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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Role of Lifestyle and Attitudinal Characteristics in Residential Neighborhood Choice


This paper investigates the importance of attitudinal and lifestyle variables to residential neighborhood choice for 492 residents of three San Francisco Bay Area neighborhoods. One neighborhood, North San Francisco (N=155), was classified as traditional, whereas the other two, Concord (N=165) and San Jose (N=172), were classified as suburban. Separate factor analyses identified 10 attitudinal dimensions and 11 lifestyle dimensions. Mean factor scores for the three neighborhoods differed significantly for most of the factors. For example, consistent with expectations, the mean scores on the pro-high density, pro-environment, pro-pricing, and pro-alternatives attitudinal factors were significantly higher for residents of traditional NSF than for the suburban residents. On lifestyle dimensions, NSF residents were significantly more likely to be culture-lovers, and less likely to be nest-builders and altruists, than suburbanites. These seven factors, together with three sociodemographic variables (number of children under age 16, number of vehicles, and years lived in the Bay Area - all positively associated with the suburban neighborhoods), were significant in the final binary logit model of residential neighborhood choice. The adjusted p^2 for the model was 0.52, and the collective contribution of the attitudinal/lifestyle factors provides support for the usefulness of this approach to residential choice modeling. In particular, it is suggested that this approach will help illuminate the policy-relevant question as to whether observed differences in travel behavior are induced by the land use configuration of the neighborhood itself, or are derived from intrinsic propensities for different travel choices. Evidence is mounting that the second hypothesized mechanism is stronger: that is, that as an explanation for travel behavior, neighborhood type tends to act as a proxy for the "true" explanatory variables with which it is strongly associated, namely attitudinal and lifestyle predispositions.

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