The Benefits of Cities Building Up and Not Out

RelayRides blogger Grayson Bell talks about the lower housing costs and better transportation associated with urban centers building up rather than out.

In an article by Alissa Walker from Gizmodo, she argues that when cities grow up and not out, we can all reap the benefits of density. The more population that lives in one area, the lower the overall costs.  Alissa explains that when a tall building is built, it actually saves a city money when managing it. Not only does it save money when being managed, it also costs less per square foot. The reason is because more people can live in one building, which allows the costs to be dispersed between more people.

Urban Density Lowers Housing Costs

For many people, the costs of living are increasing and causing many to be priced out of the housing market. The simple reason for this is that there are less housing options and more people needing housing. The only way to decrease the costs of housing is to increase the supply. It is becoming increasingly difficult to do that in most cities.  They have to grow out and land is quickly becoming an expensive commodity. Alissa explains that this can all be solved by having cities build taller buildings and grow upward, not outward.

Urbanization is Good

Not only does growing a city up decrease housing costs, it also promotes urbanization.  One of the key points to bringing people closer together is that you can increase the efficiency of services offered.  Cities can provide more efficient public services, like electricity, water, gas, transportation, and emergency responders. Commute times to work decrease, as office complexes tend to not be far away from housing.

Urban Density Leads to Better Public Transportation

As you increase the efficiency of public transportation, you also decrease the need for people to own cars.  If they do need a car, they can promote the use of smart cars.  When you travel the city in a smaller vehicle, you can make your commute easier, parking faster, and save on fuel costs.  Hybrid or electric vehicles could be a standard option in cities that house people closer together.

When the places that you frequent are close by, then you tend to walk or use public transportation more. This would mean that you really wouldn’t need a vehicle to travel as much or at all.  With the increased sharing, when you needed a vehicle to travel, then you could use a service like RelayRides.  If you needed to own a car, then you could forgo the large vehicle and purchase a more efficient car as noted above.  This would get you around and save you money in ongoing maintenance costs.  If you needed access to a larger vehicle for a long road trip or a ski vacation, you could find one to meet your needs on the sharing marketplace.

Community 2.0

Another advantage of density is that people tend to be more of a community.  People promote sharing and helping one another.  There is a greater sense of community when more people are close together.  This increased sharing is only a benefit to those willing to participate. As with RelayRides, when more people are willing to rent out their vehicles, the more people can rent a vehicle they need. As stated previously, when you increase the supply, then you decrease the costs.

People want lower cost services, more affordable housing, and amenities close by. The only efficient way to achieve this is to build cities up. The problem is that most people can’t get over the bad stigma that tall buildings possess. Alissa Walker made some compelling points in her article and the economics make sense. There are many cities out there that are taking on this model and seeing that is truly does provide a more economical way of living.