You’ve just moved to a new city—and you don’t have car.
If you’re wondering whether or not that’s going to be a problem and if you’ll need to buy a car or figure out local public transportation, then you will need to discover your local area’s walk score.
A walk score is exactly what it sounds like. An area with a high walk score means that you don’t need a car or even public transportation to get around successfully.
Typically, areas with higher walk scores are more urban, which makes sense as things are usually closer together in these areas and therefore easier to access without a car.
How does Walk Score work?
Although a private company created the Walk Score System, it’s also been verified by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. The system rates areas based on walkability.
The walk score methodology examines the proximity of things like grocery stores, post offices, schools, and offices to a particular address—as well as the presence of safe walking paths.
An area’s walk score is divided into these main categories:
Daily errands do not require a car
Most errands can be accomplished on foot
Some errands can be accomplished on foot
Most errands require a car
Almost all errands require a car
Luckily, if your immediate area isn’t too walkable, there are other scales to examine as well, such as the scale for public transportation:
World-class public transportation
Transit is convenient for most trips
Many nearby public transportation options
A few nearby public transportation options
It is possible to get on a bus
And the scale for bike riding:
Daily errands can be accomplished on a bike
Biking is convenient for most trips
Some bike infrastructure
Minimal bike infrastructure
The qualifications for a good walk score and a good bike score are very similar; however, for bikers, it should be noted that further distances can be covered because of the use of a bicycle.
Walk Scores actually affect health.
Living in an area with a good walk score has many benefits!
Residents of walkable neighborhoods weigh 6-10 pounds less on average than those who do not. Walkability may also have mental health benefits. This is because taking a walk is a great way to clear your mind!
Did you know that nearly 87% of CO2 emissions come from burning fossil fuels? Fewer cars on the road in your neighborhood means less smog and less traffic. This not only reduces physical pollution but noise pollution as well.
Typically, Realtors and home assessors agree that just 1 point of Walk Score can add nearly $3,250 to your home’s value. This makes homes in areas with high walk scores primed for resale.
In addition, cars are a money pit. If you don’t have to pay for insurance, gas, and maintenance, you will be saving thousands of dollars each year.
When Your Home Has a Bad Walk Score
Having a bad walk score is nothing to panic over, especially if you think about the context of your home.
Do you live on a ranch in Nebraska? What about on a coastal drive in Northern California? Neither of these homes would have high walk scores, but that doesn’t mean that they are not high-value homes.
Plus, with the right agent, a bad Walk Score won’t even be on buyers’ minds!
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Cities with the Highest Walk Scores
As of 2018, the cities in the USA with the highest walk scores are the usual suspects.
Here are the top 10 cities with the highest walk scores:
- New York City, New York
- San Francisco, California
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Miami, Florida
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Chicago, Illinois
- Washington, D.C.
- Seattle, Washington
- Oakland, California
- Long Beach, California
As you can see, these are all very urban cities and all cities known for competitive and expensive real estate markets. This goes to show that the walk score’s rubric for grading the quality of areas is simply spot on—as each of these cities is a highly desirable place to live year after year.
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