Emotional Wellbeing

Mandy Kloppers

Would You Relocate to Enjoy 20-minute City Life?


There are many reasons people may consider large-scale changes in their lives, with moving home being a big consideration for many. A survey from TwentyCi found that at the beginning of 2023, more than 308,000 households in the UK wanted to move home. One of the reasons is how accessible it is to meet their needs, whether that’s getting to work or the shops without having to travel long distances, especially with the average commute to work taking between 15 minutes and half an hour.

Enter 15- and 20-minute city concepts. This is the idea of cities and urban landscapes being reimagined or designed so everyone’s daily needs can be met within walking or cycling distance. Reducing the reliance on cars and motor vehicles can help promote healthier lives both for individuals and the environment, as well as open accessibility to disabled communities.

In the UK, we may associate this with smaller towns and villages around the country. Still, there are plenty of major cities where commitments to moveability around the city are prioritised. Here are a few of the biggest:

Edinburgh, Scotland

The capital of the historic country of Scotland, Edinburgh, is going above and beyond to integrate a walkable 20-minute city concept. With the compact layout of the streets combined with the standout architecture and unique history, a walk through the city seems ideal to be utilised for practical and everyday use.

And the local authorities are acting on what’s available with its City Centre Transformation Plan. The main goal of the plan is to enhance day-to-day life for the community and meet environmental plans for a reduction of carbon emissions. Prioritising pedestrian zones with high-quality and well-kept car-free streets, as well as overhauling on-street parking for blue badge holders and improving the public transport network, encourages embracing the city for its charm while understanding modern needs.

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

There’s a lot to love about Australia as a country to migrate to, from the stunning beaches to the beautifully warm weather. It’s as popular a choice to move to as ever, with estimates of migration statistics eclipsing original forecast figures by as much as 25%. And if you are looking to emigrate ‘down under’, Melbourne is a city that sets itself apart.

There are various plans in place to progress towards a 20-minute city and offer inclusivity and liveability for everyone, with the standout being the cycling network. The city currently offers more than 135 kilometres of on and off-road cycling routes, with commitments to deliver 40 kilometres more in the coming years. So, whether you’re pedalling for yourself, with someone else on a tandem, or zooming along on an electric bike, Melbourne is the perfect city to travel by bike for your everyday needs or just to stay fit.

Ben Mercer, mountain bike enthusiast and director at bike business: Leisure Lakes Bikes stated the importance of opening cities to being cycled: “Melbourne is a prime example of what’s possible when city networks are optimised for pedestrians and cyclists. It contributes to healthier lifestyles being led and allows those of all abilities to be able to traverse the centre of the city. The commitment of the government to keep improving the cycling network will make it a prime location for those who love cycling to move to.”

Paris, France

Whether you consider it the City of Love or the City of Light, one thing Paris has got nailed is its planning and design. The city’s layout places pedestrians firmly at the centre, with walkable boulevards and a public transport network outlined in William Russel’s Global Transport Index 2023 as the best in the world.

Paris has an abundance of green spaces, like the Luxembourg Gardens and Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, providing a natural environment to promote physical activity and well-being.

The city has actively been monitoring and looking to improve both traffic congestion and air pollution over the past decade, which 15-minute cities work to reduce significantly, meaning we’re likely to see more programmes implemented to both promote pedestrianisation and tackle these issues.

Whether you’re looking to stay in Europe or emigrate further afield, there are plenty of options for those enticed by a 20-minute city concept for their day-to-day lives. More locations are also likely to invest in more traversable concepts due to the emerging targets from governments to reduce the use of road vehicles for emission purposes, especially here in the UK with the government’s plan to halt the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles in the coming years.