Kids and necessity of owning a (personal) car

Continuing the discussion from Should I buy TSLA shares?:

I’m not sure I’m branching off the topic correctly, forgive me if this is the wrong way. My intention is to move the “kids and cars” discussion away from the “Should I buy TSLA shares” thread to this “new” topic (since unrelated to TSLA).
I think the topic has a certain justification, since moving car-owners away from car-owning does certainly need some “convincing”.

My input to the discussion, is that from the beginning we’ve survived very well as a family (one child) without a car in a biggish Swiss city.
We have a bicycle with a trailer and use public transport. Mobility is available to us, but used almost never.
Holiday’ing by train in Switzerland and neighbouring Europe is very easy. Sure, we can’t take the same amount of “stuff” with as families with a SUV, but we haven’t felt restricted in any way.
Costs are low, as child travels free till 6.
We only have one child, but see families with 2 children doing fine on trains too.

Edit: oops, seems I did it wrong, I wanted to move all the replies since Zurtan’s post to this new topic. How to do that?


Of course anything is possible (like also living with 3 kids in a 25sqm apartment).
It’s a matter of convenience and how much of it people are willing to give away.

Good to hear your side of the story!

Starting by Car is a luxury product that easily eats 3-5k a year from your income.
Kids above 6 use the junior card until 16 travel for 30 chf a year.

Besides its, train prices are quite expensive unless you do not plan and take some kind of super save tariff 2 adults cost more than the cost of going by car

I got more like 10k all in. For that you can easily have abo for a family (if really needed) + some room for the occasional mobility/rental

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I am living in “car-reduced settlement” at the edge of zurich city. It is the standard for families to use cargo-bikes, or rent one of the mobility cars stationed on campus. In the metro area, this works very well.

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It‘s not necessary at all, but it is super convenient. People tend to under-estimate how much time you save by going by car outside rush hour. There are some exceptions, basically when going from one city centre to another, like Zurich - Lugano or Zurich - Bern. Apart from those exceptions going by car is easily twice as fast if not more than public transport. Plus you don‘t have to carry your stuff, switch trains etc or wait forever for the next one.

We used Mobility before we bought our own car and having your own is massively more convenient. No booking, no thinking about how long you need the car, no carrying the child seats to the car and back, just get in and go whenever you want.

Cost-wise it obviously depends on what kind of car you get. Our car costs around 5k all in per year if not less and using public transport or Mobility wouldn’t save us much, if anything at all.


I spent a few years without a car when we first moved to Switzerland. I couldn’t swap my foreign license, so I had to wait untill I had time to make a Swiss one from scratch.

In my experience, it is perfectly possible to live without a car in Switzerland, even with kids (I have 5). The tradeoff is social life (no late nights at friends except in big cities), stress (keeping kids busy 30 minutes in winter cold while waiting for a connecting bus), higher spending on shopping (no bulk shopping at Lidl, Aldi, or Germany, unless these are next door), reduced travel (tickets cost a lot more than gas, especially once your kids hit 16), reduced spontaneity (advance planning for each trip), and wasted time (2-3 hours by public for trips which would take 45 min. by car).

When I finally got a car, I felt like I’d been released from prison.

That said, if you are willing to pay the price in lifestyle limitations, it is cheaper not to have a car. Of course, that’s only true if you do a lot less. If I were to travel on common carriers with my family the way I did with my car, the cost would be at least 3 times what I spent on my car, including gas and servicing.

I have currently given up my car and adapted my lifestyle to cut costs and save more. I use public to get to work, so my car sat idle a lot when it wasn’t rented out on 2EM or Gomore. I rent a car from a family member on weekends or holidays and do shopping, visiting, etc. at those times, which has worked great so far. But it’s still pretty limiting compared to having our own car. There’s always a tradeoff.


I agree with all of the above, yes it’s possible to do without, but more convenient with, cost usually more, etc…

But that’s all really dependent of your location/situation. In my case, with car :

  • about 10min max round trip to kindergarten for kid 1
  • about 10min max round trip to school for kid 2
  • usually just in time to catch my train to go to work, in another canton, to be at the office by 9, leaving at 16:45 if I have to pick them up (and compensate my hours when I work from home, or early in the morning).

Without car, any combination of bike, bus, walking… it would be:

  • about 35 to 45min round trip minimum to kindergarden,
  • same to school, without any guarantee to do it on time,
  • no way I can catch my train, so it’s basically arriving 1 hour later at the office, for 10AM
  • having to leave at 15:45 to be able to pick them up
  • with all the pleasure to start my day cover in sweat in the morning train after the big climb by bike to kindergarten,
  • and more important : waking up the kid early to be able to fit the schedule, so basically 30 to 45 minutes sleep time reduction per week days (for kids under 5…)

just the last argument is a no go for me. I might reconsider when they will be older, both at the same school, and so on…

Of course, I could :

  • change a job I love to something closer, less paid, with no guarantee to like it as much,
  • change a great kindergarden to a closer one without the same quality for the kids (basically switching from on in the middle of the woods for one just beside the banhof…),
  • change a great school for the closest one that have a very bad rep…

or I could keep the car :slight_smile:


I’m really pushing hard for my 1 and a half year boy to take the bus by himself, but that little brat just don’t want to comply! Damn kids… :slight_smile:

And yes, we pay for the school because it was more convenient as all the extrascholar activities are at the same place and included (both working 100% was a nightmare with the organisation otherwise), and it gave him the opportunity to start at 3 year old instead of one more year at the kindergarden. And as it cost basically the same… Not mustachian, but I’ll do it again in a heartbeat when I see how well he developped and love it there.

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We made not having a car our lifestyle criteria number 1 for financial & sustainability reasons.

Which means we choose our jobs depending on the office location.
No car since more than a decade, in Zurich. Our kids are in primary school.

We rent a car to buy bulk in France and Germany (4-5 times a year). Fresh food is bought on our way back from work or at the farm. We organize pour holidays or weekend trips depending on public transportation accessibility, or we rent a car if we want to do something specific.

Public transportation is a habit for us, we do not perceive it as a constraint.
In our situation financially it is a huge saving, as we anyway need an Abo to commute to work (would be longer by car).
However all ou friends with kids have a car.


4 posts were split to a new topic: [COFFEE] Quality of children education

I’d be very interested to see your calculation.
Not saying it isn’t possible, but sounds like you are using the car a lot?

It’s a rough estimate. And no, we are not using the car a lot, maybe a few thousand kilometers per year.

As for the rough estimate:

1000 insurance
750 tire change, service + small repairs
600 fuel
250 tax
300 parking space
2000 depreciation (assumption value goes to 0 over 10 years, probably too pessimistic)

4900 CHF total. I’m probably too pessimistic with the depreciation, but leaving too little reserves for larger repairs. Also parking space @ 300 CHF is street parking, we switched now to parking garage, which is much higher. Correcting for both, and staying too pessimistic with the depreciation would result in maybe 6900.

Is that worth it? For me, totally. It’s the convenience and time saved that make the difference. Also, if those CO2 calculators are to be believed, the car is one of our most minor CO2 causes.

Ah gotcha, that is not a lot of fuel at all. :slightly_smiling_face:
Depreciation is non-linear, meaning that in the first 3 years, the car loses the majority of its value and it keeps getting less and less over the years.
1k insurance sounds like it’s basic only? So for ex. parking damages would be on you? Depending on the age of the car, bigger repairs could also be necessary.

I factored in those risk costs as well, plus highway sticker and fees at road traffic licensing department.
So about one year ago, I came to the conclusion, that it’s not worth for us and I never regretted that decison.
Though during the first 4 years of our kid’s life, we did have the car, which was indeed convenient, I have to say.

And true, the more people you transport with a car, the better the CO2 foot print per person.

I personally don‘t own a car while living in AG and working in SO because I actually prefer the 25min 1 stop train ride to the 30-40min car drive stuck in traffic.

But with kids? I don‘t see how that could work. It would make life that much more complicated.

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300 .- parking Space is an annual fee ? It seems low except if you park it in the street.
Do you have any tax for driving it ? I know in Geneva you pay an extra 500 chf annually for driving a compact car.

Yes, 300 is for street parking. Tax is 250, for a mid-sized car.