Living in: Great cities for public transport
The Bavarian capital’s public transit system is one of Europe’s easiest to use. The U-Bahn (underground trains), S-Bahn (commuter and street rail), bus and tram systems are incredibly well integrated and all run by the MVV, Munich’s transit authority. The system provides seamless journeys from the airport into the city centre and all around town via daily, weekly and monthly multi-transport tickets that only need to be validated once rather than swiped at every metro or bus stop, saving time and easing congestion. The MVV Companion app for iPhone and Android has maps, timetables and a route planner, as well as information about delays and congestion.
Munich’s excellent infrastructure is part of what keeps the city ranked as Germany’s high-tech capital, and its appeal to many large corporations and their employees make the real estate some of the more expensive in Europe, with its residential market nearly matching prices in Geneva and London. Many of the most popular residential areas, such as Lehel in the Old Town, and the neighbourhoods just around the city centre, such as Maxvorstadt and Schwabing to the north and Glockenbachviertel to the south, have numerous transport links, including the tram, U- Bahn and buses. The price for residential properties in these neighbourhoods ranges between 7,000 and 22,000 euros per square metre. The average rental price in these areas is around 20 euros per square metre.
Portland’s advanced cycling culture and its many miles of bike lanes thrives alongside Trimet, the mass transit system that includes streetcars, buses and the MAX (Metropolitan Area Express) lightrail, connecting downtown Portland to the suburbs and the airport. Recent budget issues have raised the spectre of fare hikes, but Trimet provides free transit to all high school students in the Portland Public School District, while other students receive a reduced-fare Youth Pass. Portland also tops the list of being the most cycle-friendly large city in the United States, with 6.3% of commuters travelling by bike. Around 31% of all students walk or bike to school (as opposed to the national average of 13%), and the public schools give a 12-week-long bike-safety class.
Portland’s five main districts are Northwest, Southwest, Northeast, Southeast and North Portland, and the downtown area is on the west side of the Willamette River. Demand is high for housing in neighbourhoods on the west side that have easy access to the MAX, while on the east side, the lightrail is less of a factor. “On the [inner] east side, being close to the bike lanes is more in demand, especially in neighbourhoods like Irvington, Alameda and Buckman where you’re close enough to bike to downtown,” said Gary Majors, a broker at Markram Properties. However, a new route opening in 2015 will expand the MAX to Milwaukie, a small city just seven miles south of Portland, connecting the inner Southeast neighbourhoods to the downtown core at the same time. The average price for a two-bedroom house in Buckman ranges from $318,000 to $388,000, while elsewhere in Portland average prices drop to around $237,250. A two-bedroom apartment in an inner Southeast or Northeast neighbourhood rents for around $1,000 a month.
- Rubber to the Road: downloadable maps and cue sheets for rides and commuter routes around Portland
- Related article: Living in… Portland
The booming capital of Taiwan enjoys Asia’s second-highest GDP, just behind Tokyo. The core city of Taipei is part of a greater metropolitan area that includes New Taipei City and the port city of Keelung, and is home to nearly seven million people. They are whisked around the city by a clean, efficient and incredibly punctual rapid transit system using a contactless payment called EasyCard, which is read by panels on the buses and in the MRT metro stations. The card can now be used on high-speed trains, bicycle rentals, some taxis and even some domestic flights. The extremely punctual system runs trains every five minutes or less, and there is a complete ban on food and drink in the cars and on platforms, keeping the system relatively rubbish-free.