21st Century Dad
One Dad's Thoughts, Ideas, and Feelings.
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Downsizing to 1 Car

September 10th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Illustration: Elliott Kim

One month ago, we made a family decision to downsize to one vehicle. We took inventory of our needs and our expenses, and it made sense to get rid of one car. I am glad to be free of life’s most inconvenient convenience.

We’re not disadvantaged with the lack of one car due to our circumstances. One parent stays at home with the baby and home-schools the older child. I’ve learned how to use public transit and I ride my bike whenever I can.

The prevailing attitude in South Florida is that a car is a necessity. The lack of a car would be a hindrance. I have not felt that hindrance. Did I miss the meeting? Did I not get that email? I’m supposed to feel stuck! Why has an overwhelming sense of liberation come over me?

  • I’m not a believer in multi-tasking, but this is as close as it gets. I’m getting recreation, exercise, and transportation at the same time.
  • Riding the bus gives me opportunities unavailable to me if I’m driving. Try reading or watching a video podcast while driving. Oh wait, this is South Florida. I wouldn’t be surprised if people did just that.
  • Riding the bus insulates me from the bad drivers. Everyone thinks the drivers in their city are the worst. South Florida drivers really are among the worst in the nation.
  • Riding my bike is a much more intimate interaction with the aforementioned bad drivers. I choose my bike routes accordingly. I’ve discovered some great scenery because I’ve had to find alternates to major thoroughfares.
  • I eliminated $600 of monthly expenditures.

My current work situation allows me to carpool with a friend of mine. Beer is cheaper than gas now, so I buy him a 12-pack once a week, and I even get to drink 2 or 3 of them.

Sarah Palin is keeping all you fact checkers very busy, so I’m going to save you some time. A 12-pack of Heineken works out to be about $9.70/gallon. Okay, so in Europe, I’d be right. However, the amount of gas I’d burn in one week commuting costs significantly more than the beer used to fuel our friendship.

The point is, (I find myself saying this a LOT to the resident teenager) there are alternatives to the automobile. My bitter and contested divorce from conventional wisdom has allowed me to explore the options I am currently using.

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10 Responses to “Downsizing to 1 Car”

  1. comment number 1 by: Dad of Divas

    Ok, I get the whole green thing…I have tried every once in a while to also ride my bicycle when I can. What I find ironic is that below your post is an ad for a new Toyota Camry…just a bit humorous based on the post itself!

  2. comment number 2 by: 21st Century Dad

    @Dad of Divas: Now THAT’S funny! I pull up the post and the ad I see is for Honda Accord parts and accessories. I think there’s a way to stop certain kinds of ads from appearing.

    I was motivated by wanting to go green and by other circumstances. I’m making a LOT of lemonade these days.

  3. comment number 3 by: Tip Dad

    I’ve tried commuting by bike, but was derailed this summer by the flare up of an old injury, some bike mechanical issues, and the hot weather. With things back in orderd, and cool weather slowly moving in, I can’t wait to start my bike commuting plan again.

  4. comment number 4 by: orlund

    We’ve done the same thing. People used to have only one car before why do we always think we need one car per person? Feels good to save some money for a change.

  5. comment number 5 by: Ben

    Kudos to saving money!

    We’ve done the one-car thing when we’ve had on in need of repairs for an extended time. Due to where we live and work, public transit/biking isn’t an option, so when we have one car, we make a lot of extra trips back and forth. We don’t have any car payments, so keeping two vehicles around isn’t much of an added expense, and the time saved by not driving back and forth constantly makes it worthwhile for us… but we’re not living in a metro part of South Florida, either!

  6. comment number 6 by: DC Urban Dad

    Major props to you. Living in DC we are lucky to have great public transportation, but I cannot stand being without car.

    I wish I knew how to quit her, but I cannot. I miss her since my wife has been on maternity leave. I have gone from a 15 minute commute to a hour on the Metro. I miss my love.

  7. comment number 7 by: cory huff

    Dude, my wife and I got rid of our one and only car a year ago. I bike to work each morning and, like you, we save about $600 per month. I get my exercise (about 10 miiles each way) and I love it…although, my calorie intake has about doubled because of all the exercise.

  8. comment number 8 by: Corina

    Would do the one car thing if it didn’t take over an hour and a half and four transfers for my husband to get to work via public transport. I barely use my car, but i need it to pick Sweetie up from preschool. A closer preschool would be better, but the cost increase in care would offset what I save in having the second car. I walk most places now, though, so it is kind of silly.

  9. comment number 9 by: 21st Century Dad

    @TipDad: A halfway decent bike will make your ride more pleasant for sure.

    @Cory Huff: I have 13 miles to ride each way. If I can raise my average speed to 15-18mph, I’d consider doing it more often.

    @Corina: Yeah, sometimes public transit isn’t such a hot option. My current job would require 2.5 hours, 2 transfers and almost 2 miles of walking.

  10. comment number 10 by: Jojo

    if only I didn’t fall off a bike when I get on it…I’ve started walking to and from now since I started school. but I find that the extra 40 mins spent walking vs. 10 min drive…well, I want to come home quickly so I can spend enough time with my daughter before having to do homework which is trillions of hours. cool illustration

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