Future Changes and Their Effects on Locations in General
This is a preview to the chapter Future Changes and Their Effects on Locations in General from the book Buying Property in Poland by Tim Hill.
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Those looking to buy for personal use should also take into account what is about to happen in Poland, as a sleepy town to get away from it all today may become a thriving commuter belt hotspot within a decade. At the same time business buyers can take advantage of this advanced knowledge, purchasing space that is highly likely to be in demand for service provision as demographic changes occur.
In order to 'buy clever' it is important to understand how Poland is evolving and the future impact of this on property prices. Demographic changes, the effect of new road and rail infrastructures, how certain areas have reinvented themselves (seemingly out of the blue) will all affect particular regions.
Poland is a developing country with a population rapidly becoming richer. In previous decades it was not unusual for someone to spend most of their life in one property. There was little career progression and when it did happen any pay increases were nominal. With almost no social housing Poles had to work hard to secure a home of their own and hold onto it.
Today, for the first time, many can choose where to live. Moreover they can afford to move should they want to change their lives or for work purposes. They can see clear increases in their wealth with advances in their career and they are free to work in many countries abroad providing substantial funds in short periods of time.
Luckily for investors a crystal ball really does exist. The previous decades of Western Europe clearly demonstrates how a population reacts to rising city prices and what they do when they can afford to make a choice. This comes in the form of commuter belts and corridors and within that a system termed here as the Family Cycle.
The demographic history of Western European cities and towns is about to be played out on Polish soil and smart buying will produce exceptional results.
The Commuter Belt
Many Poles have traditionally lived close to their place of work, or even chosen to work close to where they live. There is a comfort in knowing an area or being near to family and it was often simply not financially viable to sell up and move elsewhere.
However as town and city centres have become more expensive this is not a luxury everyone has and as personal wealth has improved many would prefer to live closer to a place of their favourite recreation than their employment.
Western European cities provide the perfect blueprint for the future. Here workers of all ages are prepared to travel up to four hours a day to reach their jobs, motivated by a variety of reasons. They are ready to stand on crowded trains or sit in endless queues of traffic. The resilience of the commuter is enormous.
The exact same pattern is beginning to happen in all Polish cities to a greater or lesser extent. Employees can afford cars, petrol or season tickets on trains and so they can choose to commute.
This may be because they cannot afford property close to their work, they want a better property and will sacrifice location for space or they want to live somewhere quieter, greener, safer, with better schools, and so on.
Whatever the reasons higher property prices and affordable transportation are creating commuter belts across Poland and these areas are prime capital growth locations.
With this in mind it would seem easy to take a compass, draw a circle around say, Warsaw, with the circumference set up to 100 kilometres away from the centre and declare this the commuting belt of the future.
The history of Western Europe however teaches us two more lessons. Commuter belts are made up of corridors and hot spots.
Corridors run along all major transport links. A motorway is the easiest to imagine. It provides fast access and easy driving. But the corridor is not uniform, it is triangular. At 20 kilometres outside a city commuters may be prepared to live within 40 kilometres of a motorway junction, at 100 kilometres they would want to live with 10 kilometres because it is the overall time taken to drive to the city centre which is key.
With a train line the effect is similar and stations cause certain hot spots for higher prices in commuter belts but these can also arise because of excellent schools, locations with outstanding beauty, or areas that offer that something extra outside of the cities.
In the United Kingdom the coastal town of Brighton and the historic St Albans, with its excellent schools, are both in high demand by those who work in London.
So in Poland any town around a major city with good transport links either existing now, or planned for the future, a good infrastructure or the ability to develop one and that something extra (good schools, lakes, a national park, etc.) are the investors target and a place to avoid for those seeking a quiet lifestyle in the future.
The Family Cycle
While many may choose to live in the commuter belt others are forced to make that choice by the gentle cycle of how life unfolds. Market research proves little here. Ask one thousand young Poles where they would like to live and the majority would imagine most of their lives in a major city full of culture and entertainment.
This result would be similar if you asked one thousand young Germans, Brits or Spaniards. But they have not fallen in love yet, learnt to compromise with another nor felt the pressure and demands of family life.
The family cycle for property owners is in all Western cities and the new wealth of the Poles means it is just starting to happen in the likes of Warsaw, Gdańsk, Poznań, Wrocław, Kraków and beyond.
It works something like this:
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