One of the ideal life goals for Team Wharton is owning only one car. And we've decided to go for it! As of this week, Team Wharton is a one-car family. Eeek!
Being a one-car household is attractive to us because we will save money on car insurance and maintenance and we will be motivated to rely on our bikes and carpooling as much as possible, which would decrease our carbon footprint. Overall, it feels like a simplification in our life, even if in the adjustment there are sure to be frustrations.
At first glance, being a one-car family seems like a pretty unrealistic expectation in our current situation: we live in the suburbs of a sprawling metropolitan area; Dashiell goes to daycare a few miles from our house while Chris and I each have 40+ minute commutes and we don't even work in the same city; he works in Phoenix, I work in Tempe.
And yet, as we started exploring our community on our bikes, we found it to be much more bike-friendly than we initially thought. We also found that if we plan ahead, Chris and I can either carpool to work, one of us can take public transportation or Chris can work from home and get around by bike while I take the car. Since the beginning of the summer, we've been trying out the one car scenario by only using my Prius and leaving Chris's car (a truck) parked in the garage.
Surprisingly, it hasn't been very difficult or inconvenient to be a one-car family. And so we decided to go for it for real and we sold Chris's truck on Monday! Something that worked out very (VERY) well is that Chris's dad was interested in buying the truck. So the truck is still in the family and if we really need to use a truck we'll be able to borrow it.
Currently, Chris has a very flexible schedule since he's on summer break. He works Monday through Wednesday either on campus or from home and is home with Dashiell on Thursday and Friday. I also work from home on Fridays. When the school year starts in August, Chris will have to be downtown more often and we'll likely have to put more effort into planning ahead how we will use the car and public transportation. And then of course we'll be adding a second baby to the mix in December! It's sure to be interesting but we really think it's doable.
What makes having only one car possible for us is certainly the flexibility that both Chris and I have in our work situations. Chris has a very flexible schedule and does not have to be in the office at a certain time or duration each day. I do have to be in the office Monday through Thursday but when I arrive and leave is flexible. Chris and I are also able to carpool to work so that is huge. There is also public transportation available a few miles from our house so if one of us drops the other off it is possible to get to work without a car (although it does take at least twice as long as driving, bummer).
Another factor is that Chris's car, a Chevy Colorado truck, wasn't suited for a family. It doesn't have a full back seat so it would only fit two of us at a time (two adults or an adult + toddler) and soon that will only be half the family! And so if having one car just does not work and we find that we need two family cars, we would have needed to sell Chris's truck anyway. But (fingers crossed!) one family car will be enough.
There are certain to be occasional frustrations with only having one car. To anticipate these situations we've written up a contingency plan for different scenarios. For example, if the Prius needs repairs we'll rent a car and we've identified the closest rental agency and what the cost should be. We will certainly have to be diligent about planning ahead for use of the car. Hopefully during whatever inconveniences come up we'll be able to remember that overall our lives are simpler and less costly with only one car and that having one car is worth it.
Overall, we're feeling excited about life as a one-car family. This is a big step towards simplifying our lives, one I didn't think would be possible in our current situation. I love that we took this leap. I'll let you know how it goes!