Qualities of a Walkable Neighborhood

Author: Lauren Ross

Woman crossing a crosswalk in  her walkable neighborhood.

So you need a walkable neighborhood to move around freely? Owning a car can be such a huge expense for a renter, especially for those who reside in a city where parking fees are just as much of a headache as car horns blaring in the middle of the night.

Living in a walkable community means you don’t have to worry about pricey parking permits and a limited amount of spaces. Being able to walk from one place to the next also offers additional benefits regarding your health, finances, and the environment. Walking will keep you fit, you’ll save money on gas and vehicle maintenance, and you’ll lower your carbon footprint!

While you’re out touring apartments – and if walkability is an important factor to you – take a look around and see if the community’s location you’re previewing meets any of the qualities of a walkable neighborhood. If it has most of these traits, then the area is walkable!

1.People are leaving the grocery store with one bag of food and supplies.

Does this scene catch your eye? It’s most likely that these patrons are local and this community is a very walkable one. The residents have the luxury of popping into the store for essentials on their way home. And if you settle here, you can too!

2. There’s a bar next door.

You won’t really find this in the suburbs (well, not in many anyways). If you see a bar or pub next door to the apartment community, then you’re definitely in a neighborhood with great walkability. Maybe it’ll become your next meet up spot for friends and co-workers, just like the How I Met Your Mother group that hangs out at McLaren’s Bar.

3. Food delivery fees don’t exist.

Ordering food and having it delivered is such a convenience. The downside, though, is that it often comes with a delivery fee. A good indication of a walkable neighborhood is a $0 delivery fee, which means you’re located in the restaurant’s free delivery parameters – or Grub Hub is feeling generous.

4. There are more pedestrians and bicycles than cars.

Do you notice more residents commuting on foot and bicycles than cars? You’re probably in a very walkable part of town, where it’s faster to get from Point A to Point B by walking and biking than driving every day.

5. Coffee shops dot the streets.

A walkable neighborhood will have a plethora of coffee shops, so you can pick up your vanilla latte with ease. I mean, how do you think everyone is getting the energy to get up and walk or bike to the office? A high foot-trafficked area is the ideal spot for coffeehouses, from familiar name brands to hole-in-the-wall cafes that are also bookstores.

6. It’s cheaper to take a Lyft than to find parking (but you really don’t have to do either).

For those nights when walking just isn’t a viable option – like when it’s raining – a ride-share service can cost less than $5 – that’s a steal when parking lots charge $10 or more.

7. The town center or park is viewable from the apartment community.

Whether it’s a town center or park, being in sight of these public amenities is a big indicator that the neighborhood is walkable. These areas are great gathering spots that hold many community events, such as seasonal concerts and festivals, so it makes sense that they are highly trafficked in the neighborhood.

8. Mixed-use buildings and properties dominate.

When all of your needs, including boutiques, restaurants, and employers, are in a single place near the apartment, there’s no need to drive. These conveniences make for a very pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, and you a happy renter!

9. The community has a high Walk Score® on Apartment Finder.

Do the communities you viewed have a high walk score number? A high score means a very walkable neighborhood, whereas a low score means you’ll need a car to get around.