Childfree: Here’s One of the Best Ways to Support Your Childfree Life

So I’ve not had even a moment to write a blog post for some time, but rest assured I do read all the very interesting responses and comments when people happen by the our childfree blog. And I’m very happy that it is still a place where we can have level-headed childfree discussion (any personal attacks and/or rude comments die in the spam folder). Thanks everyone for keeping it real!

Anyway, the other day my husband and I were coming home after stooping for a pizza and a pint at one of our favourite places. It was a very nice evening and as we both live and work downtown we decided to walk and enjoy the lighter (and warmer) evening. People were out and about… there were couples, single people, a few people with children, but mostly single.

And not for the first time it struck me… that our childfree life had been very much supported by where we had chosen to live. We had taken a conscious decision to live downtown. Years later I see what a great choice that was. Not only because we can walk almost everywhere, meet up after work and have good transport links to everywhere, it’s because we rarely see constant reminders of kids – which would be the case if we had to live in the suburbs. While we do see kids downtown, there aren’t as many because everyone wants to move out to the ‘burbs as soon as they have kids. That’s just the way it is.

Downtown we don’t need a car to go everywhere, and, more importantly we don’t have all the usual kid reminders in our face. Most down town inhabitants are singles or couples without kids. It may be a small thing, however if you are childfree you will know it can be a huge thing. Reminders everywhere are no help and even less support. I rarely watch T.V. so don’t get the “must have kids” influence from there.

Now, if you’re dreaming of the house with a big garden, two car garage, swimming pool (though we have one in our condo) and lots of room… you may need to tweak those dreams. These were things we knew we wouldn’t have. We didn’t mind because we got much more.

There are many people who wouldn’t dream of living downtown. They turn up their noses (seriously) and tell me how much they love the burbs (though not the commute) and how “it means more space for when they have kids.”  I just smile.

If you live out in the suburbs your chances of being reminded of having kids are very high. It may not bother you and if you’re already living there and can’t move there’s probably not a lot you can do about it. If you live downtown (depending on where you live of course – I am talking about Toronto) you won’t have as many constant reminders, because unlike the suburbs and outside the downtown area, kids are not everywhere.

I’m from England and we lived in flats throughout my growing up years.  I never saw anything amiss with that and there were plenty of spaces to play outside. Moving out to the suburbs wasn’t automatic just because people had kids.

For the childfree, where you live is important, more important than you may think. So it is worth thinking about early on.  And while being surrounded by kid reminders wasn’t the reason we decided to live downtown it has turned out, almost without us realising it, to be a major support of our childfree life and childfree relationship. If you don’t have the constant visual reminders from people who have kids it is amazing how quickly you forget about them.

What do you think? Share your thoughts.


23 thoughts on “Childfree: Here’s One of the Best Ways to Support Your Childfree Life

  1. Melissa A.

    I agree, though Halifax is a lot smaller, most of my friends with kids do not live downtown or even on the peninsula. I live close to downtown, and work downtown. There are families with kids on my street, but it’s not the same as in the burbs. A lot of people don’t really get why I live where I live. I don’t know what’s so hard to understand about it. I am single, childfree, I work downtown, I can’t afford a house and don’t own a car, so why would I want to live in the burbs? :) When I was looking for a new apartment people would say “Sackville isn’t so bad, Dartmouth isn’t so bad”, but I didn’t want to move away from the part of the city I was familiar with. And who wants to spend all their time on a bus whenever you have to go somewhere? Not me. In the end I moved less than 1km away from my last apartment.

  2. Britgirl Post author

    Exactly. I also don’t get what is so hard to understand about living and working downtown or close to downtown (central in some countries). Assuming they can afford to buy it seems everyone yearns for a house (often expensive in popular areas) on one of these boring looking subdivisions because there are 4 rooms and a garden and a deck. Well, that’s their choice however I love being close to everything (and I do mean everything) and not having to jump into a car to do the smallest thing. Even better, it’s supremely easy to get out of town for trips if you want to. It’s perfect for childfree singles and couples and I wonder why more don’t consider it as a big part of their childfree living. What’s more because there is always something going on it actually encourages meeting other childfree people. The cool thing is that even those of our friends with children have to fit into downtown living. ;)The best thing is… no (or few) mini camper vans packed full of kids and people constantly asking you why you don’t have a brood.

  3. TheQueen

    So lucky to live in Canada! Both friends who live in the city here in Saint Louis have been mugged walking back to their condos. Otherwise I’d be there too.

  4. Pyro's Gal

    I live near San Francisco, so for us, living in the ‘burbs is cheaper! I do see your point, though. I’ve lived in neighborhoods where you could pretty much walk everywhere and it really does cut down on your exposure to rugrats.

    We like to grow our own vegetables so our little suburban townhouse is perfect. There are some kids around here, but not too many. Of course, we are of the age that we’re less likely to be bombarded by the bingoes.

    1. Britgirl Post author

      Very true… in some countries living downtown is more expensive than living out of town and living in the suburbs makes more economic sense. Seems you have found a perfect spot though :)

  5. SS

    Very much agree, I chose an area with only a few children out of over a hundred people. When I was filling out the paperwork the woman kept saying I would move in the next five to seven years to a bigger place when I had kids and I knew she was wrong but it wasn’t worth getting into a discussion. In the US, the burbs are less expensive but if you avoid areas near schools and cul de sacs that families gravitate towards, it is easier to find a spot with minimal numbers of children. Also found a job at a company that is very fair, benefits are structured so that no one is screwed, not where childfree do the bulk of the work and pay for perks only parents can use.

    With the pressure by society to reproduce, it makes a big difference to seek out childfree havens in which to live and work. Statistically more and more people are making the decision to not have kids so in theory it should get easier and easier to find.

  6. deegee

    I live in the burbs but I also live in a large co-op apartment complex whose 4 buildings and their apartments consist of mostly studios and one-bedroom apartments, neither of which are very friendly for children. We have a lot of elderly people and some younger single people along with, thankfully, very few children. It is quite common for the few younger married couples to move out after they sprog.

    This co-op complex is very close to the downtown area so it is friendly to the elderly who don’t own cars as well as the younger folks who use the commuter rail to go to work in NY City.

  7. Chris

    Great post! We live in a small town which is more or less a Bedroom Community, a few hours from Toronto.
    There are constant child reminders and I think you’re bang on right – though I don’t mind them most of the time.
    I think too much emphasis is put on owning a detached house. As I am currently going through quotes to replace a roof and involved in other renovations, I often miss renting where this would not be my problem or expense to bear.
    I have run the numbers a few times and if it were all up to me, would be very tempted to go back to renting and do more travel but this is a lifestyle choice we’ve made and committed to.

    Though owning a house can be a very satisfying experience – my wife and I have learned many new skills through renovating and working on projects together. I think home ownership is over rated. You pay a lot to have the right to change it, then you pay a lot more when you decide to change it, and though you can make money selling a house, everyone and their friends lines up with their hand out. Realtor expenses, Land Transfer taxes, on and on.

    There just aren’t many rentals here and we would not live anywhere else – its nice to live in a nice small town where we feel safe walking anywhere, anytime.


    1. demonhype

      That’s how I felt when I shared an efficiency with a girl in Pittsburgh for a year. First was that wonderful feeling of not needing a car, which has been a constant source of anxiety my whole life, having lived first in the ‘burbs then in the country. For the first time, I didn’t have that constant gut-wrenching worry of what I could do if my car didn’t start or otherwise got stuck or disabled (I’ve had brakes go out on me while driving about four times now, so that’s scary), nor that worry about what will happen with my classes or my job if I can’t scrounge a ride fast–or if I can’t get the car fixed or can’t afford it, etc etc. I already lost one job because my car’s brakes went out.

      But also there was that wonderful feeling when I realized that if anything went wrong it wasn’t my problem the way it has always been my parents problem–as they’ve always owned their own property since I was a baby. I’ve seen them bending under the massive responsibility and cost of home ownership, both living there and as landlords (my parents were no slum lords–when a renter called and said “the plumbing is screwed up and the toilet is overflowing and I can’t stop it” or “we have no hot water” or anything, my dad would come home from work and immediately jump back in that car to drive nearly sixty miles to fix that problem–and it cost plenty (they tended to charge a low rent because they didn’t believe in gouging people–probably the best landlords in the world, I’m finding out!) It was so nice when we had those kinds of problems to be able to just call maintenance and have them deal with the issue.

      I had already wanted to live in the city, but this kind of clinches it for me!

  8. Aurora Bordeaux

    I totally agree! It’s interesting to hear this perspective from someone who is already in the city and happily childfree. I’m a staunch childfree gal (and recently got so serious about it that I started a blog called Baby Off Board). My husband and I are actually considering a move from the suburbs into the city. While reminders of kids don’t bother me especially, I am not always thrilled with the constant cutting across the yard, whelps from the neighboring swingsets that we can’t block the view of, and various other litter of toys and trucks that never get put away. Also, none of the neighbors will hang out with me because they’re always “busy with the kids.” I’m glad I found your blog! This is a great post and reinforces the idea that city life will probably suit us better.

  9. Theo

    I totally agree that urban living is the best lifestyle for me and my hubby. We live in Portland, Oregon — a very walkable/bikeable city. Living in the heart of downtown within walking distance of work, grocery stores, bar and restaurants has allowed us to go carfree. It’s better for the environment, and better for our stress levels. We live in a 5th floor apartment, and we have no problems taking the stairs several times a day to get our walks in with our mutt. The neighborhood we live in is both child and pet friendly, and the balance of the two makes hanging out and chatting with people easy. Every time I think of buying a big ol house in the suburbs, I’m immediately reminded of how isolated I’d feel and how good we have it in the city.

  10. Jenn

    Completely agreed! I live in downtown Cincinnati and BF and I are very close-knit with many of the folks that live nearby. We have our “watering hole,” the local dive bar, where everyone is more or less family. Most people are either younger childfree folks, or older folks whose kids have flown the coop and they’ve treated themselves to a spacious downtown condo.

    It’s obvious when walking around the city that most people dragging kids behind them are “tourists,” for lack of a better term–visiting from the ‘burbs, that is. For the most part, we’re free from the constant in-your-face-ness of nearby parenthood. There’s more emphasis on interesting nightlife, a variety of cuisine, corporate business happenings, and just general moving and shaking.

    We love it! I’d never move anywhere else. BF and I plan to buy a condo down here when we can afford to stop renting!

    Side gripe — People will give us the, “You could buy a house in Buttf*ck County and your mortgage would be half the price of what rent costs downtown!” But they fail to understand the concept of “Well, yeah, but then you’d live in Buttf*ck County!!” I’d so much rather live somewhere worthwhile than be in the middle of nowhere, just for the sake of savings! Rule #1 of GOOD bargain hunting: it’s not about getting the lowest price, it’s about getting the best value for your dollar!

  11. happydrummergirl

    Though we have that beautiful home in the ‘burbs, we don’t have kids. We don’t mind having them around us at all, and enjoy the environment. Where people live is up to them, and I would never “turn up my nose” at someone because their choice differs from mine.

    I can definitely see the benefits of the “downtown” life. Fortunately, we are able to walk to certain establishments as well, including our fave Japanese restaurant.

    I say, “to each his/her own” :-)

  12. Nataya

    in europe we live in smalltown. it’s school town with so many children around. But it’s still better than if we live in south east asia where i come from. Even in downtown, childfree is still weird, and people never hesitate to ask you about or suggest how to get one! you just need to have thick ears and big heart.

  13. Anne-Marie

    Great post. We live in Toronto’s inner-suburbs, still accessible to the subway and streetcars, and the decision was more about having had so many condo fights with having a dog and just wanting to reclaim an outside space. That and entertaining, which I know we do so much more now with the house. I would have loved a house closer to the downtown, but prices in Toronto make that impossible. That said, I love our street- very few children on it, actually, since it is an older neighbourhood and a lot of the families have grown-up kids, although with all the tear-downs now starting, I can see it is about to gentrify some more. There are some young families moving in with kids, but they seem well-behaved and aren’t an issue.

  14. Lacey

    We lived in downtown TO for 5 years and really loved it for the reasons you described. But we needed a little more space than what we could find there. I think they need to start building larger condo units downtown! Even us CF folks like to have space. :) We had to move to find an affordable 3-bedroom condo. There are kids in the neighbourhood but I don’t mind because there are also lots of lovely parks to walk the dog in. And we can walk to the subway and pop back downtown when we want to. We’re really not “house” people and I can’t imagine putting in the time it takes to upkeep a detached home, shovel snow and all that fun stuff.:)

  15. Dave

    Hey Brit Girl
    I’ve been reading this blog for a while and thought I’d comment. I am in merry old England and having moved much from city to city I completely agree with you on this one. Location is really important to help live a peaceful “ChildFree” life. It’s just a shame though that most places I’ve been (and throughout the UK) life is centred around the high street and local cinema/shopping mall. I was at mine for the first time today nearby and it’s the usual sight of push chairs, “Mark hit me”, “Stop it”, “I want a…” and screams. There are very few places these days where anyone single or child free (couples) can go to enjoy a grown up atmosphere.

    Just a thought in general, I have enjoyed reading this blog. In a world swamped with “thou shalt have kids” this is a useful place to visit – I just hope this “movement” continues. On another note in case you haven’t heard of this before its a new site for childree dating (although with a not-so-snazzy name) I haven’t tried it myself but after nearly 5 years on etc I might be tempted…it’s harder for childfree ppl to find someone so hope it helps somone :)

    All the best

  16. George

    If you don’t want to be reminded of children, why have a blog devoted almost exclusively to discussing them? If not having children has allowed you to focus on your passions, why isn’t your blog about one or more of said passions instead of how much you resent talking to parents or seeing children in public spaces?

  17. A.

    It is a real problem when the majority feel entitled to ask why you don’t want/have children over and over again, treat you condescendingly, exclude you from discussions, discount any/all of your opinions in and out of the workplace, discredit you on the job, etc., because you don’t have children.

    Some people like myself have reached the conclusion it’s all about social pressure to conform to what the majority have done, and not much more than that.

    A blog develops out of some issue which demands a solution, right? Hence, this blog.

  18. Jo

    I have just moved back to Winnipeg from Toronto and am currently looking for a condo. I agree living down town in Toronto was fabulous because there was an abundance of people like me, child free and single. I’m finding it difficult to find similar surroundings here. Downtown Winnipeg is a ghost town evenings and weekends and frankly not exactly somewhere you’d like to be walking alone after dark. Oh how I miss my local Toronto bakery Sunday mornings with not a stroller in sight.

  19. Childfreegal

    Jo, move back to Toronto if you can! Winnipeg is an awful place to be child free. Everyone is all about family there, and there’s not much else to do.

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