Relocating? New Service Finds Similar Neighborhoods


Neighborhood-level intelligence isn’t always easy to find, for residents, travelers or resettlers. We have neighborhood boundaries, courtesy of the sociologists and mapmakers at Urban Mapping. But other information can be scant.

Now we have another view from the real estate brain-trust of Niki Scevak’s Homethinking, which rolls out a service today that lets users compare neighborhoods in cities. An art gallery lover in Soho, for instance, might find the 7th street corridor in Washington D.C. to be their place. Gramercy Park is considered a match for Nob Hill in San Francisco.

The overall similarity between each pair of neighborhoods is ranked on a 0-100 basis based on “people,” “activities,” “arts/culture” and “vibe.” Every search is nicely illustrated with landmark photos, and can be accompanied by local ads – hence the smart real estate connection.

Scevak, a former analyst with Jupiter Communications, says “the matches are initially calculated using demographic data collected from the US census and other public sources. The reviews of consumers and real estate agents then refine the scores further over time.”

At this point, the service, like any data-driven service, is pretty much by the book, and it can be controversial — sort of Zillow’s Z-estimates and its initial overpricing and underpricing of homes. The artsy, Latin-infused neighborhood of Echo Park in downtown LA, for instance, is not the equivalent of the depressing, ghetto-y neighborhood of Stadium Armory in DC.

But the concept is a great one, and the service already gets the basics right. I wish I had a perfected version of this service six years ago, so that I would have known that beachy, informal and beatniky “Leucadia” was a better match for me than resort-like “La Costa” next door (although perhaps I have grown into resort-living by now).

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