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What is a “Walk Score” and why does it matter?

Balboa Park, San Diego CA

If you have ever noticed a Walk Score rating on listing sheets or advertisements and wondered what that meant, you are not alone! Walk Scores have been around for some time now, but are gaining in popularity and getting more attention by home buyers, investors and tenants alike.

In short, a Walk Score is a rating of the walkability of a city, neighborhood or address based on specific criteria. What makes a neighborhood walkable, and what is considered in determining a Walk Score? While the calculations are a bit more complex than I care to delve into here, the key factors that are considered in calculating the Walk Score of an area or address are:

  • Walkable access to parks, recreation and places where people can meet and play

  • Regular public transportation is available

  • An established “city center” or as we call them in San Diego, “villages” where residents can walk to local restaurants, coffee shops, entertainment, services & shopping

  • Local population is sufficient to sustain such businesses

  • There are schools and jobs within walking distance

  • Infrastructure that includes paved streets and walkways for pedestrians, bicyclists and public transit

  • Levels of mixed income & mixed use—affordable housing near businesses

There was a time when people fled the cities looking for more space and the great outdoors. Not that this isn’t still a dream environment for many, however the return to city living is in full swing!

San Diego’s downtown district has seen dramatic growth in popularity over the past 10 years. Downtown San Diego is vibrant and alive and continues to grow at an amazing pace.

Other popular social enclaves in the central metro San Diego area include: Hillcrest, Mission Hills, North Park, University Heights, Normal Heights, Kensington and South Park—and this is just a sampling of one small geographic area. The beach neighborhoods have their magnets, too: Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Pt. Loma, Coronado, La Jolla, Bay Park, as do other areas of San Diego. Yelp offers a rated list of best places to walk in San Diego if you want to get some ideas.

Here are just a few reasons why high Walk Score areas are gaining in popularity:

  • Fewer cars mean fewer harmful emissions, less congestion & fewer parking hassles.

  • Walking is not only great for our health, but creates zero pollution.

  • Having nearby restaurants, services and shopping save us time and provide great social environments.

  • Being closer to the workplace saves both time and money

  • Local parks and community space within walking distance encourage us to play more and provide great outdoor space for children and pets.

  • It has been suggested that a high Walk Score contributes to the value of a property—a nice benefit for owning a property with a high Walk Score address

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