The transportation benefits of living in Berkeley

Finding the right home means more than simply landing a house that is the appropriate size and has the right features and design. While these aspects are important, it is often equally crucial that a potential home is in a good location and in a community that meshes well with the particular tastes and lifestyle of the resident. For many people, this means picking a home that is near the owner's workplace, thereby limiting the amount of money he or she must spend on transportation.

Keep transportation costs in mind
In fact, a recent study from the Center for Housing Policy (CHP) and the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, shows that it is vital that homebuyers place the proper emphasis on transportation costs when they are looking for a home. In light of the results of this study, people considering buying one of the homes for sale in Berkeley will likely be happy to learn that the city performs quite well in terms of having an accessible and affordable public transportation system.

According to the study, factoring transportation costs into a home price is vital for accurately gauging the home's value. For example, cities with purportedly affordable housing, such as Houston, may become significantly less attractive when the high cost of or limited access to transportation is considered. Conversely, the study found that when transportation costs are included in evaluating the affordability of cities like Boston and those in the Bay Area, residents may find that their paychecks go much further.

Because transportation can account for up to one-third of a person's total expenditure, it is important that they are evaluated thoroughly before a buyer makes a decision about a home. People considering buying a home in Berkeley have several reasons to believe that life in this particular city will involve considerably less money spent on transportation than in many other metros.

Berkeley's walkability
One of the most important ways of measuring a city's accessibility is by measuring its walk score. This metric was developed to provide insight into the relative levels of walkability. Berkeley received a score of 82 and is considered "Very Walkable." Residents of the city, especially those who live near downtown, find that getting to schools, shops, restaurants and public services is much easier than it is in the average U.S. city.

In fact, some of the ZIP codes closest to the city's downtown receive even higher scores. The 94704 ZIP code, for example, which is in the city's southern region and quite close to the city's center, receives a score of 88.

As a whole, Berkeley placed fifth in the Best Walking Cities ranking, which measured hundreds of metros across the country. According to the study, 15 percent of Berkeley commuters walk to and from their jobs. Furthermore, a popular program in Berkeley - Everyone Walks in Berkeley - helped the city receive such a high score, according to Berkeleyside. Even the city's mayor, Tom Bates, plays a role in the city's emphasis on pedestrian-friendliness, as he regularly walks through the city streets and to his downtown office, the source reports.

Public transit
It's not just the city's walkability that makes it such an attractive place for people looking for low transportation costs. Berkeley is also known for its effective, extensive and inexpensive public transportation network. With shuttles, buses, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and a car-sharing program, the city is one of the easiest cities to get around in the region.

As the recent study housing affordability study shows, it is important for homebuyers to identify metros with efficient transportation systems. With its high walkability score and many public transit options, Berkeley is certainly in this category.