walking hipster

The best suburbs for ditching your car

Rates and Fees verified correct on December 10th, 2016

Do you love to perambulate? Is it standing still you really hate? Then walkability should be a major factor influencing your next move.

The Australian Dream of a big house on a quarter acre block of land is rapidly changing, and Gen Y is driving that change. Younger Australian buyers want to be close to amenities like cafes, restaurants and shopping. CommSec chief economist Craig James last year told News Ltd Gen Y’s preference toward walkability can be seen in the growth of high-rise building approvals, from less than 10% five years ago to more than a quarter in 2015.

“The millennials have indicated a preference for living close to where they work, to cafes and restaurants and the like rather than commuting,” James told News Ltd.

So if you’re among the many young Australians who want to ditch the daily commute in favour of ambling, sauntering or strolling to work, dining and shopping, you might want to look at walkability when deciding on your next move.

We’ve compiled each capital city’s most walkable suburbs, along with how much it’ll cost you to get into the housing market in each area. Be warned, though: walkability comes at a price.

What walkability means

We used Walk Score to find each suburb’s walkability. Walkability means the ability to go about daily tasks without the use of a car. Walk Score breaks down like this:

  • 90–100: Walker’s Paradise

Daily errands do not require a car

  • 70–89: Very Walkable

Most errands can be accomplished on foot

  • 50–69: Somewhat Walkable

Some errands can be accomplished on foot

  • 25–49: Car-Dependent

Most errands require a car

  • 0–24: Car-Dependent

Almost all errands require a car

Capital city breakdown

Sydney

Overall Walk Score: 63

It should be no surprise that Sydney takes the crown as Australia’s most walkable capital. Virtually all of the city’s inner-ring suburbs have a Walk Score of Very Walkable or Walker’s Paradise. As Australia’s most expensive city, it should also be no surprise that living in a walkable suburb will set you back quite a bit. The most affordable, highly walkable suburb in Sydney is Lakemba, with a Walk Score of 74, a median house price of $676,479 and a median unit price of $362,363.

SuburbWalk ScoreMedian House PriceMedian Unit Price
Haymarket99N/A$1,000,000
The Rocks98N/A$1,310,000
Sydney City98N/A$900,000

Melbourne

Overall Walk Score: 57

Melbourne’s inner city is extremely walkable, though walkability deteriorates rapidly as you move outward from the CBD. Working in Melbourne’s favour, however, is an excellent public transport system (not to mention its bike share program). The fact that most of the city is flat is also a bonus for the lazy among us.

SuburbWalk ScoreMedian House PriceMedian Unit Price
Carlton97$1,400,000$375,000
Fitzroy96$1,580,000$660,000
Fitzroy North93$1,224,250$600,000

Adelaide

Overall Walk Score: 54

Adelaide trumps its bigger rival, Brisbane, with a higher walkability rating. It also has the unique characteristic of having suburbs with a high walkability rating situated far away from the city centre. For instance, Modbury, situated more than an hour from the CBD by car, has a Walk Score of 85. And with a median house price of $361,250 and a median unit price of $255,000, it’s a bargain.

SuburbWalk ScoreMedian House PriceMedian Unit Price
Adelaide City90$585,000$400,000
Glenelg87$862,750$380,000
Stepney86$765,500N/A

Brisbane

Overall Walk Score: 51

While some of Brisbane’s far-flung and more rural suburbs make for a lower overall Walk Score, a relatively compact CBD makes for high walkability in the inner city. Unit prices in the inner suburbs are also on the more affordable end of the scale.

SuburbWalk ScoreMedian House PriceMedian Unit Price
Brisbane City90N/A$490,000
Fortitude Valley94N/A$454,750
Spring Hill92$900,000$410,000

Perth

Overall Walk Score: 50

We’re getting into the lower end of the walkability ratings now, and very few areas outside Perth’s inner city rate high for walkers. There are still pockets of paradise for the percipient perambulator, though. Fremantle carries a Walk Score of 72, while parts of seaside Mandurah have a Walk Score as high as 80 (not to mention a median house price of just $312,000 and unit price of $299,000).

SuburbWalk ScoreMedian House PriceMedian Unit Price
Northbridge95N/A$480,000
Perth City89$875,000$450,000
Highgate87$870,000$461,562

Darwin

Overall Walk Score: 45

It’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to ditch your car in Darwin. Only a small area surrounding the CBD is truly highly walkable. Even Darwin’s higher rating suburbs are still on the low end of the scale for walkability. But there is a small area around the suburb of Driver that carries a Walk Score of 82, meaning most errands can be accomplished on foot. Driver was also ranked by realestate.com.au as one of Australia’s most affordable suburbs within 20km of a CBD, with a median house price of $522,805.

SuburbWalk ScoreMedian House PriceMedian Unit Price
Darwin City87$565,000$475,000
Wagaman66$495,000N/A
The Gardens66N/A$590,000

Hobart

Overall Walk Score: 44

Hobart is another capital city with a very small walkable area. Only the inner-ring suburbs carry a high Walk Score, and even the fringes of the inner city often have a Walk Score below 70. While few people probably move to the Apple Isle for the hustle and bustle of inner city life, if you are looking for a more urban environment, your options in Hobart are fairly limited.

SuburbWalk ScoreMedian House PriceMedian Unit Price
Hobart City92$500,000$435,000
Battery Point92$765,000$490,000
Glebe85$510,000N/A

Canberra

Overall Walk Score: 40

The nation’s capital is also its capital of car necessity. It’s quite difficult to get around Canberra without a car, and the city’s most walkable area (the area immediately around Parliament House) is non-residential. There are a few bright spots, but mostly if you’re in the market for a unit rather than a house.

SuburbWalk ScoreMedian House PriceMedian Unit Price
Kingston83N/A$528,000
Barton82N/A$445,000
Reid79$1,156,500$480,000

Sources: Walk Score, Propertydata.com.au, Realestate.com.au

Adam Smith

Adam has more than five years of experience writing about the Australian home loan market.

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