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Calculating the Pros, Cons of NYC neighborhoods

Posted on May 31, 2011

Statistician assembles handy ‘Livability Calculator’ for New Yorkers

What’s the best way to figure out which New York City neighborhood you should call home?

Scores of resources are available online, with details on amenities, prices and overall quality of life to help you evaluate the options. The city government has a basic overview that’s a good place to start. The New York Times has another good resource on real estate in specific neighborhoods and Time Out New York has a detailed rundown of 26 of its favorites.

Montague Street, Brooklyn Heights Photo Cred: Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of Aude

Montague Street, Brooklyn Heights; Photo Cred: Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of Aude

But by far the best we’ve run across is from New York magazine, which employed statistical whiz Nate Silver, a recent transplant, to devise a complex but highly useful “Livability Calculator.”

The tool helps people rate 60 neighborhoods according to 12 factors — including school quality, access to transit and affordability — but on a sliding scale that lets users assign more weight to, say, entertainment options rather than quality schools if they’re single. (We’ve mentioned this useful tool in a previous post but wanted to highlight it again. Silver is a renowned political data-cruncher who’s taken his operation to The New York Times.)

It’s fun to play around with, almost like trying on different identities. Hmm, think I’ll be a 23-year-old NYU grad with two roommates. I want affordability, diversity, lots of bars and nightlife and a strong creative vibe. The calculator pulls up what you’d expect for options 1 and 2 (East Village, Lower East Side) but then less obvious choices: Carroll Gardens/Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights and Greenpoint in Brooklyn.

Example Calculation

Example Calculation

Or: I’m in my late 40s, pretty well-off, my spouse and I don’t go out that much but I have two kids in high school and one in middle school. I want quality housing in a safe neighborhood near good schools and good shopping. The tool pulls up Tribeca, Murray Hill, Midtown East, etc., a Manhattan-rich buffet.

Keep in mind that the data are subjective, and fiddling with an online tool can’t replace an on-the-ground tour of the neighborhood. But it’s a good guide, and it can help refine just what you’re looking for in a place to live. Once people get out there, sometimes they find their priorities aren’t what they thought they were!

Wherever you decide to live, Gotham Brokerage can help craft the right policy to protect your home and the precious items in it. We’ve written and brokered insurance policies in the five boroughs and Tri-State area for more than 50 years. So call or e-mail us today for a homeowners or renters quote.