Anxiety over not knowing how to drive and moving to the burbs

I was born and raised in NYC which is where my fiance and I currently reside, but not for much longer. He’s from Westchester, so he obviously had the suburban right of passage that is learning to drive. I, however, could not care less about driving. None of my friends know how to drive either. On top of that I have spatial problems making me terrified to get behind the wheel, also I just really have no desire to learn as it’s never been ingrained into me as a necessity (the latter is questionable, I know).

My question is is it realistically possible to live in a one car household, where not only is there one car, but the other person can’t even drive? Do you know of a family that lived like this? I have a feeling the answer is a resounding no. I’m just very worried about 1. my issue and 2. being a shit driver for everyone else. It’s to the point I’m having nightmares about learning how to drive. Also any tips or suggestions regarding learning to drive are welcome.

I would imagine it depends on several factors. For one, what sort of jobs will you and your fiance have? If you have a work-from-home job, it would be easier. That doesn’t even mean having two out-of-home jobs is impossible to work with either.

By suburbs–do you mean there is absolutely no public transportation nearby? Bus systems do exist in some areas. Is there any chance you could research those before a move?

One of my sisters and I both learned rather late. I was 30, she was 28. We are both pretty klutzy people with no sense of direction, and both suffer from anxiety (she actually had a serious phobia of driving due to a childhood accident). I learned from my husband and she went to driving school. We are both competent and confident drivers now.

Whether you can live as a one car, one driver household really depends on where you live. I did fine with walking, biking, and riding the bus for years. I even kept riding my bike to work after I learned to drive, until we moved a few miles away last year. We have only been a two car, two driver household for a year. It is not really necessary, though. My sister had less of a choice. There is not much in walking or biking distance of her house, so she had to learn to drive or just stay home.

You have to learn how to drive. If you have a spatial problem that would prevent that, you shouldn’t move to the suburbs because you will be incredibly unhappy. Do you plan on having kids? Because you have to drive them everywhere. Your friends and neighbors will help you out for a while, then they will get tired of driving you around.

If your spatial problems aren’t that bad (and I think if they were taking public transportation or walking would be even more dangerous), then get a learners permit, go out to a big empty parking lot on a Sunday afternoon, and just drive around slowly until you get used to it. After that, try out a driving school if you’re still uncomfortable. It may be a while before you’re comfortable driving on the Saw Mill, and certainly don’t try to drive up to the Bear Mt. Bridge, but in time it becomes second nature to everybody.

Where are you moving to? If you stay in New York you could drive around with your eyes shut and do as well as the average driver there.

It can’t be that unusual to have families where only one person knows how to drive or will drive. I know a number of individuals who chose to be without a car or who finally had to stop driving because of health issues. They dealt with it.

The only way I think it would be a true problem would be if you didn’t drive and insisted that your spouse take you everywhere you wanted to go. If you’re willing to use buses, taxis, trains, bicycles and your feet to accommodate trips of appropriate lengths and your spouse is willing to drive when it’s necessary, I don’t see what the issue would be.

I grew up in Texan suburbia, and most of my friends started driver’s ed at fifteen and got their licenses at sixteen, even those who didn’t get a car of their own right away. What strikes me now as I look back at it was there was no discussion of who could or could not learn how to drive-it was just assumed that we all could. No matter how bad your spatial issues are, I can guarantee you that someone with similar issues didn’t even give them a thought before signing up driving lessons.

If you’re feeling anxious about learning to drive, it might help to remember that it isn’t something you have to and you can learn on your own timeline. If you have to repeat driver’s ed because you didn’t feel comfortable taking the driving test, who cares? If you get a license, you’re still free to drive as much or as little as you like and pick the trips that you’re comfortable with. For example, I hate driving downtown so I usually have my partner do that. She likes to fall asleep on road trips, so I usually handle those.

There is no rule that you have to drive fast or take the expressway. Or drive long distances. Being able to drive a couple of miles to the closest train station can make life a lot easier, with none of the killer stress that you’re anticipating.

I knew a lady that was a stay at home mom. Never had a job. Never had a drivers liscence. Husband always drove.

He passed away when she was in her late 60’s. Before long she was driving all over the damn place.

I guess I am saying don’t worry too much. You may well surprise yourself.

My aunt has never driven. She was a stay-at-home mom when my cousins were kids. She still doesn’t work. They moved around a bit, mostly living in the suburbs.

I have never had my license either. I’m in my early thirties. I don’t have an SO or family though. I would never live in the suburbs.

Spatial problems? Have you been diagnosed with some kind of neurologic/visual deficit? If so, maybe it would make sense to ask whoever diagnosed you if it would be safe to drive. If it’s not a true disorder but just that you feel like you’re worse than average at judging these things, I think practice driving will help you learn to adapt.
Most states have restrictions on driving for people with seizure disorders, so you might want to try looking at messageboards for epilepsy patients to see how they cope with not being able to drive.

Anyway, driving is a skill. Nobody is born being good at it. You’re probably less likely to have trouble learning now that you’re a mature adult than many people have by starting to drive as immature teenagers. I’ve always thought that if it were practical (I don’t think it is) it would probably be better if the driving age was increased, since so many teens don’t have the frontal lobe development to recognize that reckless driving could kill them.

I’m dyscalculic. Typing that seems utterly ridiculous but besides not being able to do math it has greatly affected my ability to judge spaces(everything is either too small or too wide in my perception) and timing(sort of on delay). We plan on having a child ASAP so I’d be a SAHM, so commuting to work would not be an issue. We’d be living in a suburb of Austin, one of their many subdivisions. As far as I know there is no sort of extensive public transportation in this particular area. I do not expect my soon to be husband or neighbors to drive me anywhere, though my mom has volunteered herself for the position (they’re moving down too), I still don’t expect anyone to drive me anywhere.

In the end I would love to learn and I will. This isn’t me trying to get out of it, this is me being terrified as all get out. I have been behind the wheel before, obviously illegally, an ex let me drive his car a couple of blocks really late at night with no one around. It felt fine besides my inability to keep the damn wheel straight requiring me to keep adjusting, something that seems like it should be so easy.:smack: I just was thinking worse case scenario would would we do, but this thread has been very helpful. I think I’ll just get my permit soon, slowly learn, and not put any pressure on myself to be some immaculate driver or one who can drive long distances. Thanks everyone.

Just make sure you don’t keep the wheel straight when the road does otherwise. :wink:

Absolutely possible, and yes I do know a family like this. I’m inferring that you’re planning a move from NYC to a suburb of NYC…if that is the case then most likely there are at least some public transportation options that can get you into the city for work. Most major city suburbs it’s generally not too hard to get downtown. Where things get dicier is distances in the suburbs will be a lot greater than you are used to. Your corner market might actually be 2.5-3.0 miles away or even further, and while almost every major city I’ve ever been aware of you have some public transit options reasonably close that can get you downtown, there isn’t as much uniformity in availability of transport for “local” travel within the burb you live in. So you may experience the maddening situation where you can easily get downtown via bus or something, but have no way to independently get to various relatively close to your house stores without walking a fairly great distance or being driven by your fiance.

Anyway, to the family I knew like this. My great-grandparents lived in one of the earliest sort of suburban communities when suburbs first started to come into existence. My great-grandfather had been able to drive since the early 1900s but he was in a very unique position of having driven for work back when cars first started becoming part of society (most other people from that generation in my family did not have a car until much later, when they became more generally affordable.)

So pretty much for their entire life, great grandpa could drive, great grandma couldn’t. She was fine with it up until about the age of 81. My great grandfather, like many men on that side of the family had a short temper, and they got into an argument in the car and he pulled over to the side of the road and left her there as he stormed off down the road on foot. She basically was stranded because she had no idea how to operate a car, an hour later he came back and they made up, but she also started taking driving lessons a week later and had her driver’s license at age 81 for the first time (she drove until she was 94.)

All suburbs or different, but at least in the suburbia I’ve been familiar with you can have a family just like my great-grandparents did where only one person knows how to drive. However, the person who doesn’t know how to drive needs to be comfortable with the fact that a lot of things a driver can do independently they will have great difficulty being able to do. That’s probably one of the biggest adjustments you’ll have versus city life, depending on what suburb you move to you may literally not even be able to get a candy bar without a 2+ mile walk, and even if you only buy a day of groceries at a time a 2-4 mile one way walk to carry a day’s worth of food is brutal. So anytime you want to buy something you will need your fiance around, so you had better be comfortable with that. Thinking long term, recognize even if you and your fiance have compatible schedules for that sort of thing now, it could easily turn out years down the road you have very different schedules (unless you can predict with absolute certainty what your respective lives will be like 5, 10 years from now) and you might be “stranded” at home for hours at a time waiting for him to get off work or something just so you can go get your hair cut, go buy groceries etc.

Anytime you need to go to a doctor’s appointment he’ll have to take off work too in order to drive you there, even for minor stuff like dental work and annual exams.

In NYC a car really isn’t a necessity, but in some suburbs life can be very annoying and inconvenient for some people if they can’t drive. It’s impossible to know if you’re the kind of person who would be bothered with basically being 100% dependent on another person to get around.

Didn’t see this when I posted, but yeah a suburb of Austin, TX I think a SAHM would be in fairly bad shape if you can’t drive.

It’s not set in stone it could either be a suburb of Austin or we could be living in a suburb of NYC. I’ll know in about a month. I put Austin because I definitely could get around to some degree in a suburb of NYC, however living down in Texas would be like the DEFCON 5 of my fears about driving. Thanks for the response, loved the story!

It going to depend which suburb you move to ( some have walkable downtowns while others don’t) , how far you live from a walkable downtown/public transportation and how much of a change in lifestyle you are willing to accept. I’m guessing you grew up/live in Manhattan as it would be unusual in the other four boroughs to have no friends who drive.

I had a few non-driving aunts move to the suburbs from Queens. They went from a life where they could walk a few block to the “avenue” to run errands or take a bus or train to destinations out of the neighborhood to one where they had to depend on husbands/children to drive them at least to the bus or train. I have a non-driving friend who lives in Queens and works in Nassau. His morning commute involves walking a few blocks to a bus which he takes to the Long Island Rail Road. When he gets off the train he then walks 2 miles to his job. It takes him over 2 hours make a trip that’s about a half-hour by car. My niece grew up in Nassau and had to depend on her parents for rides absolutely everywhere ( shopping, friends houses, library) until she was old enough to drive.

Unless you have some actual medical condition which makes it unsafe to drive, spatial issues can be resolved. I don’t have good depth perception and I’m not confident about my ability to judge speed - I just leave more space than I think I’ll need when changing lanes or merging and I don’t try to fit into tight parking spaces.
And learning how to drive doesn’t mean you have to get a second car, or even that you have to drive. But unless you’re a real homebody or you and your fiancee do absolutely everything together , there are going to be places you’ll want to go that he doesn’t that are a pain to reach by public transportation. And your choices will be 1) don’t go 2) deal with the hassle of public transportation 3) or ask fiancee to drive you. I think those choices will get old really quickly.

If you move to Tx, then you will simply have to learn; you’ll have no other choice if you want any life at all outside the home. While I can understand the circumstances that lead to people not knowing how to drive, IMHO there is no excuse for a medically able adult to not know how to operate a automatic transmission personal vehicle. In NYC this may not be the case but pretty much anywhere outside of a mega-city like that you’ll get some serious :dubious: if not :rolleyes: looks from everyone else. It is considered a basic life skill everywhere else in the country.

Everyone is terrified - or should be - when they start learning how to drive. You overcorrect or undercorrect on everything, it’s hard to know what the boundaries of your car are, etc. And yet you persevere, and learn, and improve. Take some driving lessons, do those practice sessions in the big parking lots (with few poles and no concrete barriers), and work your way up.

The easy bit that you weren’t getting:

“aim high” – that is, keep your visual focus a ways down the road, not at the spot just in front of your car.

That’s the kind of stuff driving textbooks and instructors tell you. Maybe take some books out of the library for a test drive, to see which one you find most helpful.

Driving is a task where quality is more important than quantity. Keep “immaculate” in mind.

Single car families were very common in the 50’s and 60’s. My aunt was a stay home mom and didn’t have a car. She could drive and occasionally kept the family car to run errands or take the kids to the doctor. My uncle would catch a ride to work if my aunt needed the car.

My grandmother never learned to drive until grandad died in 1970. At 59, she attend a summer, Drivers Ed class at the high school and passed. :wink: She drove for 15 years until her heart operation.

Learn to drive. It is a useful skill to have. I can’t imagine regretting that you learned. You may be scared now, but a few lessons and some practice and you will get the hang of it.