MANILA, Philippines?Living near commuter train stations has become a big attraction for people who consider taking the fastest and cheapest mode of mass transportation in Metro Manila a necessity amid the traffic congestion and high cost of fuel.
Maria Luz Blanco Yan, an assistant vice president for corporate human resources of a company in Ortigas Center in Pasig City, is one of those who have decided to buy a condominium unit near an Metro Rail Transit station on EDSA (Epifanio delos Santos Avenue).
She bought a 33-square-meter condominium unit in Pioneer Woodlands just across from the Boni station in Mandaluyong City at a pre-selling price.
But Yan will have to wait until 2012 to enjoy the five-minute MRT trip from her condo to her place of work. She says she is willing to wait that long instead of buying an already built condo unit nearby.
Prices of oil will certainly still be volatile by that time, she says. Other condominiums near the area still require quite a walk to the MRT station, which, she says, ?would not be too convenient if you?re in a suit and (on) high heels.?
Yan says she knows of other officemates thinking of either purchasing condo units in the nearby Pioneer area or considering changing their big vehicles to smaller ones.
?We rejoice when a rollback in prices is announced, only to be more frustrated when this is immediately followed by a price hike. Living near your main place of activity makes so much sense,? she says.
Alejandro S. Mañalac, National Real Estate Association president, says he is seeing more residential projects crowding at spots near mass transit lines or mass transport parking places.
?Whether we like it or not, this will be a trend. With the increasing fuel cost, worsening traffic, scarcity of parking areas, or expensive parking fees, this will be a practical option for buyers,? he says.
Ramon Jose E. Aguirre, manager for research of Colliers International, says there is expectation that more transit-oriented developments will come because more upwardly mobile Filipinos consider the convenience of a fast commute from one?s residence.
?It is really a good time to put up such developments because people are more aware of the growing costs of transportation (and fuel) and the hassles of heavy traffic,? Aguirre says.
He says people are buying condominiums near their workplaces, their schools, or near everything they need.
Yan estimates that during heavy traffic, it may take 30 minutes by car to travel the 5 kilometers from the condo unit to her office. If that sounds a bit slow, compare that with her travel time from work to her current residence in Quezon City (15 km away)?more than an hour of ?stressful driving on EDSA.?
More savings, less stress
Even if she drives a relatively fuel-efficient car (with a 1.3-liter engine consuming a liter for every 11 km traveled in the city), she would still spend more than P1,000 a week just for gasoline.
If she drives from the condo to work and back, she estimates she would only consume less than a liter every day (or about P250 per week if unleaded gasoline costs P50 per liter).
Yan also owns a Toyota Innova utility vehicle, which she says she uses only when traveling longer distances with her family. She has three children?all boys. One is in college, another is in high school, and the youngest in grade school.
Gretchen Singzon, a vice president of a new savings bank, also bought a Pioneer Woodlands unit across from the Boni MRT Station, 5 km from her work in Greenhills, San Juan City.
Just like Yan, Singzon would have to wait four years before she could move in from her residence in Kapitolyo, Pasig City (7 km from Greenhills).
Singzon thinks her purchase, though just an improvement of a few kilometers from her current residence, has been the most practical thing to do. She says that her company?s monthly gas allowance of P3,500 could hardly sustain her compact SUV?s fuel expenses.
Businessman Mario Tan has made a bigger ?leap.?
A resident of Sta. Rosa City in Laguna province who drives to and from work in Mandaluyong every day, Tan has bought two condominium units on presale at San Lorenzo Place on Pasong Tamo and EDSA, just beside the Magallanes MRT station. The two units, which would be turned over in four years, cover a total area of 60 square meters.
Aside from cutting his travel and vehicle maintenance costs, the units would become an ideal residence for his children, who would be going to college in Manila in a few years? time. The students will have easy access to the MRT, saving Tan the trouble and cost of driving them to and from school.
Because parking is expensive in condominiums, Yan says she intends to just rent a space. Then she plans to use her Honda Civic sparingly, since she will ride the MRT most of the time.
She says the advantages of owning and maintaining a condominium far outweighs the disadvantages, ?since you can never put a value on ease and peace of mind.?
?Also, owning a condominium is an investment since the value of your property appreciates over time, most especially if it?s owned by a reputable developer and maintained accordingly,? she says.