Melbourne’s walkability – great for health AND property prices
Melbourne’s cultured Degraves Street.
Melbourne is a fantastic city in which to walk. Being relatively flat, exploring the city and inner suburbs on foot is part and parcel of Melbourne life.
While it is nice to be able to walk to the local shops to grab a coffee, or stroll to catch public transport, research shows that a suburb’s ‘walkability’ actually has a significant impact on its resident’s health, and local property prices.
In regards to the health impacts, a recent that study of 6,822 adults in 14 cities from Adelaide in Australia, to Hradec Králové in the Czech Republic found that urban design does have an impact on the average number of minutes people walk in a day.
Published in medical journal The Lancet, the study showed that physical activity was indeed affected by the concentration of a number of urban elements including population, parks, public transit, and intersections.
In short, the study found that well-designed urban areas can help keep people active and reduce rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
The growing understanding of the importance of urban design on people’s general health has led the international group Walk Score to develop a method for rating how ‘walkable’ a suburb is. And the good news for those who live, or are thinking of purchasing property, in Melbourne’s inner-city suburbs is that many of these score very highly.
Walk Score rates Carlton 97 out of 100, while Fitzroy scores 96, and South Yarra and East Melbourne both rate 92.
What sets these suburbs apart is the fact that they are all ‘lifestyle’ suburbs. That is, popular amenities such as shops, restaurants, public transport, parks and schools are all easily accessible by foot.
With more well-heeled buyers increasingly looking to embrace ‘lifestyle’ living, many property experts believe these suburbs will pull ahead of more reserved suburbs that have lower walkability scores.
Research undertaken by the University of Melbourne’s McCaughey VicHealth Unit for Community Wellbeing also supports this finding.
In an interview with The Age newspaper, Professor Giles-Corti of the McCaughey VicHealth Unit stated, “Highly walkable environments are more economically attractive; we know that from evidence in the US. For every increase in walkability, the prices of housing go up.”
Billie Giles-Corti advises people to really consider a suburb’s ‘walkability’ when considering purchasing property.
“My challenge to people is to really think about the lifestyle that they want,” she said, offering the view that a smaller home in walking distance of shops and jobs could actually be a better option than a large house situated further out from these things.
“If there’s one thing that people could do to benefit their health, for chronic disease, heart disease, diabetes, it’s to be physically active,” said Professor Giles-Corti.