All posts in “Walkability”

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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.

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The Nation’s Most-Walkable Cities Got Even More Walkable in 2016

Reposted from Redfin.com.

New York remains the nation’s most walkable city in the latest ranking by Walk Score®, a Redfin company. Walk Score ranked the most walkable U.S. cities with populations of more than 300,000.

Rank City Walk Score Change from 2015
1 New York, NY 88.9 +1.3
2 San Francisco, CA 85.7 +1.7
3 Boston, MA 80.1 +1.2
4 Philadelphia, PA 78.3 +1.7
5 Miami, FL 78.2 +2.6
6 Chicago, IL 77.5 +2.7
7 Washington, D.C. 77.0 +2.9
8 Seattle, WA 72.9 +2.1
9 Oakland, CA 71.5 +3
10 Long Beach, CA 69.0 +3.2

Long Beach edged out Baltimore (68.7) to bring some SoCal spirit to this year’s ranking. The Southern California region was unrepresented on the top 10 list each of the past two years. Long Beach also had the largest yearly increase of all 10 cities, up 3.2 points, helping it rank among the most walkable cities in the nation.

“Recognizing Long Beach as the most walkable city in Southern California, and one of the most walkable in the entire country, is a testament to the hard work we’ve been doing to improve and expand pedestrian infrastructure and support safe and convenient travel for everyone,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. “We intend to continue making Long Beach a great place to walk and to live, work and visit.”

“A renaissance has been happening in Downtown Long Beach, which now has a Walk Score of 92,” said Redfin agent Michelle Zabukovec. “In addition to some brand new buildings, developers are rehabilitating structures that were already in place. The city has even created an incentive program for rehabilitation projects, and has also focused on improving walkability by adding more pedestrian lighting to create safer sidewalks. One example of this is the Pine Avenue Improvement Project. And of course everyone loves First Fridays on Atlantic Ave. and 2nd Street in Belmont Shore.”

All of the top 10 cities saw an increase in their respective Walk Score ratings, indicating that the nation’s most walkable cities are becoming even more walkable. Of the top 50 most walkable cities, only two, Honolulu and Columbus, improved by less than a point.

“Improving a city’s Walk Score takes work. In these communities, construction crews have built an invitation for walking,” said Eric Scharnhorst, livability analyst at Redfin. “Safer sidewalks are now connected to a greater variety of everyday amenities. This creates opportunities for both local businesses and families.“

Omaha, which ranked 32nd, had the largest year-over-year Walk Score increase of the 50 most walkable cities, with an improvement of 4.3 points. With a Walk Score of 45.4, the city is still considered “car dependent,” but many neighborhoods saw big gains in their ratings.

“This improvement in Omaha’s Walk Score is likely thanks to revitalization projects underway in neighborhoods across the city,” said Redfin real estate agent Travis Thomas. “Notable areas of development include Downtown, Blackstone and Aksarben Village where developers have been creating a mix of residential and commercial real estate and rehabilitating older buildings.This efficient use of space and resources means that people can live, work and shop on the same block.”

Six additional cities that ranked among the top 50 most walkable cities saw notable increases in their scores from last year. St. Louis, Missouri, Denver, Colorado, Aurora, Colorado, Santa Ana, California, as well as Austin and Houston in Texas, all saw a Walk Score increase of four points or more.

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The 10 Most Walkable Neighborhoods in Texas

Reposted from Redfin.com. 

Texas may not have a reputation for walkability, with its wide open spaces and 800 miles of land between its northern and southern borders, but there are actually many densely populated, highly walkable neighborhoods throughout the state. But which city has the most walkable neighborhoods? Is it Austin, with its burgeoning Millennial cohort, densely populated Dallas or the expansive city of Houston?

According to our calculations based on Walk Score data, Dallas is the big winner when it comes to walkability. Not only did Downtown Dallas nab our number one spot for the most walkable neighborhood in the state with an 89 out of 100 Walk Score, but Dallas also tied for the most neighborhoods to make the top 10 list, with a total of three neighborhoods. Austin came in a close second place to Dallas, with three neighborhoods in the top 10 list, including the number two and three slots.

Which cities didn’t fare so well? Houston, San Antonio and El Paso, which made the bottom slots of our list, and Fort Worth, which didn’t make an appearance at all.

To see the full list and how the neighborhoods shake out, take a look at our findings below, which rank neighborhoods based on their Walk Score ratings and our own agents’ local insights. Do the winners surprise you? Leave a comment! And to see how your hometown or neighborhood stacks up, head over to WalkScore.com.

1. Downtown Dallas – Walk Score 89

Downtown Dallas tops our list of the best neighborhoods in Texas for pedestrians with a Walk Score rating of 89. Residents living in the many high-rise condos enjoy easy access to centrally located jobs, cultural opportunities in the museum district and the popular Klyde Warren Park.

“Downtown Dallas is continuing to grow and develop into a top-tier urban destination,” said Redfin agent Bob Plessinger. “Our city has seen incredible growth over the last decade, especially from out-of-state buyers looking to escape sky-high prices in places like San Francisco. Many of these buyers purchase homes downtown because they know they’ll be able to quickly familiarize themselves with the city and all it has to offer, even without a car. They can walk across Klyde Warren Park and tour Oak Lawn/Uptown, or they can walk any other direction and access excellent restaurants and bars.”

2. Downtown Austin – Walk Score 88

Recent efforts by the City of Austin through programs like the Great Streets project have made Downtown Austin one of the most walkable neighborhoods in Texas. Public spaces along the roadways, updated sidewalks, ample lighting for night-time activities and streetside cafes give residents safe, easy access to the heart of the city.

“There has been a huge push to make Downtown a more livable place,” said Lauren Johnson, an agent with Redfin. “Many cities have downtowns that stay busy and vibrant during the day, but once 5 p.m. hits people pack up and go home. Austin’s downtown, however, is full of people through the evening because they have access to a huge variety of interesting places to eat, drink or shop. If you live in one of the many condos downtown, you’ll be in the center of it all.”

3. West Campus, Austin – Walk Score 87

West Campus is aptly named for its location directly west of the University of Texas. Since most of the neighborhood’s 15,000 are college students without cars, the neighborhood is highly walkable. You’ll find many small craftsman bungalows built in the 40s, a swath of decade-old condos and a recent influx of brand new apartment buildings.

“Not surprisingly, this neighborhood is densely populated with students. They really have everything they need within walking distance – they can run or exercise along the Shoal Creek Greenbelt, study for finals at one of the many coffee shops or go out to one of the local bars on a Friday night, and when they land an internship downtown they’re just a short commute away,” said Lauren Johnson.

4. Oak Lawn, Dallas – Walk Score 86

Walk across Klyde Warren Park on the north side of Downtown Dallas and you’ll be in Oak Lawn/Uptown. This neighborhood has a bustling retail corridor and a slew of new restaurants and eateries. It also has all the necessary amenities like grocery stores, gas stations and the like. Residents can easily access downtown jobs, but can remain somewhat separated from the dense urban core.

“There is a huge variety of homes in Oak Lawn — for example, you can get a mid-rise condo with expansive city views, or you could move farther north to Turtle Creek and get a small rambler,” said Bob Plessinger. “Property values in Oak Lawn run the gamut as well, anywhere from $350 per square foot to $1,800 per square foot, so the neighborhood is accessible to all types of homebuyers.”

5. Midtown, Houston – Walk Score 82

Houston dwarfs its fellow Texas cities in size and population, but it’s not known for its walkability. Most Houstonians will tell you that their main method of transportation is a car, but there are certainly pockets within the I-610 Loop where walking is a viable way to get around. Midtown is one of those neighborhoods. It is close enough to downtown that residents can walk to work, yet it is full of its own local hang-outs, restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops and bars.

“Residents living in Midtown can walk to downtown or hop on the rail line and quickly get across the city and catch a sporting event at BBVA Compass Stadium, Minute Maid Park or Toyota Center, but one of the best things about Midtown is that it has its own vibrant scene,” said Redfin agent Irma Jalifi. “Locals really don’t need to leave the area for fun or entertainment – it’s a one-stop-shop with plenty of options within walking distance for nightlife or running quick errands on a weekend.”

6. Knox/Henderson, Dallas – Walk Score 81

Knox/Henderson is farther from Downtown Dallas, but still within a reasonable commute time for residents with inner-city jobs. This area is undergoing stunning growth as residents flood to the area and developers rush to meet their demand.

“Many Dallas neighborhoods have older, classic homes, but Knox/Henderson is seeing an inflow of new, modern townhomes and condos, in styles that typically appeal more to out-of-state buyers,” said Bob Plessinger. “More restaurants and shops are cropping up as new residents arrive in the neighborhood, so I expect that this neighborhood’s walk score will continue to improve over time.”

7. Downtown San Antonio – Walk Score 81

Downtown San Antonio has all of the typical attractions of an urban core — retail shops and businesses, restaurants and cultural happenings — but the River Walk is the real draw for pedestrians. The lined pathway sits one story below street level and stretches from downtown to Mission Espada, with pet-friendly bars and lively restaurants, as well as more tranquil sections without businesses all along the way.

While the river walk is certainly a tourist attraction, local residents make use of it, too. “The river walk is an especially popular destination for local families and their kids,” said Erin Pierce, a real estate agent with Redfin. “The majority of the homes nearby are condos and lofts, and a lot of new developments are coming into the area. The river walk creates a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the downtown streets.”

8. East Austin – Walk Score 81

East Austin has been on the rise in recent years as new developments make their way to the neighborhood. Many developers are replacing older homes with more modern structures, but some residents still favor the 30s and 40s style and opt for heavy renovations that keep the charm and personality of the home in-tact. The variety in home styles, coupled with the neighborhood’s close proximity to downtown (it’s just on the East side of I-35), draw in all types of homebuyers.

“This neighborhood is increasingly popular with my customers,” said Lauren Johnson. “One of the most important things to my buyers is finding a home that fits their unique style, and the variety in structures in East Austin provides that. One of the other important things for my buyers is a high Walk Score, and this neighborhood is full of interesting shops, bars, restaurants, stores and public spaces in close proximity to the quiet residential streets.”

9. Neartown/Montrose, Houston – Walk Score 80

Neartown/Montrose is one of Houston’s older, more colorful neighborhoods. You’ll find a mix of home styles from ultra-modern to 1920s craftsman, and a mix of residents to match. Young professionals working downtown can live in Neartown/Montrose and manage an easy commute, students attending the University of St. Thomas are within striking distance of campus and golfers are a short drive from Hermann Park Golf Course.

“Everything you need is really within walking distance here,” said Irma Jalifi. “There are several parks, including dog parks, all along the Buffalo Bayou Trail, fun restaurants and bars on and just off of Westheimer Road, and a plethora of boutiques, shops and convenience stores scattered throughout. This is also one of Houston’s more laid-back neighborhoods — the quiet streets make it feel very far from the noise and activity of downtown, yet it’s just a short commute away.”

10. Virginia, El Paso – Walk Score 78

The Virginia neighborhood of El Paso isn’t known for its bustling night life or active daytime scene, but it is still a highly walkable neighborhood for its 1,100 residents. Running along the north border of I-10, Virginia is a narrow strip (just two blocks wide) of older homes and the occasional mom-and-pop shop. Locals can get most of their shopping done within walking distance, and are just a short distance from businesses and attractions downtown.

“Residents on the southwestern end of the Virginia neighborhood are just a short walk away from some of downtown’s main attractions, like the convention center, the El Paso Museum of History and the El Paso Museum of Art, while residents on the northeastern side are within walking distance to El Paso High School, Tom Lea Park and the city’s main hospitals,” said Redfin agent Maggie Garcia. “If you want to live in quiet residential neighborhood that also has access to the more lively areas of town, Virginia is a good bet.”

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.

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Why You Should Buy the Cheapest Home on the Best Block

Reposted from Redfin.com.

I bet you think buying an affordable city home requires a sacrifice: the neighborhood will have a low Walk Score and the highly rated schools will be out of reach.

Not necessarily. Some affordable homes are in city neighborhoods near highly rated schools and within walking distance to everyday amenities. But there’s a catch. To find them, you’ll need to search in neighborhoods that have plenty of expensive homes in them, too.

Here’s why: neighborhoods with a mix of home prices are three times more likely to be walkable and have highly rated schools than are purely affordable neighborhoods.

Even when compared with purely high-end neighborhoods, home to the highest-rated schools, neighborhoods with a mix of home prices are the most likely to have it all: a high Walk Score and schools with above-average ratings.

Median Walk Score, GreatSchools Ranking for Different Types of Neighborhoods

Neighborhood Home Price Mix Median Neighborhood Walk Score Median Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable 54 4.1
Balanced-Mix 70 5.1
High-End 57 6.9

The problem is that areas with a balanced mix of home prices cover just 13 percent of major U.S. cities. We looked at the 20 most populous cities Redfin serves and identified these neighborhoods in the fall because communities with a wide range of incomes, and by association, home prices, give families a better shot at getting ahead.

But are these actually the kinds of places where most people would want to live? After affordability, homebuyers’ top two demands are good schools and walkability. So we ranked the 170 balanced-mix and affordable neighborhoods by their Walk Scores and GreatSchools school ratings and found that only 24, or 14 percent, actually meet those common demands. Here they are:

Top 24 Affordable and Balanced Mix Neighborhoods Ranked by Walk Score and GreatSchools Score

Rank Neighborhood Home Price Mix Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
1 University District, Seattle Balanced 91 7.8
2 West End, Washington, DC Balanced 95 6.5
3 Adams Morgan / Kalorama Heights / Lanier Heights, Washington, DC Balanced 94 6.5
4 Queen Anne, Seattle Balanced 80 7.4
5 Ravenna, Seattle Balanced 74 7.7
6 Rosedale, Austin Balanced 69 8.1
7 International District, Seattle Affordable 97 5.2
8 Columbia Heights, Washington, DC Balanced 93 5.5
9 Fulton River District, Chicago Balanced 92 5.2
10 Hillcrest, San Diego Balanced 80 6.3
11 Banker’s Hill San Diego Balanced 84 5.8
12 Zilker, Austin Balanced 64 7.6
13 Westmoreland / Montrose, Houston Balanced 83 5.6
14 Platt Park, Denver Balanced 75 6.3
15 Eastlake, Seattle Balanced 69 6.8
16 Windsor Square, Phoenix Balanced 74 6.2
17 Victory Heights, Seattle Affordable 64 7.0
18 Rolando / SDSU, San Diego Affordable 74 5.9
19 Columbia City, Seattle Affordable 80 5.2
20 Bouldin Creek, Austin Balanced 75 5.4
21 West Highland, Denver Balanced 74 5.1
22 Highland, Austin Affordable 63 6.1
23 El Cerrito, San Diego Affordable 65 5.8
24 Schorsch Village, Chicago Affordable 68 5.2

Only eight of the original 20 cities from our last report have a neighborhood on the list. Not a single neighborhood in Boston made the cut, even though Boston topped the list in our last report for having the most area covered by a balanced mix of home prices. These neighborhoods are walkable, but the schools have below-average ratings.

So, what’s going on here? There just aren’t enough of these kinds of neighborhoods for everyone who’s looking for an affordable home. It’s one reason we’re asking policymakers to loosen restrictions on building in Seattle and other cities so that more integrated housing can be developed and more people can live in these types of neighborhoods.

Take Los Angeles, for example.

“Homebuyers have to pay a significant premium to live in a neighborhood with highly rated schools and amenities,” said Redfin agent Nikki Kilmer. “Although there are technically some neighborhoods in L.A. that could be considered affordable, there’s not much demand to live in those areas.”

If you are looking for an affordable home, your instinct might be to search in affordable neighborhoods. But if you also want highly rated schools and a high Walk Score, look for the least-expensive home in one of the mixed-priced neighborhoods on this list. This is a lot like grandpa’s strategy to make a safe real estate investment, “buy the cheapest home on the best block.”

Check out the table below to see how the affordable and mixed-price neighborhoods in your city stack up in terms of walkability and school scores. Click here to download a spreadsheet complete with the Walk Score, average GreatSchools rating and median sale price for each neighborhood analyzed in this report series.

The Top Affordable and Balanced Mix Neighborhoods in 20 Cities by Walk Score and GreatSchools Ranking

Austin Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable Highland 63 6.1
Balanced Mix Rosedale 69 8.1
Baltimore Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable Brewer’s Hill 90 1.8
Balanced Mix Otterbein 90 1.7
Boston Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable Jones Hill /
Uphams Corner
85 3.6
Balanced Mix Hyde
Square
88 3.6
Chicago Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable Schorsch
Village
68 5.2
Balanced Mix Fulton River District 92 5.5
Columbus Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable Misty Meadows 48 7.9
Balanced Mix German Village 86 1.9
Denver Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Score
Affordable Cole 75 3
Balanced Mix Platt Park 75 6.3
Detroit Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable Sherwood Forest 68 4.1
Balanced Mix South
University Village
92 4.4
Houston Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood Greatschools Rating
Affordable Sagemont 39 6
Balanced Mix Westmoreland 83 5.6
Indianapolis Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable Augusta
Heights
42 4.5
Balanced Mix Downtown Indianapolis 76 4.9
Jacksonville Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable Southwood 36 5.2
Balanced Mix Isle of
Palms
17 6.4
Los Angeles Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable South Los Angeles 68 4.1
Balanced Mix
Memphis Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable Binghampton-Lester 55 4
Balanced Mix Central
Gardens
60 4
Philadelphia Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable Castor Gardens 77 3.7
Balanced Mix Olde City 97 4.6
Phoenix Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable Estrella Northwest 42 6
Balanced Mix Kierland 52 9.1
San Antonio Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable Timber Ridge 39 5.4
Balanced Mix Alamo Plaza 79 4.7
San Diego Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable Rolando 74 5.9
Balanced Mix Hillcrest 80 6.3
San Francisco Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable Hunters Point 43 5.4
Balanced Mix Visitacion
Valley
62 5.2
San Jose Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable Downtown 82 4.2
Balanced Mix
Seattle Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable International District 97 5.2
Balanced Mix University District 91 7.8
Washington, D.C. Neighborhood Walk Score Neighborhood GreatSchools Rating
Affordable Lamond-Riggs 70 4.4
Balanced Mix West End 95 6.5

Method and Data
We used home sale price data from Redfin from July 2013 through June 2015. City-specific median family income came from the 2014 one-year American Community Survey.

To define affordability in each city, we kept it simple: A home was considered affordable if 28 percent of the local median family income could cover the monthly mortgage and principal payment, assuming the buyer put 20 percent down and took out a 30-year loan with a four percent interest rate. Homes with sale prices 20 percent above that threshold were considered expensive.

To get the price mix of different areas, we summarized the price of recently sold homes in a 500-meter grid. Affordable areas had at least three affordable homes for every expensive home. Areas with a balanced mix of home prices had a ratio of affordable to expensive homes between 0.33 and 3.0. High-end areas had at least three expensive homes for every affordable home.

We considered a neighborhood “walkable” if it had a Walk Score of 60 or higher. Read more about the Walk Score methodology here. An above average GreatSchools score meant 5 or above. Read more about the GreatSchools methodology here.

 

2015 Ranking of Most Walkable Cities

New York Ranks No. 1 and Increases Lead Over San Francisco; Revitalization is Pushing Detroit and New Orleans Up the Ranks

New York, the nation’s most walkable city, has increased its lead over No. 2 San Francisco in our 2015 ranking of the most walkable cities. The two cities essentially tied for first place in 2011. We ranked the most walkable U.S. cities with populations of more than 300,000.

Walk Score Ranking of Large U.S. Cities

Rank City Walk Score
1 New York 87.6
2 San Francisco 83.9
3 Boston 79.5
4 Philadelphia 76.5
5 Miami 75.6
6 Chicago 74.8
7 Washington D.C. 74.1
8 Seattle 70.8
9 Oakland 68.5
10 Baltimore 66.2

“New York is clearly leading the way in walkability by reclaiming space from cars for people,” said Matt Lerner, Walk Score co-founder. “One look at Times Square shows how New York has become a leader. It’s just one example of a place that went from being a gridlocked road full of cars to a park for pedestrians.”

High Line Park

Other Highlights:
Miami is becoming more walkable, with a Walk Score increase of more than three points since 2011, likely thanks to a surge of commercial development. New home construction has increased population density in some neighborhoods and made it easier for people to live, work and shop in the same part of town.

“People can now walk where they used to have to drive, especially in neighborhoods like Wynwood and the Design District where a lot of new restaurants and shopping and entertainment centers have opened up,” said Aaron Drucker, Redfin’s Miami market manager. “Even in traditionally walkable areas, like South Beach, public transportation is improving and becoming a more attractive option as parking rates and traffic are both on the rise.”

Detroit has seen a 2.2-point Walk Score increase since 2011 to 52.2 this year.

Downtown Detroit has become noticeably more walkable over the past few years thanks to Dan Gilbert’s initiative to move his company, Quicken Loans, and others from the suburbs back to the heart of the city,” said Lauren Buttazzoni, Redfin market manager in Detroit. “Following these companies has come a slew of new restaurants, locally owned shops and small businesses. It’s not just millennials but families and people of all generations who want to live near work and enjoy the action and amenities of city living. As a result, real estate in the city is in great demand, new lofts and condos are being built, and prices–in rents and sales alike–are rising. It has all been a great boon for the motor city.”

New Orleans has changed, too, as the city continues to reinvent itself following Hurricane Katrina. The city is rebuilding with walkability in mind as it develops affordable housing and revitalizes commercial districts, which may have helped the city’s Walk Score increase from 55.6 in 2011 to 56.3 today.

Methodology
To calculate the rankings, we analyzed over 10 million locations and computed more than 2 billion walking routes for 2,500 U.S. cities. For the second year in a row, the Walk Score ranking uses the Street Smart Walk Score algorithm that incorporates walking routes, depth of choice, pedestrian friendliness, population  and neighborhood data. The changes in scores between the 2011 and 2015 rankings reflect changes in methodology (Classic Walk Score vs. Street Smart Walk Score) as well as changes in the cities themselves.

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.

More Insight Into Your Score

Today, we’re excited to launch a new way to help you understand your Walk Score. 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.

Score Details

Click the Score Badge to see your Score Details Report explaining your Walk Score.

More Accurate Scores

Last year, with our 2014 City and Neighborhood Rankings, we launched our “Street Smart” Walk Score methodology.  We’ve started rolling this more accurate methodology out to every address.  To do this, we’ve analyzed over 300 billion walking routes to update the Walk Score for 1.5 billion locations.

Updated scores and the Score Details Report are available today on all of our apartment and rental listings and will be coming to your address soon.  If you’d like your Score Details Report and updated score, just Tweet @walkscore with your address and we’ll send you a link.

How Does “Street Smart” Walk Score Work?

For each location, “Street Smart” Walk Score computes the walkability of an address by calculating hundreds of walking routes to nearby places, measuring the depth of choice in each category (e.g. restaurant choice), analyzing pedestrian friendliness, and using the best local data including tens of thousands of places added by the Walk Score community.

How Scores Are Changing

Scores may go down in neighborhoods without direct walking routes.

For walkable neighborhoods (pictured above on the left), our “Street Smart” methodology does a better job distinguishing between walkable and very walkable places.  Getting a high score requires depth of choice — for example, the ability to walk to a large number of restaurants.  In walkable neighborhoods, scores will be similar or may increase.

For less walkable neighborhoods (pictured above on the right), scores may decrease because walking routes are longer and pedestrian friendliness is lower (measured by urban planning metrics such as average block length and intersection density).

World Walk Score Map

Thanks to all the people in all the bright places on the map above who have looked up their Walk Score!  As always, please send us your feedback!

 

12 Cities Where You Can Live Affordably in a Walkable Neighborhood

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:

Buffalo1.  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.

 

St. Louis2.  St. Louis, MO

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.

 

Rochester3.  Rochester, NY

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.

 

Chicago

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.

 

Pittsburgh

5.  Pittsburgh, PA

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.

 

Minneapolis6.  Minneapolis, MN

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.

 

Milwaukee7.  Milwaukee, WI

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.

 

Cleveland8.  Cleveland, OH

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.

 

 

Baltimore

9.  Baltimore, MD

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.

 

Dallas

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.

 

Richmond11.  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.

 

Sacramento12.  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.

 

Runners Up:  Providence, RI and Philadelphia, PA

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.

 

Crime Grade for Homes and Apartments

A high Walk Score tells you that you’re close to the people and places you love. But is the neighborhood safe from crime?

Today we’re announcing Crime Grade, the first measure of crime safety for a home or apartment that accurately measures your personal risk.  Crime Grade is an A – D rating that tells you how likely you are to be affected by crime.

Crime Grade is an A-D rating for an address.

Crime Grade is an A—D rating for an address.

Why Does it Matter?

Crime safety is a top concern for people looking for apartments and shopping for homes. What matters most is your per capita risk of being affected by crime.  Other crime maps and statistics often make walkable neighborhoods with lots of people (e.g. Downtowns) seem unsafe because they only measure how many crimes are reported — not the per capita crime rate.

The Walk Score Crime Grade is computed using a patent-pending system that aggregates crimes near an address and weights crimes by severity and distance.  We calculate a per capita crime rate for an address based on the total population (residents and workers) in the area.  Crime rates are then compared against city-wide rates and converted into a letter grade. We have a separate Crime Grade for personal crime (e.g. robbery or violent crime that affects a person) and property crime (e.g. burglary or theft that affects property). This allows you to accurately compare your crime risk between addresses in a city.

For example, below are two maps of crime in Chicago. The map on the left shows reported crimes and makes Downtown Chicago appear quite dangerous.  The Walk Score crime map on the right shows the Crime Grade (e.g. your per capita risk of being affected by crime) in this area. Although there are a lot of crimes reported in Downtown Chicago, there are so many people that your personal risk is still low.

Crime Maps

Available for Every Address in 16 Cities

Crime Grades are available in the 16 cities listed below where police departments make their crime reports publicly available:

Crime Grades are available today on all Walk Score apartment and rental listings in the cities above and will be rolling out to every address in these cities soon.

We’ve been working on our Crime Grade methodology for over a year.  We initially launched neighborhood crime comparisons in the summer of 2013. Please send us your feedback, we’d love to hear what you think.

 

Walkable Summer Reads

"Reading’tis the season for the summer reading list! After watching this TEDx talk  (The Suburbs are Dying, so Let’s Create a New American Dream), I hunted down Leigh Gallagher’s The End of the Suburbs. I liked the way she spoke about the shift in what the American Dream means to those looking for a home today, so I wanted to hear more of her ideas.

“In The End of the Suburbs journalist Leigh Gallagher traces the rise and fall of American suburbia from the stately railroad suburbs that sprung up outside American cities in the 19th and early 20th centuries to current-day sprawling exurbs where residents spend as much as four hours each day commuting. Along the way she shows why suburbia was unsustainable from the start and explores the hundreds of new, alternative communities that are springing up around the country and promise to reshape our way of life for the better.”

If you’re interested in learning more about what’s happening around the idea of walkable cities — and walking in general — we’ve compiled a handful of good reads to keep you occupied:

  • Walkable City by Jeff Speck: Speck is an urban planner and advocate for sustainable growth. His book tackles both the process and the benefits of growing cities that fully embrace walkability as a value. (Note:  I follow Jeff on Twitter and he posts great links to interesting shorter web reads, too.)

    “Jeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability. Making downtown into a walkable, viable community is the essential fix for the typical American city; it is eminently achievable and its benefits are manifold. Walkable City—bursting with sharp observations and key insights into how urban change happens—lays out a practical, necessary, and inspiring vision for how to make American cities great again.”

  • Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit: A history of walking, that most human of activities. Solnit’s book features poets and ramblers and philosphers and takes us walking in  — can you believe it? — Las Vegas.

    “What does it mean to be out walking in the world, whether in a landscape or a metropolis, on a pilgrimage or a protest march? In this first general history of walking, Rebecca Solnit draws together many histories to create a range of possibilities for this most basic act.”

  • The Option of Urbanism by Christopher B. Leinberger: What made the car dependent suburbs so popular and how does the US government continue to favor suburban development? Leinberger examines the intersection of politics, development and sustainability.

    “In The Option of Urbanism visionary developer and strategist Christopher B. Leinberger explains why government policies have tilted the playing field toward one form of development over the last sixty years: the drivable suburb. Rooted in the driving forces of the economy—car manufacturing and the oil industry—this type of growth has fostered the decline of community, contributed to urban decay, increased greenhouse gas emissions, and contributed to the rise in obesity and asthma.”

  • Unlocking Home by Alan Durning: A look at how zoning and regulations are limiting housing options, slowing the development of the kind of density that makes for great walkable cities, and as an unfortunate by product, limiting affordable housing.

    “Hidden in city regulations is a set of simple but powerful barriers to affordable housing for all. These rules criminalize history’s answers to affordable dwellings: the rooming house, the roommate, the in-law apartment, and the backyard cottage. In effect, cities have banned what used to be the bottom end of the private housing market. They’ve made urban quarters expensive and scarce, especially for low-income people such as students, seniors, blue-collar workers, artists, and others who make our cities diverse and vibrant.”

  • Completing Our Streets by Barbara McCann: Barbara McCann founded the National Complete Streets Coalition, an organization that advocates that streets are not just for cars, they’re for transit, cyclists, and pedestrians too. Her book is a practical take on how to work for Complete Streets in your community.

    “The complete streets movement is based around a simple idea: streets should be safe for people of all ages and abilities, whether they are walking, driving, bicycling, or taking the bus. Completing Our Streets gives practitioners and activists the strategies, tools, and inspiration needed to translate this idea into real and lasting change in their communities.”

Did we leave anything out?

And a safety warning to keep you on your feet — don’t walk and read, kids! The worst ankle injury I’ve ever had was because I was reading and walking at the same time.

Reading is good. Walking is good. Do both, just not at the same time.

Image: Reading in Central Park via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Do You Live in a Food Desert?

A food desert is a neighborhood without access to healthy food.  Why does this matter? Living in a food desert can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease1.

Walk Score helps you make more informed decisions about where to live, like finding an apartment or buying a home within walking distance of a grocery store.

Many cities are making access to healthy food part of their general plans.  For example, Washington D.C.’s sustainability plan sets a goal of having 75% of residents within a 5 minute walk of healthy food.

But how many people can walk to a grocery store in 5 minutes?

Today, we’re announcing a new ranking of the best and worst U.S. cities for access to food based on our database of local places and our Travel Time API and ChoiceMaps technology.

The Best Cities for Food Access

Our ranking measures access to healthy food by calculating the percent of people in a city who can walk to a grocery store in 5 minutes.  The ranking below includes U.S. cities with more than 500,000 residents.

The best cities for access to healthy food are:

Rank City People with Food Access (5 min walk)
1 New York 72%
2 San Francisco 59%
3 Philadelphia 57%
4 Boston 45%
5 Washington D.C. 41%
The best and worst cities for food access.

The best and worst large cities for food access.
Areas in green indicate where you can walk to a grocery store in 5 mins.

The Worst Cities for Food Access

The following cities have the lowest percentage of people who can walk to a grocery store within 5 minutes:

Rank City People with Food Access (5 min walk)
1 Indianapolis 5%
2 Oklahoma City 5%
3 Charlotte 6%
4 Tucscon 6%
5 Albuquerque 7%

Note that rentals and real estate in a city such as Tuscon is much less expensive than in a food-friendly city such as Philadelphia.

Don’t See Your City? Urban planners and researchers, please contact us to unlock your city.

Methodology

To calculate the percent of residents in a city with access to healthy food we use a variety of data sources and technologies.  Our population data and city boundaries come from the U.S. Census. Our list of grocery stores comes from a mix of Google, Localeze, and places added via the Walk Score website. We calculated millions of walking routes for this ranking with our Travel Time API.

Our goal is to only include grocery stores that sell produce.  We filter out convenience stores with a combination of algorithmic filters and crowdsourcing.  That said, it’s harder than it sounds to get a clean list of grocery stores.  If you see a convenience store miscategorized as a grocery store, please click the “Edit place” link and help us improve our data quality.

Our rankings are proximity based and do not include the cost of food.  Some studies have shown that shoppers select supermarkets based on price as well as proximity2.  For example, people with lower incomes may travel farther to shop at a cheaper grocery store.

Unlike other food desert maps, our maps are dynamic and updated in real-time as our database of underlying grocery stores changes.

Walk Score Data for Your City, County or State 

Walk Score data is being used by a growing number of cities and planning districts.  “The City of San Jose is using Walk Score data to start tracking performance metrics for our general plan such as how many people can walk to fresh food and parks,” said Joseph Horwedel, Deputy City Manager of San Jose.

Walk Score offers data in spreadsheet or shapefile format for every address in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.  We have also aggregated our data for every city and ZIP code in the U.S.

Planners, researchers, and analysts are using Walk Score in a variety of ways:

Contact us to learn more about using Walk Score data in your research and analysis and watch this video to learn more about Walk Score ChoiceMaps: