Getting Around in a Public Transit Free Neighbourhood

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about being a one car household in the rural countryside. I never thought I’d recieve so many comments about how having one car to share between two working adults just isn’t feasible when there isn’t access to public transportation. I guess I didn’t make the point of that post clear enough:

Having one car to share between two working adults who must both commute to work is entirely doable. Even without public transportation.

Let me repeat that: There is absolutely no public transportation to be had in my rural community, yet my fiance and I still manage to make it work, day in and day out. Some days it’s annoying, but most days it’s not. In fact, most days I thank my lucky stars that we’ve made it work with one car, because cars are freaking expensive. Having one is bad enough, two would set me back on my debt free journey significantly.

Now, we both live way beyond walking distance to our respective workplaces, so we’ve had to resort to some pretty creative ways of getting around. Here are a few:

Biking

I live eight kilometres from work, and while I ran that distance a few times while training for my 10k road race last spring, it’s a bit far (not to mention hilly) to bike. I work in an office without a shower so showing up all sweaty from an invigorating bike ride wouldn’t be the best strategy to get ahead in my workplace. My fiance, on the other hand, only lives 1.6km from a coworker, so on the days when I don’t drop him off in the morning, he bikes up there and hitches a ride into work.

Scooting

While we haven’t purchased one yet, I would absolutely love to have a scooter. Fuel efficient, affordable, and perfect for driving alone, I’ve been drooling over a scooter for awhile. Living in a rural community and being so damn far from everything, a regular bike isn’t really the best option for getting around, but a scooter? Count me in! In my last post on this topic, some of the readers mentioned not being able to convince their husbands to give up the second car, maybe floating the idea of replacing it with a motorcycle will sweeten the deal?

Carpooling

My fiance and I carpool almost everyday, whether it’s me driving him to work, or him taking the car and dropping me off at work before taking off to do his thing (he’s an entrepreneur so his work hours and location are more erratic), we always make sure to coordinate our schedules. Beyond that, I often carpool to work with my own colleagues (one of whom lives around the corner from my house for part of the year), and he with his. Sometimes I worry that my coworkers might get annoyed with this, so I always make sure to offer to pay my fair share of the fuel costs, and I’m always prompt and ready at the designated pick up and drop off times.

Coordinating Work Hours

I work a typical 8-5 day, and in the summer so does my fiance. His business is seasonal, however, and in the winter he often finds extra work to keep busy. Since we only have one car, and the nearest city (read: source of jobs) is 30km away, he makes sure to only apply for positions with hours that won’t conflict with mine.

Working from Home

Finally, I’ve worked hard to show my employer the value of having me work from home. Having the flexibility to be able to stay home and work on my laptop allows me to forego having to arrange transportation completely for the day. I can just sit back on my couch in my pyjamas and not have to worry. Working from home has the added benefit of not having to navigate the treacherous winter road conditions that are often present in my rural community during the colder months – having two cars is expensive, but so is going off the road!

It’s Doable, You Just Have to Want It

Having one car in a rural area with no public transportation isn’t an ideal situation. In fact, attempting it with two working adults and children would probably be downright impossible, but as young professionals without children, we’ve found ways to avoid the ridiculous costs that come along with owning a second vehicle. I’ve actually discovered some hidden benefits including improved communication with each other and a better relationship with neighbours and coworkers. I’m serious about getting out of debt and that means eliminating every single unnecessary expense in order to throw more money at debt. A second car is unnecessary to us, and not having one has helped me pay off almost $13,000 of debt in ten months.

What huge expenses did you think were totally necessary only to find out you could live without them?

Comments

    • Jordann says

      There are definitely trade offs, no denying that. But if you're in my situation, and the objective of the day is to pay off as much debt as possible, then downsizing to one car would be a great way to free up some extra cash to throw towards that debt!

  1. John S @ Frugal Rules says

    Good post. I agree that it is doable, as long as you're willing to be flexible and look for alternatives. My wife and I had one car for years and carpooled many days as we worked in the same location. We've gone to two cars now that we have a bigger family, but if we really wanted to I know we could make do with one car even now.
    My recent post Frugal Friday: Posts That Ruled This Week, the BCS Edition #2

  2. plantingourpennies says

    It's not out of the question for us to work out a schedule with our employers in the next few years where we'll have to go into the office only 2-3 days per week. If we could coordinate those days, then we could become a 1-car couple. Carpooling with each other (or coworkers) is not really an option since we work in opposite directions (he's about 20 miles in 1 direction, and I'm about 10 minutes the opposite way), but that's the way I think we'd like to do it!

  3. Canadianbudgetbinder says

    I think it is doable as well. Another great way is to have a compressed work week if that is possible so you are working 26-40 hours in 3 days instead of 5. Mrs.CBB drives me to work if she needs the vehicle but normally her work is close by and she could bike or walk. I think the scooter would be a great investment for you along with the carpooling especially in the winter. Depending on your employer they may work with you if you are coordinating a ride as well. Great post. Mr.CBB

    • Jordann says

      Oo I never thought about having a compressed work week, I think I'd love to try and work something like that out, I know some of the manufacturing staff at my plant do that. I'm not sure how productive I'd be on hour 11 or 12 though. Definitely something to consider!

  4. mycanuckbuck says

    We lived in a city with great public transit and had 2 cars – even though hubby always took public transit to work. We finally went down to one – the savings were great. We're still with one now, as we commute to the train station together. Wouldn't be nearly as easy in a rural situation but glad to hear you can make it work!
    My recent post Blog round up for October 19, 2012

    • Jordann says

      That's one of the biggest things about the city that I miss. The public transportation – and the ability to get a bunch of work done while commuting, was a great aspect, I'm glad you've made it work for you!

  5. Catherine says

    Although we only have one car we do have access to public transit which is how I commute to work. This year out public transit was on strike for a number of months though-talk about headache. We ended up paying a boatload in gas money having hubby drive me to and from work on days I couldn't get a ride but the city really pulled toegther and made sure everyone was taken care of. We, as a city, started a hashtag on twitter offering rides for people who needed it. It's amazing what a group of people can do when they put their minds to it.

    • Jordann says

      I heard about that strike, my friend was going to school there at the time and she was constantly giving fellow students a lift to the campus, I was surprised how long it lasted!

  6. Emily @ evolvingPF says

    We moved closer to work – close enough that I've walked several time. No public transport needed. I agree with the statement "you just have to want it."

    The second car was definitely an expense we thought was necessary but wasn't. Same for cutting cable – we thought we wouldn't be able to watch sports but we have been able to watch nearly everything we wanted and just go to a friend's place for the remainder.
    My recent post What It Means to Be Wealthy

  7. Frugalista Married says

    I think that's just the thing. A lot of people think it would be cool and to get by with one car but most just don't really WANT it that bad. It's too much of an inconvenience for most people. Could you if you had to? Yes. Would it be nice to save some money? Yes. But do you really want to "deal" with coordinating schedules and the inconvenience of not having your own ride to come and go as you please? No. It's awesome that you made it work and that it's helping you along in your financial goals but it's just not for everybody.
    My recent post Day 1-3: I'm going to Europe!!!!

  8. eemusings says

    For us, it's doable, as we rent and live close to public transport (and in fact I now walk to work).

    Would not be doable if we were to buy a house (because of the areas we would be forced out to on our budget).

    Unfortunately, carpooling has never been an option. The nature of his work means the jobs are out in a certain part of the city opposite to where my kind of work is, and his hours are different.
    My recent post Adventures in the freezer aisle

  9. Jason Clayton says

    Jordann – Great List. Almost everything in life is doable, we just have to want it!

    Personally, my favorite mode of transportation is biking… but I also love walking. Unfortunately I don't live in a city, otherwise I wouldn't even own a car.
    My recent post Frugal Habits of the Rich and Famous

  10. Miss T says

    This is a great exercise. I never thought of looking at things like this. I love your list of getting to work. I definitely want to see if one or two of them will be an option for me. I used to walk to work but since my office moved I haven't been able to. I definitely want to reduce my driving.
    My recent post How To Ask For A Raise And Actually Get It

  11. Glen @ MPB says

    My parents have lived with a single car for their entire married life together.
    It all depends on what you are used to and if you are happy to spend a little bit of extra time driving around so that everyone can get to where they need to go.

    My wife and I have 2 cars but I feel that we could get away with 1. If one of us ever lost our job then it would be one of the first things I would sell (if we were hard up for money) as you can definitely live with just 1 car.
    My recent post Move Out and Rent or Stay with Parents

    • Jordann says

      As long as you can afford it and you aren't sacrificing your other priorities, there's nothing wrong with having two cars, but it's good to keep it on the "what if" chopping block, it makes you more flexible if disaster were to strike, good for you!
      My recent post The Hidden Latte Factor

  12. C The Writer says

    I think it's doable if everyone is working together harmoniously, like you and your fiance. For me, it isn't so harmonious. My brother, mother and I share one car and we don't get along all the time. Right now, I don't have a job and this situation is definitely making it harder for me. My brother tells me whether I can use the car or not and I resent it.

    Anyway, not trying to start a complaining session, just offering another perspective. It's not ideal. I would give anything for my own car right now, it would solve so many problems (lack of a job being the first one).

    • Jordann says

      I can definitely understand how that would be a nightmare. My fiancé and I rarely get into skirmishes over who gets the car, so it's mostly peaceful, but if we were both going in different directions all of the time, I bet our negotiations wouldn't be quite so peaceful!
      My recent post The Hidden Latte Factor

  13. Jackie says

    I love this line: "It’s Doable, You Just Have to Want It"

    And in fact that could be said about many things :)

    More people just need to believe it.

  14. Thomas S. Moore says

    Of course you can get around without 2 cars or public transportation. You have to be willing to make a sacrifice. If that means carpooling or making sure you work close to one another. Heck it might mean that one of you have to wait until the other gets off to pick you up. But it doable if you want to make it doable. I would suggest if sharing one car becomes a hassle get a scooter or even just a cheap little car.
    My recent post Sneaker Friday Part 2 – AirMax 90 Infrareds

  15. vanessasmoney says

    Woah, I so didn't notice that Jordan wrote this and was super confused as to what Michelle was talking about :P

    I remember back in the day when I shared a car with my parents.. It was horrible because no one communicated and we all selfishly thought that we could take the car when we needed it (hahaha). I'm glad that it's working out for you two and that you're able to save the money that a second car would cost :)
    My recent post Let’s talk pre-nups

  16. Tie the Money Knot says

    Sharing a car is a great way to save money that can really add up over the long run. Thinking about the money saved, and what it will become over the long run when invested, can be motivating. Now, personally this isn't an option. However, for couples where it is an option, it's a great opportunity. Just have to be able to distiguish true needs from wants to have a chance of making it work.

  17. CreditDonkey says

    Biking or scooting will definitely help to get one in top shape (if you are the athletic type). For those non athletic, even demure type, carpooling is the best idea. My own choice too. I do enjoy riding (not driving) a motorcycle but I also get panic attacks when we're flying alongside heavy duty or cargo trucks that don't care if they side swipe you. My point is, you are too exposed in a motorcycle, as compared to when you're inside a car.
    My recent post Survey: Women More Worried About Credit Card Fraud than Men

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