The walkability of a neighborhood is an intangible quality that doesn’t appear on real estate listings like the number of bathrooms or the square footage. But living in a place where you can walk to grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters, hair salons, and other amenities makes life in certain places enormously different (and, I believe, better) than those where driving is the only option.
A neat new tool lets you plug in an address and compute a “walk score” for any address. It automatically searches Google Maps for nearby businesses of various types and computes an overall score. With a grocery store 0.08 miles away and other amenities nearly as close, my current address scores 98 out of 100 (not surprising) whereas the suburban house where I grew up rates a mere 9 (as we never walked to do any errands as far as I can remember). My apartments in California score 60 (near downtown Mountain View) and 17 (in the foothills of Cupertino). For a tool that estimates based on a few imprecise factors, it’s amazingly accurate.