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Tom Kalinski, RE/MAX of Boulder

Tom Kalinski, RE/MAX of Boulder

Americans of all ages put a high value on living in a “walkable community” where they can easily walk to places such as shops and parks. In a newly released survey by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), residents in “walkable communities” report a higher quality of life and 78% say they would be willing to pay more for a home in a walkable community. 

Generation Z – those over 18 but born in 1997 or later – is more willing than any other generation to spend additional for a home in a walkable community and wants to live near transit. It’s an affinity shared by more than half of residents of all ages surveyed, with about 60% saying they would spend at least a little more to live in a walkable community. Among younger generations, the desirability for a walk friendliness is even higher, with roughly 90% of Gen Z and Millennials saying they would pay more for a walkable community, and one-third saying they would pay a lot more.

The findings bode well for Colorado communities, especially Boulder, Denver and Fort Collins, deemed “Walk Friendly Communities,” which is a national recognition program. 

Boulder is designated as a Gold-level community due to its outstanding planning efforts, high walking mode share, engineering treatments, city leadership and community support. Residents enjoy over 500 miles of sidewalks and pedestrian-only paths, more than 70 miles of multi-use paths that run mainly along the city’s greenway system and about 150 miles of natural hiking trails. 

Denver is designated as a Gold-level community due to its planning efforts, education and encouragement programs, innovative engineering practices, and commitment to meaningful citizen engagement.

Fort Collins is designated as a Silver-level community due to its outstanding Safe Routes to School programming and pedestrian planning practices that include an excellent range of performance indicators. 

The National Community & Transportation Preferences Survey –  conducted every three years among residents in the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas – tests seven key traits for deciding where to live: walkability factors such as sidewalks and nearness to shops, commute length and closeness to the highway, access to public transportation and access to bike paths. 

The 2023 results aligned with past results and showed staying power for residents’ top priorities, including sidewalks and being within walking distance to shops and restaurants, a short commute, and proximity to highways and public transit are top priorities. “With COVID in our rearview mirror, this study shows that a substantial demand for walkability persists for Americans of all ages,” said NAR President Kenny Parcell. 

Within the preferences, generational distinctions arose among those surveyed:

More than any other generation, Millennials – born between 1981 and 1996 – want convenient alternatives to driving, such as walking, biking and public transportation.

Baby Boomers – born between 1945 and 1964 – prefer living in a detached, single-family home where they must drive to places they need to go.

Age plays a large part in the preferences, with younger generations more favorable to biking and public transit and older generations favoring driving. Older residents are likelier to walk less because of traffic and safety concerns or because their health prevents them.

Most residents prefer walking and driving over riding a bike and taking public transportation. Walking is preferred by 79%, driving by 70%, while about half like riding a bike and 44% say they like taking public buses or trains. 

See the complete NAR 2023 Community & Transportation Preferences Survey results at: www.nar.realtor/reports/nar-community-and-transportation-preference-surveys. Learn more about Walk Friendly Cities at www.walkfriendly.org/communities.

By Tom Kalinski. Tom is the broker/owner of RE/MAX of Boulder. He has a 40-year background in commercial and residential real estate. For questions, email Tom at [email protected], call 303.441.5620 or visit boulderco.com.