Saturday, December 1, 2012

An Update on the Single (Vehicle) Life

This week, for the first time in 7 months, we rented a van to have a second vehicle. We had some business to attend to that required both Jason and I to have transportation during the day and public transportation was not going to be a viable option in this situation. So, I rented a van for a few days to complete our business and extended the rental by a couple of days to take advantage of visiting several National Parks and Historical Sites with the kids while Jason completes the final days of his current job assignment.

While I enjoyed re-learning how to drive (I haven't driven since we sold our van at the end of June), it soon became apparent that we are nowhere near the point of needing or wanting a second vehicle on any kind of regular basis. There are so many benefits that we have received from making this one choice to live simpler and more intentionally. For our family, this means choosing to own just one vehicle.

Financially, this has been a huge savings! The total cost of secondary transportation for our family from May-November has been $434.72 (I think...unless I missed a $1-2 bus fare somewhere). This includes a 4-day van rental, a tank of gasoline (to drive 300+ miles this week) and 3.5 months of bus fare for the 4 kids and me. The insurance cost alone for a secondary vehicle would have been nearly this number. Add in the cost of 1-2 oil changes and fuel for at least 5,000 miles and the cost for simply maintaining a second vehicle for our family would be $1,500+ before even factoring in additional routine maintenance and repairs or the unseen cost of vehicle depreciation. Additionally, with limited transportation availability there are fewer "I'm bored" trips to Target, home improvement stores, or the mall which can nickel and dime a family budget quickly. Not to mention, where would we put the crap that we don't need from these stores? Our single-vehicle lives have successfully put an end to any of those trips that we had been in the habit of making.

We've seen massive changes in communication within our family. We discuss daily where we need or want to go and arrange our schedules accordingly. Jason knows that I will most likely be home when he returns from work in the evening and can consistently have dinner planned for our family because there are fewer I-got-distracted-and-didn't-get-home-in-time-to-plan-dinner days. Also, we have all but eliminated the occurrence of him working late and wondering when he will be home, unsure of how to plan our evening. Jason has become excellent at communicating his work schedule--as random as his hours may be at times--so that we can coordinate all of our evening plans around when he will be home.

Finally, we have learned to slow down and savor life. The kids and I walk to a lot of places. We find the hidden gems around where we are staying or near the places to which we take public transportation. We spend a lot of time with the people immediately around us at the campgrounds where we stay, because we're rarely in a rush to get somewhere. While waiting at bus stops and riding public transportation, we have had the opportunity to engage in rich conversations with strangers and one another that we would otherwise miss out on by riding in our private vehicles. We truly *see* the beauty around us and realize that there is a lot to miss in life when you move through it at a rapid pace, and we're never at a loss for finding opportunities for exercise.

While the single-vehicle life will not work for every family, I'm grateful that we critically evaluated our family's needs and made this choice. For now, it's a good move for our family. Will it remain that way forever? Most likely not, but as long as the benefits continue to outweigh the costs, having one vehicle is part of the life that we choose.

(For more information on how we chose to become a single-vehicle family, click on the link here.)

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