3.20.2008

WHAT YOU GAIN BY LIVING IN THE CITY

It’s time to update to my modern-day routine a post and calculation I did almost three years ago about what I save in money and environmental impact by living in the city. Here’s a link to the original post: “Another Reason that Living in a City is Good.” In case you’re wondering, this time around I assume $3 gas, 30 MPH, and 20 MPG.

5 round-trips per week to work:
· me in the city = 20 minutes one way = 167 hours/year walking + no gas = $0
· me in the suburbs = 30 minutes one way = 250 hours/year driving + 375 gallons of gas = $1125

5 round-trips per week to drop off the kids at day care:
· me in the city = 5 minutes one way = 42 hours/year walking + no gas = $0
· me in the suburbs = 15 minutes one way = 125 hours/year driving + 188 gallons of gas = $563

3 business or personal trips downtown per week (meetings, meeting up with friends, administrative errands):
· me in the city = 5 minutes walking + 10 minutes transit one way = 25 hours/year walking + 50 hours/year transit + no gas + 300 tokens = $435
· me in the suburbs = 30 minutes one way = 150 hours/year driving + 225 gallons of gas + 150 parking fees @ $3 each = $1125

3 personal errands in the neighborhood per week (dry cleaner, produce truck, park):
· me in the city = 5 minutes one way = 25 hours/year walking + no gas = $0
· me in the suburbs = 5 minutes one way = 25 hours/year driving + 38 gallons of gas = $113

1 personal family outing per week (zoo, aquarium):
· me in the city = 10 minutes one way = 17 hours/year driving + 33 gallons of gas = $100
· me in the suburbs = 20 minutes one way = 33 hours/year driving + 50 gallons of gas = $150

1 trip to the grocery store per week:
· me in the city = 5 minutes one way = 8 hours/year driving + 17 gallons of gas = $50
· me in the suburbs = 10 minutes one way = 17 hours/year driving + 25 gallons of gas = $75

1 or 2 long car trips per month (in-laws, recreation):
· me in the city = 1/month @ 45 minutes one way = 18 hours/year driving + 27 gallons of gas = $81
· me in the suburbs = 2/month @ 45 minutes one way = 36 hours/year driving + 54 gallons of gas = $162

Annual total – city:
· $666 spent on gas and tokens
· 77 gallons of gas consumed
· 43 hours spent driving
· 50 hours spent on transit
· 260 hours spent walking

Annual total – suburbs:
· $3312 spent on gas and parking
· 954 gallons of gas consumed
· 636 hours spent driving

So if you’re keeping score at home, here are the benefits over a year:
· $2600+ more in my pocket
· 877 less gallons of gas consumed
· 593 less hours of my car polluting the environment
· 593 less hours of my car adding to traffic
· 593 less hours of my car wearing down roads/bridges
· 593 less hours of me cramped in my car
· 593 less hours of wear and tear on my car
· 260 hours of outdoor exercise
· 50 free hours on transit to read
· 283 more hours to myself

That’s not a bad package. And while supply and demand and other cyclical forces may bring gas prices down in the short run, there’s much more will than ever before to impose appropriate energy taxes. So you have to think that the value proposition for high-density living will only increase. So tell me again why living in the city is seen as either unattractive or sacrificial?
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