At Niche, our goal is to transform the way people make big life decisions. Since our start in 2002, we’ve helped millions of people choose where to go to school.

Last May, we launched the public beta of Niche K-12, a site that offers rankings, reviews, and insight on more than 120,000 U.S. K-12 schools. While we’ve gathered millions of reviews and opinions and have gotten great feedback from our community, the one thing that we kept coming back to was a lack of local context.

Location information is so important to any life decision. A college decision is certainly influenced by the quality of the local area. If you’re a student who is thinking of going away for college, you’ll literally be living in a new place for four or more years. Choosing a K-12 school for your child is no different. It often goes hand in hand with your decision of where to live. That’s why school district data plays a prominent role on sites like Zillow and Trulia.

A Holistic Perspective

Location is at the heart of any major life decision, and deciding where to live is one of life’s biggest decisions. Where you live impacts quality of life, income, taxes, health, and opportunities for you and your family. And yet, with more than 3,000 counties, 50,000 towns, and 12,000 neighborhoods in the United States, narrowing down a place to call home is very daunting task.

That’s why we set out to create Niche Local. We wanted to expand our successful content model to every place in the United States to make choosing where to live, visit, or raise a family a more transparent and informed process.

By offering insight and analysis on colleges, K-12 schools, and places, Niche offers users a more holistic perspective for these major life decisions. We can combine and connect data across each vertical to provide vital context and unique insights that users cannot find anywhere else.

A Foundation for Growth

We’ve overcome a number of challenges in building out the public beta of Niche Local. Although the product is fairly basic in its current form, it gives us the foundation to extend our user-generated content model into a much larger market.

It also allows us to bring our user life cycle full circle. We help people choose where to go to college, where to live once they graduate, where to live when they have kids, where to send their kids to school, and where those kids will go to college to continue a new user life cycle. It’s a vital step on our journey to give people the transparency they need to make informed life decisions—to find their niche and thrive within it.