Global Insight: Commuter Cities - how do housing costs and travel times compare?

(Article by Kate Everett-Allen)
Knight Frank’s latest analysis compares average commuting times, housing costs and transport methods across eight major cities.

The findings show that although Los Angeles and Jakarta compare favourably to Hong Kong when it comes to property costs, commuting times can be cumbersome. Rome and Shanghai are all-round performers offering both comparatively low housing costs and short commutes.
The decision whether to buy a property in the city centre with a minimal commute or a more affordable property on the outskirts, where travel costs tend to be higher, is one that millions of commuters toy with every year and one we thought merited further investigation.
Our analysis measures the time taken to travel to each city’s Central Business District (CBD) from the city’s respective prime residential area (e.g. in London’s case from Marylebone to The City) and the most common method of transport adopted by commuters.
Comparing the world’s top three financial centres, New York (£1,723/sq ft, Midtown Plaza District) marginally edges London (£1,800/sq ft, Marylebone) on housing costs and commuters also enjoy a significantly shorter journey to Manhattan’s CBD (10 minutes) than they do to The City of London (25 minutes). However, with the introduction of Crossrail in London in 2018 we expect New York’s competitive advantage to narrow.
In Hong Kong, Mid-Levels Central is home to the highest housings costs of all the prime markets analysed (£2,716/sq ft) and a typical commute to the CBD takes 15 minutes with where walking combined with a bus journey is the most common mode of transport.
In Rome it would take you roughly five minutes, the shortest travel time of all eight cities, to travel from the prime district of Rione Colonna to the city’s CBD. The cost of housing is also significantly less at £807/sq ft. Shanghai also compares favourably, here the journey from the upmarket area of Xintiandi (£943/sq ft) to The People’s Square, would take only 10 minutes by metro.
Lastly, the three cities which offer the lowest housing costs in our survey are Jakarta (£493/sq ft, Menteng), Los Angeles (£669/sq ft, Beverly Hills) and Mumbai (£750/sq ft, Napean Sea Road) – coincidently these are also the only cities in which driving is seen to be the most common travel method to work.
Taking the analysis one step further we have also compared several key commuter locations for each city, assuming the CBD is the place of work in each case.

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