Will “walkable” suburbs outperform in the future?

You often hear location is paramount when choosing a great investment property.location smart phone mobile area map techonolgy direction lost help guide

But what makes a good location? 

While a lot of factors come into play, easy access to facilities must be near the top of the list.

Walking distance to transport, shops and the café lifestyle is one the strongest trends attracting buyers and tenants.

This particularly so among the growing demographic living in apartments in our inner suburbs.

Australian Cities have been ranked by WalkScore

Well…now you can find out how “walkable” your suburb is.  

Walkscore.com, which measures the number of typical consumer destinations within walking distance of a dwelling, with scores ranging from 0 (car dependant) to 100 (most walkable) has recently ranked more than 100 Australian cities and 3,000 suburbs.

With a Walk Score of 63, Sydney comes out on top in the ranking of The Most Walkable Australian Cities and Suburbs.

While a number of real estate websites have incorporated WalkScore and more are likely to follow, of course the walkability index has a number of shortcomings.

Consider the low-scoring regional dweller who enjoys walking their dog on a rural path. Not to mention that what one person considers a “walkable” trip may seem an epic hike to another.

Walk Score’s ranking of the top 10 largest Australian cities:

Here is how our cities ranked: melbourne lanes cafe social

    1. Sydney (Walk Score: 63)
    2. Melbourne (Walk Score: 57)
    3. Adelaide (Walk Score: 54)
    4. Brisbane (Walk Score: 51)
    5. Perth (Walk Score: 50)
    6. Newcastle (Walk Score: 49)
    7. Wollongong (Walk Score: 48)
    8. Gold Coast (Walk Score: 48)
    9. Central Coast (Walk Score: 41)
    10. Canberra (Walk Score: 40)

While this is interesting, what is more important is that in every city some suburbs are more walkable than others.

You can check out the complete list of ranked cities and suburb here: http://www.walkscore.com/rankings/australia.

Walk scores are also turning up in a number of property portals and agents websites and you can expect to see more in the future.

What does all this mean?

Over the past decade, home values in Sydney’s walkable neighbourhoods have outperformed the rest of the city and can attract a 20% premium.

It was much the same overseas where studies indicate that properties with above-average levels of walkability command a premium over homes with average levels of walkability.

It gets even better…

Walkable neighbourhoods offer a number of health and economic benefits.

For example, a 10-year long study of Australians by the University of Melbourne found that walkable neighbourhoods with proximity to shops, parks and public transit improve people’s health and wellbeing. map location area suburb geography place land

And as our population grows, and our cities become more dense, I see the importance of easy access to amenities and walkability becoming more important.

With more of us trading backyards for balconies and living in apartments, we’re spending more time in cafés and restaurants rather than entertaining at home

Add to this the fact that 22% of our population are living alone, then the opportunity to stroll up the road to visit their favourite café for a coffee or a meal is particularly important to them.”

So when you’re looking at buying your next home or investment property consider its proximity to amenities.

As our lives become more hectic and our cities become more congested, many of us will be prepared to pay a premium to be close to, but not right next to transport, shops and amenities.

How important do you think WalkScore will become?

Many web portals and estate agents websites are starting to incorporate WalkScore.

How valuable will it be – will you pay attention to it? Please leave your comments below.

Also published on Medium.

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Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who create wealth for their clients through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and his opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit Metropole.com.au

'Will “walkable” suburbs outperform in the future?' have 9 comments

  1. May 17, 2013 @ 7:30 am Hilary Smith

    Interesting article – thanks Michael
    As always it comes down to location, location, location – doesn’t it?


  2. May 17, 2013 @ 11:19 am Kat B

    Walk score is important but I’d also look at bicycling infrastructure. If you can cycle safely and relatively fast to work, shopping, entertainment and home, that’s going to increase in value.


  3. May 17, 2013 @ 1:34 pm Brian Stinson

    As developers of apartments walk-ability is important to us. Trains, bus, strip shops, cycle ways, cafes etc. are all important as is the provision of bicycle storage on site. We have knocked back sites that fit every other criteria but are not close to these amenities.


  4. May 19, 2013 @ 2:40 pm Sandeep

    Hi Michael, Indeed a very interesting article. Can you please refer to websites : http://www.gardencity.com and http://www.magarpattacity.com – 2 reputed townships in India and also build on this research in terms of tangible & intangible benefits of “Township” living that promote walk-ability. We could break down the benefits as per age demographics – eg 1) for kids : walk to schools,playgrounds,gardens,colleges 2) for senior citizens – to shops, cafes, clubs 3) for working parents to work/offices etc and try to quantify savings of money, time, health improvement etc. I am currently working at Godrej Garden City, Ahmedabad, India.


  5. May 21, 2013 @ 10:59 am Walkable suburb among the top investment prioritiesHome Renovation, House Extension

    […] It is already well-known how close-to-amenities properties command a nearly 20% higher sticker than the other properties of same sizes. It has got a lot to do with our tendency to visit cafes and consumer hubs in leisure hours. The CBD experience brings out the social human from within us like nothing else. Also, 22% of our population that lives singly seeks a few social hours at the first sign of boredom. These factors have spawned the craze for walkable neigbourhoods in Yardney’s opinion. You can read the whole article here. […]


  6. May 26, 2013 @ 9:53 pm Allan Ingleton

    I work in an area that has no future prospect for development because of flood rated land. Because of this and the fact that many people want to live in the area makes it a great area for investment, even the suburbs whose walkscore would be very low. So everywhere is different i suppose.


    • May 26, 2013 @ 10:31 pm Michael Yardney

      You are right. There is lot’s more to a good location than just Walkscore. It’s just one of many factors


  7. April 11, 2014 @ 1:26 pm David H

    I like the concept, but I think the underlying data is incomplete. Eg a place 50m from bus, local shops and restuarants, 300m from train station and 1km from major suburban shopping should rate highly, but doesn’t. I suspect there are some American biases too.


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