Walking is great. I am grateful to live in a small town where walking is part of the prevalent culture. Below are 5 benefits of walking over driving.
Better for your health
Cities that are walking-friendly such as Boston and Seattle tend to be fitter than cities that are not, such as my home town of McAllen, TX and Huntington/Ashland, WV/KY. According to medical evidence, the benefits of walking and increased physical activity are clear. I have personally experienced the health benefits of walking in our lives in Monteverde. Without trying, Chris has lost over 10 pounds and about 2 inches within the first 3 months of moving here. Right now, I weigh about the same as I did when I was doing my Insanity-Running hybrid, a program where I was exercising approximately 8 hours per week. I run a lot less since moving abroad, yet I have maintained a healthy weight. While I am sure a key factor is our healthier diet, the amount of walking we do on a day to day basis is also an important contributor. Not only do I walk to the grocery store, farmer’s market, and other errands, I walk back up the hill to my house with a backpack full of produce and groceries. I feel liberated not having to exercise a whole lot of hours to maintain a healthy weight, because walking in my day to day life contributes to my over all health. I came here from San Antonio, which is considered one of the unhealthiest cities in America. A quick, raw observational survey of the average body size in Monteverde shows that people here are much fitter than in San Antonio.
Better for the environment
The benefits of not driving a car for the environment are obvious. You have less emissions, less production-related pollution, and less formation of junk. While it would be unfair to compare San Antonio to Monteverde with regards to pollution index, the pollution index for San Jose, CR is lower. Monteverde has one gas station for the entire town, as opposed to cities in the US that seem to have a gas station at every corner. I love generating a much smaller carbon footprint now that we don’t own cars.
Better for your wallet
I don’t have to pay for a car note, insurance, maintenance, repairs, and gas. Gas is expensive in Costa Rica, as it costs about the same as in the USA. This is a huge deal in a developing country where the average monthly salary is less than $700 USD. I spend about $12-15 USD per week on taxi cabs and public transportation. This means I can take a lot of taxi rides before making the equivalent of a car payment.
Better for your social life
Every time I walk into town or up the mountain into Monteverde, I am guaranteed to run into a familiar face. Sometimes, we will just nod at each other and say hello. Other times we will stop to chat for 20 minutes. I know who the security guards are that stand outside the different banks. I know the different shop and restaurant folks along the main road. I find out local news as I read the little flyers that are often put up in the shops or bulletin boards on the street. If I drove a car into town, I would not be able to experience this. I love being a walking commuter. I feel better integrated into the community and local life.
Better for inner peace
There is no more Traffic Mama! The kids are so happy they don’t have to encounter that evil monster anymore. I am much happier with myself now that I do not become a person I could hardly recognize behind the wheel. I also find it soothing and relaxing to walk through town and up to Monteverde. The scenery is wonderful and reminds me of why I am so glad I moved here.
Walking clearly has a number of benefits over driving. If you are embarking on a move abroad, consider not taking or purchasing a car in your new home, even for the first year or so. Walk everywhere! That is action worth doing.