If you’ve started an apartment search online, you’ll notice plenty of information about selected properties — often including a location’s rated walkability. Places with high walk scores and quality public modes of transportation mean never having to make a monthly car payment or afford pricey vehicle repairs. Who really enjoys sitting in traffic when they can read, work or just surf social media while seated on the bus or subway? This plays a major factor into the satisfaction of renters, as we’ve written about in the past.
Believe it or not, not every location you can reside in without needing to drive are bustling urban areas, although many are. Well-designed small towns offer positive walk or public transportation scores, too — without all the smog. If you have no desire to earn extra cash driving for Uber or Lyft, check out these great places you can live with no automobile necessary.
1. Boston, MA
Beantown’s subway system ranks among the easiest to navigate, and its density makes venturing to the nearest grocery store, academic building or shopping center relatively easy for most residents. Plus, parts of the city still feature cobbled streets that make you feel like you’re walking back in time. This student-friendly city makes higher rents a little more manageable by allowing you to forgo expensive car payments.
2. New York, NY
New York may be consistently ranked as having the highest cost of living in the U.S., but at least vehicle ownership doesn’t factor in. Residents of New York thrive on their ability to walk from their brownstone to hip Asian-fusion restaurants and all-night hot spots. Practically no one outside of cabbies drives a car in the city, so why bother fighting to find parking? The city’s subway and bus systems run day and night as well.
It’s impossible to visit the city of brotherly love without hitting South Street and having a blast. But walkability doesn’t just apply to fun in Philadelphia, where a good transportation system and improving bike-friendliness allow many city residents to run errands without a car. Plus, given the city’s wealth of opportunities in government and industry, young professionals may very well land a job without a commute.
4. San Jose, CA
For those who are California dreaming, the city of San Jose boasts a solid bus transportation line, a light rail system and biking trails all over for those who like to burn calories on their way to work. The city is a haven for technology workers given the proximity of Silicon Valley less than 20 minutes down the road.
5. Dallas, TX
Dallas is an up-and-coming city ranked highly for its rent prices, jobs and opportunities for recent graduates. But economic prosperity is only part of the picture. The local transportation system, DART, features an impressive 64 rail stations and 14 bus transfer facilities, allowing residents to navigate the sprawling urban center without relying on their own vehicle.
6. Chicago, IL
Chicago has many neighborhoods highly rated for their walkability, from the West Loop’s wealth of restaurants to the East Village’s growing retail presence. Beyond this, Chicago has the nation’s second largest public transportation system. The L trains alone connect the city with 144 rail stations, with two lines operating around the clock for residents. With these resources at hand, many residents can forgo owning a car without a second thought.
Of course, not every walkable location has to be a major urban center. Located at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff lies above the Mogollon Rim and is a mecca for skiers from the much-warmer Phoenix metro area — a four-hour drive away. Because the town caters to college students, many of whom lack transportation, the bustling city center is very walkable, but with western old-style charm that anyone can appreciate.
8. Aspen, CO
The small-town charm of Aspen is only matched by its walkability. Of course, the area gets snow as early as October and it continues well into May, sometimes beyond. And granted, unless you’re used to the mountains, you’ll need a bit of time to adjust to the altitude. Once you get going, however, you can ski, bike and hike the picturesque Rocky Mountains to your heart’s content.
Renting in a City Without a Car
Vehicles cost a small fortune, and most leak carbon emissions into the air. By choosing a city or town, big or small, with good public transportation and walkability, you can save major bank while still getting where you need to go.