should we buy a car?

April 16, 2014 · 30 comments

in Belgium, daily life, impractical advice

Update! We bought a dang car. Thanks everybody for your responses!

Quick post: help me, Internet. Give me your crowd knowledge.

Here’s the situation. I got a job offer, and I’m patiently waiting for my work permit to come through. The job is in Bruges until mid-June, then it moves to Ghent.

(Stay with me, it might get confusing.)

Farrell, who also works in Bruges, commutes 1 1/2 hours each way to work. He rides a bike to the train station in Ghent, takes the train, then rides another bike in Bruges to the opposite side of the city. He leaves around 6:45am and, if all goes well (which is maybe 75% of the time), he leaves around 4:40pm and arrives home around 6:05pm. I know, I know! Commuting is the worst.

So that’s what my commute will be. But, Darwin’s daycare opens at 7:15am and closes at 6:10pm. Mornings, impossible. Evenings, cutting it very close. Any sort of delay (a meeting, a windy bike ride, a nervous rider, a train delay, etc) would strand Darwin at the daycare or leave us scrambling to have a friend pick him up on time. So… the solution for that is tough. Our company has a really great flexible schedule, so one person could drop off Darwin in the morning and go into work a bit later, while the other person leaves earlier and picks him up.

Or, we could buy a car.

Reasons to buy a car:
- Duh, convenient. It would erase this hellish commute scenario and turn it into a 40-minute drive (each way).
- We could use it for situations other than commuting, like going on holiday or easily transporting ourselves to places where there is no public transportation.
- Even when the company moves to Ghent, we probably will not want to bike 100% of the time. In case you didn’t know, it rains in Ghent. It rains a lot in Ghent.

Reasons to not buy a car:
- I hate driving. If it’s not walking or public transportation, I’m a total Debbie Downer about it.
- Cars are expensive.
- The company moves to Ghent in mid-June. I’m going to the US for the first three weeks of May, and (I’m assuming that) it’s unlikely I’ll start work before then. So there’s three or four weeks we’d actually make good use of the car for commuting. Once the company moves to Ghent then we’ll use our bikes (gulp).

Tonight Farrell came home an hour later than usual because he was in a late meeting and couldn’t find a ride home from a coworker with a car. I kept Darwin up past his bedtime so he could get 15 precious minutes with his dad. Having our own car would’ve gotten him home sooner and allowed him to spend more time with Darwin. I’ve really been fighting the idea of a car, but I wonder if we should just go for it?

Okay friends, I need your help/wisdom/opinions. Should we buy a car?

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