If you’ve ever had to drive to a strip mall to buy toilet paper, you probably thought, “There’s got to be a better way to do this.” There is — it’s called walking. But, unless all you ever wanted in life was to live somewhere within walking distance of a toilet paper store, you might want other amenities, like a decent school and a mortgage you can afford. In that case, you’re in luck, because according to a new analysis of 170 neighborhoods by the real estate nerds at Redfin, a whopping … 24 that fit the bill.
If you’re house hunting, go ahead and just plan on moving to Seattle or D.C., which are home to 10 of those 24 neighborhoods — areas with a high Walk Score that indicates an ability to do daily errands on foot; an above average school district that indicates your kid will learn to read, and a home you can mortgage for roughly a quarter of the median neighborhood income. Otherwise, you’re looking at neighborhoods in cities like Boston and Baltimore, which have affordable homes and plenty of toilet paper stores but lousy schools. Or there are your Phoenixes and San Antonios, where your kid will benefit but you’re going to spend your life in the car.
“The taste of the American family is shifting from sprawling far out McMansions to close in homes near urban amenities,” says Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson. The problem is that families are looking for more Full House than The Sopranos, but you can get Tony’s spread for about half the $3.1 million you’d shell out for the Fuller’s Victorian if you’re willing to live in North Caldwell, NJ. “These balanced neighborhoods are an endangered species right now,” says Richardson.
Expect walkability, in particular, to correlate with rising real estate prices in the coming years, so remember the old maxim: buy the cheapest house on the best block. And maybe stock up on toilet paper with a once-a-month Costco run.