Here is a post I published earlier this year for my blog East Bay Real Estate. I think it was as interesting then as it is now.


Define Livability. Seriously.

Now ask your friend to do the same thing…different answers, right? Surprised? Don’t be.

Livability is personal and difficult to quantify. Sure, there are measures such as cost-of-living indexes or salary-to-mortgage ratios. But do they really measure a place’s livability? My answer, my very personal answer, is no. They don’t.

Livability, to me, is:

Bikability/Walkability: It is easy to walk and bike to the places you want to visit. Maybe it’s a little longer ride that you want, but you can bike it and you can walk it if you have to…or want to.

Cafe’s and Restaurants: There are plenty of small cafe’s and restaurants to visit…that have free wi-fi…and that have great coffee, latte’s, and smaller baked goods. There is a variety of restaurants from the very inexpensive to shwanky, and everything in between. There are small specialty shops that sell crazy donuts and there are hidden away restaurants that not a lot of people visit.

Parks/Open Spaces: There are large parks and open spaces to hike, walk, bike, and sit in to enjoy. I prefer tall, mature trees with lush garden beds that create hidden grottos perfect for laying in the sun and reading a book.

Interesting People: There is a wide variety of people with a wide variety of interests who populate the city. Local art galleries, theaters, and small performance venues reflect this diversity. There are tattoos and piercings that run the range from sublime to bizarre. I prefer to live among those who are educated and who have travelled a bit.

Affordability: I can rent a decent house for a decent price and live a quality of life that allows me to take vacations to the places I want to see, visit the cafe’s and venues I love to enjoy, and to see live music as often as I can. I am not squeaking from one paycheck to the next all the time. I have a little financial room to breathe.

Creativity: I can live in an environment in which I feel creative and artistically stimulated. This means, to me anyway, that I am around others like me.

Garden-ability: The soil is decent and I can grow a beautiful garden and enjoy it year in and year out.

Bookstores: I love book stores. A variety of bookstores is key.

Fabric stores: I sew and it is important to me that I be able to buy cool fabric. Not from one single store, but from many sources.

This is my list. Notice that kids are conspicuously absent. That’s because my kids are grown and gone. My list reflects where I’m at in my life, right now.

Now make your own list.

Live-ability is the thing, the most important thing to think about when looking for that next home. Make your own list and carry it with you as you look at homes. Your list will be different for every stage of your life, which is why it is so important to make that list in the first place.