Oct 14, 2009
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Psychology Student
Hi, All,

I'm grateful for having been offered what I consider the opportunity of a lifetime. I have been admitted to my favorite PhD program. The package far exceeds my wildest dreams. However, I'm starting to feel some trepidation around successfully engineering the logistics of it all.

Because my new school's parking rate is very high for me ($80 per car per month * 2 cars per month = $160/month = nearly $2,000/year), I am trying to figure out a way to reasonably avoid bringing my car to campus in Southern California in the fall. Here's my situation:
(1) I will live in family housing since I have two toddlers. My husband will live with us when he is in town (60% of the time). I can walk to my classroom, and I can walk my kids to their full-time school. (We cannot save money by get subsidized child care as my husband makes too much to qualify but not enough to retire on (become a stay-at-home dad).
(2) My husband is a touring musician who sporadically spends approx. 40% of the year on the road. He needs a car to drive from our current apartment in Southern California (not near my new university) to Las Vegas, where he spends approx. 30% of his time, and move heavy equipment. He cannot easily get a more mainstream job that would allow him to stay in town. (His very specialized skills cannot be used in many places/capacities.)
(3) Off-campus housing (within 20 miles) is very expensive!
(4) Grandparents like to visit and sometimes care for kids. One set of grandparents lives 10 miles away. Another set lives 33 miles away (a 50-minute drive outside of rush hour but a 90-minute+ drive during rush hour).
(5) Living with grandparents, due to health and space issues, is not an option, unfortunately.
(6) Although the university is offering me a reasonable amount of funding, the amount cannot and was not meant to support a family. I have some savings but will likely have to use some loans.
(7) I cannot imagine deferring entrance into a doctoral program as I am already in my forties! I could not have kids until this late in life as the opportunity to have kids, namely a willing partner, did not present itself until late in life. Thus, it's now or never!

Can someone in my situation get by without a car? What might be the best way to arrange trips off campus for my kids (to see doctors in case of emergency), buy groceries with kids in tow, etc. in SoCal without a car?

Also, any suggestions on how to successfully progress in a doctoral program while supporting dependents?

Thanks!
 

CApsych

7+ Year Member
Jan 12, 2010
76
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Pre-Psychology
HI katciao (awesome name):
Where exactly in SoCal? For example, when I was at UCLA for my master's I actually used my car a lot less than I thought I would. IF you set your kids up with a physician nearby (at the medical arts plaza) you might be able to swing it.
 

Markp

Clinical Psychologist
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Nov 19, 2007
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Psychologist
Can someone in my situation get by without a car? What might be the best way to arrange trips off campus for my kids (to see doctors in case of emergency), buy groceries with kids in tow, etc. in SoCal without a car?

Thanks!
There are a few things you can do. Assuming you can get some child care coverage (or have child care coverage). Get a scooter (200-500cc), it's SoCal, most days a scooter can get you to and from the store to get some groceries.

Occasional trips to see the doctor, Taxi. Spend less than $2k and you're dollars ahead.

Mark
 

Ollie123

10+ Year Member
Feb 19, 2007
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Psychology Student
Hard to say without knowing the specific area, so I'd check with students in the program. It depends what kind of public transit is available. It also depends how much of a "social life" you want yourself and the kids to have. If you'll be running the kids all over the place to this and that, you could end up spending a fortune in taxis or losing hours every week on buses. It depends how much you can rely on others (i.e. can the grandparents come pick you up for grocery shopping once a week?).

It also depends what kind of area the campus is in. A friend of mine lived on a campus with expensive parking, but it had a nearby residential neighborhood. They would just park on the street there, and had a ~15 minute walk to their car when they needed it. Most campuses offer some kind of "guest" parking option for people who come visit those living in the dorms when you need to drop things off.

What is your husband's schedule actually like? It makes a big difference if 40% means he's gone for 3 days, back for 4 days, gone for one day, back for 2 days, etc. versus if he will be gone for 5 full months and then back in town for the remaining 7. If its the former, you can probably schedule grocery shopping, doctor's appointments, etc. around him being in town.

I say see if you can leave the car at the grandparents house for a few months, and give it a shot. You can always decide its worth it and spend the money if after a few weeks you find it utterly impossible.
 
Feb 22, 2010
64
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Status
Psychology Student
Also, you might have zipcar or some other car sharing program in your area. For example, there are like 5 zipcars right on my campus.
 
Jan 15, 2010
33
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Non-Student
Also, you might have zipcar or some other car sharing program in your area. For example, there are like 5 zipcars right on my campus.
I second the zipcar. Also, there are usually discounts with various corporations (University affiliates, others) for the yearly zipcar membership dues. Especially depending on which city, there should be one easily accessible for those days when you have multiple errands and simply need a car.