Ditch your Car and Raise the Rent

by : Joshua Keen

Atlanta's come a long way in the past decade, the city ranked 14th out of 30 walkable American cities in a recent survey done by the Brookings Institute. Committed to combating its notorious urban sprawl with sidewalks, public transit, high-density housing and mixed-use development, Atlanta is helping it's population get a bit trimmer and its property values get a bit higher.

What's Walkability?

What makes a community walkable is simple: lots of places to walk to and easy routes to get to them. And though it's only one way to measure a the livability of a particular neighborhood, it's proving to be a consistently reliable one. Software developers have even developed the "Walk Score" for anyone who wants to take a sneak peek into prospective neighborhoods in far away cities. Just plug in the address of the house you're interested in and the site will calculate a walk score for the neighborhood. Combine this info with the advice of a good real estate agent and you're in great shape.

Walkable Neighborhoods are Better to Live in

Atlanta has long been at the forefront of research that has connected neighborhood design to health. A 2005 Atlanta SMARTRAQ study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that residents in Atlanta's most walkable neighborhoods were 2.4. times more likely to get 30 or more minutes of exercise per day than their more suburban counterparts. Were they heading to the gym? No! They were heading to the store to pick up some milk, walking their kids to school and going to work.

Of course if being healthier isn't a good enough reason to move somewhere, there's a whole host of other benefits to living in a walkable community. Where there are pedestrians you'll typically find less traffic congestion, higher property values, more places to go, local businesses, stronger communities, civic involvement, reduced crime, safer streets and less pollution.

Though Atlanta still has a long way to go, there are a number of success stories and we have some great, walkable, livable and lovable communities where people are proud to be seen on the street. Some of our favorites are:

DECATUR: Ditch the car and come live in Decatur. Let your kids walk to their top-rated public school, run into people you know, take a walk down to the city square and throw a penny in the fountain. Dating back to the civil war era, this community's tree-lined streets are a popular place to be. 20 minutes to downtown Atlanta.

MIDTOWN: This is Atlanta's cultural mecca and home to places like the Fabulous Fox Theater, the High Museum of Art, Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Margaret Mitchell House and the Woodruff Arts Center. But what makes it a great place to live is the strong sense of community and diversity that ties people together. With 200 acre Piedmont Park at its heart, Midtown also has places to stop and play whether you want to feed the birds of Rollerblade along the trails. Bonus: the sidewalks don't roll up after dark.

ATLANTIC STATION: Though technically this is also midtown, Atlantic Station deserves it's own honorable mention. Built on the former site of the Atlantic Steel Mill, this mixed-use development has reclaimed a part of the city that had been lost for years. Blends a great deal of shopping with condos and other great places to live. Right next to downtown.

BUCKHEAD: This newly revitalized community has been recreated as a walkable neighborhood with urban trail ways and plenty of places to go, places to work and things to see. Home to one of the city's most important business districts, Buckhead is also fast becoming a cultural center for Atlanta with a real handle on live entertainment. With good transportation options so much to do, residents find it easy to extend their living rooms out into this community.