Imagine being able to walk a block or two and grocery shop, run to the cleaners, or pick up lunch. In some neighborhoods, this is doable. But in most, this is not. Instead, these errands require jumping in a car and driving a few miles.

Yet, selecting a more walkable or bikeable neighborhood can reduce the cost of driving, owning a car, and future health care expenses as well. Obviously, not everyone can pick up and move, but if you’re thinking of moving or see a move in your future, doing some research on neighborhoods is a good first step and Walk Score is a good place to start.

Walk Score gives a city a score between 0 – 100 based on how walkable it is by using their own methodology using pedestrian design, a common center, mixed use space, and complete streets; the higher the score, the more walkable the city. The benefits of walking to most of your errands include saving money on gas, wear and tear on your vehicle, and possibly reduced future medical bills.

If you can’t walk to one of your errands, you just might be able to bike to them. Walk Score recently released their Beta version of Bike Score. Using bike infrastructure, road connectivity, topography, and bike commuter data, Bike Score ranks a handful of cities similar to their Walk Score method.

Again, the cost of owning a bike is a fraction of the cost of owning a car or multiple cars. Riding a bike is also a healthier mode of transportation than driving. In some cities, you might even be able to sell your car altogether.

Not everyone can live in an urban area, but knowing there are cities that are more walkable than others can help narrow down a neighborhood.

Take for instance these two Sacramento neighborhoods – though they are within a few miles of each other with similar demographics, one is much more walkable than the other.

Sacramento Walk Score

Rental prices in the walkable neighborhood are comparable to the neighborhood that is primarily car-dependent. Though Walk Score claims that one point of Walk Score is worth $3,000 of home value which means property prices would increase in more walkable areas.

Living in a walkable / bikeable neighborhood reduces the cost of car maintenance, health care costs, and the wear and tear on the environment.

How does your neighborhood stack up?

12 Comments

  1. For years, My family and I lived in the suburbs where everything you wanted required a car. Now I live in a townhouse where I am much closer to services. Things are more walkable, although we only sporadically do it.

  2. That’s a brilliant article. I absolutely agree with you. Areas with higher walk/bike score are far more better for the inhabitants. Not only for reducing the auto expenses but also for a better environment. Most of all isn’t it great when you get your grocery while you’re in jogging?

    • @Nolan – Less expense and a better environment are great reasons to live in a walkable/bikeable neighborhood, I definitely agree.

  3. Areas with good walk scores are always vital. You don’t need to think of cost too much since Walk or Bike score can be used to determine an area which has same prize as another near it but the walk score is better.

  4. Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter Reply

    I have never heard of this site. Sounds really cool.

    We live in the area we do because we wanted somewhere central that had short drives and lots of places to walk too. We purposely looked for a house in that kind of area. We love it and would never move.

    • @Miss T – I’m searching for a very similar neighborhood. I’m taking a trip to Sacramento this summer and will hopefully find something I like!

  5. There is a very cute neighborhood I love that is not a city, but it has a lively town center with restaurants and things to do. It’s more “walk to village.” We get a lot of NYC second home buyers there so those walk to town homes are priced SIGNIFICANTLY higher over the ones just a mile or two away. I think big city dwellers see the value of being close to town and in a tighter knit community.

  6. I am one of those lucky people who live at a comfortable walking distance from the town center. The cost of real estate is a little higher compared to farther land, but the transportation savings offsets the difference considerably.

    As a bonus to savings, I also get good exercise plus I also have a low carbon footprint.

  7. We are in a rural area, so taking the car is a must. That said, I just read a statistic that people use a car for 90 percent of errands of less than a mile away (I’m on a trail development committee). That means we’re collectively wasting money driving our fat butts to places we could easily get to on a bike.

  8. In my hometown, I’d say that the important places are walkable and bikable. But because of the weather (too humid and warm), we prefer to hop in to the car just for the airconditioner. LOL. But I always liked walking so I just get my umbrella and endure most of the time. In my present home, the weather is cooler so I really enjoy walking. We’re not in the central part of the city but our neighborhood pretty much offers everything.

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