If there’s one thing the Internet appears well suited for beyond collecting funny cat videos, it’s the delivery of lists. You could blame it on Buzzfeed, which might have pioneered the form. But now the list is ubiquitous.
Another list out recently by Movoto Insider has crunched numbers to determine that Chestnut Hill is the number one neighborhood in Philadelphia. I’ve seen it popping up in Facebook and Twitter, usually shared by Hillers proud to be number one yet again, even though there’s some interesting ‘hoods in the top 10 (Byberry? Never met anyone who says they live in Byberry. I thought it was an abandoned hospital). And some are suspiciously absent (No Rittenhouse? No Society Hill?).
How do these lists get generated? Movoto is a San Francisco Bay-area real estate company that appears to sell real estate locally and aggregate classified ads nationally. They do, however, say that the selection process for their best places to live is scientific.
“When we create any Big Deal Lists at Movoto, we rely solely on the facts, and this list was no different.”
So what do they know about Philadelphia? Some of the numbers are good. Others, not so much.
The process, the site says, is to begin with areavibes.com, an online tool that describes itself as follows:
The AreaVibes Livability Score was designed to help you find the best places to live. It is created using a unique algorithm that takes into account dozens of characteristics in 7 different categories including nearby amenities, cost of living, crime rates, education, employment, housing and weather.
The areavibe score for Chestnut Hill is a solid 80. It gets ‘A’s in many of those deciding categories, and deservedly so. It gets top ratings for education attainment, amenities and housing that are far greater than the national average.
The interesting stuff comes from looking at where Chestnut Hill doesn’t score an A. The neighborhood gets a C for crime and weather(!). And an F for cost of living. I’m not sure how one grades weather reliably. But I won’t contest a C. Not after this last winter. But a C for crime?
The areavibe crime score for Chestnut Hill is based on an estimate of 440 violent crimes per 100,000 and 1,377 property crimes per 100,000. Looking at the Philadelphia Inquirer’s database for a year of crime stats in Chestnut Hill, the property crime estimate is pretty close to accurate. The violent crime rate, however, is more than four times higher than the actual rate. If anything, that grade should be closer to a B- or maybe even a B.
The F grade for cost of living looks pretty shocking. But it’s based on a comparison of cost of living indexes that put Chestnut Hill 34 percent greater than the Philadelphia average and 39 percent greater than the national average. Factors that contribute to the score are higher than average prices for housing (nearly two times the national average), groceries and transportation. Houses, gas and goods in general tend to cost more here than elsewhere. But if you live in Chestnut Hill, you probably already know that.
Despite those factors, Chestnut Hill still enjoys an overall quality of life advantage over the rest of the city according to the numbers. Some of those numbers might be off. Some might be weighted too great, but it’s hard to argue: Chestnut Hill is pretty great, regardless of where it falls on a list.