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Living Car-Free In The City

Technically we aren't car-free, we're more like car-light.  We do own a car that my partner uses for work - and we do take advantage of it for larger outings on the weekend.  Still, my day to day reality at home with Leo, our toddler, is without a car.  My partner leaves for work as we are beginning our day and doesn't return home until a couple hours before Leo's bedtime.  So we spend our days without a car - and for the most part, we don't miss it. 

Knowing we were going to be without a car for the most part was a major factor in choosing to live in an urban area.  Not having a car would be a lot harder if we couldn't walk to coffee shops, grocery stores, playgrounds, libraries, restaurants, a post office, and a several types of public transportation.  

What are my favorite benefits of being car-light?

  1. I get a lot more exercise
  2. I support more local businesses
  3. I really get to know my neighbors as we are out and about in our neighborhood
  4. It's great for the environment
  5. It saves money
  6. I think it's a great example to set for our kids

Is it a bit more challenging sometimes?  Absolutely, but it is worth the extra hassle.  Here are some of my best tips for going car-free; even if just a few days a week.

  • Plan your route.  Try and make a circle to loop back home - and try and schedule errands that require carrying heavy things - like the library, post office, or groceries - for first or last (depending if you are picking up or dropping off). 
  • Pack a fantastic diaper bag.  Snacks, umbrella, water, and a change of clothes accompany the typical diapers and wipes in our bag.  You do not want to get stranded across the city without a key item.
  • Invest in a light stroller with some undercarriage storage, a good carrier and/or in some reusable bags that zip-up small to throw in the diaper bag.  For most of Leo's life I primarily wore him in a carrier and resigned myself to being a glorified pack-mule on library/grocery days.  Now that he's over 25 lbs and I've got a third trimester belly brewing I am using the stroller more and more - which has been nice for holding the diaper bag and items we pick up along the way - but I do miss the ease of wearing him.
  • Explore public transit.  When trying a new route either allow yourself plenty of time or test it out without a hard timeline (like an appointment you can't be late for).  Make sure to walk around near the transit stops - it's a great way to discover new areas of your city.
  • Invest in some good walking shoes and cold weather gear.  Both you and your little one(s) need to stay warm in colder weather and if your feet are going to be the main transportation - they deserve to be comfy!

How much do you rely on your car?  Do you live in a walkable area? 

by on Apr. 3, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Replies (31-40):
by on Apr. 6, 2012 at 11:29 AM

My DH and I were car light for a while in the suburbs! He takes mass transit to his job in NYC so I would drive him to the bus station in the morning and pick him up at night. It was definitely a challenge since I did it for two years starting when my son was an infant. When I was pregnant with my second child we bought a second car. We saved a lot of money when we only had one car but it got to the point where it was too much juggling!

by on Apr. 6, 2012 at 11:40 AM

I live in the suburbs so a car is necessary. However, I do walk everywhere within our subdivision to include my sons school, the park, the pool and his friends homes.

by on Apr. 6, 2012 at 12:23 PM

The bus is also great and kids ride free!!!

by on Apr. 6, 2012 at 12:39 PM
I lived in a city for 5 years and it was a pain the arse not to have a car. I do not recommend it.
by on Apr. 6, 2012 at 1:11 PM

We live in a walkable area to stores, grocery and otherwise (about .5 mile), but not to work. Though, I could commute via bus.

by on Apr. 6, 2012 at 1:11 PM

I rely on my cars a lot.

by on Apr. 6, 2012 at 2:05 PM
I rely on our car a lot and are soon going to need a second car when my son starts school. We don't live ib a walkable area
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by Member on Apr. 6, 2012 at 2:28 PM

I live in the suburbs, and definitely use my car a lot. However if I lived more in the "city" I don't see any real need for a car.... there are buses, the lightrail, bike paths, walking paths and to me those make much more sense than driving in the inner city.

by on Apr. 6, 2012 at 3:20 PM


Quoting KaylaMillar:

we rely on our car a lot. 

 Me too....I would go nuts without it...especially in the summer when its 100+ degrees outside.

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by on Apr. 6, 2012 at 3:21 PM


Quoting goddess99:

I 100% rely on my car but my dh from England Never had a car until he moved to America. There is just no need for 1 there which is interesting and saves alot of money, Wish it was like that here.

 I am from Germany and we didnt need a car ever either. Infact my Oma is 70 and never had a car in her life.

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