Living Carless and Loving It!
One of the best things about living in Buenos Aires is the freedom that comes from not owning a car. Living in the southwest United States, there was no possibility to get by without owning an automobile. The public transportation just wasn't adequate. Here in Buenos Aires (although the people might say otherwise) the public transit is very good. You have subways, busses, and the streets are filled with more taxis than people.
I love the fact that I can live without a car. There's so many expenses related to owning a car that you don't fully recognize until you finally get rid of the thing. I made a list of all the expenses I was paying to own a car and then broke it down so I could see how much it was costing on a monthly basis:
- $450 - Depreciation
- $150 - Insurance
- $160 - Gasoline
- $10 - Car Wash
- $12 - XM Radio
- $8 - Oil Changes
- $200 - Repairs, Tires, Battery, etc.
- Total: $990 per month
There you have it -- $990 per month. Almost $1000 per month just to maintain a car. Discounting rent, that's enough to support your entire monthly expenses here in Buenos Aires. Amazing! Just imagine if every U.S. city installed decent public transit and there was good train/bus service between cities -- middle class households would have an extra $1000 per month to make the paycheck go further.
Living Carless in Buenos Aires
Despite the complaints you might hear from people here (and I've heard them), I do think the public transit is good. There are so many bus lines it's impossible to keep them all straight without a guide. The subway is reliable, clean, and has always seemed safe. There's never a problem finding a taxi either.
The main weakness of the subway system is that all the lines connect in downtown. So, if you are at the end of the green line and want to go to the end of the blue line, you have to ride all the way downtown and all the way back up. Nevertheless, line H is under construction and it will address this. God only knows when it will be finished, however.
After living in the American southwest my entire life and never knowing life without a car, I can say that I prefer to live carless in the city. Add to the fact that taxis are cheap (in dollar terms) and you can always hop a cab if you don't feel like taking the subway or the bus. Even relying on taxis everyday, you still wouldn't spend as much as it would cost you to own a car in the U.S.