How walkable is your neighbourhood?
When you decide to buy real estate or move into a new rental apartment, most people are able to narrow down what they need from their new home – how many bedrooms, how much they can afford to pay each month, or how many parking spots they will get. But Realtors always say that the only thing you can’t change about your home is the location, and that’s why neighbourhood was the biggest consideration for me when I was buying my first home last year.
I depend heavily on a website called Walk Score. This website is amazing because it measures how easy it is to get around without a car. They use an algorithm based on the distance to amenities in different categories. Amenities within 0.25 miles receive maximum points, and no points are awarded to anything located outside of a 1-mile radius. They base their score out of 100, and use a variety of data sources including Google, Education.com, Open Street Map, and Localeze.
Why your walk score is important:
- People in walkable neighborhoods weigh 6-10 lbs less.
- Walkable places make you happier and healthier.
- Short commutes reduce stress and increase community involvement.
- Saves money on the cost of operating a vehicle.
- Your feet are zero-pollution transportation machines.
What makes a neighbourhood walkable?
To show you how Walk Score works, I took a screenshot of a neighbourhood called Gastown in downtown Vancouver. It’s one of my favourite neighbourhoods in the city, and as you can see, it scores 100/100 in walkability.
According to Walk Score, the walkability of a neighbourhood is based on the following criteria:
Why your walk score is important:
- A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a center, whether it’s a main street or a public space.
- People: Enough people for businesses to flourish and for public transit to run frequently.
- Mixed income, mixed use: Affordable housing located near businesses.
- Parks and public space: Plenty of public places to gather and play.
- Pedestrian design: Buildings are close to the street, parking lots are relegated to the back.
- Schools and workplaces: Close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.
- Complete streets: Streets designed for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit.
Great for people looking into a new neighbourhood
Walk Score is perfect for people looking at neighbourhoods they aren’t familiar with. I used Walk Score a lot when trying to find an apartment in Stuttgart, Germany. And back in Vancouver, I loved how it gave me quick information public transportation, my potential commute time (and cost), as well as specific amenities within the neighbourhood.
For me, as long as everything that I need is within a 10-15 minute walk, I’m happy. Within a 5-minute walk of my home, I have a beautiful park with a running trail, two grocery stores, a liquor store, and a Starbucks. That’s all I need, right? :) My only complaint with the neighbourhood that I live in is that it’s a 20 minute walk to a SkyTrain station if I don’t take the bus. But I rarely take public transit anyway, so it’s not that big of a deal.
[icon name=”sign-in” size=”small”] How walkable is your neighbourhood?
[icon name=”sign-in” size=”small”] Do you think your happiness is related to the walkability of your neighbourhood?
Author: Krystal Yee
I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.