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Hello, I will be moving to St Louis in the summer of 2012 (in ~1.5 years from now) for a job at Washington University in St. Louis. I have begun to think about places to live and will be making several visits in the near future to hopefully figure things out. I have only been to St Louis once before while visiting for the job interview so my knowledge of the area is limited and most all of what I have learned has been through online searches so I would appreciate any feedback people may have.
My primary criteria is location. I would like to be able to walk to Wash U (Danforth Campus) from where I live (preferably a max of a 20 minute walk). I can be flexible about most everything else, but this is something that I would prefer not to compromise on if I can help it. I do not like to spend my time getting to and from work.
I would prefer to be in an area with some affordable restaurants and perhaps other businesses nearby. However, this is a preference and something I can be flexible on.
Places that I have been considering most so far include:
1) Wydown/Skinner (the small area just west of forest park that is still in St Louis). The condos here are probably the most appealing thing to me right now
2) Skinner/DeBaliviere (just north of forest park).
3) Univercity City (just north of Wash U - Ames place area).
4) University City (just west of Wash U).
5) Clayton (just west of Wydown/Skinner).
6) I have also been considering areas south of forest park, east of forest park (particularly the Central West End - the area is appealing to me because I will be spending a fair amount of time in the medical school as well), but am concerned that these areas might be too far from the Danforth campus of Wash U.
Are there any other areas I should consider. Would you recommend any of these areas over another and if so why?
I am considering both a house or a condo. While I have flipped back and forth and have always thought that I would prefer a house, I think a condo may be a better choice for me. This is because I will be putting a lot of time into work (and travel), and the idea of not putting a lot of time or worrying about maintenance is appealing. Additionally, I would prefer something of a more modest size (e.g., 1500-2000 square feet). On the downside, I dislike the idea of paying for services (e.g., cable tv, doorman, valet parking) that I would prefer not to have. Additionally, I have some concerns about investment potential in a condo in St Louis. I guess, I have the impression that condos often are not as solid an investment, particularly in an areas that are more suburban. However, I have also been thinking that being right across from forest park and close to Wash U might make such a condo a good investment. Any thoughts on this? Also what are the general range of condo fees in these areas?
Great list. Don't rule out the CWE, or FPSE neighborhoods. You can take the light rail just 1 stop to the danforth campus. I believe students and employees get free passes. The Demun and Moorlands neighborhoods in Clayton are also well within a 20 min walk and popular with grad students and profs/drs.
Moorlander and ms mac - thank you both for the recommendations.
I have heard many great things about CWE and south east of forest park but am a tad concerned it may be a little far for me, but I definitely plan to check it out during my next visit!
Thanks for the DeMun recommendation too - that area and the Wydown/Skinner area bordering the park I think are my top contenders right now. Are there any businesses, restaurants, etc. in that general area?
I wouldn't have too many concerns about buying a condo in the areas you are looking. It's dense enough to support condos and there hasn't been the overbuilding in St. Louis that I've seen in other places (i.e. Chicago). You'll want to find a good agent who understands the market and make sure you pay correctly for the property, but if you're planning to stay in St. Louis for any significant amount of time, buying sure makes a lot of sense, especially with interest rates so low.
And if it were me, I would look for a place in U City just north of campus as close to the loop as you can get. As far as walkability, you really can't beat it. That's definitely one of my favorite neighborhoods in St. Louis, but really all of them that you're looking at are good options.
Having gone to school there for undergrad with time spent in all of the neighborhoods you've mentioned:
-Wydown/Skinker (or Clayton DeMun as it is commonly called): good proximity to campus and more quiet. There are a few restaurants/cafes tucked into the neighborhood with a few more located on Clayton Rd. Not a lot mind you, but enough to offer you a few choices. Another nice advantage is having the Schnuck's (grocery store) right across Clayton. There are a few more "chain" type restaruants across Clayton within the strip mall that houses Schnucks.
-Ames Place. A very proximate area with good access to the entertainment and restaurant options of the Delmar Loop (superior to options in Clayton Demun). If noise is an issue, just be sure to live in Ames Place proper. The area just north (Kingsland and Wash Ave) are full of undergrads and there is a certain amount of noise that comes with that on the weekend. Another option that is less safe (although to me still perfectly safe as I lived there for 2 years without a single incident) is the neighborhood just N of the loop bounded by Kingsland, the Greenway Path, Delmar, and Vernon. It tends to be populated by grad students, jr faculty and the like. Still only a 10 minute walk tops to campus. My only concern w/ Ames Place part of this area is that there is a ton of student foot traffic through Ames. This doesn't bother in and of itself, but if you're the type of person who wants to forget about work when you're at home, seeing packs of students walking back and forth down the street makes this kind of difficult.
-U City and Clayton neighborhoods just west of campus on the other side of Big Bend. Personally, I wouldn't live in these areas because they don't have many (if any) restaurant/retail options within a few minutes walk. They're a bit more single family detached home oriented. It is a beautiful area, but not what I would personally be looking for given your position.
-Skinker DeBaliviere. The best access of the bunch to the eastern portion of the Hilltop (Danforth) Campus near Brookings. Mainly grad students, families, and some jr faculty/employees. Not a lot of restaurant options in the neighborhood. You can walk abt a half mile north and get to the eastern stretch of the Loop, which seems to have the less expensive restaurants (gyro joint, asian noodle place, thai place, etc.)...go further west on Delmar to get to the "heart" of the Loop.
-FPSW. If your 20 minute or less walk is a serious consideration, forget it. Clayton to Forsythe is already abt a mile, so going any further S or E of Clayton DeMun puts you over your limit. There's nothing about the neighborhood from a retail/amenity standpoint that would justify the extra time.
-CWE. My choice if I were you. Yes, it is nowhere close to a 20 minute walk, but you could live right in front of a shuttle stop in the CWE and get dropped right at Malinkrodt. See route map here:
20-25 min ride w/ stops, but you get to read or relax on the way in/out + good access to the medical campus. The CWE is more or less the Loop's big brother when it comes to retail, restaurants, and entertainment. Not as much tendency for places to be overrun by undergrads on a Thur, Fri, Sat night. Personally, I think the extra few minutes to a from work are worth it considering the area.
Ames Place is awesome. 5/10 minute walk north to the Loop (with all the shopping and entertainment you could ask for) and 5/10 minute walk to the Danforth Campus to the south. Just not sure if they have many condos available there-- mostly rentals north of Kingsbury and single families south of Kingsbiry I think. There are some smaller ~2000 sq ft) single families sprinkled throughout Ames Place too. DeMun is the next best bet in my opinion. A decent neighborhood entertainment district along DeMun Ave, just east of Concordia Park. 5/10 Minute walk to campus.
It is great to know that I am on the right track given what I am looking for.
Given all of this information I think I am leaning most heavily to the DeMun (Skinker/Wydown) area and the Ames place area. Great to know there are some smaller homes in the Ames place area as well.
The walkability, proximity to work and forest park or delmar is very appealing.
Skinker DeBaliviere is becoming more appealing as well given this info.
I look forward to checking this all out without the anxiety of a job interview!
Also thank you for the info regarding west of campus - I think that doesn't sound like a great place for me.
aragx6 - thanks for the comments about the condo situation in st louis. Certainly is making me feel more comfortable about possibly going with a condo.
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