NOTE: Yes, it’s Andy posting again today. But Cynthia is planning to emerge this week from 3 weeks of post-birth haze and I’m sure she’ll have some interesting thoughts to share! Even I can’t wait to read it!
When we decided to start this blog it wasn’t because we thought that we knew how to raise a child better than anyone else or to pass judgement on the choices that people make on how to live their lives and raise their families. That’s not our place. What we do believe in is questioning conventional wisdom and being thoughtful and deliberate about the choices that we make in our lives and not doing things just because everyone else is doing them. That’s what this blog is all about – providing a look into the thought processes behind the choices that we make and the struggles we have around making these choices. Sometimes we’re right, sometimes we’re wrong. Today I wanted to talk about one of the big choices we’ve made in our lives:
We rent an apartment in downtown Boston and don’t have a car.
Naturally, especially now that we have a kid, we get asked when we’re going to buy a house and a car and move out to the burbs. And when we tell people that we have no plans (and in fact see no reason) to do any of these things any time soon we often get the raised eyebrow, you guys are a little crazy look. I mean, that’s what you do when you have a kid, right? Why wouldn’t we want these things? Well, at various times we have wanted all of these things and in fact I’ve owned a car and condo within the last 10 years. But not anymore and here’s why:
- We feel that not owning a house or a condo allows us more flexibility to do things we want to do (like travel) or never to find ourselves in a position where we have to work a job we don’t like just to support paying a mortgage. Not having our money tied up in a substantial down payment has allowed us to travel every year to different parts of the world and to make choices that are best for us. For example, I’ve left two professional jobs in my career and in both instances I didn’t have another job lined up ahead of time (and no, I wasn’t fired from either!). Cynthia also left her last professional job which was super stressful without another job lined up. There’s no way we could have done this if we were tied down with a mortgage.
- We don’t believe the idea that renting is “throwing our money away.” Honestly, we think we can invest our money in more productive and diverse places than in the hoping that the value of our home will increase. The housing crisis of the last few years has only reinforced our feelings. Another added bonus is that we don’t spend any time – not one minute – worrying about home improvement or upkeep. If something needs fixing it gets done by someone else allowing us to do other things with our time.
- Because we live in the city a car is a complete waste of money. We sold our car almost 3 years ago and it was one of the best decisions we ever made! No car payments, insurance payments, gas or maintenance costs. Nothing. Now trust me when I tell you this one wasn’t an easy one for me to buy into. I liked my car. I mean REALLY liked my car and even though I’m ashamed to admit it now, it was a big part of my personality. But it just got to be too much of a hassle to park every night (it would take me longer to find parking than it took to drive to and from work) and dealing with parking tickets. Plus, a car is a really crappy investment – every day it’s worth just a little bit less than the day before. What do we do now? We either walk, take public transportation or use Zipcar. If you’re not familiar with Zipcar you should check them out. If not for them, I’m not sure we could have made this choice.
- We like living in the city. Well, for Cynthia who grew up in New York City, Boston already is the suburbs! It’s simple for me – I want to spend my free time doing the things that I like doing which now includes spending time with Abigail. Spending 2 hours a day in a car commuting to work won’t let me do that. I don’t buy the argument that it’s more expensive to live in the city. Once you add up the cost of a car, gas, etc. and the value of the time one spends commuting everyday I would argue it’s actually cheaper to live in the city. Now, I’m aware that in a few years we’ll have to sort out the whole school thing for Abigail which may impact where we live but for the moment we see no need to move.
So while, for most, the “logical” next step after having a kid is to buy a house, a car (or two!) and move to the burbs, that isn’t the lifestyle we want. We’ve consciously chosen to stay in the city and raise our kid here. It’s not like children are a foreign species in the city. I mean, Cynthia was one of those kids who was raised in a city and she’s only a bit of weirdo! Like everything else in life this is an experiment and I’m sure that we may adjust our point of view over time but for now this is what we’re doing!