Thinking of moving abroad to America? Area Vibes can help you

I don’t know about you, but when I was planning my move abroad I just wanted to find as many resources as I could. I wanted to know about the area – what the schools were like, what the neighborhoods were like and everything else about the places I was looking at. I appreciate that you can’t completely understand what a place will be like until you’re there but you can certainly try your hardest to get as much information as possible.

That’s why I want to share www.areavibes.com with you. If you’re considering a move to America from any country then this site will be a great tool for you. In a nutshell, it lets you work out the most suitable place to live, based on the things that are important to you, like amenities, cost of living, crime, education, employment and more.

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I thought it would be useful if I walk you through how to use the site based on my experience so that when you get there you can get straight on with working out where your next adventure will be.

Area Vibes walk through

Homepage

AreaVibes smart relocation guide walk throughThe Area Vibes homepage is clean and simple and (in my opinion) it’s pretty obvious how you get started. I’ve included a big red box in my screenshot just in case it wasn’t clear though. All you have to do is type in the area you’re interested in (zip code, city or address etc) and then hit search. You don’t need to create an account to search areas and use the majority of facilities on the site although it does mean you get access to the social aspects of the site like forums, writing reviews of cities and some other things. It’s free so it’s worth doing if you’re serious about moving to America.

 Search results

AreaVibes smart relocation guide walk through livability search resultsThe search results are probably what you’d expect to see; a list of places that match or are close to the place you’ve searched for. Generally the first result is the actual place you’ve searched for. I searched for Jersey City so that was my first result (and stays at the top when you change your criteria). This makes sense as it’s the most relevant place you’re after. I guess the more explicit you can be about the area you’re looking at (to zip code level) the more you can drill down on that area in particular to understand which of the surrounding areas will suit you best. You’ll notice that there’s a livability score on each result, which comes in really handy for a quick comparison.

The filters are on the right hand side (you can see all your options in the screen shot I’ve provided). Move the sliders left and right to set how important each of the areas are to you. If you don’t have children then you might not be as interested in education. If you’re retired then it’s likely you won’t mind about unemployment (unless it increases crime). It’s up to you to get the balance right to meet your needs.

AreaVibes smart relocation guide walk through livability search results map

The list of results will change each time you hit the ‘update’ button below the filters. So set them as you want them and hit ‘update’ to see what changes.

There’s also a ‘map view’ option, which let’s you see the results plotted on a map. If you change the filters and hit ‘update’ it’ll take you back to the listing page but I guess that’s because it wouldn’t make a lot of sense on the map as they don’t change their order.

Livability score pages

Until I looked through this properly to put this post together I didn’t realise just how much information Area Vibes has for each area of interest. It’s a crazy (in a good way) amount that’ll really help you make a decision on where is best for you. I’ve done my best to detail all the things you can get hold of but I’d recommend (once you’ve finished reading my post of course) heading on over to Area Vibes to have a play and look through all the great information they have.

Here’s some of the features broken into sections:

Main page snaphot

AreaVibes smart relocation guide walk through las vegas livability scoreThere’s a whole load of information on the main page, so let’s start at the top. You’ve got the overall livability score for the area you’ve selected, and more detail about the specific areas that the site uses to create the rating (amenities, cost of living etc). These are given ratings on a scale similar to exams (C, C+, B, B+ and so on…). This gives you a real quick snapshot of the place you’re looking at and whether it’s potentially suitable for you.

There are tabs at the top giving you the options to look at neighborhoods, reviews and the forum, and also ‘best places’, which takes you to search results.

You also have a row of all the different categories that make up the livability score. Click on any of these categories and you get a page with much more detail. I’ve taken cost of living as an example and you get things like:

  • Cost of living indexes
  • Cost of thing like coffee, gas (petrol to us Brits) and pizza
  • Comparison of costs compared to the national average

Just this snapshot gives you a really good feel for the area, plus all the information behind the various other options at the top of the page.

Local amenities and commute

AreaVibes smart relocation guide walk through las vegas livability score amenitiesThis is a great section of the page that gives you an insight into what’s available in the city or neighborhood you’ve searched for. There’s a list on the left that details the number of services (like groceries, food and drink, coffee, fitness, schools etc) within a certain mile radius. As it’s all on a map you can see clearly what’s where and how far it would be from where you’re looking to move to.

There’s also the option to check how long your commute time might be, which is a great feature. It gives you distance, time and cost (where applicable) for walking, cycling, compact car, standard car and SUV. Very very handy! I needed something like this when we were planning our move to Spain.

Summary of key areas

This part of the page covers the following areas:

  • Cost of living
  • Crime
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Weather

AreaVibes smart relocation guide walk through las vegas livability score drill down

It gives you some of the key figures relating to these areas. For example, in the ‘crime’ box you’ll see ‘total crimes’ and ‘violent crimes’ figures plus a comparison to the state total. In the ‘weather’ box you’ll see the ‘average summer temperature’ and ‘air quality index’. You do get the average winter temperature too but hey, we all love the summer right?

Property to rent and buy

 AreaVibes smart relocation guide walk through las vegas livability score propertyThe next section shows you six properties available to rent in and around the area you’re looking at plus an option to view all properties in that area. It includes a livability score for each property. If you click on the property it takes you to a new page on the Area Vibes site for property searches and opens a lightbox with more details about the property, including more specific information about the livability of the area. You might want to right click it and open it in a new window so you can go back to the area you’re researching when you’ve finished looking at properties.

Then you’ve got the ability to search for homes and apartments for sale. When you search it’ll open up a new tab with a property site.

Basic demographics and city comparison

AreaVibes smart relocation guide walk through las vegas livability score populationThis section gives you a high level breakdown of a few demographics within the area you’re researching, at a state level and then at a national level. It gives you an idea of number of families, married people, split of race, English/Spanish speaking and male/female ratio. You can click through to more detailed demographics which gives information on household incomes, places of birth and a load more.

AreaVibes smart relocation guide walk through las vegas livability score comparisonBelow this is a tool to compare the area you’re looking at with any other place in America. It take you to a summary page (see the screen shot) with a comparison between each of the areas in the index. Very useful if you’re struggling to choose between a couple of different towns and you need something to help you settle on one or the other.

 

Reviews and forum questions

AreaVibes smart relocation guide walk through las vegas livability score reviews forumThis is the sort of content I love best. Hearing from real people about what an area is like is invaluable. This is a great feature on the Area Vibes site and one you should make the most of. I’d recommend creating a free account with them if it means you get to share thoughts and concerns in their forum and hopefully get some answers to your questions. I’ve highlighted a review and a forum question that are live on the site. Just click the screen shot to see a bigger version.

Mix this with all the statistical information above and you’re rocking in terms of getting a good understanding of an area.

Summary

I’ve covered what I would say is the core purpose of the Area Vibes site – giving you a load of tools to really understand the area you want to move to, and to compare it with other places that could be more suitable. Here’s a quick list of the other features also available:

  • Forum – We’ve talked about it but it’s a feature in itself (I can’t link to it as it’s specific to each location. Go to the site, run a search and then select the forum tab once you’ve clicked through to the location you’re interested in)
  • Property search – Again, we’ve kind of covered it but it’s still a whole separate feature
  • Top 100 cities, Top 10 best places to live
  • Cost of living calculator
  • Articles and posts
  • My account features (if you sign up), which include getting entered into a prize draw for amazon gift cards when you review the places you’ve lived (definitely worthwhile)

From my initial first glance of the Area Vibes site I thought it looked like a useful tool. Having gone through the site in a lot more detail I’ve realised just how powerful it could be for you if you’re planning a move to America.

It would be great to get your views on the site in the comments below. Take a look at Area Vibes, have a play and let us know what you think. I’m sure the guys there would be open to any feedback that you have. And also share any similar sites you have used for other countries and I can also add them to my resources page.

Thanks for reading.

Al

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