Yes, It Is Possible To Be A One-Car Family Without Totally Losing Your Sh*t

by Christine Organ
Image via Shutterstock

Like most families with busy schedules and lots of moving pieces, keeping this boat afloat usually requires a fair amount of logistical planning. One kid might have baseball practice at the same time another child has a birthday party — on the other side of town. My husband might have a couple hours of work to catch up on, and I’ll want to meet a friend for lunch. We each have a dozen annoying errands to run. Not to mention the laundry. OMG, the damn laundry!

Gone are the days of lazy late-morning weekend brunches followed by a long nap. We’re busy AF — just like everyone else. But what further complicates our jam-packed, everyone-going-in-different-directions weekends is the fact that we only have one car.

Our decision to stick with one car has been both intentional and circumstantial. We’ve only ever had just one car, and until recently, it was rarely a problem. In fact, when we lived in Chicago, having a car was an enormous hassle. Parking was expensive, traffic was slow, and driving made me hate everyone. Having one car was an easy decision.

Over the years, however, it has become a teensy bit more complicated. Our kids are 7 and 9 now, and have their own social lives and activities — oftentimes requiring them to be in different places at the same time. We’ve since moved to the suburbs, and though my husband takes the commuter train to the office each morning, and as a WAHM, my commute consists solely of the long walk from my bed to the computer, there are hiccups.

One of us might need to travel for work while the other holds down the fort at home and has kid chauffeur duty. Our younger son might have a baseball game at the same time as his older brother. Or, heaven forbid, our dented-up, old-as-hell minivan might need to spend the day in the shop for repairs.

From time to time, my husband will suggest we get another car. “I think it’s time…,” he’ll start saying before I quickly cut him off with an emphatic “Hell no!”

I admit the temptation is real. Carpool can get tricky, and we occasionally need to call in favors. We’ll spend more time planning the logistics of getting everyone where they need to be than we do at the actual activity we are going to. And that green-eyed monster envy likes to rear its ugly head when a neighbor gets a new car or someone posts a photo of her birthday gift — a shiny, black Jeep — on social media.

But the thing is, I don’t even like cars. While some people see them as sleek and exquisite technological marvels or status symbols, I see them as a giant hunk of metal that costs a shit ton of money and time to maintain. I can barely manage to take care of the car we do have; I certainly don’t want to add another one to the mix.

Cars are expensive as hell.

Not only can a car payment cost a family a few hundred dollars a month, that doesn’t include the expense of gas, parking, insurance, and depreciation. According to AAA’s 2015 Your Driving Costs study, the actual cost of driving a minivan costs about $535 a month, a little less if you drive a medium-sized sedan and a little more if you drive an SUV. That’s a whole lot of dolla-dolla-bills, y’all. I’d much rather spend that money on throw pillows from Target, new shoes, or maybe even some extra money in my kids’ 529 plan if I’m feeling generous.

Cars are a pain in the ass.

Like I said, I don’t even like cars. They are a giant hunk of metal that needs gas and regular maintenance. Driving around a busted-up old minivan (that’s paid off, thankyouverymuch) relieves a whole lot of pressure to keep this hunk of metal in pristine condition. The last thing I want to do is nag my kids about cleaning off their dirty baseball cleats before getting in the car or yell at them about the Happy Meal toys in the backseat. I nag them enough about leaving their socks and underwear all over the house as it is.

Cars aren’t a friend to Mother Nature.

Not only are cars a pain in the ass and a major hit to the pocketbook, aside from hybrids and electric cars, they aren’t exactly kind to the environment either. Cars (and other vehicles) are responsible for about 1/3 of all U.S. air pollution, the gas they need to run majorly contributes to several environmental problems, including damage to local ecosystems during the extraction process and environmental risks of shipping oil around the world.

I understand that for some families, multiple cars are a necessity or maybe even a luxury that’s worth the expense. But that isn’t the case for our family — at least not right now. And I’m determined to keep it that way for as long as possible. So we carpool a lot. We walk places, ride bikes, and take the train. We do a lot of things together instead of going separate directions. We use Uber or rent a car when one of us needs to get to the airport.

Being a one-car family (mostly) works for us. We save money, free up space in the garage (okay, so we only have a one-car garage anyway), and do our part to take care of the environment (climate change is real, y’all).

So while three-car garages and hobby cars might be all the rage, I’m sticking with my one-and-only vehicle — a busted up, old-ass minivan that carries the perpetual smell of coffee, cheese, and feet.