Liv­ing lo­cally can de­liver great value


The drive from Ti­ti­rangi (an out­ly­ing Auck­land sub­urb in a rain­for­est), to work was about 25 min­utes.

But as the years passed, my com­mute time got longer as the roads got fuller.

Chil­dren ar­rived, and with them a diver­sion to day­care.

Sud­denly the com­mute was tak­ing the bet­ter part of an hour each way.

Rush, rush. Fill the tank. Pay the rego. Groan when its WOF time again.

Com­mut­ing is a grow­ing plague.

We are build­ing ever more prop­er­ties on Auck­land’s fringes. Peo­ple are com­mut­ing in from Po­keno, Pukekohe, Mill­wa­ter, Hamil­ton.

Peo­ple have ‘‘driven till they qual­ify’’.

This is an Amer­i­can term cap­tur­ing the idea peo­ple will com­mute from wher­ever houses fi­nally be­come af­ford­able.

Own­ing a home is so crit­i­cal to our iden­tity, we are will­ing to make big sac­ri­fices for it.

Hu­mans mostly want free­dom from land­lords and the chance to put down roots. Gal­lop­ing house prices mean we also now fear be­ing left be­hind as renters for life.

But the per­son who lives near work has a fi­nan­cial ad­van­tage.

On the bus, I re­cently read a study on the Auck­land Trans­port web­site claim­ing the av­er­age Kiwi com­muter spends $11,852 run­ning a car each year.

If they sold it and used pub­lic


Work­ing close to home can pay div­i­dends Cars sap your wealth Com­mut­ing saps your soul trans­port, they’d save $9065.78 a year (not in­clud­ing the cost of in­surance).

Just leav­ing the car at home would save Auck­lan­ders about $1200.

Like all such stud­ies, there were as­sump­tions (dis­tance trav­elled, petrol prices, park­ing prices, etc), and is­sues ig­nored (surly bus driv­ers, in­con­sid­er­ate fel­low trav­ellers, longer and less pre­dictable jour­ney times, etc).

But all other things be­ing equal, com­muters have to earn more, and spend more time on the move, than peo­ple who live near work.

Mad house prices mean com­mut­ing is a Hob­son’s choice for many who want to own a tra­di­tional fam­ily home.

And at times, a ca­reer op­por­tu­nity (like mine in London) is worth mak­ing a com­mut­ing sac­ri­fice for.

But for the per­son who has set their life up lo­cally, day-to-day costs can be lower, es­pe­cially if they can bike to work.

Imag­ine ditch­ing that car and in­vest­ing the bet­ter part of $12,000 a year.


Pedal power may mod­estly lift the food bill, but it’s a cheap al­ter­na­tive to the 20.6-33.2 cents a kilo­me­tre cost of run­ning a car.


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