Living in a walkable neighborhood can save you a lot of money, particularly in savings on car costs. But with rents skyrocketing in many parts of the country, sometimes it feels like affordable rent and walkability go together like chocolate and salsa (hello, $4500 studio in San Francisco).
In the face of these sometimes dismal rent numbers, we decided to find the places in the country where you can live a walkable, urban lifestyle – affordably. To answer this question, we looked at Walk Score data, Cost of Living Index, and average rents for every major city in the country. And, in all of the cities listed below, there’s a nice selection of one bedroom apartments located in Walker’s Paradise neighborhoods (meaning a Walk Score of 90+) listed on our apartment search for $1000 or less. Take a look at our top 12 picks for affordable and walkable cities:
1. Buffalo, NY
Despite, the long, cold winters, this once-great industrial hub in western New York is home to a vibrant community of young professionals and students in walkable areas like Bryant and Front Park. Located where the Niagara River flows out of Lake Erie, Buffalo boasts great nightlife, an emerging dining scene, and neighborhoods with a strong sense of community.
Home of the Gateway Arch and the Cardinals, this Midwestern city boasts not only walkable neighborhoods and affordable rent, but also plenty of free activities. Forest Park, the site of the 1904 World’s Fair, houses a free zoo and world-class art museum. Walkable neighborhoods such as the revitalized Downtown, the Central West End, and the Delmar Loop offer a variety of apartments at affordable prices.
On the shores of Lake Ontario, Rochester brings together small-town charm with world-class culture. Even in the winter, when snow is high and temperatures are low, walkers can navigate downtown in the Rochester Skyway, a system of enclosed walkways. Residents, many of whom live in walkable neighborhoods like Pearl-Meigs-Monroe and Park Avenue, can also jump in a car share and head out for a day trip to the gorgeous Finger Lakes, a major wine-growing region.
4. Chicago, IL
Although the Windy City may not immediately seem like an affordable home, prices are well below those in comparable large US cities – we found tons of Walker’s Paradise apartments for less than $1000 a month, especially in neighborhoods like Lake View, Uptown, and Hyde Park. Chicago’s many walkable neighborhoods (seriously, there are 28 with a Walk Score of 90+) are connected by one of the country’s best public transit systems.
Famous as the center of the steel industry in the 19th century, Pittsburgh is located where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers join the Ohio River. Pittsburgh’s landscape is defined by waterways, hills, and bridges connecting walkable neighborhoods such as the Central Business District and the Southside Flats. A vibrant music scene, passionate Steelers fans, plentiful students, and a lively culinary scene come together in this surprisingly hip and liveable city.
One of the Twin Cities, together with nearby St. Paul, Minneapolis is known as the city of lakes. Although average rent is higher than some cities, there are plenty of affordable places to be found in Lowry Hill East, Whittier, and Loring Park, and with a bike score of 79, this city is the most bikeable city (with a population over 200,000) in the country.
Known for its breweries and its avid sports fans, Milwaukee sits on the Western coast of Lake Michigan. Locals flock to Brady Street on the Lower East Side for independent coffee houses and shopping, and foodies love the indoor Milwaukee Public Market in Juneau Town.
Yet another town on the Great Lakes that is both affordable and walkable, Cleveland is located on the shores of Lake Erie. The Downtown neighborhood is in the midst of a revival, making this a great place for urbanites on a budget.
This Maryland city may be near D.C., but Baltimore has a character all of its own. Home to the world renowned Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as well as the Baltimore Orioles, this city has something for everyone. Neighborhoods like Mount Vernon, Seton Hill, and Charles Village offer walkable and affordable apartments, and for those who love to live in a walkable city but still experience nature, Gwynns Falls Trail is an excellent example of an urban trail system.
10. Dallas, TX
Texas may not be known for a car-free lifestyle (and, to be fair, none of Texas’s main cities have an impressive overall Walk Score), but Dallas has a surprisingly walkable city center with plenty of affordable places to live around the Main Street District, the Farmers Market District, and the Government District.
11. Richmond, VA
First settled in 1607, Virginia’s capital city is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Now, residents can enjoy the historic Shockoe Bottom area and beautiful Edwardian architecture in The Fan district, as well as a quick walk to work at any of 60 public and private companies in the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park.
12. Sacramento, CA
The hub of California politics, Sacramento is one city in the Sunny State where affordable rent isn’t out of the question. With beautiful weather year round, residents of Sacramento can enjoy affordable rent and a walkable lifestyle in neighborhoods like Boulevard Park and Mansion Flats. To top it off, they can jump in a car share and get to the Napa Valley or even Lake Tahoe in less than two hours.
Both these lovely cities are highly walkable and actually have a good number of apartments in our price range (under $1000 for a 1 bedroom in a Walker’s Paradise), but the overall high average cost of living index meant they got relegated to runners-up.