When choosing where to live, the age-old debate on city center/downtown versus suburbs is no longer relevant. For homebuyers, there is only one important thing to consider when choosing where to buy a property, and it is where it will be most convenient for you to live, because living in central business districts (CBDs) and residential suburbs definitely has pros and cons.
The capital’s premier CBDs are Makati, Bonifacio Global City, and Ortigas. There are also several smaller ones, such as Eastwood City and Filinvest Alabang, in addition to up-and-coming ones such as Arca South in Taguig and Vertis North in the North Triangle area. If you’re considering any of these to be your next postal address, take into mind the advantages and disadvantages of living in one, and ask yourself how these will positively contribute to your current lifestyle.
Job opportunities. One of the best things about living in CBDs is that you can be near your workplace, in addition to so many other job opportunities. Travel time to and from work is short, and if you’ve snagged a gem for a home, you may only be a 10-minute walk away from your workplace.
Central business districts are master-planned communities…and they boast better infrastructure, such as transport links and flood-control system.
Close proximity to malls, schools, restaurants, and hotels. Living near major establishments requires less travel time and, sometimes, only a short walk from the conveniences of city living. This is ideal, as roads leading to CBDs experience the worst traffic especially during rush hour.
Capital growth. Every square inch of land downtown is premium; hence, expect them to grow in value faster than suburban properties would. It’s all because of the law of supply and demand: scarce resources, such as land downtown, become so highly sought after that they command a higher price tag.
Better infrastructure. Most Metro Manila CBDs are master-planned communities; hence, they boast better infrastructure, such as transport links and flood-control system. Bonifacio Global City, for example, is spared of flooding during the annual monsoon season because it has a gigantic cistern underneath Burgos Circle where floodwater is stored during heavy rains.
High price. As mentioned above, properties in CBDs command higher prices because they are highly sought after. Real estate’s old adage, “location, location, location” applies here.
Noise. Living downtown also means you have to put up with the city’s hustle and bustle—and the noise that comes with it. This is especially true as Metro Manila’s CBDs are fast becoming 24-hour hotspots.
Limited space. More people means you have to compete with many others for that small available space. Also, since real estate downtown comes at a hefty price, your money can only buy so much. For example, while Php5 million can buy you a posh four-bedroom house and lot in, say, Bacoor or Sta. Rosa, you can only get a 36-sqm studio in the Makati CBD for the same amount.
For many years, Metro Manila’s traditional residential suburbs in Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Marikina, and Quezon City have attracted an army of white-collar employees.
Many developers now are looking further afield, with municipalities in Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and Bulacan hosting countless residential projects to provide dwellings to Metro Manila’s ever-growing employee population. Living in the suburbs may provide you tranquility that’s quite hard to come by downtown, but before you consider settling in one, determine your priorities and think of the possible tradeoff.
Affordability. As mentioned above, the cost of properties in a suburban area is a lot less compared to a comparable one downtown. Here a spacious four-bedroom house with a two-car garage and a yard comes at the same price of a cramped studio apartment in Fort Bonifacio or Rockwell Center.
Family-friendly. The suburb is perhaps the best place to raise a family. You get to have your own garden and experience living with pets. It is more peaceful and less congested, and you actually get to interact with the neighbors.
Longer travel time. This is the tradeoff I was talking about: with having more space for a lower price you have to forego some of the benefits of city living, chief of which is accessibility. Living in the suburbs means longer commutes, not to mention the need for you to negotiate Metro Manila’s congested thoroughfares during rush hour.
Isolation. One of the main reasons why the suburbs aren’t so popular to some is because many urban conveniences, such as top schools and hospitals and shopping districts, are located kilometers away.
Employment opportunities are also limited in the suburbs (at least for corporate professionals), as the headquarters and offices of most companies are located in the CBDs. But as a consolation, suburban living offers peace and quiet rarely afforded to city dwellers.