"This Map Shows the Boston Area’s ‘Charm Index’"


Author: Megan Turchi

Date: June 8, 2016

With its cobblestone streets, brick brownstones, ample green space, and abundance of history, it would be hard to argue that Boston isn’t charming.

But for the skeptics, RentLingo has now found a way to quantify that description.

The San Francisco-based apartment search site made a heat map to illustrate what it calls the “Charm Index,” which was created “with the belief that local businesses are what define a neighborhood’s charm.”

RentLingo co-founder and CEO Dan Laufer told Boston.com that what differentiates RentLingo from other listing sites is their focus on what he calls “location intelligence.”

“The Charm Index is meant to be a comprehensive score about how desirable a location is,” he said. “[We pull] data from local businesses, crime, and public services like parks and bike trails.”

A neighborhood that has a variety of locally run businesses, such as restaurants, bookstores, and yoga studios, will get more positive ratings than a neighborhood that has a lot of national chains. Laufer said RentLingo’s algorithm dives into each of the businesses, determining how favorably residents rated the them, what the price range is, and what they have to offer.

RentLingo notes:

“It’s a bias like any other, but we like to think that where most people prefer to live is more likely dictated by local boutiques and restaurants and not by redeveloped fast-food and retailer franchises. We also believe the presence of some business like Pay Day Loan stores, Strip Clubs, and pawn shops have a hard time competing in charm with neighborhood cafes and bookstores.”

The map is interactive, showcasing a Charm Index score, along with information about the store owners, the store ratings, the residents’ lifestyles, and what types of businesses you can find.

“What is notable about Boston is there is so much that scores highly, more so than other cities,” Laufer said. “It has a lot of that local charm and flavor.”

Boston Magazine reported that RentLingo determined Cambridge was America’s most charming college town, stating that “it received an overall charm score of 99.10 out of 100”

If you search a town that isn’t a large city, you might notice that there are no Charm Index scores. Laufer said this is because it is hard to calculate charm in neighborhoods that don’t have many businesses and are primarily just residential.

See the interactive Charm Index map here.