How Good Walkability Can Equal Good Investment

By Urban Melbourne on 30 Dec 2013
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How Good Walkability Can Equal Good Investment

Photo: cleanairinitiative.org

Melbourne’s urban landscape is increasingly densifying with residential development geared towards investors in inner city and medium ring suburbs.  

As supply and choice increases, it becomes ever important for those choosing to invest in an inner city dwelling to consider investment criteria about and within a suburb, to ensure that when you buy an apartment, you are buying maximum value for dollar.  

Such criteria may include cost per square metre, proximity to amenities and public transport, and owner versus renter breakdown.

However, one factor that is gaining increased gravity with investors is a suburb’s walkability.

What is ‘Walkability’?

Walkability is a points system derived by Walk Score, which evaluates accessibility and proximity to places, attractions and transportation options amongst other considerations to determine how walk-friendly a suburb is for those who choose to reside within it.  

The aim of this scoring system is to promote healthier, happier and more sustainable lifestyles by pointing potential renters to areas that give them more lifestyle options.

This subsequently provides investors with a guide on areas that are potentially good investments.

Choosing a Suburb with a Good Walk Score

Research on the local Melbourne property market conducted by advocate firm Secret Agent suggests prices can rise by up to $298 per square metre for a five point increase on the Walk Score scale. This works out to approximately $60 per square metre per point.  

As a comparison, let’s take two inner south suburbs of South Yarra and Elwood and compare an average 60 square metre apartment.  

The Walk Score of South Yarra according to the scale is 92, compared to Elwood’s 84, which is a difference of 8 Walk Score points.  

Based on the Walk Score price guide alone, a purchaser would be paying on average approximately $480/sqm more in South Yarra than in Elwood.

“The aim of this scoring system is to promote healthier, happier and more sustainable lifestyles…”

Obviously there are many other factors that affect an investor’s decision, but the main idea is to use the Walk Score as a guide when selecting a good investment.

Unsurprisingly, Melbourne’s most walkable suburbs are located in the inner city and in the inner north.

Carlton takes the crown as numero uno with a Walk Score of 97 out of a possible 100.

Carlton is closely followed by its inner city neighbours, Fitzroy (96) and Fitzroy North (93) in second and third place.  

Melbourne in its entirety is second in Australia with a Walk Score of 57, compared to Sydney, which has a Walk Score of 63.

Unsurprisingly, Melbourne's most walkable suburbs are located in the inner city and in the inner north

A suburb’s Walk Score can be used as a guide when selecting a good investment<br />Photo: UrbaneWomensMag

What About Melbourne’s Outer Suburbs?

What is alarming, and again not surprising to most people who live in Melbourne, is that once you spread out beyond the sought-after inner city suburbs, the Walk Score drops off dramatically and provides a very clear insight into Melbourne’s car dependency.  

For example, Truganina, a new suburban development area located in the outer western boundaries of Melbourne, has a paltry Walk Score of just 20 and is classed as Melbourne’s 328th most walkable suburb.  

Those who read Urban Melbourne regularly know we will always advocate for smarter planning, planning that revolves around infrastructure and amenities. These are similar to the virtues the Walk Score aims to exemplify.  

“Unsurprisingly, Melbourne’s most walkable suburbs are located in the inner city and in the inner north.”

So to see a score down in at the bottom of the barrel such as Truganina’s, it beggars the question – why are suburban developments allowed to continue to eat up more land and to keep people in their cars, adding no value to the public realm? 

At the end of the day, most people (if they had a choice) would choose to live near amenities and services and not have to rely on the car as much.

But it is an unfortunate fact that Melbourne is a car dependent city due to its suburban sprawl.

To combat this, and to ultimately improve the lifestyle of Melbourne’s citizen’s, urban densification is crucial by way of increased residential and commercial development, to ensure that more people can live, work and play in close proximity to better and healthier lifestyle options.    

This article was originally published on Urban Melbourne.

About the Author

Urban Melbourne is an independent source of medium and high density urban projects in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victorian cities. Their passion is to shine a spotlight on all the developers, architects, builders and members of the community at large that are actively engaged in and support Melbourne and Victoria's future growth needs.

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