In this article, I will discuss how my daily life is impacted by the absence of a car. More specifically, I will discuss how my income and health have been affected by this absence. Granted, the information is limited to my perspective, but it should be sufficient for the reader to grasp the transportation differences outside the USA without having to leave the comfort of their home.
One of the biggest benefits that came as a result from moving to Madrid in 2015 then to Barcelona, where I’m residing now, is that I don´t need a car to move throughout the city. Typically, my commute consists of riding the bus, taking a train, or walking depending on the destination. Fortunately, this school year I am able to walk every day to and from work. The benefits of walking and using public transportation include more savings and a healthier me.
For example, when I was living in Texas, I was paying roughly $450 on a car note every month for a used car, $120 on gas, $40 every 3,000 miles for oil changes and any additional maintenance needed for cleaning and repairs. Also, consider the money that is spent on insurance that is mandatory to have along with registration fees and so forth. Just adding the numbers provided, I was paying approximately $610 a month or $7320 a year to have a car, a commodity that is necessary for life in a spacious state. If I had saved the money I spent to own a car while I was living in the states for a year, then I could have gone on a very nice vacation and made some other investments. In comparison, the only travel expense I pay to traverse the city now is $60 a month for an unlimited bus and train pass.
Here it’s not necessary to purchase a stair climber or treadmill for the home in order to maintain the body because it’s incorporated into everyday life. The average three kilometers I walk up and down the mountain for work alone is aiding in trimming off any additional fat that I have accumulated over the many years from eating fast food picked up in a drive-thru. Little old Grandmas who need a walker to move are doing their daily routes to take a coffee in the plaza with their friends. Everyone is doing it.
Just imagine… I walk anytime that I go out with friends.
If I’d like to have a meal out of the house, I walk to the restaurant. I walk to buy groceries. There’s community activity I want to attend in the plaza? That’s right, I’m going to be walking there, too. Fewer cars on the road, less pollution, no drinking and driving; these are all positives for our health.
Unfortunately, our cities were designed with more space for cars.
From my experience in the U.S., we utilize the automobile for transportation instead of alternatives such as a bike or public transit. Zoning laws have split residential from commercial areas. As a result, it is almost a necessity to have a car. We were proud to have the automobile at a point in history, and at times of city growth, we expressed how proud we were by providing more space between buildings for these vehicles. It was a good use of technology and a proud moment for mankind, but now, as a result, we have developed into communities that prefer to remain seated.
With these new transportation adjustments mixed into my life, I feel healthier, I exercise more, and I’m able to enjoy the outdoors more often. Although I don’t earn the same income as I did in the states, I am still able to save money by not having an automobile. Take a moment and think about how different your life would be without a car the next time you go out to get groceries or leave work. Will it work for you? Why or why not?