Are you looking for a new place to live? Are you concerned about the cost of living? Consider this – you can save a lot of money simply by walking instead of driving to run errands or to get to work. From getting groceries to shopping for gadgets, walking is good for you and the absolute cheapest way to get around.
So a cheap apartment in the suburbs might end up costing you more money than one in the city, if you end up needing to burn expensive fuel anytime you leave the house. Combine that cost with the hidden expenses of driving, from wear and tear on your car to the risk of an accident, and the advantages of walking become clear pretty quickly.
WalkScore helps you figure out how walkable any address is, helping you determine an important part of a given home’s value. It is a perfect tool to supplement any housing search. To quote their website:
Our vision is for every property listing to read: Beds: 3 Baths: 2 Walk Score: 84. We want to make it easy for people to evaluate walkability and transportation when choosing where to live.
This is an admirable goal. Walking increases quality of life, so why shouldn’t it be a key part of any housing search? We’ve shown you the top 5 apartment search sites already. WalkScore makes all of them better by focusing on one important factor. It officially works in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand; other countries might work as well but not fully.
Checking Any Address
Head to WalkScore and enter an address. You’ll then see a map and a collection of results:
This is the main way you’ll use the site: doing research on any potential apartment or house you’re thinking about living in. You’ll see a run-down of nearby essentials, ranging from groceries to entertainment to schools. You’ll also see an overall score for the address, giving you a way to compare its walk-ability with other addresses.
Don’t have a particular address in mind? You can bring up a list of neighborhoods in just about any city.
This will give you an idea of areas you might want to check out during your housing search.
Another factor to consider: how will you be getting to work? Walk Score lets you calculate your commute time and how much it will cost. Whether you plan on driving, walking, biking or taking the bus, this tool covers it all.
Once you figure out your commute costs, you can calculate the overall costs of living in a particular place. There’s a built-in tool for doing this:
You can combine your rent and your commuting costs with this, giving you an idea of the hidden costs of a cheap, car-dependent home. Remember, living in the suburbs may seem cheaper, but the total cost of commuting and rent might add up to more. Using this tool lets you determine whether that’s true or not in your situation.
How Does It Work?
So how does this site calculate Walk Scores? Good question. The site’s creators explain:
The Walk Score algorithm awards points based on the distance to the closest amenity in each category. If the closest amenity in a category is within .25 miles (or .4 km), we assign the maximum number of points. The number of points declines as the distance approaches 1 mile (or 1.6 km) – no points are awarded for amenities further than 1 mile. Each category is weighted equally and the points are summed and normalized to yield a score from 0–100. The number of nearby amenities is the leading predictor of whether people walk.
This seems reasonable to me, and I’m finding the tool very useful. I want to hear from you guys, though. How walkable is the place where you live? Share scores below, along with any other sustainability tools I might not know about.