Drive less, live more

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

A renewed focus on lifestyle is seeing a mind shift around suburban living and the associated excessive time being spent on gridlocked freeways.

In some cases, better quality of life further afield also coincides with good value for money when buying property in less densely-populated areas. This combined with flexible working hours to avoid rush-hour, or the ability to work remotely, is in addition to considerable savings on fuel costs and vehicle maintenance.

However, varying lifestyle choices require different commuting solutions.

In some cases, cutting down on commuting might mean a decision to move to smaller and quieter yet still central locations. Coastal or country areas have become popular choices for families in which only the breadwinners do daily long-distance commuting. This, they say, allows their families to live within close proximity of local amenities and schools, and necessitates minimal travelling.

In other cases, city precincts offer an ideal solution for buyers who opt for convenience by reducing their daily commute. As a result of lessened travelling distances between places of employment and educational facilities, demand for smaller apartments and townhouses in convenient city surroundings is growing, and these usually offer good long-term capital growth.

Trendy inner city living is fast catching on among young professionals and single people in search of a cost-effective and practical lifestyle. Inner city renewal and rejuvenation projects have become major attractions for city dwellers, whose commuting needs are facilitated by easy access to all modes of public transport.

Improved inner-city Rapid Transport Services, such as the My Citi bus services, offer commuter services for travellers who live up to an hour away from employment nodes. This also helps to reduce congested motorways as seen on routes between, for example, Western Cape’s Cape Town and Hout Bay, as well as Bloubergstrand, with the Khayelitsha route soon coming on board.

Additional cost savings are being introduced on public commuting services, through initiatives such as The City of Johannesburg’s recent reduction of fares for Rea Vaya commuters.

Good investments in outlying areas, as seen along the northern KZN and Garden Route coastlines, is seeing more breadwinners doing daily or weekly commuting. Leading business people say that while a coastal lifestyle requires commuting, it also allows their families the benefit of safer and shorter local travelling distances on a daily basis.

However, growing demand for short commuting distances by way of small town living close to good educational institutions and schools can also cause over densification in some areas. An example is seen in the university town of Stellenbosch, where brilliant investment values go hand in hand with a rapidly rising population growth that has resulted in heavily congested traffic, over-burdened infrastructure systems, and scarce water resources.

Popular areas further afield, such as the Cape west coast stretching from Milnerton and Bloubergstrand, to Parklands up to Melkbosstrand toward Langebaan, offer some buyers good schools and employment close-by. Some residents at the Atlantic Beach Golf Estate say that they have chosen long haul commuting to their workplaces in other cities or global destinations, while suburban owners rely on the My City bus rapid transport system to the city.

However, a preference for living in small country towns and villages offers buyers and tenants the opportunity to improve the overall wellbeing of their families. While agents in these areas are known to encourage potential buyers and tenants in trendy yet small country towns, they also advise a realistic view of this lifestyle. They say that reduced daily commuting to local amenities is a good reason for relocations to quaint towns like Greyton in Western Cape, or Clarens in Free State – provided of course that the drive to work doesn’t become excessive .

When considering the increasing cost of fuel, combined with convenience, time savings and improved quality of life, there is little doubt that a lifestyle which facilitates reduced commuting times will become even more popular.

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