Still Stolen: The First Week of a One-Car Household

Subaru Forester in snow

If we had to have a car stolen, it’s slightly reassuring to know that we still have the one with four-wheel drive, just in case we have a winter like this again.

It’s Monday afternoon as I write this, meaning that we’ve been without a second car for seven days and a few hours. 

My only update about our car is that there is no update. It hasn’t turned up. The insurance will reimburse us the cost of new car seats, which is excellent, especially considering Paige was about to outgrow hers. We don’t know if the insurance will ask for us to reimburse them if the car turns up with the car seats intact. Honestly, even if it does show up with the car seats, I don’t plan to use them. You never know what someone who’s stolen your car has done all over the kid’s seats.

Also, we don’t know at what point there will be a payout for the cost of replacing the car. 30 days? 60 days? And then what happens if it turns up after whatever time frame? Things I’m curious to know but that honestly won’t change our circumstance one iota, so not really that important, really.

Following are my observations after having only one car for a week.

1. I’m walking more. Last Wednesday I walked J to school, walked P to the dry cleaners and then her morning program, to the library, then back to pick P up and then J up. J rode his new (to him) big two-wheeler and we locked it up at school on a fence. Can you believe they don’t have a bike rack? I’m thinking of calling BikePittsburgh to see if they match fundraising or something for a new rack. Anyway, another day we walked to the post office to mail a large package after picking J up at school.

2. Jason’s biking more. He biked three days last week, and biked today, when he would normally never bike on a Monday morning. That’s not to say he was excited about it, but he’s doing it and getting some intense cardio on the small mountains he has to climb to get to work.

3. This kids are exercising more. We’ve taken little walks around our neighborhood just to get some fresh air on mornings that we didn’t have a car, and Jack has ridden his bike alongside me pushing the stroller. In fact, he goes so fast on the new (to him), bigger bike that I almost always have to run to keep up. Commuters driving to work probably wonder who the crazy lady is that always wears jeans when she runs 🙂

4. We don’t melt. On a walk home from school, it started to rain, really rain. J wasn’t a huge fan, but he kept on going and even picked up the pace a little. P was snug and dry in the covered stroller. I knew rain was a possibility that morning, so everyone was dressed in a raincoat, the kids’ rain pants were in my bag, and I had an umbrella with us. And I took the Burley trailer/stroller that morning since it has a rain-tight cover and lots of storage for whatever we need to haul around.

5. Walking to “run” errands involves planning. I’ve always run a few errands here and there with the kids while walking, but never on this level. I have to plan to have everything I need to mail, deposit, drop off, etc. If I forget something, that errand has to wait another day at least.

6. Less gas = more money. We could probably lower the $404/month budget for transportation soon, because usually halfway through the month we’ve filled the cars up at least once each. I would have filled the blue car last Monday, in fact. But that money is barely being touched this month. Fyi, that amount covers all expenses, maintenance, insurance, gas, everything for two cars and Jason’s commute bike (as well as some biking clothing and accessories for him).

7. A trip to the suburbs is again a family fun night. I had some suburban errands to run to get ready for our trip–Costco, Target, Michael’s, and Lowe’s, so we took the kids one night and had a fun dinner out.

8. I need to replace my car key. I have a handful of errands to take care of before we leave for San Francisco, and need the car. Jason biked today so that I could take care of them today. But I realized, after readying myself and both kids and all assorted stuff we needed to take care of, that Jason forgot to leave me the Subaru key. Not his fault at all–I should have had a new key made last week. You can guess what I just added to the errand list for tomorrow!

9. Parking is a breeze! We have a one-car garage that few modern cars can fit into and still open even one door. And we have a parking pad that fits one car. So we park one car in the parking pad and one blocks in that car and the door of the garage. Changing cars was a pain, probably more for Jason than for me, since the Subaru didn’t usually have car seats in it (from the weekend trips to haul drywall, tools, etc.). Parking on the street in front of our house was usually a bigger pain since our neighborhood is half student rentals and each student brings a car that they park on the street.

10. I need to buy bus tickets. Saturday night after my return from Cleveland (on the Megabus!), I realized that I had not a penny with which to catch a bus home. Fortunately a lovely Marriott had a mac machine and gave me change. I plan on taking the bus with the kids soon, and don’t want to have to deal with the money while dealing with them and their assorted gear.

11. Our pace has slowed. We’ve now stayed home two full days in the last week, which is unusual and refreshing. The kids seem to enjoy it and I’m certainly happy accomplishing more at home. We’re not seeing as many people for playdates, that’s certain. But I’ve been a tad overwhelmed lately by all the things on our schedule and staying home more is a very good way to feel less busy and more calm.

My verdict: We’re not suffering. 

We’re ALL exercising more, getting more fresh air, I feel like I’m catching up with some of the things I’d let slide recently, and we’re spending less money. Some things are inconvenient, but they’re mostly solvable things.


How do you manage errands/kids/appointments/jobs with only one car?


6 responses to this post.

  1. I really think it was. We haven’t yet had any trouble juggling life with one car–in fact, that car sat in the driveway for at least two full days since the other was stolen while we biked, walked, or took the bus on errands and commutes. Thanks for visiting my blog!

  2. Sounds like losing your car was a blessing in disguise. Things definitely take more planning, but that helps you appreciate them more. Contrary to popular belief, you can survive with just one car.

  3. Posted by Jason on October 16, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Jason’s take:
    Sore, sore, sore. Kidding. Luckily I had been biking to work more frequently prior to the car’s disappearing act. It is a hilly commute though and I’m just starting to feel a bit more in shape – which is not saying much. To compare, my driving commute is 6.5 miles and takes around 20 minutes, while my cycling commute is one mile further and takes around 40 – 50 minutes depending on the weather and my general attitude/fatigue. The bike route is longer to avoid busier roads but includes additional elevation changes [read, big hills!]. So far the weather has been cooperative; above freezing, no rain at colder temps and no major wind days.

    The best part of only having one car: I’m much more motivated to bike to work.

    The worst part of having only one car: is that the weather is not going to get better.

    How I need to adjust: I need to wake up earlier. Also, it is painfully obvious that I need to finally get the bike saddle I’ve been eyeing for several years. (pun intended!) Some actual rain gear is also in order.

  4. Posted by Jenee on October 16, 2012 at 1:46 am

    Sounds like a plan!

  5. Genius! I love this idea, and I’m so with you. How much more fun would it be to run boring errands with someone else? And, bonus for you!, I can carry your groceries in for you while the sidewalk are all slippery.

  6. Posted by Jenee on October 15, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    If you are still on one car in the winter we should think about joint errand runs! Both our kids are in school at the same time (which means I also have and empty car seat for P) and we could fit in some social hangout time will hitting all the regular errands (Target, co-op etc…) that we all have to do! Maybe even catch a coffee/hot chocolate after.

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