Finding the New York City neighborhood that's right for you can be a years-long struggle. But what if you could simply automate the search process?
The new "neighborhood match" feature from PlaceILive.com aims to do just that, pairing users with a list of ideal neighborhoods based on their answers to a speedy 9-step quiz. (Questions range from your gender, age, and roommate or relationship situation, to preferences about neighborhood amenities and vibe, and price range.) The site's trove of neighborhood information comes from a mix of census numbers, open data like NYPD crime stats, subway information, and pricing medians from various New York City real estate sites. It would make sense that they have this kind of information handy—PlaceILive, which launched last year, operates in NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, London, and Berlin, tracking lifestyle-related data for prospective renters and buyers, and providing a "quality of life" index rating for different neighborhoods.
"The algorithm calculates all the requirements of a person who is searching for an ideal neighborhood, including price point," site co-founder Sarunas Legeckas tells us via email. "So when a person receives neighborhood matches, he will find neighborhoods in his price range as well as others out of the price range, but with all desired amenities. So he will have to decide what is more important for him: price or amenities." Though the search terms in the quiz are simplified—do you want a hood that's "green," "social," "LGBT-friendly"?—they're drawing on the site's larger trove of data on things like neighborhood demographics, and types of businesses, amenities, and entertainment options.
This rings true; plugging in my own answers—a desire for a two-bedroom rental under $2,000 a month, proximity to a hospital (better safe than sorry, right? you can also select a police station as a local must-have), and a "hip," "artsy," "social," and "diverse" neighbhorhood with abundant bar and restaurant options, my top result came up as Bushwick, where I have, in fact, lived for several years. The algorithm knows me so well! However, my next-in-line options came up as wildly expensive Manhattan areas like Soho, Chelsea, and the Lower East Side, rather than options I'd think would be a more natural fit, like Ridgewood or South Williamsburg. (This could perhaps be explained by the fact that I commute to Midtown, a factor the site takes into account in selecting your options.)
But that said, the algorithm seems to be self-correcting and evolving rather quickly; I took the quiz with the same answers a few hours later, and while Bushwick came out on top, this time it was followed by the East Village and Flushing which, while still not a perfect fit, do make slightly more sense in the context of my stated preferences.
"It’s important to note that the system is self-learning, so we encourage people to leave feedback about the neighborhoods they are matched to," says Legeckas. "They can do that by liking a certain neighborhood (by pressing heart symbol) or by disliking one and including the reasons why this neighborhood is not good for them. So what we are trying to do is to teach an algorithm and to make it more sophisticated. The more people will use the system, the 'smarter' it will become." (At press time, around 6,000 people have taken the quiz.)
All of which is to say that while you should likely take your results with a grain of salt, if you're just moving here and getting a sense for potential options—or getting sick of your neighbors and need inspiration for your next move—it could come in handy.
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