7 Tips for Living with One Car in the Suburbs

With gas prices at all-time highs, we all wish we could get rid of our cars, but going car-less in the suburbs seems impossible.

What if you could go down to one car instead of two?

My fiancé, Jimmy, and I have gotten good at sharing a car, and we’re here to tell you that it IS possible to live in the suburbs with one car for two people. Here are our tips for making it work.

  • Talk about your week: Couples with two cars are accustomed to being able to go wherever they want at any time.  When you are sharing a car, you need to communicate with each other (which has the added benefit of building intimacy in your relationship.) My fiancé and I sit down once a week and talk about our schedules. If I know he is taking the car to a meeting one day, I’ll make sure to schedule my appointments for a different day.
  • Be willing to negotiate. If you decide you’d like to go the gym on a whim, ask your partner if that will work. Be flexible. If you want to go at 9 a.m., but your partner is having coffee at 9 a.m., you might have to wait until she comes back at 10:30 a.m.
  • Say when you will be back, and mean it: When you are sharing a car, you need to be respectful of your significant other’s time. If you are out and decide to stop and do another errand, call your family member and ask if they need to use the car at a certain time. It’s just common courtesy. Also, if you’re stopping at the store, check to see if they need anything. That way they don’t need to make another trip.
  • Combine trips: Instead of each of us zipping out to do errands at different times, we try to figure out how we can coordinate our activities. I will drop Jimmy off at the gym, then go grocery shopping and pick him up an hour later. Voila! Just killed two birds with one stone.
  • Take public transportation: It doesn’t always work to take public transportation when you live in the suburbs, but when we’re headed to the city, we will hop on the “L” or the Metra. It also saves money on parking!
  • Ask for rides:  If you’ve always had your own car, you might think this would be mortifying. But actually, people are usually happy to pick you up, especially if you and the other person are going to the same destination.
  • Walk (or bike): Okay, this won’t work in every neighborhood, but there are probably lots of destinations that are closer than you think. We live in Evanston, and I can easily walk to Starbucks, Walgreens, the cleaners, even a Chinese take-out place. And it’s nice to get outside.