On Not Having a Car

Hi! Already I’m lagging behind with the blog posts! It’s been a busy time.

In the last few weeks, we have been lucky enough to meet some friendly, genuine, interesting people, mostly through school functions or mutual acquaintances. I feel very lucky to be making friends and feeling more connected. With each new acquaintance, we learn a bit about them, and we share our moving-across-the-world story. Among other things, we talk about how we’ve been exploring the city and getting around with the kids. The fact that we are living without a car comes to light.

The range of responses we get has been interesting. The single and/or childless people seem congratulatory, and can relate to varying degrees, since they are currently or have recently lived without a car. We talk about the bus system, and how it’s pretty good here.

Our fellow mums and dads, however, are fascinated, incredulous, or amused. We are a bit quaint, I think. Kids and no car! Imagine that. It won’t last. But they are supportive and helpful, even if they can’t imagine doing something so impractical.

And it may not last. We certainly have not ruled out getting a car, but I have no immediate aspirations. It’s not the driving that I mind. It would be lovely to go to Safeway and just put the groceries in the boot. It would be great to just dash up and down Queen Anne Hill to drop Joy and pick her up from school. And I won’t lie – it’s an absolute pain to wait at a bus stop in the pouring rain.

It’s just that there are also some perks to not having a car. Not having to sit in traffic is one. I don’t miss that! Not having to find parking is also a small joy.

And there are two other points which kind of warm my heart. The first is that we are really getting to know our little corner of Seattle because we are negotiating our way around on the buses. (I’m getting to recognise the bus drivers too!) We have time to look out the window and admire the view, and because have to plan our route, often we actually know a bit about where we’re going! It is true that we’d probably go on trips much further afield if we drove because it would be so much easier and direct, but I figure there’s time for that. If we have to go somewhere in the evening with the kids, like recently to Joy’s school concert, we take a cab. This happens fairly infrequently though.

Also, we walk! We actually exercise every day and we’re not even trying. Each morning after we walk down to the school bus stop and put Joy on, Evan and I walk along the bike trail next to the lake, pick up flowers, stones, and leaves, look at the view, and loop around back to our house. We often see and chat to the same dogs and owners out in the morning, and there’s a post man who once stopped me to ask about Evan’s bike. He waves now every time he sees us.

It’s fun and it gets us moving. Both of the kids have accepted walking to get to the shops or park as a normal part of our lifestyle and I think it’s benefitting us all. It’s different to what we are used to. (Largely probably because we never exercised enough before. But anyway.)

So we are doing stuff and meeting people, which also helps with our homesickness. We have all sort of entered a refreshed stage of missing home, both for family and friends, and also for our favourite and familiar places. Being out and about and meeting people does help. And hey, I didn’t even get to tell you about my Spanish class (which I know you’re all dying to hear about) or how it was sunny and 21 c today. Amazing!! I will get to that next time. xx

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11 thoughts on “On Not Having a Car

  1. Hi, M.L.! You sound upbeat even without a car! And you are making good friends, too. My brother used to live in the Queen Anne area. Did you ever get hold of his son/wife? Or are you too busy? I loved your blog, and I was particularly interested in your Spanish lessons. Ted and I took immersion Spanish in both Guatemala (7 weeks) and Costa Rica (4 weeks). We lived with families every day and took Spanish lessons for four hours each day. The families were Spanish
    speakers, but they wanted to practice their English in both countries, despite my pleas for them to speak to us in Spanish. So I am halting at best.

    Love you (and your family)

    Diane and Ted

    • Hi Diane! We are upbeat, which is funny considering how heavily we used our car in Sydney. We are doing lots of things differently, and we’ll see how we go.
      I did get in touch with C via email, thank you. She very kindly offered to be a resource in case we had any questions. Oh, I am enjoying Spanish. I studied in high school and uni so it’s fun to be able to keep it up. We don’t speak any English during the class, so I am forced to remember! It’s fun aNd just down the road, so I am loving it. You and I can practisewhen I see you next!lots of love from us! Xxx

  2. Spanish classes huh? One of my friends also takes spanish classes – he is good at languages though and travels quite a bit. Maybe you could teach some to QuyenMy as she is going to Guatemala and Cancun, mexico – not exactly places we want her to go to on her own but she’s booked the flights and just orgainsing accommodation now. Anywa, i digress – it sounds as though you wouldn’t get to know your local surrounds quite as well if you had a car and yes, without one you tend to walk more and incidentally exercise more as a result…win win all round! Sounds like you’re having fun, we miss you all but it’s good to be able to share in your experience via your blog! Love, hugs and kisses from all of us here! xoxox

    • Yeah, it’s been years since my uni/high school Spanish studies, so I am working hard to remember and learn it all. I’m excited for Qmy, hope it all goes well. we miss you guys heaps! We will keep going on, and updating you all. Lots and lots of love from us. Xoxoo

  3. You almost made me want to give up our car and the same lol! Yes I can definitely see the benefits of not having one, you didn’t mention fuel prices which are ridiculously high at the moment ! That’s definitely a negative for me:) nice to hear about all the friends you are making too. And from one blogger to another, don’t pressure yourself to blog, just go with the flow:) whenever you write, I will read it, be it in a week or a month or whenever 🙂

    • Hehe, well I guess it’s not all good, but there are definite benefits. Shopping can be tricky, and tired kids. But overall, I like it. The simplification of not having to worry about or pay for rego/insurance etc is great! Thanks Rosemary! I do go through bouts of wanting to post, and then lulls. Appreciate your kind words! Lots of love xxx

  4. Hi Mai,

    I love reading your posts! I can’t believe I spoke with you today and I forgot to ask you about your Spanish lessons – the one question I wanted to ask and I forgot! Oh well, next conversation…

    I take my hat off to you Mai, I know I certainly take having a car for granted. And here you are, embracing not having a car in such a positive way and at the same time with 2 kids, learning and becoming familiar with your new surroundings – you’re amazing, Well done! xxx

    Lots of Love
    Ros xx

    • Thanks, Ros. You are so kind! I feel lucky we can experience something new, even if it’s tricky sometimes!! Spanish is going well, I’ll update you properly, but it’s really fun and I’m happy to be keeping it up. I’ll talk to you agsin soon! Lots of love xxx

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