There’s no doubt that living close to a capital city CBD has its advantages. There’s plenty of amenity in the way of shops, restaurants, cafés and, of course, public transport.
BY VANESSA DE GROOT
But I’m still quite, well, somewhat, baffled as to why people want to live so close to the city.
Really, what is it that most people need the city for? Unless you live right in the city and, rather than relying on a car, you merely step out of your apartment and use public transport and other services, then I would hazard a guess that most people rarely go into the city – they don’t need to, because everything they need is elsewhere.
If you work in the city, I can see that it’s convenient to live close by, so you can easily get transport in rather than having to pay exorbitant prices for parking, but what’s the difference between living five kilometres or 10 kilometres from the city? All it does really is add maybe another 10 minutes to your trip, which I don’t think is much at all.
A couple I know were recently looking for a house to buy, to live in. They were adamant they wanted to live in the inner city, the main reason being for convenience. They work in the city, so living close meant it was easy to get to and from work, which is understandable, but being a couple in their early 30s, they don’t really do anything else in the city.
Rarely do they dine at restaurants or have drinks in the CBD. In fact now most of the time they’re home because they can’t afford to do any of those things, because they bought a house where they wanted, close to the city.
If they were prepared to go just a little bit further out from the city they would have been able to buy a much bigger house and have a far less stressful mortgage – they’d have much more breathing space.
This got me thinking about why people really want to live close to the city. In many ways I think it’s a status thing. There’s some prestige to saying you live in a particular suburb, even if you’re eating baked beans to be able to afford it!
I had a conversation with someone recently who was telling me that their daughter was looking to buy a home, but could only afford to buy in the far outer suburbs of Melbourne and she didn’t like that – she wanted to buy something in an area closer to the city with a nice ring to it, one that comes with a nice little reputation. This confirmed for me that really, much of the desire to live in these inner-city suburbs is the status that comes with it.
Personally I’d rather live somewhere I can comfortably afford, with more space around me, and have the trip to work take that little bit longer.
And while inner city suburbs will no doubt see more growth in property prices, because this is clearly where people want to be, in some ways I think those suburbs just a little bit further out have better potential for property price growth. They’re the ones people will be looking to buy in because they can’t afford to buy closer in, hence prices will be driven up.
What do you think? Do you think that people buy in the inner city primarily for convenience or status, or both? And do you think it will be the inner city locations that see the most growth in property prices, or those a bit further out, that are yet to become the ‘in’ thing?
Vanessa De Groot is the deputy editor of Australian Property Investor magazine, www.apimagazine.com.au