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15 Cities for People Who Hate Driving and Long Commutes

November 19, 2009

From U.S. News & World Report – Even though the recession has made it hard to move, many Americans are still trying to flee their cul-de-sacs and long freeway commutes for walkable neighborhoods closer to public transportation and their jobs.

Patrick Lashinsky, chief executive of real estate website Ziprealty.com, says that demand for homes in these types of neighborhoods has soared during the recession. And although city housing may come at a premium, it is becoming more affordable because of the decline in housing prices. “Condos that are closer in to the city have come down in price a lot,” says Lashinsky.

Moving closer in might also be a good investment. “Clients believe that gas prices will spike again, and that this will drive up the value of what they’re buying,” he says. The lifestyle might also be especially appealing in a recession. “In difficult times, people really re-evaluate what they do with their time. You can’t be productive when you’re just sitting in your car,” Lashinsky says. For example, biking to work is a way to be active while commuting.

U.S. News chose these cities using the following guidelines: First, cities with populations of more than 50,000 were included. Second, we considered the average commuting time in metropolitan areas throughout the country—24.4 minutes in 2009, according to the Census—and narrowed the list to cities with even shorter average commuting times. Finally, data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey was used to calculate the percentage of a city’s workers over age 16 that gets to work without driving or carpooling. We excluded those who work from home.

1. Cambridge, Mass.
Average commute time: 24 minutes
Non-car commuters: 58 percent

2. Pittsburgh
Average commute time: 23.1 minutes
Non-car commuters: 33.5 percent

3. Boulder, Colo.
Average commute time: 18.4 minutes
Non-car commuters: 30.6 percent

4. Davis, Calif.
Average commute time: 20.3 minutes
Non-car commuters: 28.7 percent

5. Ann Arbor, Mich.
Average commute time: 18.4 minutes
Non-car commuters: 27.5 percent

6. New Haven, Conn.
Average commute time: 21.6 minutes
Non-car commuters: 27.3 percent

7. Chapel Hill, N.C.
Average commute time: 20.1 minutes
Non-car commuters: 26.2 percent

8. Minneapolis
Average commute time: 21.9 minutes
Non-car commuters: 24.2 percent

9. Portland, Ore.
Average commute time: 24.1 minutes
Non-car commuters: 22.7 percent

10. Ames, Iowa
Average commute time: 15.3 minutes
Non-car commuters: 22.6 percent

11. Madison, Wis.
Average commute time: 18.7 minutes
Non-car commuters: 21.9 percent

12. Honolulu
Average commute time: 23 minutes
Non-car commuters: 21.7 percent

13. Provo, Utah
Average commute time: 16.2 minutes
Non-car commuters: 21.4 percent

14. Eugene, Ore.
Average commute time: 16.9 minutes
Non-car commuters: 20.7 percent

15. Syracuse, N.Y.
Average commute time: 16.3 minutes
Non-car commuters: 20.1 percent

By Matthew Bandyk
U.S. News & World Report

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