Author Topic: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?  (Read 2409 times)

YoungGranny

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 675
  • Age: 29
Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« on: August 30, 2018, 10:54:49 AM »
My DH and I live in a LCOL area in Michigan with high salaries. There's a lot of pro's to where we are but I can't help feeling nostalgic every time I visit a big city. We used to live in Chicago and loved it there (minus the winters). I've read the relocation guide and gotten some decent ideas from there but I thought crowd sourcing for my specific requirements might uncover a hidden gem. We're kicking around the idea of moving since I grew up in this area and we don't want to stay here just 'cuz. Figured it's best to do our due diligence to make sure we make the right decision for our family. So what are our requirements:

-MCOL somewhere we can live on $50k annually. We want a 2bd place and my max budget for housing would be ~$1,800 a month.
-Walkable/Bikeable community. This is the big one for us, while we do bike most places, where we are in Michigan is NOT bike friendly. We have few dedicated bike lanes. We do have sidewalks everywhere but the way our city is structured into neighborhoods it takes us at least a mile to get out of housing which means at least a 30 minute round trip commitment. I would like restaurants/groceries/libraries/parks within a half mile.
-Public transportation - I'm not a fan of driving and it seems most American cities are reliant on cars. If I could walk/bike/public transport for ~80% of my needs I'd be happy.
-Farmer's Markets - we really enjoy having a CSA and buying most of our goods at a farmer's market. Here in Michigan it can actually be cheaper than the grocery store; when I was in DC recently markets were insanely expensive so having access to high quality, reasonable farmer's markets is on our list.
-Fun activities - I really miss all of the street festivals in Chicago it was a great, cheap way to have fun.
-Mild winter - we don't mind some winter but Michigan's can last forever. A city with only 3-5 months of winter and not 12+ inches of snowfall at a time would be a plus. Winters are not a deal breaker and we're probably more tolerant than others. I went to college in middle-Indiana and found it quite enjoyable.
-Diversity - I went to a very diverse school growing up and would be nervous to move somewhere that people were openly racist.

So what suggestions do you have for me wise internet folks? If your current city checks off most of these boxes I'd love to hear it!

AMandM

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 915
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2018, 11:42:09 AM »
Won't you be my neighbour? ;)

Seriously, I live in Hyattsville, MD, just outside DC, and it checks all your boxes.

-You can definitely rent a 2br apartment for under $1800, or less if you don't mind basement apartments.

-I can walk to parks, the public pool, Aldi, post office, CVS, Latin american restaurants, fast food, dry cleaner, bank. If I lived a mile farther east, I could walk to Yes organic grocery, brew pub, yuppier restaurants, gift shops, and African restaurants. Library, shopping center with Target etc., and bigger grocery stores are all about a mile away, Home Depot another mile beyond.

-I'm a 10-minute walk from the metro, and many bus lines stop within a block or two of my house.

-Hyattsville itself, while walkable, is not super bike-friendly, because there aren't a lot of bike paths and there is a lot of on-street parking. OTOH, on the non-major streets the traffic is low so biking is still pretty safe and unstressful.  And there is very easy access to a large network of bike trails--you can go to Bethesda or down to Nationals Park or to the waterfront in DC or into DC. Although as a woman I would not ride the trails alone after dark.

-There are farmer's markets in all the neighboring towns, including some pretty big ones. Some are close enough to walk or bike to. We also have CSAs, Hungry Harvest, and organic food co-ops nearby.

-Fun activities: free DC museums, all the DC tourist attractions, local festivals, waterfront activities, film fests, local arts district, two universities within 3 miles, ....

-Winter is chilly rather than cold, often around freezing but rarely below for sustained periods, little snow. Having lived in Michigan you will be astonished at how paralysed the region gets when there is a significant snowfall. 18 inches (winter of 2016) closed the schools for a week, but that hardly ever happens.

-Diversity: the east side of town is more yuppie, and mostly a mix of whites and blacks; farther west is a little more blue-collar and is a mix of Hispanics and whites; still farther west there are a fair number of African immigrants. Not very many Asians. People seem to get along well; I haven't heard of any racially-motivated incidents and I see people of all hues enjoying themselves together in public places.

affordablehousing

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 358
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2018, 11:57:35 AM »
If I were you, just move anywhere Amazon is considering for its second headquarters. Those are all great places.

nwhiker

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 88
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2018, 12:23:00 PM »
So here is my pitch for Spokane. I have lived in large metropolitan areas in Florida and Oregon before and enjoy the smaller size of Spokane. We live about 5 - 10 minutes from downtown and have a very walkable neighborhood. For example within 2 miles of us we have two libraries, three parks,  our kid's school, four grocery stores, a Target, and probably 30 plus restaurants.

There are lots of free activities during the summer at the parks plus the city pools are free. There is plenty of opportunities outside the city for hiking and playing in lakes. When we first moved here we rented and were paying less than $1,400 for a 3 bedroom home that was 2,800 sqft. The average house price in the city is sitting around $231,000 and if you are looking for something that has 2 bedrooms you could find a good size house 1,500 - 2,000 house for around $1,500.

Diversity is decent. I would say more than Oregon but less than Florida. The winters are probably better than you are used to but still long. You can expect snow between January - March but can occur earlier. Like last year we had some snow in November and April; however, it isn't a significant amount and melted fairly quickly.

freeat57

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 98
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2018, 05:03:24 PM »
Your criteria are very similar to mine.  Starting in 2015, I began a serious search for such a place, except I'm more winter phobic than you.  (Did my time in the midwest already!) I have lived in six states in the USA and two other countries.  I have now been in the Atlanta area for nearly two years and recently was thinking about how much I like it here!  It is probably my second favorite of all the places I have lived.  The top of the list is Sonoma County, CA. 

To address the most raised question; the weather here has been on average milder than I expected.  There is a lot of outdoor cafe weather here.  The area I live in is highly walkable and becoming more so.  There is a huge "Livable Communities" initiative in metro ATL and my area is particularly progressive with a solid development plan in progress.

I live very near a MARTA station (light rail/subway) and can walk to pretty much everything, ranging from Whole Foods to Walmart to ethnic groceries.  My condo building is like a united nations, Asian, Latin, Middle Eastern, European, and even a few of us regular white and black Americans. 

There are several communities like this in ATL.  Look along the blue, red and gold MARTA lines to the east and north of downtown.  Google "MARTA TOD" to find info on the Transit Oriented Development projects which are geared toward developing high quality of life live/work zones in ATL.  Of course, an issue is that real estate values rise as soon as an area is designated a TOD.   The one thing that will make you life hell in ATL is to plan on a long commute by car to work every day! 

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2018, 08:05:11 PM »
I do - small Rust Belt town in a mid sized growing MSA (Allentown), very compact with most services walkable and good schools.

Housing stock is pre-WWII but itís pretty inexpensive and worthwhile to improve.

DoNorth

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 226
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2018, 04:04:12 AM »
I can speak to this a little since I'm from Michigan as well.....the far far north part.  First, we moved back home to Michigan from Northern Virginia because we have lots of family nearby and the natural surroundings (our house is on the big lake) are phenomenal.  I can walk 50 ft, throw a kayak or paddle board in the water and have a great day of recreation. 

But its about the least bike friendly place; almost no trails/lanes to speak of so we really got into nordic skiing/snoweshoeing and learned to embrace winter. Mid March-April are pretty rough because the snow often times isn't good enough to ski or snowshoe on.  After living there for 3 years, I was offered a job in south west Europe and it has a lot of what we wanted and you mentioned, but Michigan doesn't have without paying a lot to live in a place like Traverse City:  very walkable, bikeable, daily covered farmers market, music events/street festivals and very LCOL.  There are miles and miles of trails through vineyards and towns that go on forever.  Long story short, we're taking a break from Michigan and when we're ready in about 2-3 years we'll head home.

CindyBS

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 451
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2018, 09:55:27 AM »
Check out inner ring suburbs, even better "streetcar" suburbs of older cities.  Most built before people had cars and most of them have residents who value walkability and bike-ability.  It is not just a matter of sidewalks or bike lanes, it is having a culture in the community that cars are not the only thing that matter and having driving who look for pedestrians at crosswalks, make room for people on bikes, etc.   

bop

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 85
  • Age: 56
  • Location: Somerville, MA
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2018, 10:11:03 AM »
-Walkable/Bikeable community. This is the big one for us, while we do bike most places, where we are in Michigan is NOT bike friendly. We have few dedicated bike lanes. We do have sidewalks everywhere but the way our city is structured into neighborhoods it takes us at least a mile to get out of housing which means at least a 30 minute round trip commitment. I would like restaurants/groceries/libraries/parks within a half mile.
-Public transportation - I'm not a fan of driving and it seems most American cities are reliant on cars. If I could walk/bike/public transport for ~80% of my needs I'd be happy.

If you haven't seen it before, you might wish to check out www.walkscore.com.  It provides a Walk Score, a Bike Score, and a Transit Score for many neighborhoods. 

SilveradoBojangles

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 318
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2018, 10:51:07 AM »
Ann Arbor fits the bill (aside from the winter part, though I suppose it's as good as it gets in Michigan?). Very walkable, great famers market, my husband bikes to work all year. The city has lots of cool things to do - shows, festivals, etc. Our house is a 2 bedroom purchased last year, short walk from downtown, and our mortgage meets your criteria. Our spending is less than 50K a year for a very nice life. Plus detroit is 45 min away and there is a lot of cool city stuff to explore on the occasional weekend. And the dtw airport is only 30 min away! If one has to live in Michigan, it's a pretty cool place.

seattlecyclone

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4982
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Seattle, WA
    • My blog
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2018, 11:20:39 AM »
Seattle seems to tick all your boxes pretty well. Even on the housing front, two-bedroom homes can be rented in walkable neighborhoods for less than $1,800.

dang1

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 148
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2018, 01:01:31 PM »
Vallejo, California. your banana tree thrives year round

Cranky

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1764
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2018, 05:13:20 PM »
Really, it's about choosing your neighborhood with walking in mind. I walk everywhere, because I don't drive, and I've always been careful to pick a place to live with things I can walk to.

nessness

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 415
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2018, 10:01:04 PM »
Sacramento. I don't personally live in a walkable neighborhood but there are some where you could find an apartment in your budget. Mild winters. Decent bus system and a train station for traveling to other cities. Lots of activities. Lots of farmer's markets. Majority minority city.

mozar

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3006
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2018, 06:01:46 PM »
Check out Old Greenbelt, MD. I am typing this while sitting in the lawn watching live music at the annual Labor Festival. Hi neighbor in Hyattsville!

SnackDog

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1284
  • Location: Latin America
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2018, 07:09:48 PM »
Every mid-sized or larger city in America has fairly walkable places to live if you look hard enough.  We currently reside in Houston, which is notoriously car-bound, yet I walk to work, schools are two blocks away, heaps of bars and restaurants within a few blocks walk, dog parks, gym, dry cleaning, almost-decent bus service, free bikes three blocks away, cheap Uber, etc.  Uber has a deal running with a $3 discount to your favorite location.  For me, that is $3 to work if it's raining.  My neighbor and work colleauge has a $350k income, no car and seems to make out ok.  It sure as heck cuts down on shopping for bullshit you don't need by not having a car to get to the stupid big  box shops.

Fomerly known as something

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 776
  • Location: Midwest
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2018, 04:46:59 PM »
I was going to say look around where you are.  I recently moved back to my hometown in Michigan but not my home neighborhood.  I don't have all the things you want that are walkable in a 1/2 mile but within 1.5 miles yes.  I think the 1/2 mile requirement is a bit too limiting when it came to housing as the areas I was looking in just didn't have much turnover.  But if I had moved to my parents neighborhood, nothing was within walking distance on you list.  My parents live on the other side of town about 20 miles away in all.

I too have lived in a big city, in my case NYC which is why I choose to search out the right neighborhood for me and not just any neighborhood when moving back.

YoungGranny

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 675
  • Age: 29
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2018, 06:51:23 AM »
Thanks for all the replies! One poster hit the nail on the head it's really about having a culture in the community where cars are not the only thing that matters.

Nice to see so many fellow Michiganders chiming in - for what it's worth most of my points could be checked off right where I live if I moved into the city limits. I currently live in a "suburb" because it's within biking distance to my job. I am a proud Michigander at heart and think this is a great state that provides almost everything one could want, I'm just so darn sick of winter. Perhaps in retirement I'll do a nice 6 months up here and 6 months traveling in warmer climates but for now I'd love to find a good middle ground.

You all have certainly given me some new places to research!!

nkt0

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 192
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2018, 07:14:11 AM »
In my opinion as a trained urban planner, Philadelphia is the most affordable walkable major city in the US. It's pretty good for bicycling, if you don't mind being on the road with cars. But the narrow streets, short blocks, and street grid make walking a breeze. It's also mild in the winter and close to both NYC and DC. Great cultural institutions. Terrible schools. Terrible corrupt politics. Lots to do for free. Limited parks in some neighborhoods. Good public transit (for America). And best of all, now that the Eagles won the Super Bowl, people are happy for another week or two until they lose their first game.

Cranky

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1764
Re: Do you live in a walkable neighborhood?
« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2018, 07:27:35 AM »
Thanks for all the replies! One poster hit the nail on the head it's really about having a culture in the community where cars are not the only thing that matters.

Nice to see so many fellow Michiganders chiming in - for what it's worth most of my points could be checked off right where I live if I moved into the city limits. I currently live in a "suburb" because it's within biking distance to my job. I am a proud Michigander at heart and think this is a great state that provides almost everything one could want, I'm just so darn sick of winter. Perhaps in retirement I'll do a nice 6 months up here and 6 months traveling in warmer climates but for now I'd love to find a good middle ground.

You all have certainly given me some new places to research!!

Also, I don't know where you are in Michigan, but I'd say the AA/Ypsi are very walkable, depending on where you choose to live.