I read an interesting article yesterday that claimed our generations (“The Millenials” as they called us) is not buying cars and homes and ferociously as our parents and grandparents did.
For those of you who know us well, you know we only have one car. When we first started dating 5 and a half years ago, I was whipping around town in my little Mustang while J drove his Saturn SL1. But a few short months after we started dating, we both moved to Colorado to go to school – and because my lease was almost up, as well as the fact that I didn’t have much of an income in Colorado, I decided to leave my Mustang behind and be at the mercy of public transport, and of course my super generous boyfriend.
The first year we were there, we lived in the same dorm building. On campus. So there was not much need for a car, especially with Fort Collins’ fabulous public transportation system (free for students) and biking community. Even when we returned to Michigan that summer, J went to a training for the AF, and I used his car. So for the first year, it was cake sharing one car.
The next year, I moved into an apartment and he moved into a house less than a mile down the street. Luckily for me, my apartment was on one of the busiest bus lines, which made it easier than ever to get to campus. Add to that a bike and the fact that parking passes were kind of ridiculously priced for a college kid on her own, and I very rarely needed a car. When I did need a car (to get to one of my jobs – the other was on campus, so bussing or biking were my greatest options) I used J’s car, since he was on the same bus route.
We lived a year a mile apart, still sharing one car, with no issues. Then we got married, moved in together, and moved a bit further away from campus. I had graduated and had a job as a nanny, but luckily, J was still in school – and we were still on the bus route. I was the main driver of the car during the week (though I did ride the bus from time to time) and J rode the bus. Even with early morning Physical Training sessions, before the bus started up for the day, we were fine. J would simply drive to campus, park in a spot near the bus station, where I would then pick up the car after my bus ride and on my way in to work. Thus making a parking pass obsolete.
We never ran into any issues, and honestly, no one ever questioned our ways. Fort Collins was such a bike friendly town, that we would often ride our bikes to dinner for the fun of it – so no one was surprised when you rode your bike as your mode of transportation. Our next move was to Oklahoma for pilot training.
We lived on a tiny base in the middle of Oklahoma. J’s office was less than a mile away, and I worked even closer – and then later – from home. Driving one car seemed not only doable, but absolutely the smart thing to do. We were not rich. I had just spent the last year working to pay for our bills while J finished up school. We had very little savings in the bank. Why empty our pockets for years to come on a car we didn’t need?
But this is when we started getting the questions. “How do you do it?” “What if you both want to go somewhere at the same time?” “Doesn’t she want a car?” “Do you need a ride?”
Apparently we had hit the point in our lives when it was time to grow up and get two cars. We were two people with two drivers licenses and two lives, so obviously we should have two cars. Again, why would we buy a second car we couldn’t afford and didn’t need? It just didn’t make sense to us when this had been working for 3 years. So we had one car.
Our next move took us about 10 miles off base in Arkansas. This was trickier. It was a 20 minute drive to base, and unfortunately, not a safe bike route (after the first water bottle was chucked at us out of a truck traveling 55 mph, we decided to leave our biking to recreation – off road). This meant that we had two options. I could drive J to and from work, or he could drive the car, leaving me home without one all day.
Still, it was easy enough. There were days when I would drive J to work. Those days usually required a car on my part – for an appointment or a yoga class. But for the most part, J would drive off in the morning and come home in the evening, leaving me with my bike and my legs. Luckily, my job makes that lifestyle very easy.
When we moved back onto base here, we were both very excited to be back on base. J can ride his bike, catch a ride, or drive the car the 1.5 miles to work, leaving me with many options if I need a car (bike or walk to the car at his office, or on the days he bikes to work, it’s sitting in the garage). We’ve still been asked if we will buy a second car. Especially with this baby on the way. And I will honestly say, it always surprises me. I never even think about getting a second car until someone else mentions it. Once the baby comes, J will just have to ride his bike or catch a ride to work every day, leaving the car here with me and Baby. But that’s happened many times before, and it will happen many times in the future.
Don’t get me wrong. We did not set out to save the environment or make a statement by sharing one car. In fact, when the time comes that we need a second car, we will buy a safe, used car no questions asked. We’re even saving for that day already. We are not against having two cars. We just haven’t needed two yet.
It’s a mindset that can transcend into different parts of our lives as well. Do we really need cable? How many minutes do we need on our cell phone plans? Will we ever use a microwave? We are not necessarily minimalists. Though we do like to keep things simple. And inexpensive. Until we need to change our way of thinking.
What do you think? Why is it that our generation is buying less? Is it pride? In prior generations, that is what people worked for. A house and a car. Once you had them both, you had made it. Is it for the environment? As much as we are an eco-concious generation, we are also a generation of waste, at least in my humble opinion. Are we moving to cities where driving is obsolete? Or is it just convenience? Are more people thinking like we are? Food for thought.
image via Etsy