12 Walkable Cities Where You Can Live Affordably

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It should come as no surprise that living in walkable cities and neighborhoods benefits our health, the environment, our communities, and wallets. However, with rents skyrocketing in many parts of the country, it can often be difficult to find somewhere to live that is both affordable and walkable.

In the face of this dilemma, we decided to find out where exactly in the country you can live a walkable, urban lifestyle – and not break the bank. To answer this question, we looked at Walk Score data, Cost of Living Index, and average rents for every major city in the country. The cities listed below also have a nice selection of one-bedroom apartments located in “very walkable” neighborhoods (meaning a Walk Score of 70+) with rents of $1,000 or less.

Take a look at our top 12 picks for affordable and walkable cities:

Albuquerque, NM

Nestled in the heart of New Mexico, Albuquerque is in the middle of a multi-million dollar revitalization of its downtown neighborhood. Many come for a photo-op with the neon Route 66 sign, or to float along the painted skies in the hot air ballooning capital of the world, but stay for the rich culture of food, arts, and traditions.

Cost of Living + Rent Index: 46
City Walk Score: 43
Neighborhood Walk Score: Downtown – 84

Buffalo, NY

Less than 30 minutes from Niagara Falls, New York’s second-largest city boasts a redeveloped waterfront, great nightlife, and an emerging dining scene. Buffalo is also one of the most affordable places to live in the U.S., with walkable neighborhoods including Allentown and Columbus.

Cost of Living + Rent Index: 51
City Walk Score: 68
Neighborhood Walk Score: Allentown – 93, Columbus – 86

Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati’s remarkable historic architecture once earned it the nickname of the “Paris of America.” The city’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood boasts some of the hottest restaurants and shops in the region and is easily traversed on foot. The Central Business District is the 2nd most walkable neighborhood in Cincinnati. With new bars, restaurants, shops, and housing popping up, living downtown has become even more popular for young professionals in the city.

Cost of Living + Rent Index: 51
City Walk Score: 50
Neighborhood Walk Score: Over-the-Rhine – 93, Central Business District – 93

Cleveland, OH

Located on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland is a great place for urbanites on a budget. The city is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The House of Blues, a world-class zoo, aquarium, and a great art scene. The Ohio City neighborhood offers an assortment of local shops, cafés, restaurants, and bars, all within reach.

Cost of Living + Rent Index: 52
City Walk Score: 60
Neighborhood Walk Score: Ohio City – 79

Dallas, TX

Texas may not be known for a car-free lifestyle, but Dallas has a surprisingly walkable city center. Bustling downtown is a walker’s paradise, while the very walkable Oak Lawn neighborhood features a variety of nightclubs, restaurants, and shops, and has been known for its diversity since the 1970s.

Cost of Living + Rent Index: 55
City Walk Score: 46
Neighborhood Walk Score: Downtown – 90, Oak Lawn – 86

Detroit, MI

Situated on the Detroit River and along the U.S.-Canada border, Detroit is commonly referred to as the Motor City. However, the city is rapidly becoming friendlier to car-less residents. Downtown is a go-to for professionals who want to live and work in the heart of the city. The University neighborhood is another great option for residents who value walkability.

Cost of Living + Rent Index: 53
City Walk Score: 55
Neighborhood Walk Score: Downtown – 73, University – 87

Houston, TX

As the fourth largest city in the US, demand for a walkable, urban lifestyle is on the rise in Houston due to the steady influx of new residents from the east and west coasts. The Midtown neighborhood is a vibrant community where residents can enjoy an increasing number of local neighborhood amenities while maintaining close proximity to downtown’s bustling business sector and attractions.

Cost of Living + Rent Index: 58
City Walk Score: 49
Neighborhood Walk Score: Midtown – 86

Madison, WI

Madison is a great place to live for people who enjoy walking, biking and other outdoor activities, especially along the scenic lakefront. The University of Wisconsin has a large presence in the city, and its facilities are easy to access via walking or biking. Walkable neighborhoods include State-Langdon and the downtown area.

Cost of Living + Rent Index: 52
City Walk Score: 49
Neighborhood Walk Score: State-Langdon – 93, Downtown – 92

Milwaukee, WI

Known for its breweries and avid sports fans, Milwaukee sits on the Western coast of Lake Michigan. Locals can enjoy bars, coffee shops, restaurants and parks in walkable neighborhoods like the Lower East Side and Juneau Town.

Cost of Living + Rent Index: 55
City Walk Score: 62
Neighborhood Walk Score: Lower East Side – 91, Juneau Town – 95

Omaha, NE

Known for its rich pioneer history, Omaha holds the title of the most walkable city in Nebraska. Located along the Missouri River, Omaha offers a plethora of restaurants, quirky bars, and entertainment options. These are all within reach in some of its most walkable neighborhoods including Market West and Downtown Omaha.

Cost of Living + Rent Index: 50

City Walk Score: 45

Neighborhood Walk Score: Market West – 88, Downtown – 85

Richmond, VA

First settled in 1607, Virginia’s capital city is one of the oldest cities in the United States. New developments, such as those in the Monroe Ward neighborhood, are attracting residents who want to live and work in the urban center. Other areas in Richmond best enjoyed on foot include the VCU and Carver neighborhoods.

Cost of Living + Rent Index: 54
City Walk Score: 51
Neighborhood Walk Score: Monroe Ward – 94, VCU – 95, Carver– 91

Rochester, NY

As the third-largest city in New York State, Rochester is both family-friendly and affordable. Walkable neighborhoods include Pearl-Meigs-Monroe and Park Avenue. Residents can also jump in a car share and head out for a day trip to the gorgeous Finger Lakes, a major wine region, or Niagara Falls.

Cost of Living + Rent Index: 51
City Walk Score: 65
Neighborhood Walk Score: Pearl-Meigs-Monroe – 91, Park Avenue – 83

Methodology: For this list, Walk Score ranked the top major cities in the U.S. with a population of 200,000 or more. We then only considered cities with a Cost of Living + Rent Index (estimation of consumer goods prices including rent) under 58. This index is relative to New York City – meaning that for NYC, the index is 100(%). For example, if a city has a Cost of Living + Rent Index of 45, then on average the cost of living and rent is 55% less expensive than in NYC. Lastly, we made sure each of these cities had a selection of apartments located in “very walkable” neighborhoods (meaning a Walk Score of 70+) with rents of $1,000 or less.

Home Prices Now Rising Faster in Car-Dependent Neighborhoods Than in Walkable Places as Buyers Chase Affordability

Market trends suggest that many homebuyers are prioritizing affordability above walkability. 

Home-sale prices in walkable neighborhoods across the country increased 2.3 percent year over year to a median $343,900 in July, compared to 4.3 percent annual growth to a median $312,100 for homes in car-dependent areas.

That’s according to data from Walk Score®, a Redfin company that rates the walkability of neighborhoods, cities and addresses. A place is deemed “walkable” if some or most errands can be accomplished on foot, while “car dependent” means most errands require a car.

Prices have been rising faster in car-dependent neighborhoods than in walkable neighborhoods since September 2018, around the time the overall market began to cool. For at least the four years prior, home prices generally increased faster in walkable neighborhoods than in car-dependent ones. The trend reversal likely reflects that many homebuyers, chasing affordability, have been priced out of the most walkable neighborhoods. As a result, demand has grown stronger in car-dependent neighborhoods.

“In the second half of 2018, homes in the hottest coastal markets became so expensive that most homebuyers became priced out of walkable neighborhoods, where homes tend to sell at a premium,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. “It’s not that people value walkability any less than they used to. Many homebuyers are simply relegated by their budgets to live in car-dependent areas, which have since seen demand and home prices grow at a faster rate. The trend also has implications for society, with families becoming further segregated by class and race, as well as for the environment, as more demand in car-dependent areas means more carbon emissions. Growing cities can combat these issues by adopting policies that encourage building more dense, affordable housing in walkable areas.”

 

YoY change in nationwide median sale price for homes in car-dependent and walkable neighborhoods

Home sales were down in both walkable and car-dependent areas in July, but the decline was bigger in walkable areas, which posted a 7.1 percent annual drop nationwide. That’s compared to a more modest 3.3 percent decline in home sales in car-dependent neighborhoods. And while supply of homes in walkable areas was down 7.4 percent year over year, it declined more—10.6 percent—in car-dependent neighborhoods.

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San Jose (-7.2%) and Seattle (-6.5%) led the way for price drops in walkable areas in July. Though that mirrors the continued softening trends in the San Jose housing market, prices for homes in car-dependent neighborhoods rose 1.9 percent. In Seattle, homes in car-dependent areas posted a 1.5 percent year-over-year price increase.Two expensive West Coast metros—San Jose and Seattle—had the biggest price drops for walkable neighborhoods

In total, six U.S. metros saw year-over-year drops in home-sale prices in walkable neighborhoods in July. San Jose and Seattle are followed by Pittsburgh (-5.6%), Oakland (-2.1%), San Diego (-1.9%) and Houston (-0.2%).

YoY change in median sale price for homes in walkable neighborhoods

 

Other metrics suggest that demand for homes in car-dependent neighborhoods is rising faster than walkable ones in San Jose and Seattle. In San Jose, supply of homes in car-dependent areas rose 5.5 percent annually in July, but supply in walkable areas increased 22.5 percent. Supply was up 13 percent in walkable parts of Seattle, but down 17.2 percent in car-dependent places.

Philadelphia and Cleveland saw the biggest increases in home prices for car-dependent neighborhoods

In all but four metros in the U.S., home prices in car-dependent neighborhoods increased year over year in July. Philadelphia, with a 17.9 percent annual increase, led the pack, followed by Cleveland (10.6%), Fort Lauderdale (9.1%), Pittsburgh (8.5%) and Miami (8%). In all those places except Pittsburgh, home prices also rose in walkable neighborhoods.

Walkable parts of Columbus, Kansas City and Detroit had the biggest price increases in walkable neighborhoods

Twenty metros buck the national trend, with median home-sale prices increasing more for homes in walkable areas than car-dependent areas. That’s particularly true in the Midwest, where homes tend to be less expensive than they are on the coasts and buyers may be able to afford homes in more central areas.

In Columbus, Ohio, home prices for walkable areas rose 16.3 percent year over year in July versus 5.9 percent for places more dependent on cars. That’s more than any other metro in the U.S. It’s followed by Kansas City, Missouri (11.7% rise for walkable; 6.1% for car-dependent) and Detroit (11.1% rise for walkable; 0.1% for car-dependent

Methodology

This report is based on data from Walk Score®, a Redfin company that measures the walkability of addresses. For the purposes of this report, we combined three categories–Somewhat Walkable (ranking of 50-69; some errands can be accomplished on foot), Very Walkable (ranking of 70-89; most errands can be accomplished on foot) and Walker’s Paradise (ranking of 90-100; daily errands do not require a car)—into the “Walkable” category. We combined the two car-dependent categories—(ranking of 0-49; most errands require a car)—into the “car-dependent” category. “Walkable” means some or most errands can be accomplished on foot, while “car dependent” means most errands require a car.

Only metros where at least 1,000 homes in walkable neighborhoods sold in July were included in this report.

Redfin Unveils the Best U.S. Cities for Public Transit in 2019

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New York, Union City, NJ; and San Francisco claimed the top three spots in the U.S., according to the latest Transit Score® update.

New YorkUnion City, NJ; and San Francisco top the 2019 list of best cities for public transit, looking at cities of all sizes, according to Redfin’s latest Transit Score® ranking. Transit Score, a tool by Redfin company Walk Score®, rates locations based on how convenient they are to public transportation.

In the past, Redfin’s annual Transit Score report typically only examined large cities with a population of 300,000 or more. However this year, Redfin is presenting the raw ranking, unfiltered for population, to show that transit is not reserved only for the largest places.

“Housing affordability has become a nationwide concern, leading people to move away from big, expensive cities to smaller, affordable commuter towns and inland areas,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. “Small cities that offer the best of both worlds–accessible public transit and relatively affordable homes for sale–are destined for strong growth in the coming years.”

Looking at that full list, the three top spots each had a Transit Score of 80 or better, with New York and its New Jersey suburb of Union City surging above other cities, indicating the local public transit is both conveniently located and runs frequently.

Rank City Transit Score Change (in Transit Score points) from 2018
1 New York, NY 84 -1
2 Union City, NJ 81 0
3 San Francisco, CA 80 0
4 Hoboken, NJ 75 0
5 Cambridge, MA 74 2
6 West New York, NJ 73 0
7 Boston, MA 72 -1
8 Washington, D.C. 71 3
9 Jersey City, NJ 71 0
10 Brookline, MA 69 1
11 Philadelphia, PA 67 0
12 Chicago, IL 65 0
13 Newark, NJ 65 0
14 Silver Spring, MD 64 0
15 Somerville, MA 64 1
16 Bayonne, NJ 62 0
17 Arlington, VA 62 3
18 Santa Monica, CA 62 -1
19 Oak Park, IL 62 0
20. Takoma Park, MD 61 0
21. West Hollywood, CA 61 0
22. Seattle, WA 60 0
23. Beverly Hills, CA 60 0
24. Hyattsville, MD 59 4
25. Florence-Graham, CA 59 -1

New York’s score of 84 is actually down one point from last year–related to hysteria around L-pocalypse, perhaps? New Jersey suburbs popular with commuters also performed well, including top-ranked Union City, as well as HobokenWest New York, and Jersey City all in the top 10, proving whether you live in the Big Apple, or across the river for it, getting around won’t pose a problem.

“The outstanding public transportation options in the greater New York City area make it possible to live a car-free lifestyle, while still benefiting from all the area has to offer,” said New York-based Redfin market manager, Nick Boniakowski. “Whether it’s taking the New York City subway around multiple boroughs, or hopping on the PATH train and ferry to commute across the Hudson river to and from New Jersey, residents have a multitude of options without the hassle and expense of driving. For many buyers, the home search starts with the commute, and these options allow residents to accomplish almost any task with a quick walk and a MetroCard.”

Interestingly, Cambridge outranked Boston, with scores of 74 and 72, respectively. Beantown suburbs Brookline and Somerville both earned top scores too, highlighting the ease of access to public transportation in the Boston metro area.

The Washington, D.C., area demonstrated significant change since last year’s ranking. Our nation’s capital ranked a respectable 8th place overall at 71, but rose three points, more than any other city in the top 25–except for its suburb of Arlington. Arlington also gained three points to hit 62, an increase that could very likely have something to do with Amazon HQ2’s arrival in Crystal City, located in Arlington. Indeed, access to mass transit was listed as a core preference in criteria when Amazon opened up their nationwide search, and there are already plans in place for key transportation infrastructure improvements near the new office campus.

More than half of the top 25 small and large cities remain unchanged from last year, while a few only dipped or increased by one. Those small changes are not for nothing–Redfin found in 2017 that one Transit Score point can increase the price of an average home by more than $2,000.

The results also show that cities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic tend to rank higher for public transit, with more than half of the top entries found in these regions. The West Coast was close behind with cities from California and Washington, while Chicago and nearby Oak Park were the sole cities ranked highly in the Midwest.

For Transit Score purists, we’ve also compiled the more traditional list, examining just the top 20 cities with a population over 300,000:

Rank City Transit Score Change (in Transit Score points) from 2018
1 New York, NY 84 -1
2 San Francisco, CA 80 0
3 Boston, MA 72 -1
4 Washington, D.C. 71 3
5 Philadelphia, PA 67 0
6 Chicago, IL 65 0
7 Seattle, WA 60 0
8 Baltimore, MD 57 0
9 Miami, FL 57 0
10 Minneapolis, MN 57 -1
11 Honolulu, HI 57 0
12 Oakland, CA 56 0
13 Pittsburgh, PA 56 2
14 Los Angeles, CA 53 2
15 Portland, OR 52 1
16 Long Beach, CA 52 1
17 Milwaukee, WI 48 -1
18 Denver, CO 47 -1
19 Atlanta, GA 47 1
20. Cleveland, OH 45 -2

Several cities were measured for Transit Score this year for the first time. New cities include Daly City, CA (52); Pasadena, CA (51); New Haven, CT (48); South Pasadena, CA (46); Gardena, CA (46); El Monte, CA (46); York, PA (40); Bridgeport, CT (40); San Mateo, CA (40); Harrisburg, PA (39); New Britain, CT (38); Moline, IL (37); Darien, CT (37); Waterbury, CT (34); Akron, OH (32); Oxford, OH (31); Flint, MI (31); Vallejo, CA (31); Pasco, WA (31); Poughkeepsie, NY (30); Longmont, CO (29); Knoxville, TN (28); Richland, WA (28); Omaha, NE (27); Walnut Creek, CA (26); Fairfield, CA (25); Dubuque, IA (25); Vacaville, CA (24); Sioux City, IA (24); Meriden, CT (23); Muscatine, IA (22); Clinton, IA (22); Coralville, IA (21); Hanford, CA (21); Simi Valley, CA (21); Mason City, IA (20); Cedar Rapids, IA (20); Murrieta, CA (20); Cedar Falls, IA (20); Greenville, SC (19); Ocala, FL (19); Fort Dodge, IA (19); Thousand Oaks, CA (17); Lawrenceville, GA (16); Marshalltown, IA (16); Middletown, OH (16); Rocky Mount, NC (16); Temecula, CA (16); Hamilton, OH (13); Burlington, IA (13); Fairfield, OH (6).

Want to know how we determine Transit Score? Here’s more information on our methodology:

The Transit Score algorithm calculates a score by summing the relative usefulness of public transit (bus, subway, light rail, ferry, etc.) routes near a given location. Usefulness is defined as the distance to the nearest stop on the route, the frequency of the route, and type of route (with twice as much weight given to heavy/light rail than to bus service). Transit Score is based on data published in General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) format by transit agencies across the country. For a more details on the Transit Score methodology, click here.

To see how your home, neighborhood or city stacks up, search walkscore.com or Redfin.com.

Redfin Unveils the Best Canadian Cities for Public Transit in 2019

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TorontoVancouver and Montreal top the 2019 list of best Canadian cities for public transit, according to Redfin’s newest Transit Score® rankings. Transit Score, a tool by Redfin company Walk Score®, rates locations based on how convenient they are to public transportation.

This is Redfin’s first year ranking transit in Canadian cities. Looking at big cities with populations of over 300,000, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal took the three top spots with Transit Score ratings of 78, 74, and 67, respectively. Transit Score is calculated based on indicators showing that local public transit is both convenient, and runs frequently.

“Toronto is highly populated and growing all the time. The influx of people from all over the world to Toronto puts a strain on all aspects of transportation in regards to road infrastructure and traffic in and out of the city, which is nothing less than gridlock,” said Blair Anderson, broker of record and market manager for Redfin in Toronto.

“Significant growth requires major transit infrastructure, and the city has recognized that and is investing in transit. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) operates in the city, and plans to expand the light rail and subway service. GO train, our commuter rail system, is also undergoing a significant expansion, to make it even more accessible to those living farther out,” he said. “Some people moan and complain about public transit, but Toronto’s system is one of the better transit systems in the world. It’s highly ranked, runs well on a timely basis, and doesn’t have many problems. And without it, the city would shut down.”

With a score of 78, Toronto’s Transit Score holds an edge over several large U.S. cities. It ranks higher than Boston’s 72 rating, and falls just shy of San Francisco’s score of 80, earning a comparable place among the largest cities in North America. Vancouver too ranks above the likes of Boston, as well as Washington, D.C. (71). Montreal meanwhile, finds a partner in Philadelphia, with both cities earning a score of 67.

Read on for the full ranking of the top 15 large cities (with populations of more than 300,000) in Canada for public transit in 2019.

Rank City Transit Score
1 Toronto 78
2 Vancouver 74
3 Montréal 67
4 Mississauga 56
5 Brampton 53
6 Winnipeg 51
7 Calgary 50
8 Ottawa 50
9 Edmonton 49
10 Markham 49
11 Québec 47
12 Surrey 47
13 Laval 46
14 Hamilton 45
15 London 45

Want to know how we determine Transit Score? Here’s more information on our methodology:

The Transit Score algorithm calculates a score by summing the relative usefulness of public transit (bus, subway, light rail, ferry, etc.) routes near a given location. Usefulness is defined as the distance to the nearest stop on the route, the frequency of the route, and type of route (with twice as much weight given to heavy/light rail than to bus service). Transit Score is based on data published in General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) format by transit agencies across the country. For a more details on the Transit Score methodology, click here.

To see how your home, neighborhood or city stacks up, search walkscore.com or Redfin.ca.

Seattle and Honolulu Move up the Ranks of the Best Cities for Public Transit in 2018

New York, San Francisco and Boston top the list of the 10 best cities for public transit according to the updated Transit Score® rankings by Redfin. Transit Score, a tool by Redfin company Walk Score®, rates locations based on how convenient they are to public transportation. Each of the top three cities has a Transit Score above 70, meaning it has an excellent transit rating, with transit being a convenient option for most trips.

While the rank order for the six best cities for public transit has stayed the same since 2012 when Transit Score first launched, there was a lot of movement at the bottom of the top-10 list.

In 7th place, Seattle has a Transit Score of 59.6, up 2.6 points since 2016, the biggest jump among the top 10. In the past two years, Seattle has expanded its Link light rail service, adding two new stations in 2016, making it easier and faster to get to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington. A 2017 survey by the Seattle Department of Transportation found that public transit use had increased by 48 percent in the past seven years.

“Seattle is not only the coolest city in the country – we are now one of the most transit-friendly cities,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. “For our visitors, commuters and residents, public transit is safe, affordable, and a vital component in making sure our city is accessible to all. With the opening of new light rail stations and one of the highest bus riderships in the country, Seattle is making significant strides towards becoming a world-class transit city.”

Honolulu gained 1.6 points of Transit Score since 2016 and entered the top 10 list for the first time, replacing Miami. More than 69 million passengers in Honolulu ride TheBus annually and the city is planning a new rail system to further improve public transportation.

“Honolulu has been a public transportation city for many years now and the fact that our residents and visitors use TheBus an average of 214,000 trips every weekday is a testament to this fact,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “The new Transit Score ranking announced today by Redfin is proof that the nearly 2,000 workers who keep our bus system running strive for excellence each and every day, and our commitment to a transit system that covers all of O‘ahu will only improve once our rail project begins service along our busiest and most populated corridor.”

Below is a ranking of the top 10 U.S. cities (with populations of more than 300,000) for public transit.

Rank City Transit Score Change from 2016 Previous Rank (2016)
1 New York 85.3 +1.2 1
2 San Francisco 80.4 0 2
3 Boston 72.6 -1.8 3
4 Washington, D.C.  68.5 -2.2 4
5 Philadelphia 66.8 +0.1 5
6 Chicago 65.0 +0.3 6
7 Seattle 59.6 +2.6 10
8 Minneapolis 57.6 0 9
9 Baltimore 57.2 -0.6 8
10 Honolulu 57.2 +1.7 11

Top 5 Biggest Transit Score Increases

Raleigh, NC had the largest Transit Score increase, up 6.3 points from 2016 to 28.9 this year.

Rounding out the top five places with the largest Transit Score increases are Phoenix, AZ (+3.8), Aurora, CO (+3.5), Seattle, WA (+2.6)  and Atlanta, GA (+1.7).

Top 5 Biggest Transit Score Decreases

Washington D.C. had the largest decrease among all major cities in Transit Score, dropping 2.2 points to 68.5 in 2018. The decrease can be attributed to changes in Metrobus and Metrorail scheduling, where some bus routes were discontinued and the frequency of trains during rush hour was lowered.

“Once touted as the gold standard for public transit, D.C.’s Metro is now reckoning with decades of deferred maintenance,” said Redfin Washington D.C. agent John Marcario. “Tough decisions to reduce service and shut down lines for extended periods for repair are causing short-term frustration, but will hopefully make the system better in the long run. Despite the fall in Transit Score, access to transit remains a top priority for D.C. home buyers, who are still willing to pay a premium to live near a metro station.”

Bakersfield, CA (-2.2), Miami FL (-2.2), Boston, MA (-1.8) and Baltimore, MD (-0.6) rounded out the cities with the biggest Transit Score decreases from 2016 to 2018.

New Cities Added

With the addition of 600 new U.S. cities and more than 4,000 new neighborhoods, Transit Score ratings are now available for more than 900 cities and nearly 15,000 neighborhoods on walkscore.com. Among the newly added cities are big ones like Jacksonville, FL (22.4) and Charlotte, NC (27.4), along with smaller cities with Transit Score ratings like Hartford, CT (54.2) and Syracuse, NY (44.1).  

To see how your home, neighborhood or city stacks up, search walkscore.com or Redfin.com.

Methodology

The Transit Score algorithm calculates a score by summing the relative usefulness of public transit (bus, subway, light rail, ferry, etc.) routes near a given location. Usefulness is defined as the distance to the nearest stop on the route, the frequency of the route, and type of route (with twice as much weight given to heavy/light rail than to bus service). Transit Score is based on data published in General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) format by transit agencies across the country. For a more details on the Transit Score methodology, click here.

 

These Are the 10 Most Walkable Cities of 2017

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New York, San Francisco and Boston remain the most walkable large cities in the U.S., according to the latest Walk Score® annual ranking. Miami, which saw its Walk Score rating increase by one point since last year, has surpassed Philadelphia to become the fourth-most walkable city.  Unlike last year, no new cities cracked the top 10.

Rank City Walk Score Change from 2016
1 New York 89.2 +0.3
2 San Francisco 86.0 +0.4
3 Boston 80.9 +0.2
4 Miami 79.2 +1.0
5 Philadelphia 79.0 +0.7
6 Chicago 77.8 +0.3
7 Washington D.C. 77.3 +0.4
8 Seattle 73.1 +0.2
9 Oakland 72.0 +0.5
10 Long Beach 69.9 +0.9

New York City has maintained the No. 1 spot on the list once again. Since Walk Score updated its algorithm in 2014, New York reigns as the king of walkability, and its Walk Score now sits at an all-time high of 89.2.

The nation’s most walkable cities are becoming even more walkable. Of the top 50 most walkable cities only one, Omaha, Nebraska, saw its Walk Score decline, and it only decreased 0.3 points from last year.

Walk Score measures the walkability of a location based on its distance from amenities, density of population, block length and pedestrian friendliness. The annual ranking identifies the most walkable U.S. cities with populations of more than 300,000.

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Changes in the Top Five

Miami’s steady increase in walkability can be attributed to builders and city officials embracing the idea of densely populated neighborhoods.

“Developers are seeing an overall trend in people who desire to live, work and play within the same neighborhood,” said Aaron Drucker, a Redfin real estate agent in Miami. “Developers have focused on popular, urban neighborhoods like Wynwood, Midtown, Brickell, South Beach and Coconut Grove, constructing high rises, multi-family homes and condominiums.This has led to population increases, creating density that didn’t exist in Miami years ago.”

Despite Philadelphia’s drop in rank, the city’s walkability continues to increase. The city of brotherly love saw its Walk Score increase from 78.3 last year to 79.0 in 2017.

“Some main retail arteries that run through hot residential areas are experiencing a huge renaissance,” said Philadelphia Redfin agent Jennifer Seal. “The likelihood that there’s a new grocery store, coffee shop or even spinning studio within blocks of many Philadelphia homes has greatly increased in recent years.”

Changes in the Top 50

Fresno, California experienced a healthy surge, moving up two places in the top 50 and increasing its Walk Score from 45.1 in 2016 to 46.3 this year. Also making moves in 2017 is El Paso, Texas with an impressive leap from 40.0 to 41.5. The Virginia neighborhood in El Paso was named one of Texas’ 10 most walkable neighborhoods.

Columbus, Ohio dropped three places from 38th to 41st most walkable city in the country this year; still the Ohio capital remains in the top 50 with a Walk Score® of 40.7. St. Louis (64.5), Dallas (46.2), Omaha (45.1), Aurora (42.6) and Riverside (41.3) were the other cities to drop rank in the top 50, albeit only one spot each.

Why Walkability Matters

Our goal at Redfin and Walk Score is to help people find the right home, not just any home, and what often makes a home “right” is location. Walkability is about convenience, quality of life and everything outside the four walls of a house. When you live near the people and places you enjoy most, you can spend less time and money on transit and more time doing what you love.

For the full ranking of America’s most walkable cities, click here. To see how your home fares in terms of walkability, get your score here. If you’re looking to buy, Redfin features Walk Score on listings of homes for sale. Renters can use Walk Score’s Apartment Search tfind a rental home in a walkable neighborhood.

Methodology

To calculate the rankings, Walk Score analyzed over 10 million locations and computed more than 2 billion walking routes for 2,500 U.S. cities. The Walk Score algorithm incorporates walking routes, the number of nearby amenities (e.g. restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores), respective distance to those amenities, pedestrian friendliness, population and neighborhood boundary data.

How Much is One Point of Transit Score Worth?

Homes with great transit access are extremely rare in U.S. cities. Less than one percent of homes that are listed for sale today are considered to be in a rider’s paradise (Transit Score of 90 and above). Yet in a survey of more than 1,300 people who bought a home last year, more than one in five said they wish they had paid more attention to the length of their commute from their new homes.To estimate how much transit access is worth when buying or selling a home, Redfin looked at the sale prices and Transit Score ratings of more than one million homes sold between January 2014 and April 2016 across 14 major metro areas.Here are the price premiums of one point of Transit Score on a home, grouped by metro area.
 Metro Area Transit Score  Median Sale Price $ Premium of 1 Transit Score Point on Median Home Price % Premium of 1 Transit Score Point  on Median Home Price
Atlanta 44  $168,000 $1,901 1.13%
Baltimore 58  $229,900 $226 0.10%
Boston 74  $325,000 $3,585 1.10%
Chicago 65  $220,000 $1,731 0.79%
Denver 47  $285,000 $1,366 0.48%
Los Angeles 51  $475,000 $3,095 0.65%
Oakland 55  $523,000 $2,816 0.54%
Orange County 27  $580,000 $(201) -0.03%
Phoenix 32  $204,900 $291 0.14%
Portland 51  $275,000 $1,338 0.49%
San Diego 37  $449,000 $786 0.18%
San Francisco 80  $950,000 $4,845 0.51%
Seattle 57  $375,000 $3,360 0.90%
Washington DC 71  $360,000 $3,457 0.96%

On average, across the 14 metros analyzed, one Transit Score point can increase the price of a home by $2,040. But the price premium varies widely from metro to metro. One point of Transit Score in Atlanta bumps up the price of a home over one full percentage point, or $1,901.  

“It’s easy to see a value premium for a home located near one of the main commuter lines in the metro area because walkability and access to public transportation are relatively rare in Atlanta,” said Redfin real estate agent Rory Haigler. “Atlanta is known for its traffic, so more and more, I’m working with homebuyers who want to be closer to a train or bus line for commuting to and from work. Some people even commute from the suburbs to park near a transit line to get into the metro area because it is easier than driving.”

In Orange County, the effect is small, but being convenient to public transportation actually makes a home less valuable, by $200 for an average home.

“Most people in Orange County prefer to drive their own cars; few would consider any other way to get around,” said Redfin real estate agent Keith Thomas Jr.  “Parking is easy to come by and traffic isn’t bad, so it makes sense that public transit doesn’t impact the price of a home the way it would in a more urban area like L.A.”

“Transit is an important building block to economic mobility,” said Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson.  “The more that cities invest in good transit the bigger financial impact for homeowners and the better access families of all incomes have to jobs and public amenities. Transit is an economic win-win for communities.”

These estimates compare homes by controlling for differences in property and neighborhood characteristics, including property size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, age of the building, type of property (single-family, condo or townhouse), neighborhood median income and total employment, and controls for market conditions (appreciation over time) are also built into the model. In all metro areas, a home located in a more transit-friendly neighborhood was more expensive than the same home in a less transit-friendly location, with the exception of Orange County.

Click here to see Redfin’s 2016 report on the top 10 U.S. cities for public transit.

Analysis by Sheharyar Bokhari, Researcher for The MIT Center for Real Estate:

Methodology

To estimate how much market value homebuyers implicitly attach to a higher Transit Score, Redfin used a hedonic regression. This type of modelling is like a “comps” analysis done by real estate appraisers. The regression makes an apples-to-apples comparison between properties by controlling for different characteristics, to compare the prices of properties with different Transit Scores, “all else being equal.”

The same set of sample properties and the same hedonic regression method was used in a 2016 Walk Score study. Both this study and the 2016 study were inspired by a 2009 study, “Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Home Values in U.S Cities” by Joe Cortright of Impressa, Inc. The variables used in this analysis are similar to those in the 2009 study with the exception of distance to a central business district, which was unavailable for our data. In addition, Redfin also controlled for historical real estate market conditions.

The Best Cities for Living Without a Car

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Image via iStock

What makes a city livable? People have differing views, but for many city-dwellers, proximity to restaurants, grocery stores, parks and jobs are some of the key perks of urban living, especially if those destinations are accessible without a car. According to recent Redfin research, the construction of parking spaces for residential properties is starting to wane, as is the number of families who own two cars. And as traffic concerns and commute times rise across the country, many people are opting out of car ownership entirely.

Redfin compiled the latest Walk Score rankings to see which U.S. cities with populations greater than 300,000 have the highest composite Walk Score, Transit Score and Bike Score rankings. These are places where you could forgo having a car and still be able to get around town in a variety of ways, whether it be by foot, bike or public transit. And while not all cities are created equal, each of these 10 cities has infrastructure to support a car-free lifestyle.

Ranking

1. San Francisco

Even though San Francisco takes second place in every category (walking, biking and transit) the overall score is the highest in the nation. This isn’t a surprise to Redfin agents. “It’s true that most people in San Francisco don’t own cars. It’s said that if you want to own a home that has parking, plan on adding about $300,000 to the cost of your home,” said Redfin real estate agent Mia Simon. “The good news is that nearly every neighborhood in San Francisco is walkable and the BART and MUNI can basically get you anywhere you need to go. It’s very common for prospective buyers to schedule a series of home tours and travel between tours on foot and via public transit to get a feel for what life would be like at their new home without a car.”

2. New York

New York has the highest Walk Score and Transit Score rankings in the nation. Its Bike Score, on the other hand, falls to seventh place. “Even with the bike-share programs accelerating across the city, many streets don’t have special bike lanes and traffic is a deterrent for many people who might otherwise consider biking,” said Redfin agent Jonathan Makolondra. “That said, New Yorkers are certainly accustomed to getting around the city and surrounding boroughs without a car. The MTA subway system is extensive and walking is a great way to take in the sights and sounds of the city.”

3. Boston

It turns out that Boston is a great city for every mode of transportation that doesn’t involve a car. The city ranks third in the nation for Bike,Transit and Walk Score. “In general, Boston is just a really easy city to get around without a car,” said Redfin agent Megan McShane. “In addition to being known as ‘America’s Walking City,’ the T provides access to all the most popular neighborhoods via subway, bus, trolley and boat, and the commuter rail services the outlying suburbs.”

4. Washington D.C.

From Arlington to Silver Spring, the D.C. area has the fourth highest ranking in the nation with a Transit Score of 70. “The METRO provides a lot of routes into the city from various suburbs and within the city there are also plentiful bus routes,” said Redfin agent Dan Galloway. “Biking is really on the rise too. Capital Bikeshare now has 400 stations across the city and more bike lanes and routes have been popping up,” while organizations such as Bike Arlington strive to further increase the popularity of biking in the area. “The city also has plenty of walkable neighborhoods like Dupont Circle, Georgetown and Downtown/Chinatown.”

5. Philadelphia

Philadelphia has the fourth highest Walk Score in the nation and it turns out that it’s becoming more walkable as builders focus on creating walkable new construction throughout the city. “Redfin agents have noticed that a lot of walkable homes are being built in neighborhoods like Northern LibertiesFishtownFrankfordSouth Philly and Point Breeze,” said Redfin agent Tom Lewis. “In addition to great walkability, the city offers plenty of public transportation options as well. Philly is also known as one of the top cities in the nation for bike commuters.”

6. Chicago

“Especially if you live in neighborhoods close to the Loop, a car isn’t necessary in Chicago. Lincoln Park, River North, the South Loop – they’re all worlds unto their own, where you can walk to everything you need,” said Redfin agent Jenn Kim. “Should you want to get out of your neighborhood, the El is a great option, plus the city’s invested a lot in its biking infrastructure. In the summer, the Divvy bike-share program is popular, and it’s not uncommon to see large groups of people cycling home via Milwaukee Avenue during the evening commute.” Chicago also boasts some of the fastest internet in the nation. They’re ready for the future.

7. Minneapolis

“Last year Minneapolis was the only U.S. city on a worldwide list of bike-friendly cities. Mayor Betsy Hodges’ administration has emphasized building more protected bikeways to traverse town, and there’s always the old favorites like the Chain of Lakes trails and the Midtown greenway,” said Redfin agent James Garry. “Add to that a growing light rail system, on-time buses and vibrant neighborhoods like Uptown and Dinkytown, where you can walk to everything you need, and it should be no surprise to see Minneapolis on this list.”

8. Miami

“Even though Miami ranks high for walkability with a Walk Score of 78, its Bike and Transit Scores leave a little more to be desired. With a Bike Score of 60, two wheels probably won’t take the place of four wheels any time soon, but that said, there are neighborhoods like Downtown and Little Havana where cycling is a viable transportation option,” said Redfin agent Cecilia Cordova.  “If you’d prefer to get around town via public transit, there are several options including the Metrorail that runs from West to South Miami crossing through Downtown.”

9. Seattle

“The expansion of the light rail up to Capitol Hill and the University District and the recently approved light rail extension plan indicate that Seattle’s Transit Score could be improving within the next year or two, potentially making Seattle an even friendlier city for those who’d like a car-free commute or lifestyle,” said Redfin agent Kyle Moss. “The bus system also offers great options for commuters and travelers alike, and neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, Belltown and Madison Park are really fun, lively places to walk around. For those who love to bike, Seattle also has some fantastic bike trails, many of them scenic like the Burke-Gilman.”

10. Oakland

“Oakland doesn’t fall short when it comes to public transportation,” said Redfin agent Mia Simon. “The BART and A C Transit are both good options for navigating the city. In addition, the Trans-Bay express bus just makes a few stops and then heads directly to San Francisco. There’s also a ferry from Jack London Square if you prefer traveling by water. Neighborhoods like  Rockridge and Uptown, Lake Merrit/Grand are all super walkable. There are also 13 neighborhoods with a Bike Score above 90, making them a biker’s paradise!”

More Walk Score Data in More Ways

At Walk Score we’re committed to helping people find walkable places to live with easy access to the people and places they love. As part of our ongoing effort to make more data available to more people, we’re excited to announce the expansion of our API offerings. Based on user feedback, we’re now offering Walk Score, Transit Score and Bike Score in a single API. Additionally, for the first time ever you will be able to add a Score Details report to your website with our Score Details API, making it easier for visitors to your site to understand their Walk Score.

Score API example:

Use the Walk Score API to get the Walk Score, Transit Score and for the first time ever, Bike Score for any location. Allow visitors to your website to search for or filter properties by Walk Score. Transit Score is available in 500+ cities and Bike Score is available in 150+ cities.
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Score Details API example:

The Score Details Report explains the Walk Score of a location and shows which categories are more or less walkable. For example, a home or apartment might have great walkability for restaurants and shopping but not for parks and schools. We use the Score Details API on walkscore.com to provide users with insight into their Walk Score and now we’re making this data available to add to your website and mobile apps.

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Public Transit API example:

Transit data is available from 350+ transit agencies with more data being added all the time. Display the distance from your listings to nearby transit stops or enable search near transit on your site.

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Travel Time API example:

Many Walk Score users are familiar with our Travel Time API shown here in use on Walk Score Apartment Search. We’re pleased to announce the official return of this hidden gem. Use the Travel Time API on your site to rapidly calculate travel times between places and visualize travel times on a map. Engage your site visitors by allowing them to explore their commute time. 

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Sign up for an API key or contact us to get started.

Walkability, Real Estate and Public Health Data

In addition to expanding our API offerings, we’re also making more data available for analysts and researchers.

Opportunity Score:

Opportunity Score assigns an address a rating, from zero to 100, that represents how easy it is to get to nearby jobs without a car. Scores also consider the local population to reflect the fact that places with more people likely have more competition for local jobs. Opportunity Score data is now available in a spreadsheet.

Predictive Analysis

We’re also excited to announce a custom predictive analysis service to help developers and planners assess the impact of proposed development. The scope of the analysis can be tailored to your unique needs including the impact on Walk Score, walkshed and amenity access and depth of choice.

Contact us to learn more about using Walk Score data in your research and analysis.

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The 10 Most Walkable Neighborhoods in Mid-Size Bay Area Cities

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Most people aren’t surprised when they hear that San Francisco is one of the most walkable cities in the U.S. With a walk score of 86, the city of S.F. is chock-full of charming neighborhoods, trendy restaurants and loads of amenities, but, with a median sale price of $1.25 million, it also happens to be the most expensive place to live in the nation. So, Redfin set out to see how neighborhoods in other smaller (and often more affordable) Bay Area cities compare when it comes to walkability.

According to our calculations based on Walk Score data, Berkeley is the winner among Bay Area mid-size cities, when it comes to having the most walkable neighborhoods. Not only did downtown Berkeley nail first place, with the high Walk Score of 96, but it also had two additional neighborhoods land in the top 10. After ordering the list of neighborhoods based on their Walk Score ratings, we had our local Redfin agents chime in with insights on what makes these neighborhoods unique. We’ve also included median sale prices, so you can see how the neighborhoods compare when it comes to affordability, too.

Here are the 10 most walkable neighborhoods in the Bay Area:

1.  Downtown, Berkeley: Walk Score of 96

Median Sale Price: $681K

“Downtown Berkeley is a unique area in that it is a fully functioning downtown with a large university just one block off the main strip. Having the University of California, Berkeley so close to downtown offers many amenities for people there such as the UC Botanical Garden, and the UC Berkeley Art Museum. Shattuck Ave. is the main street and houses many loved restaurants and shops such as the top rated New Orleans inspired Cajun Kitchen and Pegasus Bookstore Downtown. This area is especially unique because of the culture, the access to everything within walking distance and the combination of housing offered; from student housing through the university, to apartments, to traditional single family homes,” said Redfin Agent Tom Hendershot.

2. Downtown, San Rafael: Walk Score of 93

Median Sale Price: $863K

San Rafael is known for being the oldest, largest and most culturally diverse city in Marin County. According to theVisit San Rafael page, the central plaza has become a community gathering place for events such as their Thursday night farmers market. “There are about four blocks wide, and 10 blocks long with all kinds of different amenities in the downtown area. Locals enjoy the Puerto Rican restaurant, Sol Food and going to State Room Bar or the local movie theater for a night out on the town. Downtown San Rafael is centrally located, making it easy for locals to walk to the grocery store, the transit system or anything else they might need,” says Redfin Agent Benjamin Faber.

3. Downtown, San Mateo: Walk Score of 93

Median Sale Price: $974K

“A major perk of this area is that it’s an affordable neighborhood, with great access to the Caltrain station. Transportation is everything here; it is an easy walk to the main station from any point of Downtown San Mateo,” says Redfin Agent Matthew Weller. “People enjoy going to Three Restaurant and Bar for brunch, or dinner and drinks. There are classic old shops that have been here for more than 30 years mixed in with many brand-new places, making it a great place for diverse and unique shopping options. In the midst of change, San Mateo has preserved its old culture and family roots.”

4. Southside, Berkeley: Walk Score of 93

Median Sale Price: $1.02M

“One of the major benefits of Southside Berkeley is the easy access to transportation. There is a BART station centrally located that is close to most houses. This neighborhood has all of the bonuses of being in Berkeley, but still has some affordable options compared to other parts of the city. Southside’s many parks, like Willard Park, make it very enjoyable to walk in on a sunny day. The neighborhood is full of young professionals, and is an up-and-coming place to live,” according to  Redfin Agent Tom Hendershot.

5. Downtown, Burlingame: Walk Score of 90

Median Sale Price: $1.09M

“Burlingame’s main street, Burlingame Ave., offers many options to people looking for shopping, such as J. Crew, Pottery Barn and Lululemon. Plus lots of places to eat like Blue Line Pizza, Peet’s Coffee and more. The area has a rare combination of beautiful large homes, highly ranked schools, a low crime rating and easy walkability to the downtown area,” said Redfin Agent Mia Simon. “The convenience of being able to live in a small city, and walk to a lot of commercial places makes Burlingame a destination for people to live.”

6. North Berkeley, Berkeley: Walk Score of 89

Median Sale Price: $1M

“Northside Berkeley has easy access to The Gourmet Ghetto, which is just along Shattuck Ave. and Vine Street. Here you can find a collection of unique shops, sidewalk cafes, bakeries and popular restaurants like Cheese Board Pizza. The Gourmet Ghetto offers endless options for locals. The convenience factor, classic architecture, parks and highly ranked schools make this a great place to live without having to own a car,” according to Redfin Agent Tom Hendershot.”

7. Staumbaugh-Heller, Redwood City: Walk Score of 89

Median Sale Price: $820K

“Redwood City is known for its great weather, because of its high number of sunny days and for not having the San Francisco fog. The Staumbaugh-Heller neighborhood has recently invested in revitalizing the area and improving the infrastructure. One of the recent changes was to the park, Jarden De Ninos. The park now has a selection of play structures, swings and picnic tables that locals can reserve for parties or events. Just a short walk from the neighborhood is the downtown Redwood City area, where you can find a variety of shops from small antique stores to larger brand-name stores. All the nearby amenities make this a popular place for families,” said Redfin Agent Kalena Masching.

8. Downtown, Concord: Walk Score 89

Median Sale Price: $367K

According to the Downtown Concord website, the city is working to make some changes to the area and make it great place for its residents to live. The Downtown Concord Specific Plan Project is working with long term and short term projects to integrate housing, jobs, retail and transportation into the area to make it a better and thriving downtown.

Redfin Agent Chris Amsden says, “Downtown Concord is in the midst of change, but still retains a lot of history. The homes here have been around for a long time, and show a lot of history because of it. There have been many changes over time and I suspect that we’ll continue to see this neighborhood evolve.”

9.  West Washington, Albany: Walk Score of 88

Median Sale Price: $905K

“This area has a nice price point, potential for great views of the city and highly ranked schools. The transit station is centrally located and is just a short walk from most houses here. West Washington is a very family oriented neighborhood and has great nearby schools, which is a huge draw for this area. Locals can easily walk to a variety of restaurants and grocery stores like Trader Joe’s,” according to Redfin Agent Tom Hendershot.

10. Centennial, Redwood City: Walk Score of 88

Median Sale Price: $950K

“The Redwood City Centennial neighborhood shares the same great weather, and same downtown area as the Staumbaugh-Heller neighborhood. In addition to a plethora of sunny days, locals can access all the downtown amenities within a five minute walk. The Centennial neighborhood itself has a good mix of housing options, from bungalow-style homes to  contemporary condo developments. The neighborhood also has some nearby schools including a high school and a Marin Day school. With the Stanford Medical Campus being in Redwood City and an abundance of government jobs being added to this area, more people are starting to consider Centennial as a possible place to live,” says Redfin Agent Kalena Masching.

Walk Score Methodology: Walk Score analyzes hundreds of walking routes to nearby amenities to determine a neighborhood’s Walk Score, which is a number between 0 and 100.  Points are awarded based on the distance to amenities in each category. Amenities within a 5 minute walk (.25 miles) are given maximum points. A decay function is used to give points to more distant amenities, with no points given after a 30 minute walk. Walk Score also measures pedestrian friendliness by analyzing population density and road metrics such as block length and intersection density. For this particular list, Walk Score analyzed the most highly ranked neighborhoods in cities in the Bay Area with populations under 300,000.