If you're moving to another city or town and aren't sure where to live or how to compare areas, check out this neighborhood matchmaker tool that will help you find the best place to live. Easy to use, fun and a great way to get to know new places using criteria and features you can set to compare cities and neighborhoods.
Overview of Neighborhood Scout
To find the best place to live, Neighborhood Scout site offers some free matchmaker tools that enable you to compare your favorite neighborhood to neighborhoods in the new city or town you plan on moving to. Not only does it provide matching statistics, it also drills down into details about crime rates, housing costs and appreciation, along with school quality and income rates.
Before you go any further, you should know that some features of Neighborhood Scout are free while others are only available to paid subscribers, in particular any details about a specific area including specifics contained within their reporting tool. Subscription fees range from $19.99 per month based on a six-month subscription to $39.99 per month with no time-specific subscription. If you're not sure where to move, paying forty dollars might not be a bad investment. But before you sign-up, finish reading this review to see if it'll be worth the investment.
There are three main tools or tabs - which you'll find at the top of the site's home page - that you can use to assess and determine the best neighborhood for you and your family. Here's an overview of each tool to give you a sense of what they do to help you move.
The reporting tool allows you to enter an address into the search bar and provides a detailed report on key factors that will help you decide where to move to such as school ratings, crime, home appreciation rates, crime rates and will link you to a realtor that works within that neighborhood. While the free version of the tool provides some information, much of the data you may want details on are only available to subscribers. For crime statistics, for instance, such detail includes and overall comparison to US and city-wide statistics and the ability to compare , specific types of crime. Overall, it's really difficult to get a full and complete review of your specific neighborhood without paying for a subscription.
The search feature is a pretty cool tool that allows you to select the criterion you'd like to search on. For example, if one of your priorities in finding a neighborhood in which to move to is how much your home will appreciate, you can select the home appreciation criterion, then select the city and state that you'd like to search. The tool provides a large listing of all the neighborhoods ranked from those areas with the highest appreciation to the lowest. It also shows this information in an easy-to-read heat map of the city or town, which is click-able. Clicking on an area on the map or neighborhood name from the listing will take you to details about the area. Information such as income level, ethnicity, school ratings, and crime rates are all available. Again, only certain details can be accessed without a subscription.
This is by far my favorite tool on the site. By clicking the Match tab, you can enter a favorite address - perhaps where you currently live - then enter an address that you're moving to then select the miles around the ideal neighborhood and click "match". The database will show you the top neighborhoods within a specified radius of the area you're moving to and gives you a rating of how closely they're matched. It's a great way to find new areas you hadn't considered before and like the Search tool, you can dig deeper into a neighborhood by clicking on the details. And again, more information is available to subscribers than if you're searching for free.
What I Love
There's a lot to love about this tool, including:
- The ability to match based on a current address that you love
- Detailed reporting that's available in one place
- Helps find new neighborhoods you might not have considered before
- Digs down into the data to show you neighborhood level statistics
- Easy to use and a lot of fun to play with
- Provides enough information in the free version to be worth a look
What Could They Improve
While I love this tool, there are some things I wish they'd do a little better:
- The neighborhood description is fairly vague and some of the details aren't very relevant. For example, one neighborhood was described as "less than 5% of people over the age of 5 speak Japanese at home" - that was the first description which I didn't find very useful
- The monthly subscription seems a little high for the information provided
- I'm a little suspicious about their Realtor listing - am I really being matched with the best or someone who advertises with the company?
- How the data is crunched isn't transparent - I'd like a little more information about the data used and how the rates are calculated
While I think this is a great tool to find new neighborhoods to live in using relative and user-specific criteria, I'm not sure I'd pay the subscription fee to get all the details. The free version offers enough to get you started and from there I'd decide how much you'll use the tool and whether it's worth the fee. If you're really not sure where you're moving to and have a lot of places to choose from, then you may want to sign up. Otherwise, there are free tools out there that will also help you find the best neighborhood to move to.