The hidden cost of parking

Source: Reinventing Parking
Source: Reinventing Parking

Have you ever budgeted for the privilege of a car parking space in your apartment block?  Probably not, because this cost is usually well hidden into the price of housing, land, construction, and maintenance.  Over time this can certainly add up to a large proportion of your rental cheque or purchase price.

According to Reinventing Parking in the US, in an average American city it costs US $225 per month to cover the expense of a parking space.   It would be very interesting to see the equivalent figures for Australia.

If developers start to “unbundle” parking from housing, it gives people the choice to make their own transportation choices, and perhaps look at more sustainable options and lifestyle choices.  If residents choose to live in a central location, with easy access to public transport and infrastructure, why should they be penalised by paying higher rent? Of course, this idea relies on residents forgoing car ownership and choosing other more economical transportation methods.

During 2014, the then NSW Planning Minister, Pru Goward, proposed sweeping changes to new parking measures across 22 council areas.  According to the SMH, these changes would allow apartments near train stations or light rail stops to be built without parking.

A car space can add up to $50,000 to the cost of a new apartment, so providing more flexibility around car parking requirements could lead to savings of up to the same amount for homebuyers,” Ms Goward said.

Whilst these measures sound innovative and provide a path for sustainable urban growth, can Sydney cope without parking?  The answer will depend on Sydney’s public transport system being able to meet people’s transport needs.  Furthermore, can we rely on developers to pass on these cost saving mechanisms?

In the SMH article, CBRE’S David Milton, reported that “the Australian psyche is still very much people having cars and using them regularly”.    Whilst we still have this culture, and unreliability of public transport, we will still be paying up to $50,000 for the privilege to park in an apartment block.

However, if Australia follows the trend in the US, a new group of Gen Ys will be emerging.  This group of innovative citizens labelled “Millennials” are savvy users of technology, choosing to live in urban neighbourhoods with public transport as their number one priority.  This group may just pave the way for new apartment owners to take advantage of “unbundling” and potentially save themselves $50,000.  See our recent post for more information on Millennials.

Thanks to our Melbourne Senior Traffic Engineer, Eng Hwa Lim for contributing to this post.

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