Plug in key information about your preferences, and Dwellr will start looking for your new home.

If you find yourself in geographic limbo this holiday season – perhaps stranded in an airport or marooned with family far from your own familiar home – new Census Bureau app dwellr offers to help you get your socioeconomic bearings.

The tool, available for Apple or Android devices, will give you a demographic profile of your current location – population, median housing value, racial diversity, education level, and the like – based on data from the American Community Survey.

More usefully, if you’re in the market for a new place to live, the way 30 million Americans are each year, the app will let you plug in key information about yourself and start looking for a city (or suburb) to live in. Indicate your preferred employment, whether you like the mountains or the coast, your favorite commuting mode, your marital status, and so on. Dwellr will generate a list of up to 25 communities that are a good match for you.

I’ll give it high marks for matching me accurately. Dwellr pulled up my hometown of New York – the city I can't seem to tear myself away from – as my top choice, with Philadelphia and Boston rounding out the very short list (no wonder I feel like I don’t have many options).

What was more fun, though, was feeding the app false information. When I answered every question as close to the opposite of the truth, I came up with a long list of places in the Midwest, many of which I had never heard of. What would my life be like if I spent it in Hubbard, Ohio? It was kind of great to imagine.

Best of all, though, the Census Bureau has made the American Community Survey and 2010 Census figures available to any programmer by providing API access to the same data sets it used to build this app. So if you’re a developer out there who thinks dwellr is lame, have at it. Maybe you can do better.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    What Happens When a City Tries to End Traffic Deaths

    Several years into a ten-year “Vision Zero” target, some cities that took on a radical safety challenge are seeing traffic fatalities go up.

  2. photo: A stylish new funeral parlor called Exit Here in London.
    Design

    Death Be Not Dull

    U.K. restaurateur Oliver Peyton’s newest project, a style-forward funeral home called Exit Here, aims to shake up a very traditional industry.

  3. photo: A Starship Technologies commercial delivery robot navigates a sidewalk.
    POV

    My Fight With a Sidewalk Robot

    A life-threatening encounter with AI technology convinced me that the needs of people with disabilities need to be engineered into our autonomous future.

  4. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  5. Life

    Talent May Be Shifting Away From Superstar Cities

    According to a new analysis, places away from the coasts in the Sunbelt and West are pulling ahead when it comes to attracting talented workers.

×