Benefits Of Having Only One Car

Cyclist putting car in trashI don’t know what sparked the idea of getting rid of one of our cars but I do know I was thinking about it around 2006 or so. I thought if I could ride my bike to work we wouldn’t need a second car and we could save money on gas, insurance and maintenance. At the time I was working seven or eight miles from home, too far to ride I thought. Actually, I knew it wasn’t too far but I also knew I was out of shape and I would have to work up to it.

The real problem was that most of the trip was along U.S. 19, the worst road in Florida, perhaps the universe. I put those thoughts out of my mind for a while and the next year we bought a condo and moved ten miles away, in the opposite direction from work. Eventually the thought of commuting by bicycle crept back into my mind and I started looking for a job closer to home. I never found one that would pay what I needed to make but in 2009 my wife’s company offered her a promotion which also came with a transfer to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

We didn’t want to leave Florida so she turned it down but when the manager they hired didn’t work out we finally agreed to move. Rose was going to be managing a 180 unit apartment complex and a free apartment was part of the deal. That meant we would be living on the property where she worked and thus would only need one car. I saw this as my opportunity to downsize and I gave my truck to Rose’s son. We then packed up the moving truck and towed our other car behind.

Once in Myrtle Beach, I eventually found a job about six or seven miles away. The first half of my plan was complete. Now I just needed to find a good route to work on my bike. There was none. That area is very unfriendly to cyclists and from where I was, I had to use Highway 501 to cross the Intercoastal Waterway and since part of the road was limited access, I didn’t dare try riding my bike on it. It didn’t matter, I was able to use our one car to get to work, and sixteen months later, my wife was promoted again and transferred back to Florida.

This time we did not live on the property but instead rented a condo in Dunedin, about seven miles from her work. Again, one car still suited our needs because I found a job four miles away and was able to ride my bike, which is what I wanted to do from the start.

Eventually, because my hours were cut, I started working in Tampa, about seventeen miles away. I was back to driving again but fortunately Rose’s work was on the way so I would drop her off and continue to work. After a few months of that, we moved to where she works and my trip was cut to nine miles (ten by bike). I wanted to ride to work again but It was farther than I was used to and I was worried about my back. My solution was buy a recumbent bike and ride to work without the concern of back pain.

You know the rest of the story as far as the bike is concerned but what I don’t mention is the occasional car problems and conflicts that arise. For example, last week we had an issue with the car on Thursday evening. My wife used that time to complain that we need two cars but on Friday morning I dropped it off at the repair shop across the street from our home and then rode to work. Problem solved.

Today Rose took the day off from work and needs the car. No problem, I can ride to work. But she wants me home early so we can do something together. That’s a problem so she will have to drive me to work and pick me up, but that is a problem of convenience, not necessity, and it is hardly worth the added cost of an extra vehicle.

So having one vehicle is not a good solution for everyone, and it can have it’s drawbacks, here is what I have found to be beneficial:

  • You pay less on car insurance. We save even more because Rose is now the primary driver and women have a lower rate (unlike at the hair salon).
  • Less maintenance cost. This can be significant, especially in older cars. Plus, you have one less car to clean.
  • Less vehicle taxes and tag fees. In South Carolina, I had to pay property tax on my car.
  • Save on gas. This mostly applies if you use a bike as alternative transportation.
  • Incentive to exercise. There are some days when I don’t feel like riding to work but Rose needs the car for something so I take my bike. Later I am glad I did.
  • One less car payment. I actually forgot to add the most obvious benefit and had to come back and put it in.

I don’t want to tell people they should only have one car, everyone’s circumstance is different, but if someone is thinking about it, I hope my story helps. Please let me know what you think.

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