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View Full Version : Considering becoming a 1 car family...


macdaid
December 12th, 2007, 02:22 PM
In the spirit of major cost reduction, my wife and I are thinking of taking a major step;
selling off our near brand-new second car. She wants to replace with a beater; a cheap 4cyl Toyota or Honda box, that's old enough for low cost insurance and good on gas.

I, on the other hand, am seeing this as an opportunity to go to 1 car and achieve the following:
> Save a boat-load of cash, and improve our financial situation in short order.
> Reduce a significant portion of our carbon footprint.

But to go to one car there are some major issues to consider.
I've always wanted to cycle commute more often, but have always had schedule constraints; kids to pick up, bad weather to consider, catching a head cold, errands to run, and so on.

Also, my office hrs are 9-6 and often later, meaning with a 1.5 hr commute, I'm home pretty late, tired, and less available to help out in the evenings with kids, dinner, etc. One would assume an improvement in speed over time, but either way this has to be factored in.

So, assuming weather is good, I'm not sick, and have already abandoned the notion that I can do errands on the way to work, I figure I can only ride 2 - maybe 3 days a week with any regularity.

That leaves 2 - 3 days a week when I'd need an alternative to the bike.
I'll be looking into public transport options, as well as CraigsList for possible carpools, but I figured I'd ask here too.

Is there anyone out there who commutes from Reston (or nearby) to Chantilly (@ Rt 50+28), willing to take on a slug? I'd pitch in for gas, dognuts, coffee, etc., and I can chat convivially or just as happily be very, very quiet :).

Thanks in advance for looking, commenting, or suggestions.

Sincerely,

Dave

jmcgonigle
December 12th, 2007, 03:08 PM
No help on the commute... but your wife's idea very rarely is a money saver. Assuming the car you get has the same mileage, etc... the chance of you saving any real money in the long run is slim to none. It would be one thing if you didn't own the car, its another when your talking about switching.

I think a 1 car family is very difficult in this area, especially with kids. Before you do it, park the car for a month or two and see what happens. :)

IMHO, but good luck.

-Jim

eloach
December 12th, 2007, 03:29 PM
No help on the commute... but your wife's idea very rarely is a money saver. Assuming the car you get has the same mileage, etc... the chance of you saving any real money in the long run is slim to none. It would be one thing if you didn't own the car, its another when your talking about switching.

I think a 1 car family is very difficult in this area, especially with kids. Before you do it, park the car for a month or two and see what happens. :)

IMHO, but good luck.

-Jim

I think he's looking for no car payment.

A used car with no payment will be cheaper as long as it runs well. If you own the Honda in the picture, you could be looking at VERY LITTLE repair cost for up to 8 years. That's something to think about. Another thing is THE SAFETY factor. The newer Honda is very likely going to be safer than an older, smaller car.

I do 50 miles of commuting 3 days a week. I can stop and do SOME things on the commute, but not a lot. Anything over 150 miles a week starts to wear on my 45 year old knees by the time I add in some running and MTB rides. Does it get any faster? That depends on what factor limits your commute time. For me, it's not bike speed. It's stopping at lights and safely crossing intersections and so forth. I can get to work as fast on my 44:16 SS MTB as I can on my road bike. There just are not that many stretches where I can take advantage of the extra 5-10 MPH I can do on the road bike. Even on the WO&D, it's not really safe to exceed 25 mph. There are always other users and road bike breaking at those speeds is pretty lame.

Also, keep in mind that if you collide with a car while bike commuting, you might need to have disability insurance or similar or you will really loose some money. So don't commute on an unsafe route. It's not worth it.

mcgrathgp
December 12th, 2007, 03:38 PM
I applaud your thinking and hope you can make it work. We're able to due with one car but not just because I usually bike to work but because there's a public transit option (either the bus, or a 15 minute walk/metro) that serves as a backup for weather, health problems, etc. I used to live in Reston and recall that the public transit options weren't very convenient. I don't want to discourage, but in the absence of a public transit backstop, it might be tough.

wiggy
December 12th, 2007, 03:45 PM
one less cars is good, but be aware that if you drive your only car to the trailhead and your wife is stuck home with kids and no transportation all day while you're having a blast on your mtnbike she may not be happy. Been there, done that when my older son and I biked and my ex stayed home w/ the other two kids. (hmm, maybe THAT's why she's an ex!) Once we got a second car, it became easier to fit mtnbiking into the family schedule. I know some MORE members use zipcar to get to the trailhead. zipcar (or flexcar, whichever) is a good option for a part-time 2nd (or 1st) car, especially for leisure or short errands, if there are any parked in reston.

gddavid
December 12th, 2007, 04:31 PM
I agree that you should see how it goes by parking one car for a month, it certainly won't be creating emmisions sitting in the driveway.

Regarding your wife's idea to run a beater car, it can be great for some horrible for others. If you are familiar with the car and comfortable working on it, many cars will make it to 200K. Keep in mind what parts cost for that high milelage car. A Bmw may hold up till 300K but a minor repair may run 1500 in parts easily, a cheaper car may not last as long but if you do your own repairs and parts are cheap it might be a better value for you.
When someone buys a car they consider to be high quality, regardless of how much they spent on it, the tend to take much better care of it. If you buy a chevy cavalier, don't care for it, don't change the oil regularly and don't care to maintain it, you shouldn't be surprised when it is worn out at 100K miles but you consider the car to be junk. In regards to emmissions, stay on top of your maintenance, don't ignore your check engine light, minimize frequent trips and you are reducing emissions as well as helping yourself. I consider myself an expert on getting a ton of miles out of cheap cars, I once put 280K miles on a dodge shadow, all on the original clutch (city driving).

None of my business but sometimes being a single income family is more practical than you might think. By the time you figure in child care, increased vehicle fuel usage, increased vehicle depreciation two incomes have alot of costs to offset.

As I continue to get farther and farther off topic I will admit that I grew to hate honda years ago putting up with stupid kids with loud exhaust and huge wings on their civics swerving through traffic like idiots. I have held a grudge against the company ever since, regardless how how bad my rational is..

Balto Charlie
December 13th, 2007, 03:41 PM
I wish you luck. I am an almost everyday commuter. I probably drive 1 day a month. BUT I still need the 2nd car for that day as well as weekends when I want to go to the mnts to play and my wife wants to stay in the city and play. I bike/train/bike daily and when the kids were home it was even tougher. Back then I drove 2xs a week because of kid related activities...sports, school concerts, teacher meetings etc. It is tough to ride home in a sweaty mess, clean up then run off to their school. If my wife would have similar bike/mass transit desires then it would be much easier to do. I think it is doable if you live and work in an urban environment but much harder in the 'burbs. Too much ground to cover. But I can tell you this that once you start bike commuting you'll hate driving in rush hour, even in the cold rain. Today sucked but was better than driving:)

Balto Charlie
December 13th, 2007, 03:44 PM
None of my business but sometimes being a single income family is more practical than you might think. By the time you figure in child care, increased vehicle fuel usage, increased vehicle depreciation two incomes have alot of costs to offset.


+1
I agree with the exception of current real estate cost. When home prices went through the roof I think it essentially ended the stay at home mom.

BikerMiker
December 13th, 2007, 04:36 PM
My wife and I did it with one kid, mass transit and a bike locker at the train station. It was tough, but we had no (financial) choice. Now that I work from home (WOOHOO!), we could probably do it, especially as I have done A LOT less mtn biking during the week to avoid driving (and paying for gas, car maintenance, etc). I tried to carpool to races and stuff but we ended up buying a used, cheap accord that has been great. Also, she works at New Carrolton now and she has much less of a commute than before and we have one more kid.

I don't know how most 'normal' people do it. Even out here in the lower-home-value 'burbs, it's tough. I make it a point to be here everyday (from meetings, whatever) to pick up my daughter off the bus.

Life is expensive. DC is a tough town for low-impact people unless you never leave the city (and I know many who don't).

Good luck, whatever you decide to do. At least your intentions are good!

mike

DaveG
December 13th, 2007, 04:58 PM
I make it a point to be here everyday (from meetings, whatever) to pick up my daughter off the bus.

That's awesome! One of the real benefits of working from home. :)

Dave

eloach
December 13th, 2007, 06:10 PM
Well, they do have that "flex/zip" car thing going on now. I don't know anything about it, but you just get the car when you need it... at least that's the idea.

Lindsay apparently just closed Saturn of Alexandria and converted it to something like that. They sent me a nice little note letting me know I was screwed. :mad:

A few years ago, I was looking at used cars, Toyota Corolla to be specific, and the used ones (a year or two old) were going for 11,500 or so. The new ones were ~14,500 stripped. When you factored in the difference in interest rates for new and used cars, the payment worked out about the same. That's something to keep in mind unless you are going to pay cash. New cars often have a lower interest rate. Back when I was shopping it was actually ZERO percent on lots of the new cars... okay, so I guess it was more like 4 years ago.

BikerMiker
December 13th, 2007, 06:20 PM
No, a lot of new cars still have zero % APR. It's crazy. It pretty much FORCES you to buy new. All of the used car loans that I have found (not looking too hard) are 6-8% for 36 months.

mike

nocro
December 13th, 2007, 09:36 PM
No, a lot of new cars still have zero % APR. It's crazy. It pretty much FORCES you to buy new. All of the used car loans that I have found (not looking too hard) are 6-8% for 36 months.

mike

You can save money in advance. I know this is an unpopular approach. But buy a used (2-3 years old seems to be the sweet spot) car with cash. No sense in paying interest on an object that is losing value every moment you use it.

Another idea is a motorcycle, or scooter if you have only short errands. Not great for kids, and certainly not for everyone. But if you can get 50% of your trips done in a vehicle that gets 50+ mpg you're getting ahead.

Balto Charlie
December 14th, 2007, 07:41 AM
Well, they do have that "flex/zip" car thing going on now. I don't know anything about it, but you just get the car when you need it... at least that's the idea.



I forgot about this way. This is your answer if you live in the right area. Lots of folks in DC use the Zip. Balto is also trying to get it started.

Used cars are the way to go if you ask me. Look for a little old lady car, 8-10 years old, 50,000 miles for afew thousand dollars.\

here's a link for a car free bike forum:
http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdisplay.php?f=226