We share a car. We only have one car to insure, one parking lot fee to cover, and (if we had one) only one car payment to account for. The truth? We're not tight wads, we just don't need two cars.
We only have one car and this is how and why we do it:
PROXIMITY - Live Where You Work
We live very near to where we work. Jeff comes in a very close second in live-work proximity; his office is located on Commerce, just two blocks from our apartment. We live only one block away from where I work at The Factory, a co-working space above San Chez. Neither of us drives to work, in fact, the walk to the parking lot where our car is parked is farther than it takes to get to the doors of both our offices. Also, I often work from home which means getting to work in my slippers. Despite us not needing a car to get to and from work each day, we both have parts of our jobs that require some travel, specifically Jeff who makes client visits and sales calls, mostly in state. For my job, I will sometimes venture outside of the downtown area for meetings, but for the most part all Baas Creative meetings are held within walking distance from where we live. When it comes to sharing the car for work it just takes a little bit of planning.
PLANNING - Google Calendar & Communication Are Key
The most important part about sharing a car with someone is communication. If we foresee needing the car for something out of the norm (i.e. Jeff needing the car all day to make a sales trip to Traverse City) we first check availability. A rule of thumb, we don't commit to a time unless the availability of the car has been confirmed with the other person. This is usually done over text: Jeff: "Is it cool if I take the car all day Thursday for a trip to Traverse City?" Me: "I don't have any meetings outside of downtown that day. You're good to go." Then I'll mark it on my calendar so I know not to schedule anything on that day that requires the car too. His work needs for the car are usually only a 5-6 times a month which allows me the freedom to use the car at will for things that spring up for my job - which is much more spur of the moment than Jeff's job. Also about once a week, usually on Sunday evenings, we chat about our upcoming work week which is a good confirmation that we haven't doubled up needing the car the next few days.
ROUTINE - Predictability Is A Bonus
Over the past year Jeff and I have gotten pretty comfortable with a few routines. A great example is our typical Sunday which happens to be the only day of the week we are almost guaranteed to use the car. Each Sunday morning we attend church which is outside of downtown in Grandville, so we drive. After church we make two stops, one at Costco (I LOVE Costco) and a second at Meijer. We get all of our groceries for the week and don't return to the store until the following weekend. Also, if we have other errands to run it works out best to just plan on doing them on Sunday.
Speaking of errands, we do our very best to keep things local. Like the gym, we both are members at MVP Metro Club just a few blocks from our apartment/offices. For dry cleaning, we actually have a pick-up/drop-off service through Sheldon Cleaners. Doctors visits are downtown too - the walk up Lyon Street in the winter isn't very much fun though. We also do a lot of our shopping online. This year for Christmas about 75% of our gifts were ordered online and delivered to our doorstep. We're not huge fans of visiting the mall anyway so this is a win-win. Of course there are things like getting items from the pharmacy (there isn't a pharmacy anywhere near downtown) where it's nice to have those Sunday afternoons to fall back on.
PARTNERSHIP - The Couple That Plays Together Stays Together
When we're in the car, we're usually in the car together. Every Monday we both head to Young Life club in Byron Center where we are youth leaders. On Thursdays we play on a co-ed dodgeball team with friends at a local middle school. When we hang out with friends or family we go together. On the other hand, while they say, "the couple that plays together, stays together," we are also strong believers in spending time apart. Jeff plays on both a basketball league and a bowling league once a week with his buddies. He takes the car and I use the time at home blogging, cooking/baking, reading, watching movies, going to the gym (again, walking distance from home) or grabbing drinks with friends downtown - all the stuff I got to do alone before Jeff and I became full-time roommates. Then we'll reverse the roles on nights when I have things like yoga with friends on Sunday nights. If there's ever a time we both happen to need the car on those evenings we arrange to drop off/pick up each other or, because we have really great friends, people are always offering to car pool.
OTHER OPTIONS - Bike, Bus, Train, or Walk
When the weather's nice, we bike. We bike to church out in Grandville. We bike to East Grand Rapids for dinner with friends. We bike to dodgeball (or kickball) games. And last year we even biked to Jeff's parents house in Rockford. Biking saves on gas and burns more calories. Another great option is riding the bus. Last week I rode the Mega Bus to Chicago to visit a friend for the weekend - only $30 bucks, I didn't have to worry about driving in the snow, and I wasn't taking the car away from Jeff. I also didn't have to pay for parking once I got there. We haven't quite tackled the public buses here in Grand Rapids yet, but that's because we haven't needed to. I've also taken the Amtrak to Chicago which has the same benefits as taking the bus only, it costs a little more and takes a little longer. But it's another great option nonetheless. All else fails... walk. While Grand Rapids doesn't have quite the culture of walking as larger cities do, those visits to Chicago really puts things into perspective... you realize walking 20 minutes to a bar in Chicago is nothing. Here in Grand Rapids, 20 minutes could get you from downtown to East Hills. That's Greenwell to Rockwells - no one walks that trek here. They cab or drive themselves.
Jeff and I understand we most likely won't be able to keep this one car couple routine forever. Most likely, we'll have to get a second car once kids enter the picture. But until then... we're more than happy with sharing.