Walkability - A Great Feature to Grow Old With
I was raised in the city, where it was pretty much possible to walk anywhere. If you preferred, however, you could just as easily hop on a bus or a subway. It was never a problem. Public transportation ran on a regular schedule and traveled to every conceivable destination.
When I grew up and moved to the suburbs with my own family, it was only natural for me to try to replicate the lifestyle to which I had grown accustomed. I knew, instinctively, that a hub would make all of us happier as it is a center of activity and there is easy access from all different directions.
These days, there are some new housing descriptions popping up in our vocabularies: co-housing, villages, and pocket neighborhoods. Baby boomers are preparing for their senior years and are getting creative in the process. They would like to restore an old-fashioned sense of community; homes that are safe, secure and in close proximity to their neighbors.
Food for Thought - Can your current home support your future needs?
AARP says, by choice or necessity, the time will come when you will stop driving and be dependent on other methods for getting around. Their studies show that men will outlive their driving years by 7 years and women, by 10 years.
A newly upgraded and very handy website allows you to plug in just about any town in the nation and come away with a walk score: www.walkscore.com. But what exactly does this score mean?
Quality of Life.
While you're pondering your retirement location, don't forget to factor in this all-important ingredient in your choice of a community. It can make all the difference between full, fun, well-adjusted senior years and isolation which often leads to depression.
(The following highlighted bullet points were copied from the above-referenced website.)
What makes a neighborhood walkable?
- A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a center, whether it's a main street or a public space.
- People: Enough people for businesses to flourish and for public transit to run frequently.
- Mixed income, mixed use: Affordable housing located near businesses.
- Parks and public space: Plenty of public places to gather and play.
- Pedestrian design: Buildings are close to the street, parking lots are relegated to the back.
- Schools and workplaces: Close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.
- Complete streets: Streets designed for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit.
It means still being able to participate in activities although you no longer drive.
It means proximity to restaurants, transportation and shopping.
It might further include:
- bike lanes
- resting spots in the middle of large and busy streets
- access to public transportation
- parks and green spaces for relaxation and cultural activities
- trees for shade and beauty
- recreational centers
- community services i.e., a farmer's market
Walking has terrific health benefits. It is good for the environment and it makes financial sense as real estate with a high walkability score commands a premium on the market.
Shopping Trolley Fernando de Sousa
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Graduate REALTOR Institute
Jill Sackler, NYS Real Estate Broker Associate based on Long Island's South Shore
Specializing in Lifecycle Real Estate Transitions
©Jill Sackler 2010