the handicapped bus some of the time, that picks a person up at his home. When I was able-bodied, I took the bus downtown to work. It took 7-12 minutes. I go grocery shopping once a month so I take a cab. I put a lot of food in the freezer above my fridge. In summer, a friend takes me to the farmers’ market where I buy a crate of fresh peaches, as well as of apricots and blueberries. I freeze most of them so I can have them on cold winter days. I hope to have a library volunteer to bring books but I have a lot of unread books here to make my way through. I would like to afford an electric bike for shorter trips but don’t know about that.

  50. that should read “let alone pay for a car” (not cab). House insurance is really expensive here (about $2500 US) so I can’t imagine affording car insurance on top of that or repairs, upkeep, gas. When I lived in Montreal, I walked or took the metro. I am like you Brandy. Staying at home is a pleasure for me.

  51. Our library allows you to reserve books online. Then they send you an email telling you when they are ready. Someone just needs to go pick them up with your card and pin # and they can be picked up that way. Perhaps someone can do the same for you. We have a three-week checkout time, plus unless someone else has requested a book, you can renew it online for another three weeks. I know they have some e-book options as well and you can request them and read them from home immediately.

    I know a woman who was unable to drive anymore (due to age). She hired a woman to do her shopping, had someone come in to cut her hair once in a while, and did just fine in her own home (which I visited once as a teen; it was beautiful place!)

    My mom takes an older woman out to do her shopping once a week. It is nice too for the woman to have some company. She joins us for holidays as her family lives out of state.

    I hope the volunteer service works out for you!

  52. Ellie, are there any grocery stores near that use on-line shopping? the delivery here is only $5., that might be helpful for you.
    Canada car insurance: I am in B.C. and pay over $800. car insurance yearly for a 2008 Honda Accord. plus licencing fee!! plus $1.20 per litre for gas. litre = quart approx. 4 quarts = 1 gallon, or $4.80 per gal US.
    almost worth moving to Chicago!! ann lee s

  53. My dad was in a five-person carpool, with three of the five being original members, for over 29 years. They met at a shopping center within a couple of miles of all of their homes, and each drove to work one day a week. Easy-peasy. No recordkeeping, no money exchanged. Mom would occasionally get us up early and take dad to the parking lot if she needed the car for the day. However, one day she suddenly had to get us to the doctor and called a cab. The cab for the return trip home was awful. The floorboard for half of the backseat was missing. And backseat seatbelts were not yet mandated. Mkm told dad as soon as he got home from work that day. He immediately turned to the “used cars” section of the newpaper. We had a second car by the weekend if not the next day. He stayed in the carpool another decade.

  54. Kindle. The app is free and lots of books, especially classics, are free. Here in Michigan, the library provides access to electronic books and books on tape. I borrowed a Pimsleur Ojibwe series without leaving my house. The nice thing with ebooks is that there are no late fees even if you are absent-minded.

    I want to apologize for my keyboarding errors on my postings. I am using a small Android tablet that has been dropped one too many times and, when I am keying in replies for this site, the displayed characters are teeny tiny.

  55. We became a one car family just a few months ago when we moved across the country. Sold the older car to a friend and crossed our fingers that we could manage with one in our new location as we are retired. So far so good. There is a fixed route bus that my husband has been using, we have been able to schedule around each other’s needs and there are Drs and a drugstore within easy walking distance. It really has cut our auto costs by more than half because oddly our car insurance is less in CA than it was in GA. I think that we would explore using Lyftt or Uber before we would buy a second car at this point but who knows how life will evolve.

  56. It was 99F with high humidity here today. It was too hot to be out shopping as we were and I ended up going into one store and sitting in the entryway in order to avoid sitting in the car waiting on my husband. By the time we got home today, a 35 minute drive, our car had only cooled down to the mid-80s inside. I told John I felt wiped out when we came in. From now until autumn we’ll be shopping very early in the morning and avoid these super hot midday temperatures.

  57. I don’t mind being home without a car. My husband works away from home only two days a week for 24 hours each shift. I would be quite happy to be a one car family but he can’t bear the idea that I might need to go somewhere and unable to go if he’s gone. I grew up in the country and we never ‘ran into town’ every time we wanted something. Shopping was planned and so were visits, etc. It’s something I’m very used to. My husband however grew up in the city and just can’t fathom the one car mentality when there’s no public transportation etc. to rely upon.

  58. We are in Chicago and our car insurance for each car is much higher than $800/year. (I only mentioned the state and city licensing fees earlier.) I think it has to do with how many cars there are in the urban area causing a higher likelihood of more accidents (than in less densely populated areas) and frequent damage to even parked cars, as well as higher thefts, both of entire cars and just of parts of cars. While part of our car insurance does depend on the type of car and age, most of it depends on the zip code of where you live, and the liability portion doesn’t depend at all on the type of car or age of it. (For comparison of gas, we pay about $3/gallon for gas currently; it is cheaper now than it was a few months ago, thankfully 🙂

    I agree that grocery delivery can be helpful. We can have groceries delivered for $10 (plus tip), but sometimes the cheaper groceries from the delivery place more than make up for the cost of the fee, over what we pay locally. Many ways to work around using cars much here, which is nice.

  59. Taxes in CT are due by 31 July so I have the bill right in front of me!

    My 2006 Toyota Camry is $132.71 in state taxes this year.

  60. Terri,

    My husband was gone with my son all last week at camp, so I didn’t have a car for the week, and I didn’t mind, but I know it’s hard for lots of people to imagine going for a week without a car!

    I like to plan shopping trips so that I can spend less time shopping 😀 I have other things to do!

  61. I remember those one car days! We are now a FOUR car family because…young adults with jobs and college classes are still living in our home. This is the trade off for us. So, the obvious good is that our big kids are still here, happily, working and going to college and being a very big part of our family. The obvious negative is…FOUR CARS!!! ACK!! Still, the extra cars are both 20 year old Volvos, the third is a 12 year old van and the fourth is my husband’s mid-life sports car. 😉 My husband does most of the work on them when needed, they are safe and our insurance is low because of that and we never have to worry about whether my husband can get to work since there’s always a working vehicle. All but one of the cars has been paid for for over a decade. Still, we do have four cars in our driveway and garages. It’s a little odd since we are so frugal ( we try not to say cheap, but sometimes we just are!) in almost every other area of our lives. Big garden, chickens, do everything that we are capable of ourselves, shop at thrift stores, hand me down clothes, furniture, rugs, and dogs, rarely eat out, don’t have cable, heat with wood, you know what I mean. But it seems like we spend most of our money on travel and cars. I’ve already been on three different trips this summer and it’s only July! I wonder what that means? LOL! (It means cabin fever after winter…) Does it count that we stay home the other ten months of the year? As in…go nowhere, ever?! I guess it’s going to have to! Have a great weekend everyone!

  62. I am interested to know about things that need to happen during “regular office hours”. I’m thinking about doctor appointments, dentist appointments, banking, post office, smaller stores that aren’t open past 5. Do you make those special days where you have the vehicle & take your husband to work? It is not easy taking everyone along on errands but sometimes it can’t wait until they are to bed.

    I would certainly consider being a one car family because I am a homebody, online shopping is so easy, and we have four children (0-9 yrs.) so all of the buckling and taking diaper bags and such makes even small tasks quite a large task. But both of our vehicles are paid for and it is nice to have the security of a vehicle while I am home with the children, in case I needed to get them to the Dr. or get out of the house a bit, or take care of something, so at this point, for us, it doesn’t make sense.

  63. In the winter, I start the van and let it run for 5-10 minutes to warm up. In the summer, I run the van for a few minutes to cool it down if we need to go out during the day. It’s what I’ve always done and I don’t notice that it requires much gas. If I park in our attached garage, I typically don’t have to do either, as it keeps the van at a better temperature.

    We lived with one car when we lived in the city, but now my husband’s commute is over an hour one way. It wouldn’t work for us now, especially since each of us goes to the dentist twice each year, several doctor’s appointments each year (annual physicals and specialists) and the optometrist annually, plus the weekly activities we enjoy.

  64. My husband can do most of his work from home (and often does) and he’s the owner of the company, so unless someone closed a deal and needs to get paid, he doesn’t HAVE to go in to the office. There are days when he will work from home and I will run errands in the morning (and if need be, he’ll go in to the office in the afternoon). I have taken him to work before a few times and we went to the library and then came back and got him, as he only needed to be in the office for a short while (and that combined gas for the trip).

    He does all the banking. Our bank is in the same shopping center as his office, so he just walks over when he has business checks to deposit. He doesn’t get a regular paycheck; when he pays us he transfers money from the business account to my account (and that he does online from home!)

    I haven’t been to the post office in years. It’s not very far away but the last time I needed stamps I ordered them online (they charge a $1 to ship them but it is worth my time to not stand in line for an hour there–because it’s always an hour–plus then I get to pick the “pretty” ones that the post office never has in stock.) Most of my bills are paid automatically and only a couple have to be mailed in each month so I don’t go through a lot of stamps.

    I don’t frequent any smaller stores. My usual shopping is for food and maybe for some sewing supplies. Those are all big box stores. I guess I do go to the nursery, but they open at 7 am and that’s when I usually go, unless my husband is working from home and I don’t get out that early. In fact, if I go later with makeup on and my hair done not everyone recognizes me there . . . but the regular employees and the manager know me and know that I am there early with the contractors. That’s not all year round though, but in early spring (January to April).

    I pretty much stopped taking all of the children with me on errands after my third (around age 1) started dropping eggs out of the carton one day while I was paying for my groceries. My eldest was three or four at the time and I had to put all of them in the cart, which didn’t leave much room for groceries. I find that taking several children with me to the store is more expensive as I can’t focus on the best price, remember to use coupons, remember everything I came to get even though it’s on a list in my hand . . . so I changed to shopping alone or with one child at a time and found it was much less stressful for me and I finished the errand more quickly.

  65. I have one car, but I am just one person. Car registration is $800.00 per year, petrol is $40.00 a fortnight, insurance is approx $400.00 per year, and a once a year service is about $200.00. I find that my car enables me to
    1. help my immediate neighbors, neither of whom have cars,
    2. drive a family and a single person who are carless to church, and costco,
    3. visit friends who live on the outskirts of my city, and
    4. visit my sister who lives in a small country town 5 hours drive away.
    Owning a car is not the most frugal thing for me, but its a help for those around me.

  66. We have been both a one and a two car family over the years. In fact, after my mother-in-law came to live with us we were a 3 car family for a short while. She sold her car after a few months and she and I shared a vehicle. During the first fifteen years of marriage we just had one car and sometimes no car. Whatever the circumstances are you can make it work. We are now back to one car and managing just fine. I did worry about your husband and son being stranded in the heat with a disabled vehicle. It was indeed a blessing that your mother was home and able to help out.

  67. We were a one van family for years. We live in the country. I had to drive everyone everywhere. It was hard.
    We were given three vehicles last year! All old and in need of frequent repair, but it’s helpful to have vehicles for the kids who have jobs.

  68. When traveling through the desert, you should ALWAYS take water. My husband had 14 gallons of water with him.

    If my mom had not been able to help (and we asked her after trying everyone we knew who had a trailer to tow him, but no one answered the phone) then we would have called a tow truck, but that would have been very expensive. As it turned out, bringing him the part was the best thing.

    My husband left at 2 a.m. on purpose to avoid overheating–but then that didn’t end up being his problem! He needed a new alternator. On our way out to meet him, we passed two cars on the side on the road, and a tow truck was just arriving to help one of them. We saw several more cars on the side of the road going back home. Traveling in the summer in the desert means being extra prepared.

  69. WOW I am totally the opposite. I am one person with three cars. Not one family but one single person. I drive good used cars, pay cash when I buy them and keep them forever, after a number of years registration is only $35 per year. One doesn’t have very good a/c so I only use it mostly in spring, fall and winter. Tahoe has great air but uses lot of gas so I use it during summer. 3rd car I hardly ever use but have 4 nephews and keep it on reserve in case one of them needs it. I live 15 miles from anything and could not last a day knowing I didn’t have a car readily available if I wanted to go somewhere. My brother is even worse. He gets a new truck every two years and never gets rid of the old one. 2 adults in their family and they have 8 cars. My nephew drives one of my brother’s cars for leisure plus a pickup for work but brother and his wife swap out other 6 depending on day’s activities (work, lake, ball, etc). Again we live 15 miles from anything, no public transportation or walking would work. However brother and niece do ride bikes and golf carts across the road from their house to ours to visit every day.

  70. no car, one car, two car insurance etc. My father in law sold car ins. It’s usually based on your record, locations, car and it’s age and your credit score. I’ve had 2 other ins people tell me that credit score is also part of what they base it on also.
    When you pay cash…your credit score can be very low which looks like a negative.
    I had no car when the kids were young and we lived in town, cabs and buses or bum rides from others. Had no car living 19 miles out of town, bummed rides , most don’t mind if you pay their gas and can work with their schedule. Had one car for years, living back in town, no buses or cabs, we walked or rode bikes. Moved out of town 25 miles and had to get a second car so I could get to medical appts with Hubby working where he didn’t know when he would get off work. Bought a Suv and a truck both used (SUV was a yr old and truck was 5 yrs old) Paid cash. Still have them 20 yrs later. Bought a motorcycle (we both are licensed) Hubby rides it the most and has even worn carhartts (that insulated overalls and insulated coat for those that don’t know) when it was cooler weather (when you ride a bike the temperature you feel drops…example is temperature is 50°, you drive the bike 50 mph.. the temperature you will feel will be 34°) . We talked about going down to the truck and bike. SO lent the car to daughter who switched jobs (to one that was an hr way from her home) and realized that as long as Dad is alive I need a car as he can’t get in and out of the truck. SO I either flip the truck with daughter (who is now buying my car) or son. I’m sure when I go into a wheelchair (fact due to spine issues) we will have to get a van. Hubby will still have a truck. We do far too much hauling to not have a truck. When we stop hauling (like his dad did recently) then the truck will go away. The bike, we have one more rainy summer like this one and we’ll probably let the bike go. Hubby is an EMT and he knows the dangers of riding a bike on wet road or rain storms that can turn into thunderstorms.
    I don’t drive my car except to appts or stores once a week if that. I don’t feel stuck at home, if I need out of the house I walk around the property or walked around the block when I lived in town. My four daughters would pull their hair out if they didn’t work outside the home.
    Dad quit driving and lives alone, my niece gets his groceries, my brother takes him to the doctor or financial places as needed.My brother is his caretaker since he didn’t want to move in with us and wanted to live at home. I have offered to go stay with him when it comes time that he can’t be alone. Right now he is in better shape than I am and he’s 90.

  71. In PA, the registration is $36/year. It doesn’t matter the age of the car. I’m surprised at how expensive it is to register cars in other states!

  72. Terry, I talked with my husband about the auto-start yesterday. On our van, starting the a/c early does nothing; you have to be driving the vehicle in order for the a/c to work. Otherwise, it just blows hot air. You have to have an electric fan in the engine in order to be able to pre-cool the car. Ours does not.

    And I found out from him too that the reason we can’t park in the garage is not the length of our van as I thought, but the height! It’s too tall to go in. But it fits us all and that is a nice thing for a family of 10!

  73. We are a one car family as well. My husband takes the train to work and the train station is only 3 blocks from our house. When we moved here we had 2 cars, but sold both and got a new car. That was 6.5 years ago. There are a few times in those years when 2 cars would have been helpful, but we usually just get a ride from someone. With Uber and Lyft now, it really isn’t a problem only having one car. When we had 2, we barely ever used either one. We only put about 6,000 miles on our one car a year, and that is mostly from visiting our families, one who lives 5 hours away and the other 1.5 hours away, and summer shore trips.

  74. We are a bike and public transportation-household, but then we live close to the center of an extremely bike-friendly European capital.
    The only bother really is house- and garden-maintenance which would be easier with a car. Dragging supplies home from hardware stores or dirt and plants from the nursery on a bike is a hassle, but it’s surprising how much can actually be achieved that way once you get the technique down.
    We do plan to get a “box bike” in preparation for our upcoming parenthood. It’s a rather big expence (almost US modest car price level), but it’ll save time and money down the road.

  75. I agree. I suppose there are reasons/rationale put out by states with high registration fees but that is only harder on those trying to make ends meet as it is.

    We don’t have public transportation where we are, well, to any extent. We live outside a village which is outside our nearest large town where the university is that we all use. The town does have a bus system that runs M-F and no holidays. It does do a route in and out 2x a day to the park-ride lot due to University employees and students.

    My children have always been good at carpooling. Bicycling into school , not so much, as I did not like the narrow 2 lane road that connects the two. Too much traffic. The last couple years my youngest has carpooled in with our tenant as she works in food service at the school. I work full time during the school year, part time in the summer. When the children were younger and went our church school they rode into school with me, later for high school they were on the rural route for the school bus.

    Until just recently, because we gave our old VW bus to a nephew, that is what my husband drove. He has replaced that with a panel truck for the business. He just has to walk down our road to get to work. If they need to go out on a job they drive in my nephew’s pickup, his partner in the business the last 3 years. We’ve always had an extra vehicle around due to 5 children. Right now it’s being shared by my youngest (the last at home) and the missionary who is here for the summer. I seldom let anyone use my car as that has the adaptive features. It also gets more mileage as it is the car we use whenever we travel.

  76. We are a family of five, live in the UK and get by on one car, which can be a challenge at times. We live in a small rural village (8 miles from Bath) and have an infrequent- and expensive- bus service. But we have only ever had one car and are determined to stick to this (due to some of the costs you mentioned Brandy, and for environmental reasons too). Plus we live in a village that was built centuries before cars so parking is a real challenge! My husband drives to work, the younger two walk to school and my eldest gets the free school bus. I work three days a week and use the bus service ( which isn’t great but I do want to support it) or get a lift. We have internet shop deliveries, veg box and a milkman and if we can’t get out and do things then we stay at home-and life is less rushed 🙂

  77. That sounds like so much fun and an ideal situation, Margaret. I have a cousin and her family that live in town and they ride bicycles everywhere, even to work when the weather is good, they both work at the University. (It’s our largest employer) They own one car between them and the 4 children and it works for them. Well, the older 2 are gone and on their own now, married. But they did manage and it is really good exercise, especially pulling the baby trailers too, full of children and full of groceries.

  78. “And life is less rushed.”

    YES! This is HUGE! Being at home rather than running around brings me a lot of peace.

    When I was a child, my parents had milk delivered. I only know one place that does it here and it is rather costly. It was funny when my parents found a place to deliver when we moved states. My dad had an old-fashioned zinc insulated milk box that he kept by the front door. The first time the milkman delivered, he put the milk on TOP of the box. We had to leave them a note telling them that it was actually a milk box and instructing them to put the milk INSIDE the box.

    I do think that with all of the mail delivery options nowadays, there are a lot more ways to stay home. My cousin lives 30 minutes from Walmart one way and 45 minutes from the nearest grocery store the other direction. I can see how being in a more rural area like she is, it would save quite a bit of time and expense to order even basic things like toilet paper to be delivered rather than being gone for 3 hours just to pick up a few things from the store.

  79. Friend, our public library delivers books right to your house or apartment. You can either reserve the books you want or you can let them surprise you. You give them your preferences, likes, dislikes and they bring you a tote bag full. It is all run by volunteers.

    Also, cab and bus rides are subsidized here through social services. An ADA (disabled) card will get you 1.00 cab rides.

  80. Yes, and kindles are not expensive. We bought a new one on prime day for 29.99 to replace my old one which was one of the first, I think. The keyboard had given out and nothing could be updated anymore. I use mine mainly for the internet but my girls use them mainly as an ereader.

  81. When the children were little, we lived out of town and had only one car. It worked until the eldest went to school. In fact, we ended up moving to be closer to her school (private catholic grammar school) and my husband’s work. Than we were in town for 15 years and has two cars for the most part. We are all over the place now with college commuters and jobs for everyone. We have 5 vehicles with one being a farm truck that is also a backup.

    We own all of our vehicles and accept hand-me-downs. Fortunately our primary state of residence doesn’t have inspections, sort of reasonable registration costs and great insurance rates.

    I try to limit driving and do combine errands, but shopping is 45 minutes away. Thankfully my job is only 8 miles away

  82. When we traveled through the desert last year my constant thought/fear was, “what if this 12 year old mini-van with over 200k miles on it breaks down out here?!” I made sure we had enough water for all five of us in case it did happen and we had umbrellas to keep the sun off our faces and bodies if we needed to get out of the car. It’s not much different here in the NE. We always travel with shovels, extra clothes and boots, etc. I even carried extra food and a sleeping bag when I was young and driving through the mountains late at night after work…pre-cellphone!

  83. We are also a one car family. I homeschool our twins and my husband works third shift so our days are wide open for car usage. That being said we don’t usually go anywhere independently. We all pile in and we head off to do what needs to be done. We live in a little town and most everything we need or want is within walking distance. We could even walk to grocery store if we didn’t mind carrying back what we bought. The only time I feel the pinch is when there is a get together and we can’t make it because my husband is working.

  84. I have always felt like California is the only state that overcharges registration fees and every two years a smog inspection. I have now learned to be thankful it’s not more. I have a 13 year old Sienna. I carry only what California requires by law to save money on insurance. I love to order everything that is not perishable. Free shipping and usually get it in 2 days. has free shipping on a lot of their things too. Like diapers. We have to travel at least 30 minutes to any of the big box stores. Trader Joe’s and Aldi, Winco a lot father away. I admire all you ladies that make it work with 1 car. You definitely get so much more done at home without a car tempting you to be going somewhere.

  85. Not all cities in Illinois require a sticker. I’d never heard of cities requiring a sticker until your comment and I’ve lived in Illinois for 31 years now. The city sticker thing must be one of those Chicago/Burbs things. I’ve lived mostly in Central & Southern IL.

  86. We are a one car family as well, although we still pay on my husband’s car – we don’t have the immediate funds to get it repaired (it was in an accident) and sold. We have pretty good public transportation here, so he uses the bus system to go to university and I use the car for errands, as unfortunately there’s not much within a walking distance near us.

  87. We are a one car family too. At first I worked FT while my husband was home with our daughter. She is now 18 and attending uni in another city so does not need it most of the year-a bus pass is included in her tuition fees in the city where she lives for 8 months of the year. Currently I work PT a distance away so I have the car about 3 times per week. My husband works PT very close to home so he cycles( 3 minutes) or walks( 8 minutes). Here in Alberta, Canada the annual registration fee for our car is $84.45 and the insurance is about $1400 per year. We do have buses and a train but living in the outskirts of a big city, they are not very quick or convenient and cost $3.15 per ride-so we just stagger the use of our one car, bike for shorter errands or pick thing up on the way to or from my work.

  88. We also live in a hot desert climate, just south of you, I believe! What a great article! We are, on and off, a one car family, and if I stay home, it is definitely the cheapest option for us. But I am not a homebody. It’s not that I feel “stuck”, but rather, that I just love being around other people, especially my other friends who homeschool, and so, for us, having two cars is not really any more expensive than having one and doing a ton more driving (if I want the car when we’re down to one, I have to drive and pick up my husband from work, which adds about 3 hours of drive time to our lives (45 minutes each way, two times). I have a couple homeschooling co-ops I am a part of, and last year, it was I who was going to a friend’s house (with more kids than us) to give her kids piano lessons! So– we like having the availability of the second car, at least as long as it holds out. It is very old and we will not be able to afford to replace it. During the hottest 5 months of the year, we don’t drive or insure it because it has no a/c, but in the slightly cooler months, my husband takes it to work so we can have the nicer car with the a/c! Thus, we have the second car for about half the year! I love it and will be sad when it dies.

    But your post does give me pause. There is definitely something to be said for not being out as much, as that can be disruptive for homeschooling, for sure. When the kids were littler, we used to go to the park early in the morning and have play dates there, but now that my older kids need school in the morning, we don’t get to go to the park anymore, which is too bad for my younger one!

  89. I am a ‘no-car’ person. I take public transportation (which is so-so here) and am happier than when I had a car. I have had many cars over my life in many cities, and to me, having car was like having a big expensive pet that you had to worry about day and night. I never realized there are so many two-car families, but if you have a big family, you have to have a car or two (or three? I suppose there are three-car families too.)

    1. We have a family of eleven and have one car, so having a big family doesn’t mean you have to have multiple cars–just one larger vehicle. I know many, many families that have one car for each parent plus one car for each teenager, so they are 3-5 car families while their children are living at home. I don’t know any other families in my area who only have one car like we do. They all have at least two.

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