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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