The first time I set eyes on the first home I lived in in Berkeley was when I got off the plane from London and was driven there, bulging suitcase and exhausted family in tow.
I had given my husband just one selection criterion: the house he chose needed to be within walking distance of good shops and restaurants — oh, and preferably a book store, coffee shop, dry cleaners and hardware shop if he could manage it.
It turns out he delivered extremely well as testified by an ingenious new Google Maps mash-up called Walk Score which gives my first American home a 94/100 score for “walkability”.
I didn’t do quite so well with my current home (74) but I still walk whenever I can and have all the really vital services (morning coffee and pastries, grocery store) on my doorstep.
For some home seekers walkability is very important. For others less so.
In Berkeley, homes near Solano Avenue, The Elmwood and Gourmet Ghetto score highly, those up in the hills very low. A friend’s house up in the Claremont hills, for example, nets a paltry 12. But I suspect she rather likes “being away from it” all, and she certainly enjoys the panoramic Bay views from her expansive deck that such a position affords.
You can’t have everything when choosing a home. But if walkability is high on your list of priorities, book that page.