Work Abroad but earn in USD

Friday, August 12, 2005

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.

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Blogger familiaoconnell said...

Having been a city dweller in the States I do understand the economic freedom of not owning a car. However, I would argue that there is so much to do and see outside of the city and beyond. THere is a reduced cost to owning a car and maintenamce is considerably lower, gas more or less the same (and if you use natural gas it is pennies) I think owning a car is worth the cost given all the wonderful things that you can do and see at will. Being spontantous is priceless.

8/13/2005 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Hi, I've lived in NYC for many years without a car and I guess I've taken for granted the benefits of mass transit. When I want to get out of the City, I rent a car/unlimited mileage. It's the way to go if you live in a city with good mass transit. I'm visiting Argentina many times a year. I plan to begin living here and there...splitting up the year. I am very involved (for 19 years) with an Argentine so that is the logical nexus for me. I love BA and the coastal regions like Mar del Plata. I have read many postings here and think that the information is valuable and pretty accurate with my own experiences. We bought in 2002. We did well. But, for me, it's not really a "flip" investment thing (no capital gains in Argentina by the way); it's a long-term choice of lifestyle decision. I like the quality of life in Argentina. Cost of living and good cultural infrastructure are how I define quality of life. There are many less expensive places to live in the world where the dollar goes far but would you enjoy and chime in with the culture and what it has to offer...Argentina, for me, works in both respects. Thus, the buy was a great long-term quality of life decision. I plan to begin staying in Argentina for longer periods beginning this's a transition process for me as I have a law practice here in NYC. Residency is definitely on the agenda. It's all good. Cheers

8/13/2005 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I forgot to ask...if you obtain a rentista visa (external passive income test), do you need to also prove you've remained in the country for a certain number of days to renew the visa each year? For example, if you want to start down the road to permanent residency but you will continue to come and go from your already-owned apartment in Argentina, is the "coming a going" a problem with the renewal process? Thanks in advance for your reply.

8/13/2005 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Fred Jontza said...

A little off topic but, you mentioned in a previous post about restaurants and food that in the Northern Barrios of Olivos, La Lucila and Martinez one could find US type food stuffs in the grocery stores. Have you had a chance to check this out yet? I am curious about Peanut Butter, something that I couldn't find in the 70's when I lived there. A company called GRANIX made something that was an attempt at Peanut Butter, but it was real nasty. BUN also made one a littel better but it was in a real small jar and very $$$ at the time.

Thanks and don't give up posting your experiences as I am sure a number of people are reading, they just don't comment.

8/25/2005 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger ABA said...

As usual I agree with EE. I also lived in the South in the USA before I moved here. It was a necessity to have a car in the city I lived in. Since living in Argentina the past 1+ year I have never had to drive here in Buenos Aires. The only time I drove was when I went on holiday in Bariloche and rented a car.

I love the carefree life here. Like EE, I take taxis everyday. I'm in an average of 10+ taxis a day because of my work looking at and buying properties. Taxis here are so affordable and they are safe and the drivers have always been friendly.

I own several garages here in Recoleta becaues they came with apartments I bought. I also have a garage at home and my office and from time to time I think about buying a car but it's so unnecessary here.

I also love the carefree living here. It's wonderful.

9/03/2005 04:39:00 PM  

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