“Well, you’re going to have to buy a car.”
- When I was pregnant with C (public transport with a baby?);
- When I was pregnant with J (public transport with a baby and a toddler?!);
- When C was diagnosed with mobility issues (walking and public transport when your son needs walking therapy!?!);
- Again when C was identified as gifted (all those extension programs, you’re going to need a car!);
- When we began homeschooling (how will you get to all the activities?).
|We catch trams, trains or buses to go to different beaches . . .|
Of course, there are compromises that need to be made in order to be car free. One of those is living in an area with very good public transport. Which means expensive. Which means we chose to live in (by Australian standards) a smaller apartment, rather than a free standing house. The thing is, the longer we live in our little home, the more we enjoy it (and the better we are at organizing our space so that it all works).
- Being able to easily get to the inner city.
- Not having to ever worry about parking. Public transport is usually slower, but once you’re there, you’re there. There’s no driving around for 10-30 mins trying to find a car park.
- Getting exercise. I’m not a natural at exercising – I quickly get bored with almost all organised sports, and the idea of pointlessly walking / running / cycling with no end goal in mind except the act of exercising pales quickly. But as we have to walk to get to public transport, and after a day out and about (which we do many times a week), we have easily done 3-5 kms of walking. This has had the added benefit of helping C to practice walking – he’s got the gait of a marathon walker now, and he’s fast. Something that he might not have ever learned how to do if he didn’t have to practice so darn much (hello Dyspraxia!).
- We get to observe the world at a slower pace – the kids’ walking pace (well, J’s walking pace, though we still haul the pram around for when she’s tired), so there are many things that we get to observe that we would never have noticed (like birds nests in trees, or possums crawling along the electricity wires) if we drove by in a car.
- Our kids get used to using public transport and walking and navigating their local area. When he was little, C loved studying Google maps and using it to get to know the local area using street-view. He’d also help us out by finding out what our destination would look like. Now both kids are very confident on how to use trains, trams and buses, including how to use the ticketing system.
- We’re a lot more social – you can’t catch a train with an inquisitive preschooler and a talkative primary schooler without also ending up engaged in conversations with other travelers. And yes, the fact that we homeschool usually comes up, and C has handled these questions so often, he is now able to confidently answer almost any question thrown at him (though we had to talk him through what to answer when they would ask what ‘grade’ he was in – a question that doesn’t really make sense in a homeschool-setting, and would just leave him confused. If you’re wondering, we told him to just state his age, which is usually all they wanted to know anyway).
- We can’t do every cool thing. It’s easier to go to events that are on the public transport routes, rather than far away from them. So we generally don’t get to go to the homeschool events in the more outer-suburban or rural areas.
- When someone’s sick, it can be hard to get to the doctor (but that’s why we use the local home-call doctor service).
- Sometimes it’s hard to haul all our books home from the many local libraries – but that’s when we call in ‘the Daddy’ to help us get them all home (We generally end up at the library in the late afternoon. Neither of my kids are early risers . . . and neither am I! ).
- Getting things home from the hardware store – we’re relentless DIY-ers, so we’re often hauling large, weird things home on trains (though honestly, for the really big stuff there’s always home delivery. It’s quite amazing how many places will home deliver, and for the smaller shops, often for free as well.)
- I’m struggling to come up with another downside. I really am. I really, really love not having a car.