Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A two-month test

I don't think I ever mentioned it here, but at the last minute, we did sell Ryan's car. (Last minute as in, they handed us the cash, we handed them the keys, and then we hopped into our moving truck and drove to Texas.) I also probably didn't mention the fact that while buying our old car, they asked about renting our old townhouse and working at my old office building--I was sure a social security number/credit score exchange was next--but that's a topic for another post.

This post is about downsizing.

We went from being a two-car, two-person family in an 18-square-mile city to being a one-car (still two-person) family in a city that can take several hours to cross. (That's 8,778 square miles--bigger than the entire state of New Jersey. I know.)

It wasn't our plan to stay a one-car family. The Houston burbs aren't exactly a friend of public transportation and neither are the hot and humid summers. Plus, as the Salazar family saying goes, everything in Houston is "about 30 minutes away." We had planned to move to Houston and start Ryan's initiation into Texas/construction culture by getting him a nice big truck. And then reality settled in.

All of a sudden, there would be car payments. Twice the insurance. A couple tanks of gas a week, most of it spent in gridlocked traffic. Another car contributing to that traffic.

It's not that we can't afford it. But we're starting to wonder if we'd rather take a trip once a year than have an extra car to sit in the garage when we need it.

So our experiment begins. Starting this week, Ryan will be carpooling to work a couple times a week. The days that I have the car, I'll do our grocery shopping and errand running. My perfectly lovely (and accommodating--thank you!) mom and sister are humoring our strange little plans by offering rides on their way to Costco and other places.

To be completely honest, I'm not sure we can/should do it. Two months, sure. (We've pretty much been doing this since October, though this will be Ryan's first experience with the park 'n' ride.) But two years? More? Once we have a couple kids?? In a city like Houston, I just don't know.

Do any of you have downsizing experience in a city? Particularly in cities where the only buses that come by the house take you to the local elementary?


Shannon said...

Yikes! I'm sure you can do it, but I guarantee there will be days that you both need the car where you will be cursing the inconvenience. That was one of my big things when we got married. I always wanted to have the option to leave the house. Even though I don't always go somewhere as a SAHM, I like having the option. Good luck with the experiment!
PS-I need your new address. Can you FB message it to me? Thanks!

Alexis said...

Since Gabe's car broke down the other day, I have been carless for a few days. And so far it has been okay. I'm going on more walks than normal! :) (Luckily its not as cold here as the rest of the world) Vegas is like Houston when it comes to public transportation. The closest bus stop is six miles from our house. So, hopefully our car situation gets figured out soon. If Gabe didn't need the car six days a week and if we weren't a two car seat family, I might try to make it work with just one car.

I think your plan sounds pretty good though, actually. If you can have the car a couple of days a week, I think you should be okay. It will be inconvenient occasionally, but saving that much money is worth it, even if you can only sustain it for a few months.

Amanda said...

LISA. I love this post. I don't really have any reasons why, but I love it and wish you still lived here. But I'm glad you're in Texas. But I still miss you.

Lindsay said...

Just get a BOB, it's pretty much like having a car without the insurance or gas payments.

lisa said...

ha! Ryan in a BOB. Now that's a great mental picture.

bex said...

You can and should do it!!! I did it for almost 2 years, with 1&2 kids. Sometimes it is a hassle, but you live near family, (which we don't), and you have no kids yet, which makes it so easy! I would walk to the grocery store or park with the kids, or on days when I absolutely had to have the car, I would take Max to work and drop him off. Now, we have 2 cars, and although we have no payment on 1, I still get annoyed at paying gas/insurance on it after not having to for 2 years. You can do it! By the way.... are we ever going to get new neighbors? We are lonely:( and apparetly you are trying to steal one of the few good ones left! :)

just a little bit mo said...

Ooh! Let me know how it goes. Jonathan and I have two cars, mainly because we both work in opposite directions. Come spring/summer/fall, we both bike to work. We've tried one-car living before, but it was a headache for us. Miserable, mainly because Jon's work schedule jumps up to 11 hour workdays during the winter - and with me dropping him off and picking him up before and after my own 9 hour shifts, neither of us had time for very good dinner-making or house-cleaning, etc. I doubt your situation is as bad as that. :)