FACTORS INFLUENCING RESIDENTIAL LOCATION DECISION IN PORT HARCOURT METROPOLIS, NIGERIA
The decision to buy or rent a home is a large financial commitment that, in most cases, will continue to influence the quality of life, access to opportunities and residential location decision that shape our cities in important ways. Studying these decisions can reveal a great deal about the culture, aspirations and expectation of a nation’s residents. Furthermore, the relatively permanent influence that certain factors have on residential location decision makes an understanding of these factors important for the formation and effective management of residential demand. In Nigeria and particularly Port-Harcourt metropolis, there seem to be agglomeration and conversion of residential areas into other uses that disagree with original purpose of the area. This has reduced the environmental quality of residential areas in Port Harcourt metropolis and influenced households decision to stay or move into an area. Factors that influenced residential location decision have been studied and used for policy decisions in developed countries. In Port Harcourt city, these factors of residential location decision have not yet been studied. The aim of the study was to assess the factors that influence residents location decision in Port Harcourt metropolis with a view to suggesting effective planning proposal for enhancing urban livability. The specific objectives of the study were to: (i) classify the factors influencing residential location decision, (ii) determine the prominent factors of residential location decision of households in the study area, (iii) examine relationship between these factors and socio economic characteristics of residents and (iv) determine if there are differences in factors of residential location decision across residential densities in the study area. Survey research design was adopted in this study. Data for the research were obtained from primary and secondary sources. The instrument used for the study was a structured questionnaire which contains two major sections and 23 questions. The questions were structured using a; 5 point likert scale. Five hundred and fifty copies of questionnaire were administered to households out of which 407 were completed and retrieved reflecting 86% return rate. Two lecturers in Urban and Regional Planning Department University of Nigeria Enugu Campus and a statistician with Aids Preventive Initiative Department University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital carried out face validation of the instrument. Cronbach’s Alpha was used to test reliability of the instrument and it gave a correlation coefficient of 0.70. Factor Analysis, Spearman’s correlation and analysis of variance were used to analyze the data at (p < 0.05) significance level. The factors influencing residential location decision of residents in Port Harcourt metropolis were classified as follows: industrial services/facilities (19.12%), transportation (12%), institutional services/utilities (7%), commercial activities (6%), neighbourhood infrastructural services (5%), social factors (4%), family compositions (4%), neighbourhood character (4%), and housing attributes/tenure (3%). The prominent factors influencing residential location decision in Port Harcourt metropolis were determined as follows: purchase/built own home (3.55± 0.88), crime rate (3.41± 1.02 ), income (3.39 ± 1.03), security (3.38 ± 1.00), power supply (3.34 ± 1.07), water supply (3.23 ± 0.99 ), rent (3.34 ± 1.07 ), size and quality of dwelling (3.38 ± 0.86 ), social status (3.23 ± 1.12 ) and traffic congestion (3.37 ± 1.04 ).The factors of residential location decision had a weak positive relationship with level of education and monthly income (p < 0.05). However, no relationship was found between household size (p > 0.05) and factors of residential location decision. There was a significant difference (p < 0.05) in factors influencing residential location decision across the residential densities. The study recommends amongst others for the adoption of the prominent push factors( homeownership, crime rate and insecurity, income size and quality of dwelling, rent affordability, power supply, water supply, social status and nearness to petro chemical activities) influencing residential location decision in Port Harcourt metropolis. This will help in formulation of policies and improve residential livability in Port Harcourt metropolis.