Paying for the Privilege of Walking

Emily Badger, of The Atlantic Cities blog, looks at a new study that suggests living in a walkable, urban neighborhood is going to cost significantly more than living in a comparable apartment located in a bedroom community.

Just how much more expensive, though, may shock you. New research from the Brookings Institution has created a five-tiered scale of walkability for metropolitan neighborhoods, from completely non-walkable places (exurban residential communities where everyone gets around by car) to mixed-use, dense and amenity-rich neighborhoods where you may not need a car at all (think, in the Washington, D.C., region, Dupont Circle and Georgetown).

Brookings researchers Christopher Leinberger and Mariela Alfonzo wanted to put hard numbers to the difference between these places. Looking at the Washington, D.C., region, they’ve calculated that moving from a Level 1 to a Level 2 walkable neighborhood (from a non-walkable place to a slightly less non-walkable one), you will wind up paying $301.76 a month more in rent for a similar home. If you’re really moving up in the world – from, say, that car-dependent exurb to a Georgetown flat – that means the premium to live in a walkable urban community may run you as much as $1,500 a month.

“It is mindboggling,” Leinberger says. “These were much more dramatic results than I would have guessed going into this. It also shows our lack of understanding and why it’s important to measure this phenomenon, because we need to better understand how do we create Dupont Circles, and also how do we mitigate the downside?”

It’s interesting to see the pendulum of American living swing back towards city living after half a century of suburban flight.

Comments on this entry are closed.