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Program 8 Sep 2015

Should you buy a second car and live in the suburbs or buy a property in town? Here’s a sitrep.

Did you know that the annual fixed costs associated with the use of a car are on average $5,409? To be added to these are expenses for gas, maintenance and parking. This is according to an article in La Presse + of August 9. Moreover, La Presse also revealed, in another article which was quoting a study of the Groupe de recherche interdisciplinaire en développement durable de HEC, that by foregoing the purchase of a second vehicle, you could afford to buy a more expensive home – up to $210,000 more! Living in the city is one of the best ways to end our dependence on the automobile and this SITREP on this lifestyle choice is timely.

The picture couldn’t be clearer. Ecologically and economically, but also from a public health and personal life standpoint, non-dependence on the automobile offered by a life rooted in urban centers scores points. Indeed, in the city, regardless of the season, everything is done on foot while in the suburbs, be it winter or summer, the car is part of most activities. Thus, and not counting their various sports practices, urban dwellers are, because of their lifestyle, more active and they generate far less greenhouse gases. Financially speaking, the costs of an automobile are clearly underestimated. When comparing it to the purchase of a home, you should take into consideration that buying a car is a net loss because this asset depreciates from year to year. Finally, if you consider the value of the time spent in commuting in traffic congestion, compared to that of time spent with family and friends, the balance sheet clearly favours city living unless you are willing to sleep less in order to equal the score.

Indeed, in the debate “town vs suburb”, time is on the side of urban dwelling. Between a larger yard to mow in the summer, removing snow from the driveway in the winter and maintaining the pool or the spa, living in a house in the suburbs requires, on top of substantial expenses, a lot of one’s personal time!

But that’s not all. While having children is often a trigger for the exile of young families to the suburbs, the return to the city of the same children for their post-secondary education should be part of the calculation. Prior to considering the purchase of a third car for their multiple traveling needs or becoming a “built-in taxi driver”, why not seriously consider investing in the city?

Buying property in Montréal is a winning investment in many ways!