When I first relocated to Los Angeles six years ago, I moved into a loft downtown two blocks away from Skid Row. Although I really loved living down there, I’m not sure I would have ended up in that location had I been more Internet savvy about choosing a neighborhood. In the incredible digital age we live in, with a few minutes and a web connection, you can learn a lot about a neighborhood before ever stepping foot in it.

SpareFoot loves fellow tech startups making a positive difference in real estate, like Detroit-based Picket Report. With PicketReport.com, gone are the days of temporarily subletting while getting the lay of the land. Now, in a few clicks, you can discover nearly everything there is to know about a given neighborhood. Using Picket Report’s heat maps, you can visualize various demographic data in a metropolitan area.

Not only does the site reveal the average dwelling size, residents’ marital status, education level, and household income, it also shows occupational information, such as whether most residents work in sales, farming or tech industries. In addition to demographics, the site offers detailed information about schools in the area and highlights local coffee shops, restaurants, parks, banks and grocery stores.

The crime portion of the website can be particularly telling, as it places icons on the map where criminal activity has occurred. Updated frequently via CrimeReports.com, Picket Report shows detailed information about crime in your area of interest. Like Skid Row, perhaps.

Although there’s nothing quite like getting out on foot and exploring a neighborhood, Picket Report can provide a great first step. In fact, between Google Earth and Picket Report, you could probably move to Austin, Texas tomorrow and land in the perfect neighborhood. Well, to be fair, you’re probably in good shape wherever you land in Austin.

For more information on the best neighborhoods in some of our favorite cities, check out SpareFoot’s Moving Guides.

Photo courtesy of  Creative Commons.