I haven't owned a car in over five years. It's been very liberating not to be burdened with a monthly car payment or insurance premiums or have the added expense of petrol, which certainly isn't cheap. I haven't had to worry about yearly inspections or unexpected maintenance costs. In many ways, I've enjoyed not having a car. But...
... it's time to put our idealistic views aside and be a bit more realistic. The fact is that, with two children, it's just much more practical to have a car, especially where we live in North London. Not everywhere is easily accessible by public transport, and places that are usually require one or two changes and a minimum of an hour's journey time. It's hard enough struggling with one child (and buggy and other gear) on a bus, but it's manageable. I cannot, however, imagine struggling with a toddler, a baby in a buggy, and any shopping I might have. Even with The Other Half's help. And as lovely as my friends have been about giving Crumpet and me lifts to play dates and parties over the past three years, I can't expect to keep bumming rides forever. So we need a car. As much as The Other Half grumbles, it's a non-negotiable issue for me.
This is a time when I really wish I had learned to drive a stick shift. When I took driver's ed in North Carolina, everyone learned on automatics. I don't even think we were given the option of learning to drive a manual. Here in the UK and in mainland Europe, the opposite is true. So that means that automatic vehicles are more expensive (I can verify this by the prices we have paid for rental cars in Europe). But you know what they say about old dogs and new tricks. I've already learned to drive on the other side of the road (which still makes me a bit nervous, but perhaps because I haven't had much practice since I got my UK license in 2008); I am not about to learn to drive a manual at this stage in the game.
So I guess you could say I'm making a metaphorical U-turn on my car-free philosophy, but you know what they say about how having kids changes things. I'm hoping (or least trying to convince The Other Half) that having a car won't drastically affect our daily lives. We'll still walk to most places and he can still use his bike as his primary mode of transport. I wouldn't even think of driving into central London. But at least having a car of our own will give me back a little bit of my independence and make it easier for us when driving is just the easiest way to get from point A to point B. And if all of my arguments fail, I'll buy the car in my name and add him as a named driver so he can still say he doesn't technically own a car.