I have written about the monumental pain in the ass that is Auckland public transport many times, and touched on what it’s like to get by without a car.
I have to say, it certainly has been easier since late 2010, when we finally got an automatic car (all our previous vehicles were manual, at T’s discretion, and despite my intentions I never really learned to drive manual properly), and a little more so again last year when we added a motorbike to our arsenal.
That said, a motorbike is not a second car. You’re at the mercy of the weather (which is temperamental in this city, to say the least, and has been ATROCIOUS this summer). You’re limited to what you can fit under the seat and in a backpack, and while parking is a breeze, you will be stuck carrying around a bulky helmet wherever you go.
I have always been inclined to think that we will eventually be forced to become a two-car household – either upon buying a house (because we’ll be priced out further into the suburbs than we already are) or having kids.
But I’ve been inspired by a one-car family I know that lives on the North Shore, with one parent working over this side of the bridge. Heck, if they can make it work…
I’ve reached a few conclusions about setting up for success at this.
Plan and communicate like a boss
I’m a planner. T is the opposite. Good thing, then, that I’m the car-less one. Getting by with one car requires getting to know each other’s schedules and planning all manner of journeys, from trips to the supermarket, parental visits, social engagements, and work functions.
Live close to one person’s place of employment
It helps if one person can walk to their workplace, or take public transport. Otherwise, planning gets even more serious, because you’ll have to contend with one person dropping off and picking up the other at the office every day (unless you can wangle a carpool with somebody).
Having never owned a car of my own, the number one thing on my list when choosing a place to live is proximity to bus routes. I was spoiled growing up; my parents’ house is literally 10 seconds from a bus stop. Since then, the furthest I’ve lived from public transport is a 15-20 minute walk.
Make sure you have a reliable car
Cars that don’t start or fail WOFs or break down regularly are stressful enough. When that car is your only mode of transportation, it’s infinitely worse. T and I have always worked in different areas of the city – and his is not one you can get to via public transport, especially at 6 or 7am.
And on that note…
Only patronise mechanics where courtesy cars are available
Or you’ll be forking out a lot of money to rent a car while yours is in the workshop.
Could you swing it as a one-car household?