College towns burst with school spirit and are shaped by the character of the university or universities in the area. College towns are also distinguished by the surrounding city, the social and cultural gathering places, outdoor spaces and the mix of nearby businesses and amenities.
Our list of the Most Walkable College Towns includes cities with mid-size universities like Brown (the alma mater of two Walk Score co-founders) and large universities like Cal Berkeley with tens of thousands of students.
The Top 10 Most Walkable College Towns in the US:
1. Cambridge, MA Walk Score 87 (Harvard University and MIT)
2. Berkeley, CA Walk Score 79 (University of California at Berkeley)
3. Providence, RI Walk Score 76 (Brown University)
4. Evanston, IL Walk Score 74 (Northwestern University)
5. Hempstead, NY Walk Score 71 (Hofstra University)
6. Ithaca, NY Walk Score 65 (Cornell University)
7. New Haven, CT Walk Score 65 (Yale University)
8. Albany, NY Walk Score 63 (State University of New York at Albany)
9. Medford, MA Walk Score 63 (Tufts University)
10. Lowell, MA Walk Score 62 (University of Massachusetts)
To rank the Top 10 Most Walkable College Towns we analyzed the Walk Score of the cities where the top 200 largest universities are located and then sorted by population, removing larger cities (with over 200,000 residents) which represent a more diversified population and economic base.
Why is walkability important in a college town?
Simply put, cars are expensive; walking is not. The increasing costs of driving is leading young Americans to drive less, according to the Frontier Group. Between 2001 and 2009, the average yearly number of miles driven by 16 to 34-year-olds dropped a staggering 23 percent.
Younger Americans are also becoming less likely to take out loans to buy and maintain cars. New research by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that student debt has grown dramatically over the last decade — some 43 percent of Americans under age 25 had student debt in 2012, with an average debt burden of over $20,000.
One way that students can save money is by not owning and maintaining a car. And, in fact, public transportation use is up 40 percent per capita in this age group since 2001 and bicycling is up 24 percent.
Walk Score is helping students find housing by aggregating apartments and homes for rent from around the Web to make it easy for students to find places to live by commute time, walkability, and access to public transit.
As a college student myself, my favorite aspect of living in the walkable neighborhood of Seattle’s University District, is that daily errands don’t require a car. Within walking distance is a concentrated core of restaurants, coffee shops, bars, grocery stores, parks, and entertainment that are essential to the community.
Finding an apartment is similar to choosing a college. You factor in the costs, size, people you will live with, the extensive application process, and most importantly, location. Location is key to the college experience and Walk Score can help you find the right fit!