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Do You Really Need A Car In Miami?

By: Marc Badrian // Contributing InSight Writer

Issue date: 7/8/08 Section: Insight
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Ever wonder what life is like outside of the perennial campus "bubble?" Well, if you've got a car with four wheels that runs, your collegiate social life has just expanded into a whole new territory. Driving around the Sunshine State is always a good time, but having a car as a college student is without a doubt a luxury, even at one of the most luxurious schools.

The freedom of mobility is a force unparalleled in today's society. Decide to go to the beach or out to dinner or to Publix on a whim? You got it. You have the power to go where you want, when you want, and you don't have to depend on anyone else to get there. No matter how late, you can easily get to that awesome house party or midnight showing of a movie. If you're lucky, your passengers might even buy your gas (or some late-night Taco Bell).

However, the power to drive comes with great responsibility. Your friends and their friends make you their go-to guy when it comes to hitching a ride. Possibly being your group's only means of conveyance, you could easily see yourself landing the unwanted career of designated driver for life. That might sound alright, but the second someone gets sick in your car, the fun is definitely over. Also, a GPS system is a good investment when you're driving around a city designed by M.C. Escher, otherwise you'll be following MapQuest directions like "left on 54th street, right on 54th avenue, left on 54th terrace…" It's safe to say that US-1 is the most annoying street ever. As a professor once told me freshman year, "The rules of the road are backwards here in Miami. Green means stop, yellow means speed up, and red means go." Driving aside, parking on campus is ridiculous, like trying to park at the mall on Christmas Eve every day.

Also, even if you own your car, keeping it up gets expensive. Gas prices really do put a dent in that "only for emergencies" credit card, no matter how cliché it sounds. Cars often break down, especially when you really can't afford them to. Do you know what an electrical alternator is? The answer is about $300 and four trips to the nearest Auto Zone. Above all, don't even think about having a car on campus until you've accepted paying about $400 for a parking permit. Along with that, you're bound to get a few parking tickets that cost $25-$50 a pop.

Car or no car, remember that you go to college in Miami! Explore the city! Having a car in Miami, while not exactly a necessity, is a privilege that I would not easily give up. But if you happen to be one of the unfortunate souls without wheels, don't fret about it too much. Just be sure to make friends with someone who does. Otherwise, your dorm room walls will start closing in on you sooner than you think.
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