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.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.