Well, we’ve done it. Tonight we sold the Accord and we will really see how well we do in a suburb with one car.
Pragmatically, it’s a hard step to take. Since buying a car in Washington state incurs sales tax, just trying it out and finding you need/want that second car can be expensive (though things like insurance certainly aren’t free). Perhaps equally bad is the actual process of selling and potentially buying a car. If you go to a dealer, you get to negotiate with a professional negotiator. If you sell directly to a real buyer, you have to manage the viewing and still negotiate. We looked at car donation, but charities always outsource the work to companies that take around 25% of the car value! When we listed the car, we got a solicitation from the Seattle startup tred.com, which is a company that facilitates direct sales for 5% of the sales price. Since we were already in the middle of showing the car, we declined. 5% still seemed like giving up a lot of money, but they probably (or at least should) have better reach. Anyways, car transactions are a pain and it’s best to avoid them, but we feel confident this will work for us.
First, we just don’t drive that much, and I can’t remember the last time we had both cars out. With the Edgerunner, Michelle takes the kids all around nearby (and I get some chances). I’m fully into a run/bike/occasional bus commute, so on a typical day we don’t even need one car. So if one “must drive” scenario comes up, it’s not a big deal. And “must” often isn’t really that since we choose our destinations. The nearby shopping center is an important part of this since we can walk to a grocery store, drug store, and hardware store, which is a lot of trips. Add a few takeout places for those busy days and even our dentist – it’s surprisingly nice for those regular though (hopefully!) infrequent trips to be so easy – and a lot of things are covered. Add Redmond and Kirkland, to which the trips are ok but not great, and avoid most of Bellevue, and almost everything is covered.
Second, we tried it. Michelle’s parents were shopping for a car, so we lent them the Accord. It would have been even easier for us if they had then bought it, but it wasn’t right for them. But they covered basic costs, didn’t need to rush their purchase, and we got to try it without transaction costs. For a short loan, you don’t even need to transfer the insurance, though you keep the liability this way. It is possible to transfer the liability and insurance, but it’s of course a bit more work. If you’re not ready to fully drop a car, lending it out is a nice way to go.
Now, we’re excited. We didn’t want to permanently park a car in the street. Beyond the parking length restrictions, it’s public space and not ours. We didn’t want two cars in the driveway because it’s hard to get to the house. So we’ve had one in the garage. Now we can kick it out and get that valuable space back – maybe even be able to turn the Edgerunner+trailer around and load them inside!