Optimal Home Location suggests a 'greener' place to live

Optimal Home Location suggests where you should live based on where you travel around town, potentially helping to cut your commute.

Elsa Wenzel
2 min read

If you can't decide where to move but want to live close to where you travel every day, Optimal Home Location ( via EcoGeek) suggests a spot. If you hope to shrink your carbon footprint, reducing your commute time can be a key factor.

First, Optimal Home Location found a spot smack in the center of my job and daily pit stops.
First, Optimal Home Location found a spot smack in the center of my job and daily pit stops.

This Google Maps-based tool integrates with real estate site Zillow to display a given area's home prices, taxes, and the percentage of households with children. I plugged in six addresses for the places I visit most around San Francisco, including work, where friends live, and my favorite restaurants and grocery store. The site computed the location most central to those places, where I neither desire nor can afford to rent or buy a place.

Optimal Home Location then asked for details about the order in which I frequent specific locations. It also requested the commute of someone else in my household, which happens to be virtually identical to my own.

The site wound up telling me to live on the same street as my office. I took this as a perhaps depressing hint that my life centers around work, and promptly decided to take a class--mosaic making, hang gliding, welding, anything--in a far-flung neighborhood.

This service is fun to play with, but it's no more than a nice start for plotting a potential move. If you're familiar with a city, chances are you already have a sense of where you'd like to hang your hat versus what's realistic for your budget or other lifestyle limitations. As Optimal Home Location explains, its geometric calculations "do not take into account the feasibility of the area for living." Maybe something more sophisticated in the future could blend more data with community suggestions.

This Web site ultimately told me to live at work.
This Web site ultimately told me to live at work.

Still, you can also describe alternative driving commutes among various spots on a map for estimates of the traveling time and gas expenses you'd face over a year. One big flaw, if you're trying to "green" your life, is the lack of information about bus and subway stops, walkability, and bike lanes. At least you can add pinpoints to the map to mark personal points of interest.

This service would be most helpful paired with other online maps and ratings tools. For example, you could type an address from Optimal Home Location's suggestions into WalkScore (more here), which rates an area's friendliness for trekking around on two feet. Google Transit (more here) would also be helpful for public transit routes.

Also see our Moving 2.0 roundup of services including maps of housing prices, fair rent calculators, and more tools to find data about a neighborhood's demographics and lousy neighbors.