It is likely, as a commuter, that at one time or another that you have shared my disdain for the entire process of getting to and from a location. Often times is is related to work, but we have to consider the daily mobility challenges that extend into our personal lives. Traffic and waiting to get into more traffic soe we can drive around looking for a parking spot is getting to be more of an issue not less. I feel that I am overstating the obvious, but for some reason it seems to be required since the problem contnues to worsen. Are people not listening? Are they just putting their minds and bodies in bot-mode to get to where they need to from where they are going? Is anyone looking forward to the holiday rush, which will undoubtedly include the ever present hurry-up-and-wait?
Well it seems that some people have looked at the life-value concept and are making changes. In fact, there seems to be a move where people may be exchanging the confines of their vehicles and GO busses for smaller living spaces in an attempt to regain their freedom from the commuting madness. http://news.buzzbuzzhome.com/2013/11/commutes-real-estate-growth-in-urban-canada.html.
Does this mean that everyone is going to buy or rent a futuristic living-tube for the weekdays and zoom out of town for the country at the Friday bell? Not likely, but it does mean that mixed-use real estate is becoming increasingly popular. It is no longer just for students to get cost effective housing or for tech-giants to gain more productivity out of their work force. People, not just young people, are looking for better quality of life especially away from the road warriors.
This desire puts pressure on urban planners to include amenities, services, transportation, etc that are close to where people are and are convenient as people leave their wheels behind. This also creates opportunities for investors to be part of real estate developments that provide small footprint living with complete services that address the ongoing push for green and a zreo-carbon outcome. This becomes tougher in an urban environment that has limited options for infill above and around existing businesses, but some communities within a short distance of TO, for example, are seeing the opportunities.
Yes the commute is still there, but with mass transit improving perhaps the pressure on urban infilling and over-population with respect to services can be alleviated by a migration to a semi-sub-urban location. For those of us used to 1-2 hours of calming in-car music or beach waves each way, a 30 minute train ride from Oakville, for example, to downtown seems pretty civilized. Here is an example of being close enough yet far enough away and still having access to some trendy and innovative living situations. Interestingly, a project called Wave Towns have started a movement that will undoubtedly continue. They claim a zero-carbon footprint and back it up in their literature. For the record, I have no involvement with the development, but instead make note of it simply for its approach that foresaw the changing demands. Sure, they are not for most of the Gen Y'ers due to the price point, but for those people looking to downsize -or right size - and who may not want to get into the hustle of the city core or into apartnement style living, there are options that take mother nature into consideration as well.
The real estate market is changing with planners and builders leading the charge at the direction of people tired of navigating our overwhelmed roads. The GTA is going to see a continued boom and the economic winners will be the communities that can get people closer to work, closer to home, in less time by focussing on the infrastructure. The next decade will present new living arrangements and options for those focussed more on living than driving.