I am 32 years old, and have never owned a car.
I got my driver’s license at age 16 and one month (as one could do in Indiana at the time) and occasionally borrowed one of my parents’ cars for getting to work or school. Then I lived on the campus of Ball State University from ages 16.8 or so to 18.5, and walked a lot. Same for college in New Jersey. I moved after graduation to Washington DC which has reasonable public transportation. Getting places was occasionally annoying (and my morning commute involved 1 train and 2 buses – yikes!) but I managed. Then I moved to New York, where cars are just more pain than they are worth. Consequently, it’s really never come up.
We’re contemplating a move to the ‘burbs, where we will no doubt become a 2-car family. But as I’m writing about people making interesting financial choices, I’d love to hear some stories of people who’ve lived (not in New York) with either no car, or one car for the family. How did you make that work? What were the benefits and trade offs? I recently read the book Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt, which makes a fascinating point that we often drive places not because we need to go there, but because we have big roads and cars. Road demand is highly elastic. This is true even during rush hour, where some areas with road construction have found that when commuters are warned that the morning drive will be terrible, suddenly people come up with other solutions. They shift their hours or work from home.
If your family was down to one car, how would that change your life? How would you adjust?