I recently moved into a new house, about 5 miles from where I used to live. The move is a massive lifestyle upgrade for me and my family, but even with our increased lifestyle costs, we should still be able to meet our financial goals. Life can happen obviously, but we have a history of being good with our finances. And we’re fortunate enough to make a good income, with my wife in a particularly stable profession.
One big downside of our move, however, is how far away it’s taken us from our son’s daycare. We originally picked our daycare because it was close to our house – just a 10-minute walk. Having a nearby daycare was really important to us because of our schedules. My wife heads off to work early in the morning and usually doesn’t get off work until 5:00 pm or so. That means I’m the one that typically handles drop-offs and pick-ups.
By itself, this wouldn’t be a problem, but the wrench in everything is that we’re a one-car household. My wife uses our car because her office is in the suburbs. That means I’m left with the task of transporting my son without a car. When our daycare was just a 10-minute walk away, this wasn’t a problem. But now that I have a 4 to 5-mile distance to traverse from our house to daycare, things have gotten a bit trickier.
How I’m Getting My Son To Daycare Now
Most people can’t imagine getting children anywhere without a car. But then again, most people aren’t willing to think outside the box or put themselves in situations outside of the norm. Faced with getting their kids 4 or 5 miles, they’d tell themselves they have no choice but to get a car.
Here’s what I’m doing instead. I took an electric bike with a suitable rear rack (in this case, I’m using my RadCity, although I may spring for a cargo bike eventually). I then put a Thule Yepp Maxi bike seat on the rear rack. And that’s all I need. It takes me about 25 minutes to get my son to daycare now, which really is only about 10 minutes longer than it’d take for me to drive there. And my son gets to see everything that’s happening in the city on his way to and from daycare. I’m not a child expert or anything, but I feel like he’s benefiting by seeing the city and all of the people around him.
That’s all it takes. An electric bike. Put a child seat or a trailer on it. And you now have a vehicle that can actually act as a car replacement for most of the year. It really is possible to move children around a city without a car.
Admittedly, I do have some advantages that make biking more of an option for me and my son. Namely, I live in a city that has made it a priority to create bike infrastructure. One of the reasons I’m comfortable biking with my son is because my route is safe for bikers. It has protected bike lanes and bike paths that are separated from traffic. Without that infrastructure, I’d probably be more hesitant biking. That’s the beauty of bike infrastructure. It gives people choices of how they can get around (in contrast to most places where the infrastructure has been created to only allow cars).
And yes, I know the weather can be an issue. But it’s not as big of a deal as you might think. A rain jacket and some rain pants can solve any rain issues. When you’re using an ebike, heat is rarely a problem (you don’t have to use your own power, after all). The only issue will be in winter, not because of the cold, but because of the snow and ice. Most likely, I’ll transition over to public transit during the winter months, when it’s simply too slippery for me to bike with a kid. It’ll take me a little longer, but I can still get my son to daycare without using a car.
Why Haven’t I Bought A Car?
Figuring out how to get my kid to daycare from my new house did have a simple solution. I could have just bought a car.
But I’ve never bought a car before. I grew up in a city, so driving really wasn’t something I did very often. And to be frank, the car buying process intimidates me. It may be strange to some people, but I’m in my mid-30s and I’ve never bought a car before. I don’t even know how you go about buying a car.
More importantly than just being scared of buying a car, the simple fact is, I haven’t bought a car because I don’t want to. I’ve always preferred getting around using other forms of transportation first. I think it’s better for the environment. I think it’s better for me. And since this is a blog about money, it saves me money too.
I think I also enjoy the challenge of getting to places without a car too.
The Lesson Here – Choose The Things You Want
The point of this post isn’t about the fact that I’m biking my son to daycare. I think it’s a cool thing that I’m doing and I don’t think most people would do it this way, but that’s not what this is about.
The real lesson here is about decision-making. It’s not that I can’t afford a car. I could easily buy a used Prius for $10k or $20k and it wouldn’t be that big of a financial cost for me. But for my whole life, I’ve chosen not to buy a car. It’s not something that I really value. Instead, I’ve chosen to get my son to daycare via other methods. It’s not the only or best way to do it. But it’s the way I want to do it.
It’s common to think about money in terms of denying yourself things. But that’s not what money should be about. It should be about making intentional choices. Buy the things you want. Don’t buy the things you don’t want. And when you buy the things you want, make sure it’s something you actually want. The important thing is you should get to choose.