If you're planning a move to a new neighborhood, city or town and you haven't quite decided where to live, check out this review of a very cool tool that will help you make the right decision for you and your family.
I came across Area Vibes while searching for a new place to live. Our family was planning on moving back to the United States, but this time, trying a new neighborhood and city. To help us narrow down where best to move to, I used AreaVibes to see quick information about a city or town, and to compare two cities to see which might be better to move to. The tool will also allow you to enter a specific address, so you can map and gain information on how liveable that address is, based on crime statistics, housing prices, nearby amenities, education, etc... I found this feature extremely useful once we decided on a specific city. Using this feature, I could then compare neighborhoods to see just how liveable an area would be.
For almost every semi-major city or town, neighborhood and even a specific address (their website brags of having more than 22,000 cities and neighborhoods), AreaVibes provides what they call an overall Livability Score which is rated out of 100 - the closer a city is to 100, the better it's livability. Using a dedicated algorithm (which they don't provide details for), they crunch a bunch of statistics that includes metrics for cost of living, crime, eduction, employment, housing, weather, amenities, air pollution and transportation. All you need to do is type in the name of the city or an address and the site will compute the score for you. Very cool.
Along with an overall score, AreaVibes also assigns letter grades to specific metrics so you can see at a quick glance what your city or address rates on housing, transportation, education and crime, etc... For example, if AreaVibes gives your city an A+ for amenities but a D+ for crime, you may want to consider living somewhere else.
However, if that's not enough information to go on and you'd rather see how your city compares to other areas, just scroll down the page where you'll find where your city ranks compared to state averages. Click on the individual metrics and you'll see even more detailed information.
Another great feature is the ability to compare your city or address to another city or address. This is a very helpful tool if you're trying to decide between cities or even addresses within a city.
And for all those visually inclined people, a map shows exactly where all the amenities closest to your mapped address are so you can see what's around you. It's from the map that I was able to find our new gym, our go-to Indian take-out restaurant and our local grocery store.
- Easy to use - just plug in an address or city name
- Broad range of metrics that most people will find useful
- Comparison tool helps you decide where might be the best place to live
- Interactive map shows a variety of amenities located around the address you enter
- Quickly see how your city or address ranks compared to state and national averages
- No details on their algorithm so difficult to determine how they calculate their stats
- Because no details are provided, I can't seem to grasp how they determine their housing ranking. For the city we're thinking of moving to, to buy a house is higher than the state and national average, yet rentals are lower - perhaps this means it's a good market.
However, this doesn't make sense for those of us who are wanting to buy into a local market (which is the position of the majority of people moving to a new city). Of course, if you already own in the area, then higher pricing is to your advantage. But again, because AreaVibes doesn't provide information on how they're determining their calculations, I can't understand their logic behind the housing score.