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How to Spot a Walkable Neighborhood

Over the past few years, “walkability” has become one of the top criteria for many home buyers and renters. A walk score tells you if your neighborhood is friendly and safe for walking, biking, and sometimes includes aspects such as dining, shopping, and entertainment.

Having the ability to walk over to a bakery for breakfast, shop for groceries down the street, or bike to your favorite gym might sound ideal to many people. Walkability scores apply a number to this, as if neighborhoods are students taking a test, and allow for us to better understand the synthesized vibe of neighborhoods without knowing much about them.

If you want to live in a walkable community, see if the neighborhood has the following elements.  

  • Well-lit streets and on-site security at night
    • Maybe you consider community safety important in your home-buying decision. Checking the lighting in your community at night is a must for this. Adequate lighting improves safety for residents, riders, and pedestrians, especially when you have young kids. Well-lit crime is statistically lower than the amount of crimes that take place at night or in low-lit areas.
  • Safe and convenient street crossings
    • If you want to take walks around your neighborhood, make sure it's an option. If your front yard is a highway, maybe it's the high-adrenaline kind of walk you're looking for, but make sure wherever your home is, it's located somewhere that suits this need (if you can afford it!) Some amenities, such as walkability, are expensive. The finer things in life aren't cheap, and if you want to live in a nice gentrified neighborhood at affordable Jamaica Plain prices, you'll have to give your realtor something more realistic to work with.
  • Low food delivery fees 
    • If you live in a community with plenty of restaurants nearby, you will be less likely to pay high delivery fees. If you eat out more than you cook, you'll want to consider this. It is inherently factored into most walkability scores. 
  • User-friendly street furniture 
    • If you see benches, water fountains, and neighbors who actually use the picnic tables, you know that your community has a high walkability score. Public infrastructure like this suggests that the town has money to spare, so long as it is well kept. 
  • A grocery store is right around the corner
    • Having a grocery store right around the corner will make things much more convenient for many reasons. You could up the frequency of your visits, and always have fresh food. This also saves you from carrying 30 bags into the house in one load, because we're all stubborn and do this since taking more than one trip is for the weak-spirited.
  • Shade 
    • Believe it or not, people tend to drive less if there are enough trees and shades to block the sun. Tree canopies and well-landscaped areas are a good sign. Poorer neighborhoods usually have minimal to no vegetation, so this is a good indicator of what you can expect.
  • Cheaper to call a ride service than to pay for the parking spot
    • For those nights when you don't feel like walking, you can a rideshare service or drive. If a rideshare service costs less than $5 when a parking spot costs you more than $15, that is a walkable community! It suggests people want to come visit, and that the city has a lot of money and wants those people to be wealthy enough to afford a high barrier to entry: expensive parking.
  • Joggers 
    • Joggers are more likely to show up in safe areas that are clean and have less traffic. Same typically goes for bicycle riders, like here in Newton, the home of bicycling! 

You can always google the walk score of your dream community. The higher the score is, the more walkable your neighborhood is. Or you can do a “near me” search on Google which you can see the restaurants or shops near you and estimated walking distance. But on top of all these options, it’s always better to ask yourself if everything in the community feels right to you. Good realtors are willing to take you on a tour of the area once you're seriously interested in a property. 

We at Castles Unlimited are happy to help you in this process, and would certainly take you on a walk through any neighborhood you so desire. Contact us today and we can get things started!