Buyers chasing the Australian dream of the perfect house want a neighbourhood where they can stroll to the shops, walk the kids to school and bump into their neighbours.
When it comes to our everyday lives, there’s nothing more annoying than having to jump into the car to pick up a carton of milk or to get the kids to school.
This is why the concept of walkable suburbs is gaining increasing recognition as a fundamental aspect of community living.
Being able to commute by foot is not only convenient, but it’s also better for the environment. There are real health benefits too, with people in walkable neighbourhoods reporting being happier, more active and living longer.
With these advantages in mind, here are five features you should be looking for within a quick walk of your home.
1. Public transport
“Public transport is vital for a lot of people who work in locations where it isn’t necessarily easy to park or drive,” says Anne Flaherty, economist at realestate.com.au.
“It’s faster if you can walk to the station or bus stop — and also often cheaper because you don’t have to pay for parking.”
Being within close proximity to a train station has also been linked to higher property values, she adds.
2. Town centre
Some developers are cottoning on to the lifestyle and community benefits a town centre creates for residents.
Village-style hubs create a great communal atmosphere, while offering convenient access to amenities, says Penny Dabner, development director at Frasers Property Australia.
“Having shops, restaurants, schools and community facilities close to home is a huge drawcard for residents,” she says.
“Sometimes people in new developments have to drive up to 20 minutes just to do their weekly grocery shop. If you add that up over a year, that’s a huge amount of time.”
“Thriving town centres also provide a focal point for social interactions, creating comfortable spaces to meet and form connections within your community.”
3. Schools and childcare
Education facilities close to home is often the number one priority for many buyers — especially young families.
“People like the idea of being able to walk their children to school and back because it’s time spent together, plus, it’s easier,” says Flaherty.
“Buyers are willing to pay a significant premium on suburbs where school and childcare are within walkable distance, especially where there are high performing government schools.”
Schools are also seen as a tremendous value-add for investors.
Data shows neighbourhoods with a new school in the pipeline experience huge property price growth once the gates open, so getting into an area early can pay huge dividends.
4. Parks and green space
Open space has always been desirable, but after the pandemic, buyers have a new level of appreciation of green areas in their neighbourhood.
“COVID really put a spotlight on what green space is available within your 5km zone — especially in Melbourne,” says Dabner.
“Having great parks and open space within walking distance is more important now than it’s ever been.
“Mambourin focused on delivering this amenity up front, with 5.5 hectares of parks and wetland included in the first stage of development.
“This includes open wetlands, walking trails, boardwalks, and a district park that has multiple play towers for all ages, flying foxes, there’s a basketball court and skate area as well as a popular water play splash zone.”
Parks are not only great for lifestyle; they can also lift the value of the homes close by.
A recent Victorian study found property within 300m of a kids playground adds about $20,000 to a property’s price tag.
5. Social centre
With many people now more focused on health and wellbeing, fitness centres and leisure facilities are now featuring on many buyers wish lists, explains Dabner.
“These types of community facilities are proving to be hugely popular in new developments and we’re seeing buyer expectations increase as a result.”