5 tips to help mommas survive city life without a car
- Buy a sturdy stroller with a big basket
Some mommas are really into baby-wearing and the “no-stroller life.” All the more power to them. But if you’re planning to survive without a car, you need to invest in a good stroller.
Over the last two years, I’ve become attached at the hip to my BOB Revolution SE. I lovingly refer to it as my first car.
The BOB is a very sturdy stroller, and it’s easy to steer even when it’s weighed down by groceries, diapers, a toddler, a dresser, coffee, and all my other earthly possessions. Overall, I recommend the BOB as a great city stroller for new mommas, especially if you’re also a runner! I also keep an umbrella stroller on hand to bring with me when I rent a car, go to a small restaurant, travel internationally, etc.
With baby #2 due in December, I’ve been doing a lot of research to determine what double stroller I want to buy. My priorities? 1) sturdy 2) big basket 3) tandem (vs. side-by-side) 4) easy to steer 5) can be used as both a single and a double stroller.
I’ve think I’ve pretty much settled on the UPPAbaby Vista. I tried out a few similar options (such as the Baby Jogger City Select and the phil&teds Dot Inline), but the Vista is by far the easiest to steer and the basket size is unrivaled.
It’s a big investment, but it still costs way less than a car… and it doesn’t need gas! Wohoo!
- Live near public transportation (with an elevator!)
Since Winston was born, we’ve lived in NYC, D.C., and Boston. We made it a priority to live close to public transportation in each of these places, which made it a lot easier to survive without a car.
NYC was the most difficult to manage in terms of taking a stroller on the subway. It’s totally doable, but it takes a bit more planning. Out of the 422 stations in NYC, only 103 have an elevator. And that’s when they’re all working… which is extremely rare. The elevators are also incredibly smelly, but that’s just one of the many highlights of #cityliving. Note: You can’t take a stroller on the bus in NYC unless you fold it up (boo!), so I usually avoided taking the bus unless I really needed to.
D.C. is a gem in comparison. All of the metro stops are accessible, and the elevators are usually working and clean (hallelujah!). You’re still technically supposed to fold your stroller on the bus, but I got away with an unfolded stroller a few times. Keep in mind that there are significantly fewer metro stations in D.C. than there are in NYC (only 91 vs. 422), so public transportation won’t get you quite as many places.
Boston’s metro system (the “T”) is mostly stroller accessible. There are only a few stations that don’t have an elevator. A big plus to living in Boston is that strollers are allowed on buses without being folded, which comes in handy since the subway system in Boston also isn’t as expansive as it is in NYC (the T only has 145 stations).
Regardless of what city you live in, I highly recommend living close to a subway stop with an elevator. Otherwise you’ll have to rely on kind strangers to help you up the stairs with your stroller when you come home from shopping with 50 lb. of groceries. Been there, done that, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
- Live in an elevator building or live low in a walkup
When Winston was born, we lived on the fourth floor of a walkup. I loved the daily work out before I had kids, but it became quite a hassle once I had a stroller, a baby, and all the baby’s paraphernalia to lug up and down the stairs. I had to start planning my grocery shopping outings around times when I knew Josh would be home to help me lug everything back up the stairs. We made it work, but it wasn’t a good long term living situation.
We moved to a building with an elevator when Winston was six-months-old, and we’ve since made sure to always live in a building with an elevator. Running errands is much easier now!
- Live close to the places you frequent often
Try to live close to the grocery stores, parks, coffee shops, and other locations that you frequent most often. My favorite thing about city living is that I can walk to Whole Foods and stop on the way to grab my coffee and let Winston run off some energy at the park.
Before you settle on a neighborhood, try to spend a bit of time there to make sure you can get to everything you need to get to on regular basis.
In NYC, I recommend the Upper West Side for family living. The UWS has good grocery stores, yummy coffee, and you’re sandwiched between both Central Park and Riverside Park!
If you can’t visit a neighborhood in person before you pick an apartment, make sure you do a lot of playing around on Google Maps to see how long it will take you to get to the closest stores and parks.
- Be flexible and know your limits
Just because you don’t own a car does not mean cars are off limits. You’re saving a lot of money by not owning a car, and it’s totally okay to spend a bit of $ here and there on an Uber or a rental car.
I vividly remember the first time I tried to take Winston grocery shopping with me in NYC when he was just a few weeks old. He started bawling on the subway home from Columbus Circle to Washington Heights. As a new mommy, I didn’t quite know how to handle the situation, so I stepped off at the next station and took an Uber the rest of the way home. It cost a little bit of money, but I walked away with my sanity. I think it was worth it.
Sometimes the subway will stop running, sometimes you’ll be out late and just want to get home quickly, sometimes you’ll be feeling lazy or be running late, and sometimes you’ll need to go somewhere like Ikea and you’ll need a car to get home.
We try to use Uber sparingly, and we only rent cars on rare occasions, but I won’t pretend we never do!