We are a family of four with one car.
Before I go further, I want to be clear: this is not a thing. This is not a slow cooking movement. This is not the capsule wardrobe gimmick. You will likely not find a One Car Family Ideas board on Pinterest.
This is also not a ponzi scheme or some other elitist scam for the 1%. This is written with full awareness that to own even ONE car is a privilege not enjoyed by a great majority of the world’s population, nevermind an ability to fuel one’s car on a regular basis.
This is, however, something of a lifestyle choice in an overprivileged overconsumptive sovereign nation and one I would choose over and over again. Do you like how I just cleared my throat for three straight paragraphs?
I’ve been asked by several people about being a one-car family, which appears to be something of a distinction in the carpool lanes in which I idle. I’ve thought quite a bit about this and what this says about me: that people would assume this would pose difficulty for us. Fair enough, I say. Because both adults in our family work outside the home in a geography where public transportation is not accessible/reliable for our purposes. Because we send our kids to a school that is not serviced by big yellow schoolbuses. Because we live in an age where 3-car garages are becoming standard in newly constructed homes.
So, I’ll claim it as a thing–our thing. We are a one-car family. We have only ever been a one-car family. I brought no car to the relationship. My hubby inherited a green Honda CRV from his parents when we married, but she has since died (RIP Green Bus) and now we drive what I am told is the official car of the New England lesbian: a Subaru Outback. And we love her.
I’ll also fully disclose that my hubby and I also own a mo-ped which he is
crazy kind enough to drive much of the year to work and back.
There are many obvious perks to being a one-car fam. We pay less in auto insurance than if we owned, operated more vehicles. We only ever have to gas up one vehicle (the mo-ped uses less than $3/week in gas). When we lived in the city, I took the train everywhere, even when I had a double stroller for which I apologize to all who had to make room for me and my Hummer on the T. Now that we don’t live near public trans, we work hard to economize our trips instead of just going out whenever we feel like it.
There are some less obvious perks, though, and these are the ones I value most. After speaking with another family who enjoys being a one-car fam, we agreed that there is a heightened communication system that is necessary with owning one car. Simply put: you have to share more. You have to share where you’re going, what time you’ll be home. I’m sure folks with multiple vehicles do this, but, in the case when my hubby drives the mo-ped to work, I have to stay mindful of the weather patterns. If it sleets, rains, or heaven forbid snows, I know we’ll be packing up the kids in their jammies and schlepping downtown in the car to pick up Daddy. I love this about being a one-car family. We spend a lot of time catching up in the car. We work together as a family to keep it clean, inside and out.
Because of Loverpants’ and my disparate schedules, we don’t often share meals. Instead, we share the wide open road, sharing pieces of our day as we both gaze in the same direction, with our little backseat drivers chiming in and driving us absolutely nuts. And I would not have it any other way.