Commuting woes drive people closer to work

Commuting woes drive people closer to work

The increase in traffic congestion, rise in petrol costs and slow upgrade of transport systems are driving people to buy property closer to their places of work.

"There is a global trend of people buying near their workplaces, and South Africa is no exception", says Saul Geffen, Chief Executive of MortgageSA, South Africa's leading bond originator that places one in five South Africans in their homes.

According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation 714 340 new vehicles were sold in 2006 with an increase of 7.9% expected for 2007. The result is over 1,700 new cars a day on South African roads with the majority of these driven within the cities.

The government is unable to match the steady increase in traffic volume with the necessary upgrades in the road system and suitable public transport. These factors, coupled with an 18% increase in petrol since the beginning of the year resulting in the highest price of petrol ever recorded, affect thousands of South Africans commuting to work everyday.

"Commuting can be stressful, expensive and time consuming," says Geffen.

Commuting is also bad for your health. Research done by the University of California at Irvine's Institute of Transportation Studies found that hours spent behind the wheel raise blood pressure, cause workers to get sick and stay home more often and intensifies muscle pains and headaches.

"Increasingly people are choosing to plough the extra money saved on the high cost of travel into a purchase of a house nearer to their place of work, rather than face being stuck in traffic for hours" says Geffen. "It is becoming a lifestyle choice to live closer to your place of work".

With the rapid growth in economy, South African cities are beginning to parallel major international cities such as London, New York and Sydney in terms of traffic congestion and transport issues.

"South Africa is beginning to follow global trends in terms of transport problems and this directly affects property choices" says Geffen.

This trend has had a major influence on property prices as the value of properties within office centres based in areas such as Sandton and Rosebank, in Johannesburg and City Bowl in Cape Town have increased sharply.

But, while many people would like to move closer to their offices, affordability is a problem. Workers sometimes feel that commuting is a cheaper option than buying a property in an area near to their office centres. This needn't be a deciding factor as Geffen explains.

"People looking to buy closer to work shouldn't feel pressurised to buy within that specific area, especially if it stretches their finances to the limit" says Geffen. "Rather, they should spend more time researching the surrounding areas. More than likely they will find an area that drastically reduces the amount of travelling time and is quickly linked to their office via back roads that is better suited to their price range."

According to South African National Roads Agency there are currently 180 000 cars travelling on the N1 between Pretoria and Johannesburg. With the construction of the Gautrain along this route South Africans may find further similarities to other international cities as properties in close proximity to the stations face growing demand.

"Government is addressing the public transport situation, albeit slowly. Whilst the first phase of the Gautrain is only due to be completed in 3 years time, with no apparent relief in traffic congestion, the future benefits of living near a reliable public transport could be well worth the investment" Geffen suggests.

Nearer to the completion of the Gautrain an increase in property prices in the areas surrounding the station is expected.

Hello ooba news

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