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Ask RiotACT: Drawbacks to becoming a one car couple?

By Morgo - 2 May 2017 12

Ask RiotACT

Morning illustrious sages…

Has anyone in Canberra gone through the “let’s get rid of one of the cars to save money” discussion?

We are thinking of it and I reckon it’s do-able. ‘Er indoors… not so much.

Situation: we’re in Macgregor, 15 mins walk from Kippax. I work in Belco – I ride bike/bus/get dropped off/occasionally drive the ute, and she is in Civic – drives the hatch daily.

Wife drives to the gym in the evenings (she’s not a cyclist), I do stuff all. Weekends is where the clashes would hit. She drives to the gym & some weekends shops. I drive some weekends to bike tracks too far to ride to. I manage 2 or 3 weekends away with the boys every year. We do quite a lot together.

I reckon we’d save about $4 grand a year in rego, insurance, fuel, servicing. We’d probably sell both our current cars and get something in between like an SUV, but let’s assume the crossover = cost neutral.

What do you think? Anyone done it who would recommend it? Drawbacks? Questions?

Cheers

What’s Your opinion?


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12 Responses to
Ask RiotACT: Drawbacks to becoming a one car couple?
1
Rollersk8r 8:59 am
02 May 17
#

It all depends. I’ve found you never fully realise the savings in these sorts of situations. Plus if you’re consolidating to one better/bigger car then the temptation will be to overspend. You’re then spending even more in the hope there will be savings long term. You will only really save if you hang on to the better of the two cars – and bank the money you’d otherwise be spending on the second one.

I’ve got 2 kids in the middle years of primary school – and we only bought a cheap second car a few years ago. The cost of rego burns me every year, especially as the second car might only be driven twice a week. I’m only doing 5,000km a year and filling it up once a month. I figure the total running cost (rego, petrol, servicing, insurance) is under $4000 a year or about $70 a week. The convenience value is definitely worth the cost, especially as the kids do more and more activities.

Although of course – the second car is pretty horrid and I would love to have two shiny new ones!

2
devils_advocate 12:38 pm
02 May 17
#

been there, done that, not really worth it. That is because:
1) you will often get a multi-policy discount for the second car (provided it’s not an ‘exotic’).
2) trying to agree on a single car that meets all possible objectives/preferences often requires buying a third vehicle, which defeats the purpose.
3) if that third vehicle ends up being an SUV, you will pay more for rego and fuel than for the hatchback (rego cost is based on weight, and realistically so is fuel).
4) you will lose a lot of independence and flexibility.
5) it becomes even more nightmarish if your vehicle is in for servicing. If you at least have one car it is manageable.
6) presumably you have a ute for a reason, so you will probably end up in a compromise solution.
7) one of you will never fill the car with petrol, leading to acrimony at being in a rush to go somewhere only to find out the needle is sitting on ‘E’.

At the end of the day I suppose it depends how much the $4k per year is worth to you, and whether you would actually realise that saving without compromising your lifestyle too much. To me it doesn’t come close.

3
tim_c 1:10 pm
02 May 17
#

It comes down to personal choices – having one car obviously requires a bit more coordination with other family members who may also want to use the car, particularly as you have noted on weekends.
Unless you need a car regularly during the day (eg. for meetings, etc.), it makes little sense to me to drive a car into the city, park it there all day and drive it home again when the route is adequately serviced by buses from most parts of Canberra, at least during peak times. Then for the times you really need another vehicle, estimate about how many taxi rides you can buy for the $4k per year that you might save by not running a second car.

I also consider it quite ironic that someone drives a car to a gym.

And personally I find it unthinkably boring to go to a gym and uselessly use my energy like a hamster in a hamster wheel when I can be out on a real bike enjoying the variations in scenery, gradients, etc. While it might be enjoyable to go for a leisurely ride early in the morning or in the evening, I really don’t have the time for this so it makes sense for me to combine a bike ride with getting myself to/from work (but then my commute is only a leisurely 12km each way).

4
bigred 3:01 pm
02 May 17
#

Having the same conversation in our household due to the high standing costs of having two cars that are now relatively under utilised due to changes in work and leisure patterns, as well as the stick approach of the poor driving skills of a large proportion of Canberra’s motorists making driving a chore and survival exercise.

5
AaronT 8:13 pm
02 May 17
#

We have only ever had one car, seems to work fine most of the time. Have never been able to justify getting a second car.
It does help that there is a single (express) bus that goes between work and home for those time we can’t work the same hours.

But the car we have is a large car (not SUV though), mainly for the odd bit of trailer towing that needs to be done. Most of the time a small hatchback would be suitable.

Pitty we don’t have the rule that Switzerland has where you can have one set of plates but two vehicles.

6
Queanbeyanite 9:58 pm
02 May 17
#

We went down to one car when paying off the home loan and saving up for the bride to have 5 years off work to raise the kids. I caught the bus to work. The bus was cheaper back then, even with free parking. We were lucky to drive 18k km a year back then. I did ride a bike to work one or two days a week too. Interest rates were higher then; 12% down to 8% when we finally paid it off. You’d have to do your own budget to see what the actual costs are. If the bus hadn’t been so convenient I probably could have bought an old Hyundai and done it just as cheap.

7
Hosinator 10:30 pm
03 May 17
#

We got rid of our second car two years ago and we’ve never had an issue, we have two kids under the age of 6. I cycle to work daily, my wife cycles twice a week. We’ve never had a clash as we do most things together.
We’ve saved just over $4k per year, which has gone straight on the mortgage. I’ve only had to catch a taxi twice in two years because it has been bucketing with rain as I’ve been leaving work and cycling home is not an option.

I’d recommend it, but just make sure you work through and agree on a position for any times that you may both need a car.
We also did have to hire a car for a few days while ours was in for repairs, but still the cost of hiring was lower than owning. In fact it would have been cheaper to have caught a taxi, but not being able to get the kids around in taxi due to a lack of a child seat was why we hired.

Good luck.

8
bringontheevidence 9:27 am
04 May 17
#

We’ve just done the reverse, moved from one car to two after having a child. Given our experience I’d estimate that your savings will be about half what you expect, but the cost to your lifestyle will be smaller than you expect.

When we had one car it was driven a lot, probably 30-35k per year between the two of us so you’re really just rolling all of the depreciation and fuel costs into a single vehicle. Since getting a second car our total k’s have only increased 5-10k per year, so each car is doing a lot less kms.

You will obviously save quite a lot on rego and insurance though, but not nearly as much as you would think.

9
bryansworld 4:45 am
05 May 17
#

We have survived easily with one car. We have three kids in primary school. A combination of cycling, buses and a little bit of planning. Consider a station wagon instead of an SUV. Better handling and lower fuel consumption for the same cargo capacity.

10
Tracy 1:10 am
07 May 17
#

We are a one car family, but this works for us by our choice of where we live – we live walking distance to both my husband’s work and mine. We have 2 young children that we can drop off at childcare by foot en route. The local shops are a short walk from home. The local primary school is also walking distance away. If we lived further from work, it would be a lot less appealing as I have little faith in Canberra’s public transport system.

11
Damien Haas 12:34 pm
08 May 17
#

When I moved from Campbell to Belco I chose a home right next to a bus stop, so I could use public transport every day to get to work in Russell.
As well as being easier than driving and parking I read books and relaxed for about an hour a day. I was also able to shop quickly in Civic and Belco Mall for groceries while waiting for my connecting local bus. Once you start to factor in public transport to your daily patterns, it becomes second nature, makes your life a lot easier and frees up time for other things.

I look forward to hearing how your family and yourself fare with a one car household. So many families could do a similar thing and free up time for themselves and save money.

12
dungfungus 2:40 pm
08 May 17
#

Damien Haas said :

When I moved from Campbell to Belco I chose a home right next to a bus stop, so I could use public transport every day to get to work in Russell.
As well as being easier than driving and parking I read books and relaxed for about an hour a day. I was also able to shop quickly in Civic and Belco Mall for groceries while waiting for my connecting local bus. Once you start to factor in public transport to your daily patterns, it becomes second nature, makes your life a lot easier and frees up time for other things.

I look forward to hearing how your family and yourself fare with a one car household. So many families could do a similar thing and free up time for themselves and save money.

Good luck with reading and relaxing while standing on a tram clutching a grab strap then.

And how does one “free up time and save money” by waiting for public transport which very often is late or doesn’t show up?

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