braindribbles

Right up my street: The ACORN classification system

Posted on: 18/08/2011

What, another post about moving house?  Give us a break, Sacha!

Actually, this is more about being a nosy neighbour.

You see, for every house we’ve viewed over the last week or so, we’ve also looked them up on UpMyStreet.com.  It’s inundated with advertising, but if you can get past all that, it’s an incredibly useful resource for finding out what your neighbourhood is like.  They tell you about schools, crime, council tax rates, transportation, photographs of the area, and – most important of all – what kind of people live in your postcode.

Have you heard of ACORN classification?  Well, somewhere along the line, some marketeers came up with a plan to segment every element of UK society into 56 categories, ranging from type 1, the wealthy mature professionals in large houses, to  type 56, multi-ethnic communities in crowded flats.  Here’s a nugget of trivia for you: ACORN stands for ‘A Classification Of Residential Neighbourhoods’.

Bet you always wanted to know that.

Every postcode in the country has been categorised this way. (Scotland has a separate ACORN system, and aside from having a category for excessive familiarity with sheep, I can’t see why.  Yes, I am joking.)

We wondered what type we were really likely to be. Loved one thinks we’re a 9 or a 10 (well-off working families with mortgages), but I wonder if we’re more like a 28 (working families with mortgages) or maybe we’re somewhere in between.  Our current postcode has us as a 4 (well-off managers, larger houses), which took us by surprise…our house is one of the smallest in the postcode, though admittedly we are blessed with four cosy bedrooms.  But then we don’t really know our neighbours; they’re too busy working to socialise most of the time. Maybe it is correct and we are 4 people.

Dearie me, I’m spouting numbers at you without giving you the background data.  Well, if you can handle a large download, here’s the most comprehensive thing I’ve seen about it, in PDF format, thanks to www.businessballs.com.  If you haven’t got the luxury of space or fast download time, look at this quick-reference table instead.

Do you have a feel for what category you might fall into?  Do you really want to know..?

We’ve been taking it with a pinch of salt.  At least, we did to start with.  There have been times when we’ve seen a house online, pooh-poohed the low classification and gone and viewed the house.  Every single time, the classification was correct, almost spookily so.

It is a frighteningly accurate system, last updated in 2010.  I wonder if they gathered the data from the latest census, or whether they had alternative sources, but it has hit the nail on the head with every house we have viewed, and surprised us more than once.

Of course, even though it’s a very useful tool for house-hunting, it can also tune you into your inner snob. All of a sudden we find ourselves choosing not to view properties if their classification falls far outside ‘people like us’.  Which is not very nice, really, even it it does save a lot of time paying lip service to a perfectly nice house in a horrible road.

What do you think? Will it lead to a more ‘us and them’ culture?  Or is it just a handy house-hunting tool?

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2 Responses to "Right up my street: The ACORN classification system"

Hi Sacha, I was plunged into education about ACORN through some work I did for libraries last year – it’s fascinating stuff. It is terrifying how accurate the descriptions are though. Our area is code 22, lots of single, low-ish income people in small rented flats. I still wonder if we’d have bought our house if we’d been better prepared with that information? Like you say, the inner snob gets working on it!

[...]  - comes snob.  I’ve only mentioned it twice (here and here)since starting this blog. Surprising that nobody else seems to be talking about snobbery – [...]

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