Sex + Dating

How I Used Tinder to Find an Apartment

Tinder apartment hunt
Daniel Fishel/Thrillist

The trickiest part of moving, whether to a new city or across town, is figuring out which neighborhood to live in.

Of course, being strapped for cash means a lot of the amenities you'd like to be looking for (doorman building, elevator, gym, laundry on premises, roof deck) go out the proverbial window. Instead, you get excited about short walks to public transit, a grocery store down the street… or the possibility of dipping your toes into a whole new dating pool.

The great thing about Tinder is how many ways it can be used. Like, for example, as a moving service. After my recent divorce, I used the app to determine which Seattle neighborhood would suit me best -- and figured out a foolproof way to resettle in a part of the city that would also offer the highest likelihood of me eventually finding a new man.

God bless the millions of uses for crappy dating apps.

Good neighbors (and boyfriends) get right to the point

Unfortunately, it turns out swiping through Tinder for neighborhood data is about as frustrating as looking for a date.

First, I limited my right-swipes to what I consider "normal" guys. And that meant finding men with positive, neutral, or nonexistent bios. I'm finding more and more on this app that brevity goes a long way. Too often, I ran into profiles so odd and poorly written, I couldn't tell if the dude was waxing existential, high, or both.

I also came across several negative profiles slamming Tinder with messages like "I don't even know why I'm here." That might be an icebreaker for some people, but in my search for friendly neighborhoods, I don't want the guy across the hall (or sharing my bed) to be constantly complaining.

The right neighborhood doesn't feel like a frat house

I was also looking for men with decent profile photos. Actually not an easy task, since a shocking percentage of Seattleites on Tinder prefer to showcase pics of themselves at bachelorette parties they crashed, standing next to bikini-clad model types, or covered in head-to-toe snowboarding gear (seriously, what do you people look like?). Almost everyone else chose to feature photos that were obviously edited or overly filtered.

The men I sought would have decent headshots and a mix of pictures of themselves outdoors, indoors, hanging out with friends, or with their kids. Speaking of which, kids weren't deal-breakers for this study. Once I'm swiping on guys in their 30s or early 40s, I have to expect many of them have already been married and divorced, and quite possibly have a kid or two. Guys with children could even be indicative of nice, friendly neighborhoods. Hey, I'm open!

The data showed that after almost a decade in this city, I knew little about the people in it

Needless to say, it took me nearly 30 minutes just to find the first guy I could cautiously classify as "normal."

But I did eventually gather some pretty valuable insight into what guys from each neighborhood were like. And I discovered, after swiping across hundreds of profiles, that I could not have been more wrong about the demographics of Seattle. The profiles of the men I found on Tinder belied a city I thought I knew so well.

The neighborhoods I thought were my favorites held the least-desirable men

I've spent the better part of a decade desperately wanting to call the Ballard neighborhood home. That's mostly because of its main drag, which reminds me a lot of Austin's Sixth Street; and I love the dozens of cafes to work from.

But I ended up crossing this neighborhood off the list because of the annoyingly high number of outdoor photos in dudes' profiles. This choice in imagery reminded me of the snowboard guys I swipe left on all the time. I can't help but figure their hiking/camping/boating adventures will be a priority over me. Also, the area lacked diversity. I found the second-least amount of ethnicity in Ballard, second only to Greenlake.

I was surprised by how much wealth turned me off

To be honest, I wasn't going to be particularly excited if data proved Bellevue, across the lakes from Seattle, to be my perfect home. There's actually not much to do there except shop; and the cafes are too crowded to work at.

It's fair to say I was relieved to discover the men in Bellevue held about the same appeal to me as the neighborhood itself. Granted, there weren't any overly obsessive ski or dog photos and there were very few tattoos. Quite the opposite.

The pictures typically showed off vast amounts of wealth. Almost every guy owned a plane or boat, and just about every photo showed him standing next to one or the other, gloating. Sounds great and all, I guess? I had to be honest about whether I wanted to be surrounded by down-to-earth, normal guys... or wealthy ones.

I was raised in a middle-class house where we lived uncomfortably between too much and not enough. And truthfully, a lot of wealth unsettles me. Down-to-earth is, quite literally, right at home. Bellevue got crossed off my list.

Good guys (and neighbors) don't run away on the weekend -- or from life

If you like Amazon, health food, and high-rises, you would love Belltown. I first planted roots in a luxurious studio there in 2010. I haven't always stayed, but I won't lie: I'm a little desperate to go back.

Right off the bat, it was easy to rack up a number of guys I liked in Belltown. There is almost more diversity there than any other Seattle neighborhood, and I counted very few guys who had tattoos as a profile picture. I noted no odd sexual proclivities, and only two men mentioned a preference for snow over women.

More reasons I've always loved it there.

Hipster guys (and neighborhoods) aren't right for me

I ended up ditching Greenlake and Wallingford for their combined overload of snow pictures. Greenlake's dog photos (yet another case of "I'm not ready to make anyone else a priority") were another nail in the coffin; and Wallingford's overuse of harsh bios like "I'm gone for four months boarding," or "Tinder is stupid" left me underwhelmed.

The "I do what I want" mentality is one I expect men to leave behind in their 20s. Not so with dudes in these neighborhoods. No way am I moving to a block filled with selfish guys who would make terrible friends, annoying neighbors, and insufferable partners.

Wallingford was also the only neighborhood I swiped through with a relatively high number of men into some form of polyamory or BDSM. Pass.

After my extensive Goldilocks-like search, I may have found a neighborhood that's just right

When I looked at the data from my study about Capitol Hill -- home to Macklemore and all typical hipster stereotypes -- I discovered it's actually an extremely diverse neighborhood when it comes to single men. Guys from the area had the least number of dog and dumb photos, but more tattoo shots than anywhere except Wallingford. There were very few outdoor shots in general, and I found more bios than from any other neighborhood; suggesting these men are actually looking for relationships.

Seems I've found my new spot.

My end game? Digs and digits.

Since I've spent the least amount of time in Capitol Hill out of any other Seattle neighborhood, my new goal is to swipe right on as many normal guys located in that area for some low-key coffee dates as I get to know the area.

It can't hurt to kill two birds with one stone. With any luck, I'll end up with a cute apartment and a cute neighbor.

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Kelly Clay is a Seattle-based freelance writer. She's obsessed with coffee, sunshine, and Oxford commas.