A Sea of Infrastructure

An ex-pat American returns home to Milwaukee, and is overwhelmed by the extensive auto-oriented infrastructure needed to support the U.S. lifestyle, very different from his life in Almeria, Spain.
November 9, 2009, 12pm PST | Tim Halbur
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Richard Birch's friends are surprised to learn that he and his wife don't own a car in Spain.

Birch writes, "Everything we bought for our apartment in Almería we bought on foot. Plumbers, furniture stores, computer equipment and appliances are only a few minutes away. When we bought our washing machine, the owner's brother was waiting for us at our door, our washer on a handcart, even though we lingered for only moments on the walk home.

What's the cost for living our American way? It's not just the thousands of dollars for the second car, insurance and gas. We also have to support a lake of concrete around us - and gas, electric and sewer lines to stretch out past the near-vacant belts beyond the older suburbs. Property taxes in Almería on our condo are one-twelfth our taxes in Milwaukee, even though the value of the two homes is roughly the same.

One-twelfth. Oh, and they throw in free health insurance."

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Published on Monday, November 9, 2009 in Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
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