Greensboro’s Views Reflect National Shift Toward Walkable, Mixed-Use Neighborhoods

NAR GSO survey 2018.png

Greensboro’s older neighborhoods are very popular. That’s easy to see from the prices their homes sell for and, in many cases, how quickly they sell. As part of its update of the city’s comprehensive plan, the Greensboro Planning Department commissioned a survey that at least partly tells why: A lot of people like walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods. That description that matches Fisher Park, College Hill, Lindley Park, Sunset Hills, the Asheboro Community, Glenwood and other older neighborhoods where stores, churches, parks, apartments, etc., exist amid the houses.

Background on the survey from Sue Schwartz, city planning director:

The National Association of Realtors conducts a biannual Community and Transportation Preference Survey in the 50 largest U.S. cities, most recently in 2017. Recently, the surveys have shown a strong shift favoring walkable, mixed-use communities. To see whether that’s true here, the Planning Department teamed with Nick Scarci of the Greater Greensboro Realtors Association and received a grant from NAR to conduct the same survey on the local level (methodology below).  This is the first time the NAR has done a survey for an individual city, so way to go, Sue Schwartz.

Walkable Neighborhoods and Quality of Life

If you love colorful charts and graphs, click here to see the results (PDF). Some notable findings:

  • In general, people in Greensboro are very satisfied with their quality of life. The vast majority (9 in 10) of residents are either very or somewhat satisfied, with nearly half of all residents saying they are very satisfied.
    • These satisfaction numbers are higher than for Americans in the top 50 MSAs, especially when it comes to being very satisfied: 46 percent are very satisfied in Greensboro compared to 37 percent in metropolitan areas throughout the country.
  • The more walkable the neighborhood, the more satisfied residents are with their quality of life (see chart above).
  • Over half of Greensboro residents prefer homes in walkable neighborhoods with small yards.
  • Three-quarters of Greensboro residents live in houses – attached or detached – compared to two-thirds in the top 50 MSAs.

[Editorial comment: Greensboro’s home-ownership rate of 50 percent is well below the national average of 63 percent, suggesting more renters in Greensboro than other cities rent houses rather than apartments. And that probably makes buying a less expensive or starter home here even more difficult than it tends to be anyway.]

  • While Greensboro residents echo the national results in their top priorities, certain elements are much more important to people here.
    • Two-thirds say sidewalks and places to take walks are very important in deciding where to live, compared to half of national respondents.
    • Being close to highways and within a short commute to work is also very important to over half of Greensboro residents.
  • Older Greensboro residents (Gen Xers and Boomers) are more likely to prefer homes with smaller yards and more walkable neighborhoods.
  • Millennials are split in their preference between such neighborhoods and those with larger yards and more driving.
  • Women and those without kids at home are more likely to prefer small yards in walkable neighborhoods. Men and those with kids at home are split.
  • There are also a lot of good data about transportation, mass transit, etc., which is another matter entirely.

American Strategies, the firm that does the national survey, conducted Greensboro’s. It was done from November 13-20, 2017, and reached 410 adult residents of Greensboro, ages 18 or older. The city’s Planning Department will use the data in the update of Connections 2015, Greensboro’s comprehensive plan.


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