Could You Be a One-Car Family?

My name is Janet, I am a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder and I have a confession to make. Read on.

Every time my husband suggested that we could go down to one car after he retired, I nodded my head. My gesture said, “Sure, OK, fine” but what I really meant was, “No way, are you kidding, never gonna happen.”

Within a month of his last day of work, he sold his 13-year-old car for $1,000. I guess the buyer was okay with Velcro holding up the driver-side visor and the funky smell. (Can you ever get high school offensive lineman stink out of cloth upholstery?)

But a funny thing happened on our way to being a one-car couple. Actually a couple of things, and they weren’t really that funny.

One, he didn’t need to drive much anymore because he wasn’t working. And two, I hadn’t been driving a lot since March 2020 when the pandemic hit because I was working from home. Sometimes the car sits for days now.

We got a new car in September 2020 and just over a year later, it has barely 6,000 miles on it. Obviously, we are saving on gas. And we have about $900 in our pockets, money we would be spending on car insurance for the second car.

The one thing that sold me on the idea was the realization that if this grand experiment didn’t work, we could always buy a decent used car. So far, so good. And thanks for Uber.

Has your family thought about going down to one car? Or have you actually done it? I am curious to know how the transition has gone or what would keep you from taking the plunge.


We both work, and even though I literally walk to work across the street, I have 2 teenagers who don’t have licenses, yet. So we are still a 2 car family. But I cannot wait to get that down to 1 car. Once the kids are grown or have their own car, we could easily do one car for us. Less hassle, less expense, and he hates to drive anyway, lol. We are hoping that we can do this before his 27 year old truck dies and needs to be replaced.

1 Like

We’ve had one car since 2016. We’ve managed just fine with a used car, no payments and low insurance. I do expect we will be getting a 2nd to accommodate life changes. When we do, it will absolutely be used and we will own it outright.

To us, cars are not status symbols. We just need to get from point A to point B. If ever we need another ride for a one-off, that’s why Uber and Lyft exist.

1 Like

being my children are married and have their own cars, i am so happy to have my own car, and don’t have to share

1 Like

We have 2 cars from when we were both working, now both retired. One is considerably older (2005, 152,000 miles, liability only ) and of course has had $ put into it over the years, it s a workhorse and we use it for around town stuff. The other car is a 2018 and we use it for trips now that we travel more. The older car keeps miles off the newer one.

Plans are to keep both up and running even though there is only 1 driver now. If circumstances change, and they do, such as a wreck, we have a backup and can decide from there. It is nice to have options.

Uber and lyft are also options, but we don’t care to use them for ordinary things that we can handle at present. Yes, insurance on 2 vehicles is greater than 1, but we’d rather pay that for what we do.

We’ve always just had one car. At one point we lived near good public transport, or when I stayed home with the kids, or when I could walk to work. Now we just switch off if needed. I’m retired, if I need the car, I just drop him off or pick him up from work.

1 Like

I don’t like to drive. We only had one car for over 18 years. We watch when we make appointments so there is no issue there. We go shopping together most of the time. I do like that we save money for not having two cars.

1 Like

I love this! Admittedly, we are a 3 car family with only 2 adults living in the house. But wait! Don’t judge me. I know there are benefits to pairing down to one car. More money in your pocket because you don’t have to pay as much car insurance, upkeep and fuel. Ughh! Gas is ridiculous nowadays, but I digress. My reasons for living that “3 car life” are complex and positive. My wife works from home and as was stated. Her car almost never moves, except for the occasional milk, bread or french fry run. My problem is, i’ve been burned before. What I mean by that is. I can recall being down with one vehicle because the other one broke down. That happened to be at a time when we both worked outside of the home. It made life miserable. I must mention that when you reside in rural areas, having one car sucks! So, because of this. We always keep 3 vehicles. My 05’ Subaru Outback takes me back and forth to work. Which is 63 miles round trip. My wife’s car sits for now until she has to return to her building. Then we have the “Sunday” car. I live by the idea that at least 1 car should be your go to. You know? That’s the one you can always hop in for a long trip. It’s clean, safe, dependable and paid for. It’s an 08’ Honda Accord. I love this car. Actually, I appreciate that we don’t have any car payments!! Ok, so back to being burned. Because of what felt like serious panic and trauma. I have kept 3 vehicles for 10 years now. It’s worth it to me to have peace of mind about our ability to continue our lives without interruption. Maybe this will change when we reach retirement? But for now, it’s what saves us both frustration and anxiety. I can’t tell you how many times my 3rd vehicle life has been “Clutch.” Pardon the pun. ?


In our house, my partner and I both work from home. We each have a car, but in all honesty, we could easily get by with one, even with a child in tow. The city we live in has good public transit, which can be a back-up option to driving in many cases.

With the used car market so hot right now, we are considering selling one and opening up some garage space, saving some money along the way.


Hey Will. You’re right that the used car market is hot. I’d be tempted but we need at least ONE car. Public transport isn’t great in the Tampa Bay area.

We have 3 paid for cars, 2 are luxury cars, and 1 is a 2017 Camry. My husband is a regional trucker and parks the Camry at the trucking company seven miles away. I drive twice a week to the store. We live in a major, traffic nightmare city, with transit that is marginal. My car is a 2010 Lexus ES350, and will drive it until the wheels fall off. I don’t see us going down to 1 car, as it’s nice to have a backup. If you lived in the Atlanta area, you’d understand. Most households have 2-3 cars here.

1 Like