Walkability Scores, Safety, Schools: Are They An Afterthought Or an Essential Requirement When Considering Home Buying

If you’ve looked at even a few home sales listings online, you’ve probably seen the terms “Walkability Score,” seen local schools listed, and local crime and safety statistics. Several websites provide information about how easy it is to walk for needed services and shopping in a neighborhood. Websites usually draw safety information from local police reports, and they use rating sites like GreatSchools.org to show you the quality of local education.

How important this information is to you will depend on your short-term and long term plans. If you don’t have children or plan to send your children to private school, for example, a school rating score probably won’t be a deciding factor in which neighborhood you choose to focus on or which home you ultimately choose to buy. But the walkability score could be an important factor no matter what your family composition or circumstances.

How are walkability scores calculated?

The Walk Score website provides scores to real estate listing services, and also city and county planners. The website measures “walkability” on a scale of 0-100 based on the distance from a location to grocery stores, retail centers, restaurants, and parks. It also measures school “walkability” and can add public transportation scores.

Added “in depth” scores the Walk Score website can calculate include pedestrian friendliness, which includes how dense a local population is, how long blocks are, and how many intersections residents need to cross before reaching destinations.

According to Walk Score, the service has analyzed over 10 million locations in the US, and over 2 billion walking routes.

Walk score rankings include:

  • 90-100 “Walker’s Paradise” – all errands can be accomplished without a car.
  • 70-89 Very Walkable – most errands are good without a car.
  • 50-69 – Somewhat Walkable – some errands are accomplishable without a car.
  • 25-49 – Car-Dependent level one – most errands will need a car.
  • 0-24 – Car-Dependent lowest level – few to no errands can be accomplished without a car.

Depending on your lifestyle and work schedule, a walkable neighborhood could be one of your top criteria when looking for a home to buy. With more people working at home, you may find that driving less and walking more fits your lifestyle perfectly.