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We Live & Work in Michigan's second largest city boundaries, but still own two cars. Why?

Why do we own multiple vehicles if we reside in the city center and work within a 10 mile radius?

Photo of Meagen Coburn
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For myself and my husband, we continue to own two vehicles because of what seems like a challenge to drop to one vehicle. And here's why: For our lifestyle, we have a one year old child in daycare and after an impossible time finding childcare - the location we were able to get into is at College and Leonard, we both work full time (both in the city limits) and have to split baby dropoff and pickup. In addition, we have parents in the Flint area and Saugatuck. We also have a travel trailer. We live in Cherry Hill Historic District, and just like everyone says - we don't have a grocery store. Our closest is at Fulton and Carlton and if we want a full service Meijer for cost savings we are traveling to Cascade, Alpine or Knapps Corner. I have a craft hobby that sends me to 28th street weekly. My husband has band gigs around Kent County.

All of these things, at present, make it such that we maintain two vehicles to keep up with running about town. I've certainly considered the possibility of what it would mean to drop to one car. The Rapid goes up and down our main intersection near home. We walk everywhere that we can, nightly. We have bikes. We have moped scooters, even. But at the end of all of it, we've found that we just have to maintain two vehicles to be able to keep up with our lives.

I'm curious how big city residents have transitioned to a more urban lifestyle found in big cities. Being a rapidly growing mid-size city, we just haven't reached that break point yet

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Photo of Laura Muresan

Thanks for the great posts, Meagen! We used to have two cars. My husband and I were both musicians that traveled out of town a lot, sometimes at the same time. For us, we decided maybe we could live with one car by borrowing a parent's car when we had things at the same time (since they also provided the babysitting for us - what moochers we were!) When we finally did it, we found that we could take fewer gigs and avoid the ones that conflicted with one another because we didn't need to earn as much money since we weren't maintaining two vehicles. I eventually quit my work as a musician entirely and am now self-employed from home. I think perhaps that choosing a convenient place to live and choosing transportation first, then choosing work to fit around it, may be the easiest way to make it work. We live in Alger Heights; though it's not as cool as Eastown or some of the other neighborhoods near downtown, it is a very practical neighborhood. We have Ken's Fruit Market and a hardware store a short walk away, a Meijer a short bike ride away, and many other everyday businesses and a library nearby. If my husband weren't a freelance musician, we could get by with no car, even. We ride our bikes far more than we drive, and are also blessed to be within a block of two bus lines. We didn't plan it this way, but we are quite happy with how our living / transportation situation has turned out, and, knowing this, I think it would be worth planning a job around. We have a pretty low-cost lifestyle, so neither my husband nor I have to work full time, which gives us a nice life-work balance, and also helps out a lot with childcare; I can plan what I'm doing around when my husband has to work.

Photo of Meagen Coburn

I LOVE Alger Heights for that reason! I've so often pointed to that area as a model for other sub communities downtown. The market, the restaurant/food options (supportive of ALL demographics), the hardware store, the library and school. It's all right there with the housing surrounding it. It definitely creates a sense of community amongst that area and allows for exactly what you've stated!

We are with one car right now as my husbands car is in the shop. We're of course making due just fine between friend/coworker pickup or dropoff, etc. It's an interesting experiment in how we use vehicles to get around in our daily lives!

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