Author Topic: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?  (Read 9128 times)

ChiStache

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"You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« on: June 12, 2013, 11:59:13 AM »
Hi Mustachians,

My spouse and I don't have a car.  We used to have an old Jeep, but when it died last summer we decided to wait a while before replacing it. While we waited though, it just kind of dawned on us that we don't need a car.  We live in an urban center (Chicago); ride bikes or take public transportation to work; we walk to get groceries and run basic errands; and we have a ZipCar membership for Costco trips, visits to the Arboretum, etc.

Anyway, people find it strange that we don't have a car. And MANY folks have said that when we have a kid, we will DEFINITELY need a car.  So, here's my question: is that true?

My thinking is that we can pick a day care provider within walking distance of home and for doctors visits and such, use public transportation or ZipCar (we would buy a car seat of course). If there's an emergency, we can always call a cab.  But, I may well be missing something or failing to consider something? I'd greatly appreciate any insight y'all can offer.

Thanks!


Lina

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2013, 12:12:49 PM »
I don't have kids but I have friends that live in an urban center and manage to live without a car even though they have kids. They use the equivalent of Zipcar when they need a car. They actually sold there car after they got their second kid because they realized that they used the car so seldom it was not worth the costs.

TLV

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2013, 12:15:58 PM »
You don't need a car, not with ZipCar available and the important things in walking distance.

We did a similar analysis back when I first started reading MMM, and our conclusion was that while we didn't need a car, we still have enough driving built into our lifestyle that owning an inexpensive car is cheaper than using ZipCar.

Check with the hospital about taking the baby home after it's born - our hospital had strict rules about cars/car seats, to the point where I don't think they would have let us leave on foot or by bus (because they would have suspected us of parking somewhere close and then driving without a car seat. Sheesh!)

anastrophe

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2013, 12:16:42 PM »
We live in an urban center (Chicago); ride bikes or take public transportation to work; we walk to get groceries and run basic errands; and we have a ZipCar membership for Costco trips, visits to the Arboretum, etc.

You
probably do not need a car. Other people who do not live in an urban center, ride bikes or take public transportation to work, walk to get groceries and run basic errands; and have a ZipCar membership may need a car.

You can always buy one later, though, right?

Fawn

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2013, 12:20:17 PM »
With my first child, I did not have a car for several years. We walked everywhere and I got groceries with a wagon. He was about five when I got my first car.

Nowadays, with three teenagers at home, I would be hard pressed to make it to all their activities, plus cart the musical instruments around without a car.

But it's doable, especially with one child.

Norman Johnson

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2013, 12:22:31 PM »
Yeah, I would try going without a car and see how you like it. You can always buy one if you want it. Just don't let them upsell you on all the safety stuff by bringing your baby into the picture.

I used our car to visit people far away and to make big trips to the store. It was nice to have when I took the baby to his appointments after my c-section. It also came in handy for our trip to the ER.

NW Girl

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2013, 12:28:47 PM »
We lived in NYC and had two children without a car. At one point after child #1, we bought a cheap used car but quickly sold it (not worth the headache and cost!).  My experience was that carless with one child was easy.  There are even strollers on the market that double as carseats for urban living (perfect for a cab).   Carless with two young children in the city was challenging, but doable. I will never forget shlepping both kids up and down subway stairs.  There are so many great bike options for multiple children now.  I wouldn't have felt comfortable riding with children in NYC, but Chicago might be a different story. 

We live in urban Seattle now and the kids are a bit older.... we do have a car but it mostly sits unused. 

momo27

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2013, 01:08:50 PM »
You don't need a car just because you have kids. We have two kids and haven't owned a car for nearly five years now.  We got that a lot when we first gave up our car. We got a whole litany, from "It's just too hard" to "You're being irresponsible" to "this is certain death for at least one of your children". Our youngest wasn't quite a year old when we became car-free so I haven't done it with a newborn, but my reflections on living car-free and my reflections on having a newborn tell me that it can be done, without a lot of trouble. Look into babywearing for taking little ones on public transit, it's much, much easier to do a sling or backpack than a stroller. When car seat shopping, make sure you check for ease of installation, since you'll be doing that much more frequently than a person who owns a car. Also, try to avoid getting a bulky seat, it's irritating to have it taking up so much space when it only gets used once a month or less.

brand new stash

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2013, 01:31:41 PM »
There are a few times in the kid process where it is harder to use a bike.  It doesn't mean that you need to buy a car, but these are the things that people are probably thinking about.   A lot of how feasible this is depends on the availability of options like cabs and zip car.

1) End of pregnancy.  The last few months of pregnancy are not bike friendly.  You are sore, achy, and off balance.  Some people do it, but the average 9 months pregnant woman may not want to hop on the bike for a quick trip to the store.  Public transit, Zip car and cabs can mitigate this.
2) Newborn.  Babies can't really ride on a bike for a few months...until they can support their own head with a helmet on it.   Strollers and baby wraps while walking, public transit, zip car and cabs can mitigate this.
3) Sick.  When you have to take a vomiting toddler to the pediatrician, it's nice to get there quickly.  Or when your 4 year old decides that she can jump off picnic table if she flaps her arms and breaks her arm and needs to go to the ER. Cabs can mitigate this.   

Christof

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2013, 01:50:08 PM »
You need a car seat for the baby to transport it in a cab or a zipcar, but you certainly don't need your own car just because there's a baby. We have 4 month old and go almost everywhere by bike. Our bike trailer has an infant seat which is kind of a hammock so that the baby lies in the trailer rather than sitting. He's asleep very quickly, just like in a car.

I don't know what we will do in winter, though. A bike trailer might be a bit too wide to be used when there's snow and it does impact the stability of a bike. With melting snow the trailer gets very dirty very quickly, and some of the dirt inevitable makes it inside the trailer. Anyway, a cab, public transport and zipcar would work just as well in these cases.

It's easier when the kids get older. Several friends have kids and no car.

brewer12345

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2013, 02:29:30 PM »
No, no, no - you do not need a car when you have kids.  You need a minivan, or better yet a big, honkin' SUV...

Mrs MM

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2013, 03:32:36 PM »
I don't see why you'd need a car.  I just traveled to Chicago.  We had 5 kids with us and everyone did great on public transit.  We walked a lot as well.  There's no reason to get a car just because you have a kid.  Your kids will be better off without one!  :)

Gerard

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2013, 10:39:23 AM »
I raised two kids without ever owning or renting a car. It's pretty easy if you live in a city.  An added advantage that nobody's mentioned yet is that your kids become independently mobile at a younger age, so you're not wasting your time ferrying them around and they're not resenting being dependent on you.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2013, 11:15:30 AM »
In your situation, I don't think you need a car.

When you buy a carseat, consider buying one that is very easy to install, because you will be installing it every time you get in a car. You also might want to practice installing it in a zip car before you ever use it in a cab (lots of time pressure to get it right the first time!). Installation can be a real pain in the butt until you get the hang of it, and it differs by the car.

ThatGuyFromCanada

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2013, 11:56:28 AM »
Check out this story about a Canadian Olympic hopeful now living on the Isle of Man. She talks about how they lived 2+ years without a car, including taking their 2nd child home from the hospital 

http://www.theminimalistmom.com/2013/06/twoyearsnocar/

clutchy

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2013, 02:08:19 PM »
for me this is all about risk management. 

If you're comfortable with the response times of your emergency services then by all means continue car free.  If however you would ever need to make it to any type of emergency services on your own how would you get there?  Would it be timely?

that would be my only concern.

We have a baby 1.5 years old and I can't imagine losing something that's priceless just b/c I wanted to be a cheap bastard.

anastrophe

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2013, 02:27:51 PM »
for me this is all about risk management. 

If you're comfortable with the response times of your emergency services then by all means continue car free.  If however you would ever need to make it to any type of emergency services on your own how would you get there?  Would it be timely?

that would be my only concern.

We have a baby 1.5 years old and I can't imagine losing something that's priceless just b/c I wanted to be a cheap bastard.

I cannot imagine that it is safer and quicker to get to the ER in your own car than to call an ambulance, at least where I live...if the reverse is true where you live, perhaps you should move.

Norman Johnson

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2013, 03:37:41 PM »
for me this is all about risk management. 

If you're comfortable with the response times of your emergency services then by all means continue car free.  If however you would ever need to make it to any type of emergency services on your own how would you get there?  Would it be timely?

that would be my only concern.

We have a baby 1.5 years old and I can't imagine losing something that's priceless just b/c I wanted to be a cheap bastard.

It is partly a risk assessment, I agree. Some find it risky, others do not. I wouldn't call it being a "cheap bastard" though.

I cannot imagine that it is safer and quicker to get to the ER in your own car than to call an ambulance, at least where I live...if the reverse is true where you live, perhaps you should move.

This happens when you don't live in a city. Ambulance takes 30 minutes to get to your house, then 30 minutes to get back to town. But in that case, you either own a car or never leave the farm. :P

snshijuptr

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2013, 04:38:14 PM »
I highly recommend a good quality baby carrier. It will make for a much happier baby and much healthier parents. Look for a wrap, Mei Tai, or at least an Ergo. They run about as much as a cheap stroller, but some can be sold for as much as you buy them. A great website is thebabywearer.com.

That said, don't expect your baby to love biking if that is a main form of transport. My little girl at 13 months hates it. We are slowly getting her used to it, but you aren't even supposed to put them in a trailer until 12 months.

One big way to keep yourself sane with a baby and no car is to give up on being on time. This isn't to say that you will always be late, but allowing flexibility in your schedule will save your mind.

Finally, you might want to look into travel carts for car seats. Something like this one http://www.britaxusa.com/accessories/car-seat-travel-cart. The convertible car seats weigh a ton, and I knew that I wouldn't be able to get myself, the baby, the car seat, and any extras we needed to take along to the Zip Car without one of these. Thankfully we never ended up needing the Zip Car so I never bought one.

BPA

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2013, 05:25:33 PM »
Raised my two kids from birth without a car and did just fine, but I had a friend who insisted that I wouldn't be able to manage without a car.  When I was doing just fine, she told me that my children would have no fun memories of childhood if I didn't have a car.

My kids are 15 and 16 now and while there have been a handful of times they wished I had a car, they had pretty happy childhoods.

N

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #20 on: June 13, 2013, 07:32:15 PM »
If you can live without a car now, just adding a baby probably wont make it necessary.

I know families in chicago who do not have cars. It makes a difference how walkable where you live is, and your willingness to prioritise local-ness.

I also second getting a good soft carrier (sling, etc) they make very nice and warm coats for babywearing also! I had one when I my son was still being carried.

N

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #21 on: June 13, 2013, 11:25:04 PM »
i love the idea of not having a car. I think some of this hinges on the walkability of your neighborhood. If you can get to most of the places where you'd go on foot (or bike when the baby gets a bit older) that's cool.  I grew up in a big city and at that time, the men took the car to work, and the women stayed home with the kids and didn't drive, and my mom and aunts found it kind of a drag to take the bus and the subway with young kids. There's a lot to carry. And if it was raining or snowing, good lord.  And for some of my aunts who had a lot of kids, they literally couldn't get out of the house without help. I don't know, maybe this was before strollers for multiple kids, but there were a lot of logistical challenges. I guess it would have been hard to get to the car too.  I think their  solution of press ganging teenage nieces into service after school was brilliant but might not be an option for everyone.  Best of luck. And whatever decision you make is not irreversible! You can buy a car if you think it doesn't work without it, or you can sell one if you think its not needed.

BPA

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #22 on: June 14, 2013, 03:12:14 AM »
I raised two kids without ever owning or renting a car. It's pretty easy if you live in a city.  An added advantage that nobody's mentioned yet is that your kids become independently mobile at a younger age, so you're not wasting your time ferrying them around and they're not resenting being dependent on you.

+1

This is true.  My kids were never the type to whine if they had to walk a kilometer either.  They have learned that if they want to go somewhere, it's walking, biking or transit.

We live in suburbia too, so you don't even need to live in the city in order to go car-free although it might be easier.  If you've been used to not having a car, I think it is easier than giving one up too.  I never had the "convenience," so I never missed it.

PantsOnFire

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Re: "You'll need a car when you have a baby" True?
« Reply #23 on: June 14, 2013, 05:44:12 AM »
If you need any more convincing, I'll be the one morbid enough to say it:

More children die from injuries sustained in car crashes than from any other cause.