On a change of perspective {life as a pedestrian family}

I have always appreciated the many benefits of living without a car. They are numerous. But I have to tell you that there are also some very hard things about it. I’ll share some of the difficulties we have run into in another post, but today I wanted to share with you my own personal struggle and my change of perspective.

We came here knowing we would be without a vehicle, but with the very slight possibility of getting one if we needed to. That possibility was extremely short lived when we realized we simply could not afford a vehicle here in the UK. Even if we had the cash to get a van, keeping a van running (road tax, insurance, and petrol) here is quite expensive. Short of taking out a loan just to run a vehicle, which was neither desirable nor financially wise, we just could not do it.

I embraced our pedestrian lifestyle joyfully. This would be a good adventure. There were so many things about it that embodied some of our core family goals of living slowly and giving our children a slow childhood. And it would be physically healthy for us. In many ways I was living my ideal life. I truly meant and felt that.

Rain or shine, we have to eat. Off to the grocery store!

But I went through a brief period when I grew extremely weary of it. Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but there is nothing romantic about walking in 35degree, 40mph winds, and sideways rain. (Trust me, we stay in on the really bad days). We live so close to the sea that the wind can be quite intense at times. It wasn’t that I didn’t like walking places, it was that I was frustrated with its built-in limitations.

Every opportunity that came up I would meet with, “If we had a car…”

I realized that we had made this choice. I could either choose to enjoy it, or spend the next three years being frustrated with it. My choice.

I wrote myself a note in my journal. “Replace ‘if’ with ‘because’.”

“If we had a car, we could go to this event.” or “Because we don’t have a car, it is easier to make choices to live a slower lifestyle which is one of our core family goals.”

“If we had a car, I could get to that store and pick up that item we need.” or “Because we don’t have a car, I can’t get that item and therefore save money and live frugally-another family goal.”

Walking to church on an exceptionally cold day.

I did this every time I heard the word “if” coming out of my mouth. It wasn’t very long before I had regained my perspective. The hard parts didn’t change and we still run into them, but I was able to be content with the parts that I knew were absolutely good.

There are so many things in life that require this tension. Even good things have hard elements. That’s life in a fallen world. Nothing is perfectly good. If we aren’t careful we can exaggerate those difficult elements so much that they nearly drown out the good. And I didn’t want that to happen.

I don’t want to gloss over the hard. It’s there. And I want to be authentic with you, which is why I’m sharing this. But there are so many benefits of living this way that I want to choose to see those. I want to come away from these years and be able to say with confidence that it was a good thing, even the hard parts.

And my perspective is what matters.

If you don’t think this is a work out, I invite you to try it. 😉

I really can honestly say that I wouldn’t change our pedestrian life. The benefits we have experienced far outweigh the inconveniences.

This quote by C. S. Lewis in his autobiography Surprised By Joy is something I can relate to. I hope my children remember these years with similar fondness. I know I will.

“I number it among my blessings that my father had no car, while yet most of my friends had, and sometimes took me for a drive. This meant that all these distant objects could be visited just enough to clothe them with memories and not impossible desires, while yet they remained ordinarily as inaccessible as the Moon.

The deadly power of rushing about wherever I pleased had not been given me. I measure distances by the standard of man, man walking on his two feet, not by the standard of the internal combustion engine. I had not been allowed to deflower the very idea of distance; in return I possessed “infinite riches” in what would have been to motorists “a little room.”

The truest and most horrible claim made for modern transport is that it “annihilates space.” It does. It annihilates one of the most glorious gifts we have been given. It is a vile inflation which lowers the value of distance, so that a modern boy travels a hundred miles with less sense of liberation and pilgrimage and adventure than his grandfather got from traveling ten.”

Other posts in this series:

1. Getting there, not just arriving.

This is a short series on life as a pedestrian family. I’m excited to share this part of our life with you. If you have any questions or are curious about any part of this lifestyle, please leave them in the comments or email me and I will do my best to answer them!


  1. Great series!! :) And I love that quote by Lewis, even if I haven’t managed to live it specifically.

    How is the stroller holding up? :)

    • Johanna says:

      Thanks, Keren. And I remember you liking this quote! :) The stroller has held up and it definitely is getting good use!

  2. Love this post on perspective. Replacing if with because is such a practical way to live out being grateful. I’m going to try it.

  3. What an incredible post on gratitude. I love the practical aspect of exchanging if with because and refocusing on your family goals. Thank you so much for sharing. What a blessing!

  4. I adore the way you decided to change if to because! Petrol is incredibly expensive in the UK.

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