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The simple beauty of walkability

Walkability sounds like such an environmental buzzword, but the people flocking to buy homes with high walk scores include more than just the eco-conscious millennials. The math is quite simple, really. Many Americans spend as much on transportation as they do on housing. Take a new car payment, add in insurance, rising gas prices, and a 20 +/- mile one-way trip to work; multiply that by two. This is the situation of many two-earner households. They are spending as much on their rapidly-decreasing-in-value automobiles as they are on the investment in their home.

A walk score is simply the measurement of essentials and services that are available within the immediate radius. A walk score by itself may be a bit too simple to accurately represent the desired walkability of a home. A walk score does not take into consideration the overall quality of the available walk. The comfort and enjoyment. Walking a tree lined path past well manicured lawns and common areas is far more enjoyable than trudging along the sidewalk of a busy highway.

A large number of baby boomers are opting to live in communities that provide all the services they need. When a retiree chooses to age in place, they have the added benefit of frequent and convenient social interaction. Seniors living in walkable neighborhoods are more likely to know all their neighbors, be involved in politics, be more open and trusting of others, and have an overall higher enjoyment of life than seniors living in car dependent neighborhoods.

Not surprisingly, they also tend to live longer, healthier, and more active lives than seniors who eventually are at the mercy of another person's schedule for their transportation. They must wait on a friend or relative to do their shopping, socialize, or just get out of the house. When a person is able to set and control their own schedule and make their own plans for shopping and culture events, they are able to live independently for longer. Aging adults who live an active lifestyle, that includes walking, significantly reduce their risk for dementia and debilitating mental decline.

Seniors are not limited to living in retirement communities and the younger generation that is looking for walkability is not limited to city dwelling. An increasing number of developers are working to create mixed use communities that appeal to people who want driving to be an option, not a necessity. Homes with high walk scores not only have a higher resale value, builders are finding that when they build homes in areas where people do not have to drive, they can charge more for them.