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Old 05-05-2009, 07:23 PM
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Hey, I'm moving to Memphis from Salt Lake City (for work) and have never even visited. I only have 4 days in town to find an apartment so I'm trying to do all the research I can. Young, live with boyfriend, no children. I'm looking for a place reasonably safe but still with a cosmopolitan feel and am looking into Midtown specifically, but if anyone has recommendations on Downtown or Mud Island, I'd love to hear them.

1. In Midtown, I find mostly homes listed for rent. Are there good apartment buildings in Midtown? Or do most people rent the funky historic homes and still remain really close to cosmopolitan centers? I know Craigslist is not the most reliable or telling source but all that I've seen listed are homes.

2. Have you been robbed? Are there precautions that are absolutely necessary to take? Do you live with bars on your windows? A lot of the homes have security cameras--normal? Do most people have dogs for play and security? There's so much info about Memphis being dangerous, which I don't doubt is true, but people's opinions on the degree to which this occurs varies incredibly.

3. Poplar Ave. has a lot of stuff for rent but is often declared as an area of Midtown to avoid.
Cooper Young gets a lot of reviews as being a cool place to hang, but unsafe to live.
People rave about living near Overton Park, however, my instinctual response to living near a park is: park=dangerous.
Central Gardens= safe it sounds like but also expensive.
What about the U of M area (where the south campus meets the Audubon golf course) looks a bit far away...but homes look nice there.
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:44 PM
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A friend of a friend has a guest house in Central Gardens for rent for $575 (just found out about it today). I know nothing about the size, etc. - it does have central heat/air and off street parking. Landlady lives in the main house.

If you think you might be interested, let me know and I'll send you the contact info...
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Old 05-06-2009, 10:28 AM
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1. There are not many apartment buidings in midtown. There are some smaller places, that have maybe 8 or 10 units in them, if that is what you mean. A lot around Overton Park, along Poplar. That area is safe, many younger people living there. There are million dollar homes facing Overton Park. Otherwise, yes, midtown is primarily duplexes and multi-unit homes for rent. This is typical of urban areas.

2. Had to laugh. No, I have not been robbed. Not even in midtown, where I have lived for many years!! (gasp!) I have never seen a home with a security camera. Isn't that only in movies? Lots of homes have bars on the windows, mainly because they were placed on there decades ago before alarms were around, or people who cannot afford alarms. This is typical of any urban area.

3. Already mentioned Poplar. It goes from bad to good quickly. You have to know exact addresses and come see for yourself.

Cooper Young has a ton of young, old, gay, straight, black, white, artsy, students, etc. It's ecclectic. I know many people who live there and feel fine. But it is closer to some bad areas, so crime spills over.

Why would a park be dangerous? Overton has million dollar homes facing it. An art museum, a lake, a golf course.....

Central Gardens - yes, safe, yes, expensive. But you can rent there for pretty cheap. Buying is another story.

South of UM is generally not good. It gets pretty bad within blocks. However, the Audubon area is okay. That's south of Oak Court Mall, not really UM. The area directly west, east, and north of UM is great. South is not.
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Old 05-06-2009, 11:39 AM
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I lived in Cooper Young for a year and consider it relatively safe. There are quite a few transients in that area and all of Midtown actually. Midtown is strange, you can go from multi-million dollar houses to a ghetto a few blocks away. It always just depends on the address. Everything inside the loop in Memphis depends on the address- most neighborhoods in the loop are in close proximity to a sore spot. My husband and I rented a duplex on Young Ave. in the Cooper-Young area. We were concerned about safety but not terribly. We did purchase a German Shepherd specifically because we lived in Midtown though and lived in an old house with low windows, no alarm and no security door. I have never been robbed but my car has been stolen from my house in Midtown. Stay away from living directly on Poplar unless it's in East Memphis. Midtown does not have many apartment communities. Apartment communities seem to be more of a Bartlett/ Cordova/ Germantown thing. There have been a few condos pop up here and there over the last few years. Lot's of young people are moving Downtown, Uptown and on Mud Island too - these are areas w/ apartments and condos. You may be lucky enough to find a place to rent in Central Gardens but those houses seem to rent out pretty fast. Overton Park is a nice area (with lots of historic districts nearby) and close to Rhodes College and the Memphis College of Art which both offer additional security patrols. I used to walk my dogs through the woods at the park but my husband became concerned about my safety so I did have to stop. I never really felt like it was dangerous though.

And I've never been robbed, although quite a few of my friends have (young nerdy white guys) leaving bars, shows and clubs on the weekends. You just have to keep an eye out.
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Old 05-06-2009, 12:04 PM
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Wow, thank you for the quick responses. I know a lot of these threads get complicated so I appreciate the directness. I'm sorry it is so much, but when I say I have never visited, I mean I have never even been to the south. Since I have already started a thread and it's gotten a few views, in addition to my first question, I wonder:

Does anyone have strong opinions about a local bank/credit unions? I know Bank Of America is there, I worry with all of the financial turmoil where people in Memphis Bank and still feel good about it (I am currently at a local UT bank that will not transfer).

I have read Memphis is not exactly bike friendly, but also that Memphis has recently added bike routes. It sounds like not many people cycle to commute, do motorists look for cyclists? Is it better to avoid cycling as transportation and use it mostly as recreation?

and last
does anyone know much about the dance scene? From what I can find online, there is definitely a classical ballet scene (ballet memphis, new ballet ensemble), but what about modern/contemporary jazz? I have been an adjunct at 2 universities here in UT and am a serious dancer, however classical ballet is not exactly my focus. I'm not looking to become a Memphis Grizzlies dancer.
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Old 05-06-2009, 12:24 PM
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I can help you with credit unions - I work for one. Most of them in the area are specific to where you work. In other words, to be able to join many credit unions you have to work for a company that is a Select Employee Group of that credit union (although most also allow family members). Some credit unions are single SEG credit union...meaning that they serve only one company or governmental group (City of Memphis, Shelby County Employees, etc.). Others are multi SEG credit unions...meaning that they serve many companies (mine, Southern Security FCU, serves over 400). A couple of the larger ones (First South, MATCU) have more of a community charter...meaning you can join if you live or work in certain zip codes. I think a credit union would be great for your primary financial institution - but then I'm biased

Commuting by bike in Memphis doesn't get much notice simply because it's not possible for many (probably most) people. For it's population, Memphis is very spread out. I live withing the city limits, but still drive 15 miles one way to work (and it's over 20 miles to downtown). For those lucky enough to live and work within a reasonable range it might work, but not for us suburbanites

Besides, it gets hot and sticky here in the summer. If I rode a bike to work in July and August, I'd feel really sorry for anyone at the office sitting downwind from me
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:15 PM
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I can't imagine riding a bike to work. Like was mentioned...it's hot and it rains here. even if it's not raining, with the humidity here, you would arrive to work looking like you got stuck in the rain There are plenty of people who ride bikes for fun, and do group rides, as well as races. But in terms of people using to to commute to work - no. It's not a bike friendly city. If the streets had a bike lane, that would be one thing, but as a driver I hate seeing cyclists on the road. It holds up traffic and creates a dangerous atmosphere for the cyclist and all drivers.

I don't know anything about dancing. There is a ballet place here, out in the suburbs.
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:31 PM
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The area around Overton Park is very nice. I lived one block west of the park for a good long while, and it was great. However, there have been some very high profile crimes (including a murder) committed there in recent years. Always be aware of your surroundings.

A little over a year ago, my very good friend had a gun held to his head by a thug who wanted my friend's wallet and keys (which he got with no argument or hesitation). Fortunately, my friend was not hurt. This happened in the Vollentine-Evergreen neighborhood, which is on the fringe of Midtown.

Commuting via bike is not feasible in most parts of Memphis at this time.
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Old 05-06-2009, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by sissyjupe View Post
1. In Midtown, I find mostly homes listed for rent. I know Craigslist is not the most reliable or telling source but all that I've seen listed are homes.

2. Have you been robbed? Do most people have dogs for play and security? There's so much info about Memphis being dangerous, which I don't doubt is true, but people's opinions on the degree to which this occurs varies incredibly.

3. Cooper Young gets a lot of reviews as being a cool place to hang, but unsafe to live. Central Gardens= safe it sounds like but also expensive.
1. Most people rent homes. Craigslist is good, as is the Flyer or simply driving through neighborhoods you're interested in and looking for "for rent" signs. I don't think I'd rent anywhere w/o visiting first, of course.

2. In Central Gardens, where I live, I'd say there are more dogs than houses, i.e. everyone seems to have at least one dog, and no, I don't get the feeling they're all just for play. Every house, at least on my block, also has floodlights that are either on all night or triggered via motion sensors. (That took a little getting used to, it being light at night.) A friend of mine lives at the edge of Central Gardens, though, and as far as I can tell there's very little security (floodlights, cameras, etc.) there.

In my experience, most people's opinions regarding crime are directly related whether or not they and/or a lot of people they know have been victims of crime. Those that haven't yet been victimized seem to subscribe to a somewhat rosier picture. Imho, this is the worst place I've ever lived, crime wise, and I've lived in a lot of places; it's not so much that it's worse on aggregate, but you can't get away from it here because the town's a checkerboard, whereas in other places you simply stay out of certain parts of town and you'd never know it was there. Here, this block's good but the next isn't, and crime from there can easily go one block over.

3. Cooper Young, to me, is actually relatively safe, but the key word is "relatively". It's relatively safe for Memphis. If I were just moving here, I'd probably jump on that other poster's idea about a carriage house in Central Gardens at first, and then use that time to look around and see if I can find someplace I like more.

I can't imagine much more dissimilar places than SLC and Memphis. Best of luck to you guys. Cities have their pros and cons. I hope you find the pros here outweigh the cons.
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Old 05-06-2009, 10:35 PM
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I've lived in SLC and Memphis and cannot imagine two completely opposite cities. However, I love both cities.

I would not recommend living near the Audubon Golf Course area. Since you want a more cosmopolitan environment, stick with midtown/downtown. I lived close to Audubon and in 18 months my home was burglarized three times (and yes I had an alarm system).

If you can get into Central Gardens, I'd grab it. It sounds like JoeCartpath has something worth investigating.

The area around Overton Park is great. Similarly, I would not hesitate to live in the Overton Square area (near Overton Park). You'd be within walking distance of tons of restaurants, bars, cafes, a wonderful arthouse movie theater and a playhouse.

Cooper-Young is a funky neighborhood that I like a lot, but it's literally just a couple of blocks from some very sketchy neighborhoods. Really just about every good neighborhood in Memphis is close to a sketchy neighborhood, but Cooper-Young is really close. But it's still a great neighborhood with awesome people, a true "neighborhood" in the traditional sense, and some wonderful neighborhood eateries.

While Mud Island is nice, it's a bit too sterile for me. And it's expensive.

Keep in mind that older homes and apartments in Memphis were built to bring the outside inside: lots of porches, lots of huge windows, and high ceilings. Even though you'll want to sit in front of the a/c most of the summer, try to find a place that you can open up at night and enjoy the slightly cooler summer nights. Memphis is a big Southern city that was built before people had a/c, so on those muggy nights people would come outside to their porches and patios to enjoy the slightly cooler evening temperatures and chat with the neighbors. If you want to really experience Memphis the way it should be experienced, I hope you'll be able to find a place with big windows, hardwood floors, ceiling fans, and a big covered porch. In Midtown that shouldn't be a problem.

Good luck!
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