Author Topic: How much to spend for walkability  (Read 6752 times)

frugal_engineer

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How much to spend for walkability
« on: July 11, 2013, 06:22:12 AM »
Hello staches, I'd like to poll your opinions on what sort of dollar value you'd assign to walkability. I'm moving with my significant other in the northern dc area. We're considering a variety of places, but it appears that a few apartment areas around 1-3 miles from "downtown" silver spring and north Bethesda can offer similar living amenities for a bit cheaper with the drawback of being that distance from groceries, restaurants, etc.

So, back to the question: given equal apartments, one a few hundred yards from the grocery store vs a few miles, how much of a premium would you pay for those last few miles?

jfer_rose

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2013, 06:50:55 AM »
This is certainly going to vary according to individual priorities, but to me Walkability/Bikeability is the most important factor in choosing a place to live. Although in my case I'm not sure I really paid a premium in terms of cost-- I paid my premium in terms of space. That is, I chose a very, very small home, well below my means. But I do recommend examining your own priorities.

Disclaimer: you could probably say I'm a walkable/bikeable zealot :) I love living in the city and I've lived in the DC city limits the entire 11 years I've lived in the area, despite the fact that for the majority of those years I worked jobs in the DC suburbs. Luckily I've been working in DC for the last 5 years. To me downtown Silver Spring or Bethesda aren't walkable/bikeable enough.

MissStache

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2013, 06:55:34 AM »
If I moved into DC proper and was withing walking distance to grocery stores, metros, etc, I would sell my car.  For me personally I would factor in at least what it costs to own and operate my car, plus a little more for convenience factors.  Obviously the actual number would be different depending on the person, but I'd be willing to pay $200-$250/month for something that was walkable.

frugal_engineer

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2013, 07:05:37 AM »
Well there would be no ditching the cars, unfortunately our work places are roughly 20 miles apart so were trying to split the difference. Really the car cost difference for walkable or a little further would be more stops at stores on the way home vs going home and then hitting the stores.

TrulyStashin

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2013, 07:24:20 AM »
If you have to keep the cars anyway (for now) then I'd lean toward saving money on lower rent.  Drive home then walk or bike back out to stores to get your evening exercise.  Or make a quick stop after work, then go home.  Vary depending on weather/ degree of stress incurred that day etc.

totoro

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2013, 07:37:52 AM »
Grocery stores are not the only measure of walkability.  How far are these places from work?  If you have to commute twice a day five days a week vs. walking to the grocery store twice a week it would not be worth it to me.




olivia

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2013, 07:40:48 AM »
This is certainly going to vary according to individual priorities, but to me Walkability/Bikeability is the most important factor in choosing a place to live. Although in my case I'm not sure I really paid a premium in terms of cost-- I paid my premium in terms of space. That is, I chose a very, very small home, well below my means. But I do recommend examining your own priorities.

Disclaimer: you could probably say I'm a walkable/bikeable zealot :) I love living in the city and I've lived in the DC city limits the entire 11 years I've lived in the area, despite the fact that for the majority of those years I worked jobs in the DC suburbs. Luckily I've been working in DC for the last 5 years. To me downtown Silver Spring or Bethesda aren't walkable/bikeable enough.

Ditto! I prioritize walkability above pretty much everything else. So I have a much smaller place than most people, but I'm in a great neighborhood and can walk to the grocery store, shops, etc., and bike pretty much everywhere else.

fiveoclockshadow

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2013, 07:41:07 AM »
If you already have 20 miles of commute to deal with walking to a grocery store isn't going to help much.  Just be smart about your driving - don't make separate trips for things but instead pick them up on your commute.

totoro

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2013, 07:51:34 AM »
We also downsized for walkability.  We went from 2000 square feet to 1600 square feet.  We can walk everywhere - including kids walking to school.  I would trade size - within some limits - before spending more money.

ChiStache

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2013, 08:53:11 AM »
Walkability is extremely valuable, even if you have to drive to work, because it easily incorporates physical activity into your daily lives. People who live in walkable neighborhoods have dramatically lower rates of diabetes for example: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/politics/2012/09/alarmingly-strong-link-between-diabetes-and-walkability/3326/

Also, walkable neighborhoods are just more fun to live in, IMHO. You get to know your neighbors and local shop owners, so there's a greater sense of community.

SunshineGirl

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2013, 08:58:23 AM »
Walkability = priceless.

OK, maybe not priceless, but if your finances are strong and you're saving enough to reach your goals, this is definitely an area where I would spend money without hesitation. Get the smallest place you can stand and spend more time outside in your neighborhood.

Fletch

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2013, 10:44:44 AM »
Walkability is incredibly valuable to me (the ground floor of my building is a grocery store), but I'm not sure that the new downtown silver spring is what most people have in mind when they think about "walkable" neighborhoods, if I recall correctly it is mostly chain restaurants and clothing stores (besides the theater and seasonal ice skating).

If one of you is metroing and one is driving, or if you both regularly take the metro then downtown makes sense and the extra rent is worth it, but if you are both driving on a daily basis then saving the difference makes sense. It's almost impossible to call two apartments "otherwise equal" if their location doesn't fit your lifestyle: for people without cars downtown is the only reasonable option and for people who drive everywhere paying for parking and dealing with traffic downtown is a terrible idea.

Edit to add: I didn't intend to sound snarky about silver spring. What I was trying to say was, from my perspective walkability means able to walk to work, social events, and necessities, and no standard walkability metric will be personalized enough to reflect your priorities.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2013, 10:56:54 AM by Fletch »

MrsPete

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2013, 10:51:44 AM »
Grocery stores are not the only measure of walkability.  How far are these places from work?  If you have to commute twice a day five days a week vs. walking to the grocery store twice a week it would not be worth it to me.
I don't know.  I have to be at work all too early in the morning -- before light in the winter -- and being late isn't an option.  I have to go to work every day whether it's good weather or bad.  On the other hand, if it's raining, I can just say, "Forget the grocery store.  I'll just eat soup."  So, to some extent being able to walk to the grocery store is more appealing to me. 

dragoncar

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2013, 11:09:59 AM »
If you have to keep the cars anyway (for now) then I'd lean toward saving money on lower rent.  Drive home then walk or bike back out to stores to get your evening exercise.  Or make a quick stop after work, then go home.  Vary depending on weather/ degree of stress incurred that day etc.

+1

Don't forget that parking in walkable areas also tends to be harder and/or more expensive.  They often have more spending temptation (cool restaurants vs cooking).

And if you drive 20 miles a day, surely there is a grocery store somewhere along that route which will add negligible miles to your travel.

Beyond economics it's just personal preference if you prefer a walkable area.

gooki

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2013, 07:59:33 PM »
10 to 20%

totoro

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #15 on: July 11, 2013, 08:09:15 PM »
Grocery stores are not the only measure of walkability.  How far are these places from work?  If you have to commute twice a day five days a week vs. walking to the grocery store twice a week it would not be worth it to me.
I don't know.  I have to be at work all too early in the morning -- before light in the winter -- and being late isn't an option.  I have to go to work every day whether it's good weather or bad.  On the other hand, if it's raining, I can just say, "Forget the grocery store.  I'll just eat soup."  So, to some extent being able to walk to the grocery store is more appealing to me.

I'm not sure if I understand your point.  I consider this a money question and a lifestyle question.  You are going to spend more money and time if you live further to work than a grocery store assuming you go to and from work more often than you grocery shop. 

Maybe you can be close to both?  I am but I work from home and walk to shops.  Before we moved to a walkable area I still made it a priority to work from home to, in part, save time and money.

GuitarStv

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2013, 06:15:24 AM »
Walkability can be traded for bikability.  I live about two miles from the library, 3-5 miles from grocery stores, about 4 miles from the post office, 5 miles from Costco, there are a lot of restaurants located within 3-6 miles.  None of that is within what I would consider walking distance.  Once you start pushing two miles of walking each way, it eats up way too much time.  All of the stuff is within easy biking distance though!

I've lived in places where you can walk everywhere, and after we moved to our current house was kinda bummed that it seemed like we had to drive to get to most places.  That's when I picked up biking again . . .

rubybeth

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2013, 08:15:50 AM »
I'd consider it pretty heavily, since I love the convenience of being close to things I use a lot. I also imagine that it could make a place easier to sell. How much more are we talking here? Maybe you mentioned this and I missed it. You could do the math on mileage using the federal rate (I think $.55 per mile) and see how much it can save you in gas, insurance, etc. Also, consider the time you spend driving at whatever 'rate' makes sense to you in terms of lost time you could be doing something else. And, walking/biking is cheap exercise so you may be able to drop the gym membership or whatever if you're getting a lot of daily exercise.

frugal_engineer

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2013, 02:50:11 PM »
Thanks for all the responses.  I was also thinking roughly 10% (around $200 for the price range of apartments we were looking at).  We've found one we like and are certainly pleased with its walkability.  While the areas discussed aren't major metros, they are certainly more accessible on foot than the suburbs.  I'll let everyone know how it is!

shadowmoss

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Re: How much to spend for walkability
« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2013, 06:32:53 PM »
A few months ago I moved to Phoenix and was delighted to get an apartment just 2 miles from work.  I thought how MMM would be so proud of me, and planned to get a bicycle as soon as this horrid Phoenix heat subsided enough.  But, I hated living in an apartment.  So, I moved 17 miles from work into a small mobile home in a +55 community.  I enjoy it as it is my own place (no one can just come in with 24 hr notice whether I'm home or not...) and I have a nice covered parking space that is large enough instead of being crowded into a too small spot.  I'm thinking about getting an electric bicycle.  Jury is still out.  I'm glad I made the move so far.