Looking for a new home or apartment can be a very trying task. Obviously price is a huge factor when considering your options. What you can afford in rent or how long it will take to pay off the mortgage has a big influence in your decision-making process. But location is another important aspect that should not be overlooked. In fact, people these days are using location factors to narrow down the selection before even looking at the prices. They are looking for urban areas in the center of the city that are close to everything. Using location as a house-hunting method has many benefits.
After living out in the country I know firsthand that it is no fun having to drive twenty to thirty minutes away to go to school and to get groceries. Finding a place that is near the essentials (such as schools, grocery stores, restaurants, stores, your job, etc) makes life much easier. Instead of meticulously planning your trip out, you can just hit the places you think you need and not worry about it. Forgetting something is as painless as taking a walk or driving a mile down the road. Having hospitals nearby is great in case of an emergency. And you might even be able to avoid the traffic on your way to work.
With the price of gas as high as its been, people need every chance they can get to make their drive times shorter. Picking a home close to your job will greatly reduce your commute time and the amount of money you spend on gas each month. Same goes for every time you have to run errands or take the kids to a friend’s house. Even better, if your home is super close to some places you might be able to walk or ride a bike instead. This way you are spending zero dollars on gas and getting exercise at the same time.
Health and Sustainability
As mentioned before, walking not only saves you money but it’s a great way to get in some exercise. Research studies show that people who live in highly walkable places weigh 6-10 pounds less than those that have to drive most of the time. Walkable neighborhoods also seem to make people happier and fresh air is good for them. Speaking of fresh air, 82% of the CO2 emissions dirtying up our skies are from burning fossil fuels (i.e. driving). But your feet emit zero pollution, so they are a much cleaner method of transportation.
What is Walk-ability?
Simply put, a location that is walkable is somewhere that is within a decent walking distance of places that are important to you. Location has become such a popular factor in house-hunting that a website has been created to help people know the walk-ability of various neighborhoods and areas. Walkscore.com is a great place to go if you want to know what homes or apartments are available in different areas. You can search in the location you think you’d like to live, and then filter the results with such variables as price, size, how short you want your commute time to be, availability of public transport, and how close various essentials are.
Every time you search, each hit shows the location’s Walk Score (in relation to the places around it). The Walk Score has become so important to people that apartment and housing websites are beginning to display it on their listings as a way of enticing searchers. So, the next time you are looking for a new home, figure out the location of where you want to live first. Then all you have to do is find a place in that location that fits your budget.