From the Forum – Having a baby; should we buy a car?

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Having a baby; should we buy a car?:

“My husband and I are expecting our first baby next year and are trying to think through expenses. One issue that we’ve been throwing around is whether having a car would make life with a baby much easier. Neither of have had a car for the last 10 years or so, and we’re generally pretty happy that we don’t have to deal with the expenses and hassle. There are times — perhaps once a week or so — when we like to get somewhere a little more quickly or to a place that’s slightly inconvenient via public transportation, and we usually use car2go then. Obviously, with a baby, car2go would be out.

All this to say, should we get a car? I assume that normal errands with a baby in tow would be harder without a car — we usually walk from the grocery store, but probably couldn’t do that with as many groceries with a baby, for example. And obviously it would take more time to get to doctor’s appointments and the like (we hear little kids have lots of those). Is quality of life with a kid way better with a car? Is it worth the expense? Or do people get by almost as well as they used to in their pre-baby days on metro/bus and on foot? We live in Columbia Heights and don’t have an off-street parking spot, though we think we could pretty easily find street parking around us.”

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66 Comment

  • Many things to consider. Not having a parking space is a pain in the ass if you are dealing with a baby, baby crap and groceries etc. So in that sense a car isn’t all that convenient if you have to park three blocks away. With a baby, sometimes metro is easier. A bus not as much because most drivers enforce the “fold up the stroller” rule on the bus and when you have a ton of crap in teh stroller (plus the baby) this is a real inconvenience. I think you should wait till after the baby is here at least 6 months to decide. My baby didn’t like being in any kind of carrier so sometimes just putting her in the car was easiest. We didn’t ahve a car for a while either and got one before the baby came. We use it about 2-3 times a week and defintiely more now that she is older. I like taking her a lot of different playgrounds and most of the time its actually quicker to just jump in the car and go after work. I also drive her to the pool at Banneker, also easier than waiting for the bus and lugging all the pool stuff. We use the car for weekend trips (eg, pumpkin patch in Gaithersburg)> But I still think you don’t need to decide now. A new baby is enough to think about.

  • PP here. Meant to add we live 4 blocks from a metro and also have a driveway. So we definitely use metro for commuting but having a parking space is a nice luxury for the car too.

    • This is an unequivocal yes [for me]. My fiancee and I both have cars, but I plan on getting rid of mine in a year or so. I briefly thought about both of us getting rid of a car, but if we have a baby later I thought NO WAY! Just think, yes you will have A LOT of doctor’s appointments especially in the first year of his/her life. Then when the baby gets sick you will want to get to the doctor as fast as possible. Grocery store trips, random errands, taking the baby to see friends/family will all be made easier by a car. You don’t have to get anything super expensive and insuring a car in DC actually isn’t too bad if you have a good driving record. I think it would just make life with a baby easier. Now if it’s going to strain your budget by a great deal then maybe I would learn to live without it.

      • Believe it or not, some offices are easier to get to by public transit since parking is a huge pain. We drove to our doctor’s office for the first month or two but it was so much easier when we switched to the bus. If we have a second, I think we may just use the bus from the get go.

        • I guess it depends where your doctors are located. I used to live in Arlington and have kept my doctors because it’s so hard to find a good doctor. Very easy to park, but I can see how it would be difficult if your doctor is in Dupont Circle or U Street. In most cases there are garages, but that’s another expense.

          • Yeah, my pediatrician is downtown, as are my own doctors. Both are much easier by public transit because parking is either expensive or hard to find. So yeah, it depends on where your doctors are but you can always include that characteristic when searching for a pediatrician.

  • Yes. You really should. Sorry to say it, but things get easier with a car, and it’s easier to manage all of the registration details before the baby gets here. I went car free for a long time but can’t imagine it with a baby.

  • car2go is out, but other car sharing companies like zipcar have sedans that you could put a child seat into.

    • gotryit

      Zipcar is tricky with one child and a royal pain with two. If I was alone, I’d have to walk several blocks with two car seats and kids / strollers / etc. And then the reverse on the tail end. We only really did that when one of us could watch the kids while the other got / returned the car.

  • I have a 20 month old son and no car. Choose a pediatrician who is metro accessible, and get a good stroller with a big basket underneath (we have the baby jogger city mini, which is great). I would also recommend getting a Zipcar or Enterprise car share membership for times when a car will be easier. We got a car seat which installs in about 30 seconds, which makes switching cars very easy. If you haven’t needed a car until now, you probably won’t once you have your baby. DC has tons of metro accessible kid activities and playgrounds.

    Good luck!

    • Choose your pediatrician based on quality care… not whether or not it has metro access.

      • Accessability is always an issue. If “quality care” is the only criteria, why not start looking for pediatricians in NYC?

      • Of course that was not our only deciding factor, but since we are talking about getting around with a baby, that’s what I mentioned. We found an excellent pediatrician near metro, and I imagine there are several great options depending on your insurance coverage, your neighborhood etc.

  • jim_ed

    Yes, probably. Most of the major hospitals in DC aren’t very transit friendly, nor are many pediatricians offices in this town for that matter. Also, when your kid is an infant you’ll likely be hyper-protective of them (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) and won’t want to be dragging your kid outside in cold rain or oppressive summer heat for errands, nor lugging around the jackets and hats and mittens and other baby ephemera inclement weather requires. Then there’s the question of daycare pickup/dropoff, which in our case is impossible within the time restraints of our jobs without a car.

    No car is certainly doable, but having a car, assuming you have a reasonably easy place to park it, makes life with an infant much, much easier.

    • I’d disagree about hospitals/pediatricians offices. Childrens hospital is transit friendly, particularly from Columbia Heights–there’s a shuttle directly from Columbia Heights metro station that runs every 10-15 minutes. And if it’s a true emergency, you can take a cab. And there are definitely transit-accessible pediatrician’s offices. I can name 3-4 of them off the top of my head right now.

    • I disagree. I much prefer strollering places than having to lug all those jackets, hats, and mittens out to the car every time we need them. Right now, the stuff we need (seasonally) lives in the bottom of the stroller. If we’re walking, we’re out the door in under 2 minutes. Whereas today, when I decided to take the car to run an errand, it took me 3 trips to remember everything. And you can’t just leave the kid when you have to go back for something. My arm was killing me by the time we were finally heading out. Same goes when you get home. How do you carry the groceries in with a kid in the car seat?

      • jim_ed

        Reusable bags in one hand, carrier in the other. We don’t live within reasonable walking distance of a decent grocery store, so it involves a bus ride, meaning all that stuff in the bottom has to come out to fold up the stroller for the bus, which become much more difficult than using the car.

  • Don’t let anybody make you feel guilty for wanting a car. It’s a huge help when you have a kid to drag around. The added expense is probably worse protecting your kid from being hit by a bus.

  • If you’re close to the stores and buy small quantities frequently, then getting a stroller with extra storage may make the day-to-day tasks easier. (And it would be easier to walk than deal with getting the baby in and out of the car.) HOWEVER, your buying habits will change—you will start buying more bulkier, high-volume items, which may make walking quite difficult. If you are in a secure building where you can get away with deliveries, no problems. If not, the car seems like a good idea. Then, as you mention, there are the things you can’t get to easily on foot, at which point the car is useful. Buses are indeed a pain in the butt with the stroller folding, etc. Metro is not so bad, but from CoHi, you probably can’t take the metro directly to the extra services you’d want.

  • I dunno, we have a car but don’t use it often. We like having it for convenience, but that was the case before. Get a car seat that’s easy to install & you can use zipcar as needed. There are pediatricians that are metro accessible – both of the ones we were deciding between were transit accessible, one from a shuttle that comes to Columbia Heights metro every 10-15 minutes. We use a soft structured carrier all the time, for walks, for taking the bus to/from day care, etc. We also have a good stroller that we use on weekends for walks and such. You may end up not both going to the grocery store anyhow, since dividing and conquering is more necessary when you have a baby. We live in Mt Pleasant & nearly never drive to a grocery store unless we’re already out in the car and it’s easier to do it along the way. You can still use the granny cart if you’ve got the baby in a carrier or with a stroller if you’re both going. We’ve also used just the stroller/carrying the rest of the bags but then you have to be a bit more careful about how many heavy things you’re buying. So I’d say that if you’re used to not having a car, then you’d probably be fine, at least to start. You can always reevaluate later on. But that’s my experience 16.5 months into having a kid. Congrats on the pregnancy! 🙂

  • Definitely don’t need a car if you live near the metro. If anything, it’s more doable in DC than other cities because the metro is so stroller-friendly (almost all have working elevators). Grocery shopping is surprisingly easy with a baby – if you invest in a stroller with a lot of storage (e.g., an uppababy vista), you won’t even need bags. Now, I refuse to get groceries WITHOUT my baby because it’s made it so much easier 🙂

    We use zipcars when we need them – my husband has become a pro at installing our car seat on the go (helps while we’re traveling too). Generally we walk and take the metro a ton, but that’s the kind of urban lifestyle we signed up for and we’re hoping to hang onto it as long as possible. Our son (now 10.5 months) took his first metro ride at 3 days old to the pediatrician. I’m guessing we’ll cave and buy a car when we move out of the city at some point, but in the meantime we’re doing well without one.

    I think you’ll find that the biggest downsides are: doctor options being limited to metro-accessible locations, having to bundle up more in the winter, not seeing all your parent friends who move to the burbs as much (unless they are also near a metro stop), doing more shopping online because there are so few baby stores in DC and having to rent a car when you go out of town if you can’t take Amtrak or a flight there.

  • Yes, you will need a car. Maybe not right away, but eventually in a few months you will. While possible, its is completely impractical to commute with an infant in a stroller on Metro rail or bus. So if you are planning a daily commute to daycare/work with your kid, you’ll quickly break down and want to start driving.

    • I totally disagree. I’ve commuted for the past two years with my son on the Metro. We kept him in a carrier for as long as possible and now just do a combination of holding/making him walk.

  • I agree with the first commenter that you should wait until you have the baby and then see if you feel like you need/want one. Maybe even try renting a car for a week after you have the baby and see how much easier life is. Depending on where you are in Columbia Heights, I think it could be a toss-up. BTW, if you’re looking for metro-accessible pediatricians, we really love the Mary’s Center on Georgia Ave, just north of the Petworth Metro. Congratulations!

  • Have you thought about your child care yet? Getting to a daycare location everyday without a car could be a real issue, particularly on bad weather days. Having a car really opens up your options.

    • I second this sentiment. If you are going to remain carless and have child care outside the home, you will need to pick your location very carefully.

  • It is MUCH easier to have a car. We live on Capitol Hill and now have a 3 year old and a one year old and while it is possible to commute and do errands on Metro with the kid, you just have no idea what a hassle it can be. Imagine having being by yourself when your spouse is traveling for some reason and the baby has a fever at 11pm and you are out of Tylenol or you have to rush to the hospital. Now add in some rain/snow/Metro track work. Not to mention the spectacular challenge of finding childcare and school placement in DC- there is no guarantee that you will find either in a location that is near a metro. Dunno, we rarely used our car prior to having a kid, and we try to use it as little as possible, but I cannot imagine not having the option. Granted many people make it work and it is commendable- but the question is whether you should or not, as you are fortunate enough to have the option. I vote yes.

  • We live just South of U St. We’ve managed to get to 8 months without a car, and don’t really feel the need for one. When we need a car to get somewhere, we get a ZipCar or take a cab or get an Uber. It is really easy to quickly install a car seat into any of those options. We do get a lot of bulk stuff from Amazon, which I don’t love because of their labor issues, but there would be issues I don’t love with buying a car. I’ve crunched the numbers. We can basically rent a ZipCar all we want (and then some) and still be cheaper than car ownership.

  • We are in the same position and plan to take a wait and see approach. Our situation is a little unique as we both commute by foot. We already basically do small trips to the grocery store everyday (its right on the way home).

  • We have a car and a baby, but I don’t think a car is necessary if you live close to the metro. It’s not hard finding a hospital (GW) or a pediatrician (too many to count, but ours is near GW as well) that is metro accessible. A couple of things to keep in mind. Don’t count on using a carrier. I had all of these great plans to wear our little guy all over the place and I tried three different ones but he hates them – he much prefers the stroller. Shopping isn’t that big of a deal with a stroller, so long as you get the right one. We have an Uppababy Cruz and can fit an entire Target or grocery trip of stuff in the basket (even with bulky diaper boxes). We haven’t traveled by bus with him yet, as it’s too much of a PITA to collapse the stroller and then carry everything, but we take the metro frequently. As for child care, it depends on what you decide to do. If you go the nanny route, or find a center close to your home, then it’s no big deal. But I wouldn’t want to have to commute with the baby on either a bus or train, as it gets too crowded. Also, if the baby is born during cold and flu season, we were told to avoid crowded places until he got his first round of vaccinations (i.e., 2 months) – that includes metro.
    If you want a car for other reasons, go ahead and get one. But if the baby is the determining factor, I’d hold off on it and use zipcar or enterprise when you need it and see how it goes.

    • Just looked up the an Uppababy Cruz and fainted when I saw the price! I know kids are expensive, but dang!

    • Uber also has a kid-friendly service (I think it’s Uber Family) that may help. My two cents, though, is that if you have pangs of “I wish I had a car” now, that will be worse when you’re lugging a kid. However, if you don’t have a car now, and don’t feel the need for one, there are many ways (enumerated above) to live without having one. My biggest consideration for you would be parking – I think that without a designated spot, having to spend the time at the end of a trip hunting for one, then lugging all the baby stuff to/from the car, which may be several blocks from home, would be a royal PITA.

  • Plenty of good comments below. My advice based on having a 1 year old and an almost 4 year old:
    1) Do the car shopping now while your aren’t sleep deprived, but wait a few months until after the baby is born to make a purchasing decision.
    2) If you think there is a good chance you’ll have more than one child, invest in a car at some point. No car with one kid is doable in a million different ways (thank you Amazon Prime, Instacart, ergo and metro elevators). Doing all of life’s things with two little kids and no car…much harder.
    Good luck!

  • If you ARE looking for a car, we just got a Mazda CX-5 and love it. It’s small on the outside (easy to parallel park), has a ton of interior space, and also is fairly flexible if you need to haul stuff. Gas mileage is good, and it feels more expensive than it is.

  • We did Zipcar when we had our first child. It was a pain at times, though generally ok. However with our second child there was no way we were going to lug 2 car seats and 2 kids in and out of the house. While it is more expensive it is MUCH easier. If we could have afforded a car at the time we only had 1 child, we would have. Babies make everything take longer, and you are carrying much more stuff around.

    We also have groceries delivered (Safeway or Peapod) and I HIGHLY recommend it over taking a baby to the store, car or not.

  • Get the car?
    Why? because it’s more convenient and, yes… even if you have to make it ONE time to the ER at 3am, metro is of no good service. And waiting for a cab? You don’t want to that. YOU-NEED-TO-GO.
    You don’t need a fancy car for a kid, but you need it.
    I lived car- and kid-free for a decade but, the ONE time I needed the car for hospital trips, boy… damn I was glad i had it.

  • You’re looking at about 8 ped visits the first year, more if your child gets sick. I only found this a problem during the heat of summer, when you just want to get from one A/C environment to the next.

    Shopping does indeed change, as a PP mentioned. You’ll want to stock up on Target runs, e.g., and even with a stroller with lots of storage (I have the Uppababy Cruz too), you can only fit so much TP and paper towels. Thankfully, there’s for a lot of bulky household stuff.

    I’d look into the nearest Zipcar: how close is it and what models are parked there? Relying on street-parking is a real PITA with a baby and all the baby paraphernalia.

  • My son is three. We live in Columbia Heights and do not have a car. We used a baby carrier a lot when he was really small and used a stroller when he got older (although he loves to walk so the stroller days were short lived). We had a nanny come to the house everyday until this fall when he started preK at a local school. We ride the bus or metro or zipcar everywhere. I think having no car is doable when they are young but when they get older and the frequent school activities start is when it gets tougher.

  • Of course you don’t NEED a car, especially if you live within 5-10 minute walk of Metro. Have 2 kids, no car after 6 years, 2 blocks from Metro. You can do it, it requires some sacrifices, primarily fewer trips out to the suburbs and outer reaches of the city. Also entails a bit more time for most trips longer than maybe 1 mile, but if you live in Columbia Heights a lot of your travel will probably be within just a few blocks.

    It’s actually easier getting around town when they are very young, because most babies will do fine in a carrier like a Bjorn or Ergo (go Ergo, fyi, it’s a million times more comfortable). If they are in the carrier it’s pretty much like walking around without a baby. It’s more complicated once they get to 2 or so and won’t be in the carrier as much, but still walk really slow, then you have to go stroller, which becomes a hassle on buses, etc.

    We end up using Zipcar sometimes, and renting cars just for the weekend maybe every other month for a trip to the burbs or the like. It can be a bit of hassle not having a car, especially in bad weather or when you have to lug something big home. Amazon helps a ton for the big things, if you can get deliveries at home. So the question is if the expense is worth avoiding those issues. You also take on the stress of finding parking, dealing with repairs. I think distance from Metro is the deal breaker- more than 10 minutes and not right near a bus line would be tough without a car.

  • Not trying to be a [email protected] here, but do people really not think of this stuff before getting pregnant? The expense of a car on top of childcare (insanely expensive!) seems like it could be kind of a big deal. I’m continually shocked by how many people I know (with planned pregnancies) that do not even consider that the cost of childcare may exceed one spouse’s income (and that they can’t really stay where they are on just one income).

  • Here’s is why my family bought a car in preparation of starting our family (I lived car free for more than 10-years, by choice, sometimes in less than transit friendly communities).
    1. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT The last thing we wanted to deal with when it was time (or we thought it was time) to deliver was to track down transportation (uber, taxi, zipcar, etc). Our first trip to the hospital was at 3 am. This was a week before we expected. It took two more trips before the actual delivery. Knowing that our car was parked right outside our home helped relieve was is a very wild time.
    2. Unless you have one of those magical children that hardly cry and don’t require constant attention, you will have little free time to be spending on waiting for a car service or public transportation.
    3. While there are some transit accessible pediatricians, EVERYONE who doesn’t have a car is going to that pediatrician. This means it’s probably harder to get last minute appointments and the waiting rooms are packed. When we were calling around looking for a pediatrician (and based on stories from friends), this was often the case. We found a place that is bus accessible in a pinch but has easy parking and doesn’t have the rush of people common in a doctors office in the heart of the city. I should note that it takes us less time to drive to this outside of DC pediatrician than it would have been for us to take transit downtown. Also, some of the specialist covered by your insurance may not be very accessible.
    4. Do you want your infant on public transit at rush-hour if you have the means to avoid it? Now that my child is older we commute together on metro to my work and his daycare.
    5. If you have family in the region you will be visiting them WAY more often. Grandmothers will not take no for an answer. If you are like us, you don’t have a large enough place to entertain.
    6. A lot of the great places to shop for kid things are still in the suburbs.
    7. Lastly, traveling to Union Station or National to rent a car on the weekend is kind of a pain via Metro opens later, track work, etc.). Are you going to want to do that with all your child and her things things in tow. Alternatively spend the time to travel there to get the car, bring it back to your place, load it and then do that all over again at the end of a road trip when you and the baby are worn out?

    I should mention that we still try do as much as possible without a car, but we’re also in a fortunate position to value time and ease over the expense of owning a car.

    Here’s my rant, public transportation in the U.S. is not nearly kid-friendly enough. I lived in Sweden and the buses and the transit authority’s policies were much more family friendly. Wide doors in the middle of the bus for parents to get on with the stroller. Wider isles and a place to park the stroller without collapsing it so that the child could stay safely secure in the chair.

  • I’ll give you my old car! ;-). It’s an old 1990 Acura. It was given to me a few years ago for free and is perfect small beater car for the rough streets of DC. The car delivered both our babies home from sibley. We just got a new used car given our new daily crosstown kids school drop off pick up commute required an upgrade…..

    Yes, get a car, just think about 4degree mornings with cold north wind, summer storm deluges with lightning, sleet and ice rain, fever baby who needs to go to DR, you name it, for those times you want it, you’ll really want it.

    • I was going to suggest, maybe just get a $2-3k city junker? if your unsure about needing one don’t waste the money on one you may not need? If you get a$3000 jalopy and it last more than 2 yrs then that’s money well spent.
      The last car I bought cost $400 and it lasted nearly 5yrs. I dumped maybe $300 more into it via annual services

      • AND!!! If you don’t a have a dedicated space someones gonna ding your car. So if you need a car just to putt around town in, buy a used one

        • +1 I really wish we had bought a cheaper car now. Ours was sideswiped while parked on the street the first week we had it!

    • That’s a mighty kind offer, but I would say that someone buying a car specifically for driving a new child around probably wants something with modern safety features, modern handling, and a decent chance of never breaking down. That can definitely be a used car, but I would guess something no more than 10 years old, assuming you can afford it.

  • Devil’s advocate from a longtime Zipcar user-yes it is convenient, but Zipcar is only good for a specific set of circumstances, IMO. It’s great for weeknight trips when you can take advantage of the flat rate weeknight service, and when you can plan ahead to get a car that’s close by.

    If you have a last minute trip that you need to take (and with children, you will) and it’s on a weekend, you might have to go a mile or more to get your car. Not so much fun, especially if you’re going because the kid is sick. And the car may not be available for as long as you need it. The hourly fees and late fees have gotten really pricey and sometimes Zipcar is prohibitively expensive. It’s good for some things, but I hesitate to recommend it as a reliable and affordable service compared to having your own car.

  • While you are in the process of deciding, could you “borrow” a baby from/with a friend on a rainy day? So you’ll have kid — who may or may not be cooperative — stroller, diaper bag and umbrella. Take a trip on the Metro (a much easier option than the bus), go somewhere, then come back. If you come back totally frazzled, then at least you’ll have some sense of your probable comfort level juggling kid and stuff. Think about your tolerance for risk if you have a feverish newborn throwing up at 3 am. Are you comfortable waiting for Uber — or dealing with whatever plan would be for an unexpected hospital visit when Metro is not an option. A car would make some things easier and some things harder, and you can’t really predict the temperament or needs of your kid. (i.e. I’d be much more comfortable taking a mellow, friendly, sleepy baby on the bus then one who’s fretful and easily overwhelmed by unpredictable stimuli.
    – If it’s a reasonable option for you, I’d go for the car — since even if you decide not to use it regularly, there might be a few instances when having a car will make a major difference in your stress level and quality of life.

  • Wait and see. We’re 8 years and two kids into car-free parenthood. Between Zipcar, bike, walk, bus, Metro (10 minute walk), and traditional car rental (also 10 minute walk, usually for weekend trips), all is fine. You might not be, but rather than make an multi-thousand dollar investment, why not try it for a few months? If you end up desperate for a call, rent one for a week while you buy one.

  • Don’t forget about all of the new grocery delivery services available in the District. You get order in bulk from Costco (without even paying for membership) and many other stores and have everything delivered straight to your door. Amazon just started same-day delivery in DC as well.

  • Looks like you have plenty of advice here, but I’ll still chime in. We lived in Dupont with no car with our first child for two years. In the beginning when you’re most likely using a convertible stroller/car seat combo, it’s not so bad going to the zipcar. However, when we needed a larger car seat later on, it was a total pain walking with a child in a stroller, carrying a diaper bag, and a car seat to a zipcar every time we needed to drive, but we made it work.

    We ended up getting a car when the second kid rolled around. It was a HUGE relief to have the car, even though we didn’t have parking.

  • There is some good advice on this thread, but most of it draws predictably from the single data point of everyone’s personal experience. You haven’t given us enough details about your day-to-day pre kid, and what you think your day-to-day will be like post kid, to give much of an informed opinion. That said, here are some thoughts…
    * Can you walk to get groceries and everyday supplies? If no, get a car, unless you use or don’t mind using grocery delivery option? (keep in mind, that though these seem expensive, so are cars)
    * Is your child care walkable or metro accessible?
    * No, in my opinion you don’t need to buy a car just because of the location of your pediatrician. You can surely do a combo of zip car and taxis for these 6-10 appointments per year.
    * Do you travel within the city a lot? (Rock Creek, to other parts of the city)
    I’d say, you should total up how many trips by car you think you might need to take in a month, and if it nets out to more than 7 or 8 a month, I would think hard about getting a car, and just make it a cheap, used one to get around town. If it’s more like 3-4 per month, then no, you surely don’t need it. If it’s upwards of 10-15, then I would say absolutely.

  • I have two kids, live in CH, have a car and parking garage. I find driving key for daycare and school drop offs but otherwise walk and bus a lot. I highly recommend baby carriers for the first six months at least – check out a Moby Wrap and the Ergo (which you can wear on the back later). You can do a stroller on the bus if you keep it simple – try a lightweight easy to fold one, we have a maclaren volo. I love public transport with my kids – but have to admit I also love the option to drive!

  • We’ve stayed carless even after birth of 1st child in 2008 and 2nd in 2010. Had the benefit of family loaner a week or so at a time when kids were babies. Never miss a car now. Get along fine with buses, trains, cabs, car2go, and rentals. Wouldn’t buy unless used. Have lived in AdMo, Takoma, Petworth, and Park View

  • You don’t NEED a car. Is it nice to have? Sure. But so is a house 2 minutes from work, an extra 1000sqft, a personal nanny at your house, etc… Yes, life with or without a baby can be easier by spending more money. But if you live in DC and know how to use metro, bus, uber, cabs, walking, Zipcar, enterprise, regular car rental etc.. then you’ll be just fine. Other posters made a good point about having a parking spot at your house – if you want the car to make your life easier wrt the baby then you need a set spot, otherwise there’s no point. Then again, if you live in dc and have a driveway or a garage then spending more money on a car is probably no big deal. We get to our occasional pediatrician appointments using uber (with our own car seat) or on the bus very easily. If she has such a dire emergency that she has to be rushed to a hospital and we can’t wait 10m for a cab/uber then we’ll call 911 and get an ambulance!

  • Rugrats need doctors. That usually involves cars – even in DC. Alas.

  • I concur with the wait and see approach, but want to add a few more comments. As far as shopping goes, the really bulky stuff, like diapers, can be ordered online and delivered right to your door. You can rent a car and have one of you go solo to Costco for other bulk runs. You are going to have to invest in the right equipment, particularly a good rain cover for your stroller and rain gear for you (pushing a stroller while holding an umbrella is not easily done). And don’t forget about biking as an option. Of course, this does not cover the beginning. The general recommendation is that you wait a year to start biking with a baby. (Some start a month or two sooner, and some a month or two later.) Again, all weather biking requires the right equipment. Cargo bikes are expensive when compared to bikes, but very cheap when compared to cars.

  • Is car2go really out? Their website says the cars take car seats.

  • We’ve been car-free in DC for five years now with a child. I recommend Peapod or other grocery delivery service, and an Amazon Prime subscription — both make life easier. I never found it particularly difficult to install a car seat in a taxi; the biggest inconvenience there is that you have to plan ahead! We frequently rent a car for weekend excursions, but even with rentals once or twice a month, we find that we are still financially ahead on the cost of parking, gas, maintaining a car, and paying a car note.

    I also recommend a carrier over a stroller for bus/metro rides, at least while the baby is still teeny. Much easier to just ride down the escalator than it is to locate the elevator, make sure it is still working, wait for it to arrive, wait for it to move, and then miss the train! Also a carrier is much more convenient on the bus than a stroller would be.

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