If you were to ask residents of East and West Mount Airy, they would tell you, apparently, that their neighborhood ranks above most others when it comes to quality of life.
At least, that's according to a new survey tool from the real estate website Trulia that launched in the last week, aiming to give house-hunters nationally better insight into neighborhoods where they are looking to buy or rent. Called "What Locals Say," the tool provides crowdsourced statistics on everything from how noisy a neighborhood is to how easy it is to park there. Think of it as "Yelp" for neighborhoods.
Those findings are based on polls that, so far, have been answered by more than six million people nationwide. They're presented under property listings on Trulia's website as both long-form reviews and percentages — for example, "77 percent of Fishtown and Northern Liberties residents feel comfortable walking alone at night."
Which brings us back to East and West Mount Airy, the two Philadelphia neighborhoods that sit side-by-side in the Northwest, divided by Germantown Avenue. While certainly different, both enclaves — often lauded for their economic stability, diversity, and history of tolerance — have emerged from "What Locals Say" as among the city's preeminent neighborhoods, ranking among the highest in many categories that Trulia offers thus far.
For example, when it comes to Trulia's "Easy Parking" category, West and East Mount Airy rank second and third, respectively, out of 60 neighborhoods, with 78.9 percent of West Mount Airy respondents and 73.7 percent of East Mount Airy respondents saying they can easily find parking in the evenings or on weekends. (East Parkside in West Philadelphia claimed the top spot, with 84.6 percent responding they can find parking.)
Similarly, both Mount Airy neighborhoods top Philadelphia's list for "Residents who plan to stay in the neighborhood for five years or more." Taking first and second place, 73.8 percent of West Mount Airy residents and 71.4 percent of East Mount Airy residents say they plan to stay.
Of course, Trulia's tool is by no means definitive and has its limitations. As of Saturday, two days before the product publicly launched, each of the Mount Airy neighborhoods had received only slightly more than 100 responses each. Across Philadelphia, 12,832 responses had been collected at the time.
Still, like Wikipedia, Yelp, or TripAdvisor, "What Locals Say," even while in beta version, has the potential to grow into a large, continuously evolving platform that anyone can use — even if only a smaller number of people contribute each day. The service also offers Trulia a chance to differentiate itself from its ever-growing market of competitors, as services including Facebook and Amazon have recently taken steps to join the crowded real estate listings market that Trulia, Zillow, Redfin, and Realtor.com have long dominated.
"What Locals Say" is free.
To collect data, Trulia's neighborhood polls are surfaced to people on Trulia's website at any time and on the mobile app between 7 p.m. and midnight when a for-sale listing is nearby — periods when people are more likely to be home. Users can contribute long-form reviews at any time. A spokeswoman said the company has a "fraud check" in place, aiming to prevent users from answering a poll multiple times, or, ideally, from falsely answering the questions. Neighborhoods are listed as soon as 10 reviews are submitted.
To answer poll questions or view results for a particular neighborhood, participants can pull up any listing in the neighborhood, and scroll about halfway down the page.
So what do Trulia's polls reveal about Philadelphia so far? Based on data provided by Trulia on March 15, here's how Philadelphia neighborhoods stacked up in some categories.
Philadelphia's quietest neighborhoods: Trulia asked respondents whether they could regularly hear street noise from inside their homes. Here are the five quietest neighborhoods.
- Wynnefield Heights: 23.8 percent reported hearing street noise
- West Mount Airy: 34 percent
- East Mount Airy: 41.2 percent
- East Falls: 41.4 percent
- Fitler Square: 41.9 percent
Philadelphia's kid-friendliest neighborhoods: Trulia asked whether respondents regularly see kids playing outside. Here are the five neighborhoods where that most frequently happens.
- Bridesburg: 90.9 percent reported seeing kids regularly playing outside
- South Philadelphia East (Philadelphia's stadiums area): 77.8 percent
- Fitler Square: 75 percent
- Port Richmond: 74 percent
- East Germantown: 73.6 percent
Philadelphia's most festive neighborhoods: Trulia asked whether respondents had attended a community event in their neighborhood, such as a block party or a barbecue. Here are the five neighborhoods where people most frequently had.
- West Mount Airy: 64.4 percent had attended a community event
- Port Richmond: 62.1 percent
- Overbrook: 61.9 percent
- Cobbs Creek: 60.7 percent
- Bridesburg: 59.1 percent
Philadelphia's permanent residents: Trulia asked whether respondents plan to live in their neighborhoods for five or more years. Here are the five neighborhoods where the most residents to do so.
- West Mount Airy: 73.8 percent plan to stay
- East Mount Airy: 71.4 percent
- Queen Village/Pennsport: 68.1 percent
- Bella Vista/Passyunk Square: 67.4 percent
- Graduate Hospital: 67.3 percent
Philadelphia's best-lit sidewalks: Trulia asked respondents whether their neighborhood's sidewalks had good lighting. Here are the most illuminated neighborhoods.