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Finding Your Perfect Neighborhood: 6 Walkable Amenities to Consider

Updated on August 10, 2016
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We all know choosing the right place to live can be a challenge. It’s difficult striking the balance between the privacy of suburbia and the vibrancy of urban living. Having lived in both the corporate world of Silicon Valley and the heart of San Francisco in recent years, I’ve finally found that balance.

The sweet spot lies in the neighborhood filled with local business, local flavor, and community connection.

Visiting the family-owned market near my furnished apartment, I often run into neighbors and friends — developing and enriching my social world every time I step outside my door. Having the opportunity to support businesses intertwined within my neighborhood has improved my life in ways I never expected.

This relationship with the local hot spots is key to transforming your choice of neighborhood from a regret into a reward.

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Whether you’re looking for a new place to live or working to improve your current neighborhood experience, always look out for hidden gems. Ask locals about their favorite places to eat, shop, and exercise. Chances are good that the barista making your latte, the construction worker on break, or the tired-eyed commuter will know the perfect spot that guidebooks overlook.

Of course, making your house or apartment feel like home is important to happy living. But chances are good that you’ll want to venture out from time to time. When the mood strikes, you’ll want a surrounding neighborhood that provides the entertainment or amenities you seek.

If you can find these attractions locally, it will help save you money while still bringing the fun. Next time you venture out, try to track down these six options nearby:

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1. Restaurants: There’s nothing quite like finishing up the work week and going to a popular local eatery with friends. Keep an eye out for popular establishments. If there’s a line, there’s a reason for it!

Rather than spending money on gas or an Uber pickup, seek a neighborhood with a few excellent restaurants within walking distance. You can use your hard-earned money to support a local restaurateur by ordering a tasty dessert.

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2. Gym or Fitness Center: It’s difficult finding time to exercise when juggling a busy work schedule. It can be tempting to skip workouts if a long drive to your gym stands in the way.

Eliminate excuses and find a neighborhood that offers a local gym membership. Supporting a local establishment saves money on gas — and allows you to invest in yourself with personal training sessions or group classes.

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3. Pharmacy: When you’re feeling sick, the last thing you want to do is drive to a pharmacy far from home. Begin your recovery closer to home by choosing a location near a Walgreens or CVS. Having one down the block reduces the stress of driving across town for your medications, helping you focus on what matters: getting better.

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4. Grocery Store or Market: Similar to the pharmacy concept, seek a location with a local neighborhood market. Hopefully, you’ll find a place that makes food pickup easy, offers lower prices than the brands you find in major chains, and provides a larger variety of fruits and vegetables.

This was a primary concern for me the last time I relocated, and I couldn’t be happier with where I ended up. My local market carries all sorts of unexpected treats like lychee and dragonfruit. A fresh and welcome surprise, I added them to a fruit salad at a dinner with friends and made quite a splash.

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5. Laundromat or Dry Cleaners: Without a convenient option for this basic chore, your pile of clothes in need of dry cleaning can really build up. It’s common to have a washer and dryer within your home or apartment, but what happens if a machine malfunctions two days before an important meeting?

Many local laundromats and dry cleaners even offer express options when you’re in a bind. Dry-cleaning your shirts and pants within a walkable distance also saves you time when you’re rushing to attend a wedding or present to the board of directors.

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6. Parks or Outdoor Spaces: You want to be able to relax around your home, and there’s nothing better for this than a lush outdoor space. Stop traveling to the other side of the city — or even out of state — to get your much-needed sunshine. It’s time to find a walkable option.

Living in San Francisco, I personally love Golden Gate Park. It’s easily accessible from my home, and I can spend hours playing on their soccer fields and 18-hole Frisbee golf course. It’s also a great place for nightlife, as the park is home to the California Academy of Sciences, which hosts special events on Thursday nights for those 21 and over.

Every living space has its pros and cons. Living around several hot spots can produce a lot of hustle and bustle outside your window. Noise (especially during late-night hours) is common. While I personally do not mind this, I know people who do, so weigh it as you decide on your next place.

A residence is temporary, but an experience is forever. Become a local, and find any way you can to make a neighborhood your own.

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