You can usually count on me to show up here talking about all the amazing benefits of living in a walkable suburb: the health benefits for ourselves and our families when we step away from our cars, the good feelings associated with doing our part to support the environment, and how it’s easier to get to know people and feel part of the community.
And all of that is true.
But what’s also true is that there are always trade-offs. Sometimes, what you give up in walkability can be compensated for with other alluring characteristics. The recent temperature drop into single digits made me reflect on some of the things a buyer can get when they care more about other features than about walkability.
The homes closest to the most desirable destinations – usually stores or public transportation – are typically smaller and closer together in the most walkable parts of towns. This makes sense; planners try to accommodate the always-present demand for a walkable commute to work, and here, density is important. But once you begin looking for a home a mile or more from these hubs, you can often find houses that are a bit bigger, that have a little more property, more garage space, and a quieter environment.
Some people prefer to be further off the beaten path, seeking more privacy and the ability to really feel like being at home means getting away from it all. There are plenty of blocks in my own extremely walkable town that you’d never know about unless you lived there. Sometimes those streets are only a few blocks away from a very walkable area, and sometimes they are quite secluded – secret little havens. I used to make the mistake of naming for buyers all the places someone could walk even from those hideaways, only to be met with: “We don’t walk anywhere, that’s not important to us.”
One of the things I love about Montclair and many of its outlying towns is that you can find both types of living – in the middle of it all, or far away from the hubbub.
I love the hubbub, but I also love that it’s blocks away…not outside my front door. These are the things we can look at together when I show you around.
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*The photo here is a picture of the carriage house at Van Vleck Gardens, a gorgeous public garden oasis that I consider one of Montclair's top treasures. The carriage house is part of the grounds, not a home for sale but, to me, it captures that vibe of retreat that can be as enticing as "steps away from the train."