It's Friday at six in the evening. You're at a fancy conference table in the landlord's office waiting to sign your lease. The fluorescent light gives everything an unnatural brightness. There is a cheap print of a Van Gogh painting on the wall, someone is clicking their pen in a cubicle in back, and the office smells like someone had tacos for lunch. You just want to go home.
Then the landlord's employee hands you a thick stack of paper, and says “Everything in there is pretty standard. I'll give you some time to look it over.”
A couple of months ago, I sat down and looked up every Chicago neighborhood in Google. I made note of how Google portrayed each neighborhood, focusing on loaded keywords and adjectives. This is the final article in a four-part series discussing my findings. I suggest you start at the beginning.
We've discussed in the previous articles in this series how Google can affect our perceptions by changing the order of their search results. We've also discussed how a Google search results page (SERP) will have both a list of links, and a list of "related searches" at the bottom. In the course of my research I noticed that for some neighborhoods, Google would suggest "homes for sale" as a related search. In some cases it would alternatively suggest "condos for sale" or "lofts for sale." For others it would only suggest "apartments for rent." The difference is more important than you'd initially think. Continue reading Is Google Quietly Manipulating Property Values?Chicago Neighborhoods According to Google, Part 4
Landlords get a reputation for being greedy people who will raise the rent at any chance while doing little to maintain their buildings. We think that the ideal landlord cares about the building and the well-being of the people who live in it, and we think that these caring landlords do exist in large numbers. Apartment hunters should be on the lookout for clues that a landlord feels this way. Here are ten things to look for in a building owned by a landlord who cares. Continue reading 10 Signs That Your Landlord Isn’t Just Another Greedy Scumbag
This is part of an ongoing series discussing how Chicago neighborhoods are described through the lens of Google's search results. You can find a list of all four articles at the bottom of the post.
Today we'll be looking at how Google's search results portray the racial and economic breakdown of Chicago's neighborhoods. As I mentioned last week, I tallied mentions of race and class separately from the emotional terms. While calling a neighborhood "poverty-ridden," "affluent" or "Swedish" might have a positive or negative impact on your overall impression of a given area, it won't necessarily have the same impact for everyone in the same way as something like "dangerous," "pretty" or "boring."
In some ways, Google's take on the race and class makeup of Chicago is far more important than any adjectives sprinkled through its search results. It's crucial information for many newcomers that real estate agents cannot discuss. In fact I would argue that race and class information are probably the main things that would prompt someone to Google a neighborhood in the first place.
For anyone who lives in a vintage apartment building, daily life presents certain unique questions that people who live in other types of buildings may not ask themselves. There's something unique about living close to others in a space that's less than brand new. The floors are creakier, the plumbing is older, the appliances may or may not be from this century...all of these things can influence the questions inside the mind of a vintage apartment resident. The following is a list of some of these questions.
1. If the pilot light on my stove goes out, will I die? Or just feel really good and then get mild brain damage?