Feargus O'Sullivan is a contributing writer to CityLab, covering Europe. His writing focuses on housing, gentrification and social change, infrastructure, urban policy, and national cultures. He has previously contributed to The Guardian, The Times, The Financial Times, and Next City, among other publications.
People can figure out what it'd cost to live at different points of their commute. Your city needs something like this.
In a big city, it can be tough finding an affordable apartment near work, especially if you want to use public transit to commute. A new map tool developed in London is making that search a little easier. Created by the apartment search website Find Properly, the tool reproduces the London Tube map, with rental and house prices (and links to property listings) detailed for each station. Click on the station, and the map reproduces the different prices at each stop along the line, creating a graph that sometimes looks like rolling hills and sometimes like a set of alpine peaks and chasms.
(If you're having any trouble seeing or using the embedded map above, click here for the full version)
While the prices (and do note that they are listed by week instead of month) could make your eyes water, the map is nonetheless a remarkably helpful tool. Commuters can decide how many Tube stops and changeovers away from work they're prepared to live, then work out what they can afford within that area.
Even for people who know London well, a map like this can blow assumptions out of the water by showing the gap between a neighborhood's reputation and its actual prices. People have long paid very high prices, for example, in the North London hilltop district of Hampstead, attracted by its village-like 18th century streets and massive woodland park. The map shows that the neighborhoods further down the same hill – once considered a second-best overflow area – can cost even more. It also turns out that the South London area where I live is actually more expensive than the nicer neighborhood next door (time to move, perhaps?).
Browsing the map, some clear trends develop. Across town, rent rises and falls are far less spiky than those for house prices. This is especially true for one-bedroom apartments, less so the more bedrooms you add – though the figures don’t take into account the smaller size of city center apartments. For cheaper housing, you're generally better off looking in the Far East of London. And for bargains? You're best off looking in another city entirely.