James Limnios | 8 November 2012

Perth inner-city living needs an upgrade

As the population continues to grow, and the sprawl of suburbia grows along with it, the City of Perth and the people who live there are starting to feel the strain. How often do we find ourselves in bumper-to-bumper traffic, just trying to get home from work? That is, really, where the problem lies. We do not live where we work; we commute long distances many times without a reliable public transportation system. The prices of inner-city and inner-suburban housing is rising to the point where many Perth families are moving to the outer suburbs as a solution, causing traffic problems, stress and time wastage.

Why is urban sprawl a problem?

Many people cannot immediately see why living far from where they work is a problem. But just think about it, as fuel costs rise, it will cost more for the average individual to get from point A to point B. In addition to this, roads, amenities and other services must be provided to these lower populated suburban areas. To provide for this sprawl, the State and cities are spending countless millions of dollars each year to increase the amount of services in suburbs that in today’s traffic, can be hours away, and people have no choice but to move to the outer suburbs because of the rising cost of living. With such a small amount of property available in the city, the rents in Perth have gone out of control, as the demand for accommodation nearer popular amenities rises.

What do we do?

Before the mining and population boom, people were more likely to live closer to where they worked and the services they used. This meant if you worked in the city, you lived in the city, and it made perfect sense. Local councils in Perth are still blocking the development of multi-story accommodation, which is adding to the sprawl problem as they don’t all have the same rules when it comes to zoning. Doing away with the 30 councils in favour of a few larger ones with a uniform approach to urban infill would be more in line with the state government’s 2031 and Beyond plan.

Building apartments in and near Perth city provides quality housing for that larger number of people that are moving here every day. With populations rising, we cannot continue to sprawl to the point where one community blends into another, making the main roads into Perth part of the traffic chaos instead of using the land positively. Gentrification, or the revitalization of cities, provides a means for people to live and work comfortably. Workers spend less money on fuel and transportation and the city becomes a destination for WA people to live and work.

The new proposed MAX light rail system will go a long way to ensuring that parts of the city are rejuvenated, and that nearby suburbs are once again favoured for investment and to live in. The demand for housing near public transportation has always been a great investment opportunity for savvy buyers, and those wanting to invest in the future of their city, as more transport generally equals less traffic, more retail and business opportunities as well as accessible accommodation, thus reducing the cost of living.

James Limnios is the CEO of Limnios Property Group, is a City of Perth councillor, and is very passionate about real estate and political issues in Perth, WA. You can connect with James on Twitter, Google Plus and on his blog.

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