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Old 06-25-2016, 06:38 AM
 
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I currently live in New Jersey and am considering a few job opportunities, one in St. Louis and one in St. Charles. I have never been to Missouri before, although I have lived all over the country, so I'm not really a "northeasterner." I have tons of questions that hopefully people can help me with.

1) Is St. Charles a suburb of St. Louis, or is it like its own separate city or is it a "bedroom community"? They seem fairly close together. Do they have separate identities?

2) I browsed some of the other threads and I get the general gist of "in the Midwest we don't have oceans or mountains and it's hot and humid in the summer." But often in larger cities, the atmosphere is different. For example, Atlanta is in Georgia, but it's probably quite different from a general description of "the South," where people are usually talking about some small rural town. I assumed that when people were talking about "the Midwest" not having much shopping other than Wal-Mart, that didn't really apply to St. Louis. So what is a comparable city to St. Louis? I'm thinking something like Baltimore, which is like a "little big city." It's got enough restaurant options and is definitely urban, but you wouldn't mistake it for NYC. Is that about right?

3) How is the cost of living in St. Louis? Obviously in the Midwest in general it's low, I get that. But is it MUCH higher in St. Louis or St. Charles? (New Jersey has a high cost of living, but I think it's mostly in property taxes and housing costs. It's not like a gallon of milk costs $10.) Also, for housing, I always hear that the Midwest is pretty cheap, but again is that the same for St. Louis or is that only in reference to rural areas?

4) How bad is crime in St. Louis? Is it Chicago hood bad? Or is it just "as long as you don't do something dumb like leave your doors unlocked, not much will happen"?

5) What's the general vibe in St. Louis? The Northeast has a fairly deserved reputation for people being pretty rude and sort of cold to each other. On the other hand, I've also heard that the Midwest is sort of insular, like "if you're an outsider, you'll always be an outsider, even if they're not rude to you." That always scares me because I don't want to move somewhere where people will be like peeking out the shades at me or whatever. (That's just a joke, I realize that people wouldn't do that in a larger city anyways, but you get the idea.) Or is St. Louis like some cities that have so many people from all over that nobody really cares?

6) Getting back to weather, what's it like? I like having all four seasons, but I'm more of a cold weather person. But in the Philadelphia area, for example, it's not uncommon to have 90 degree-plus days in summer and pretty bad humidity. So in Missouri, is it way worse? Like, are you basically swimming in humidity for the entire summer? Is it as bad as the deep South? Or is it like the worst of both worlds, where it's ungodly humid in the summer but frigid in the winter?

Thanks for any help!
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Old 06-25-2016, 08:41 AM
 
Location: STL area
474 posts, read 242,587 times
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I'll try to answer as best as I can

1. St. Charles/St. Charles county is a suburb now Like anywhere I've ever lived, different suburbs, different neighborhoods in the city, etc. all have different feels to them...so St. Charles has a different vibe than downtown St. Louis for sure, but it's part of the overall metro identity.

2. Yes. You won't mistake STL for NYC for sure. We have a great restaurant scene, plenty of shopping options, great museums/zoo/botanical garden. No broadway, but we get most shows traveling around and have multiple theatre options. We have one of the better symphonies in the US. We have great healthcare and two nationally ranked universities (Wash U being very highly ranked). Different feeling neighborhoods and suburbs, multiple great public school districts.

3. COL here would be pretty much smack dab in the median. It's not particularly low, but it's definitely not high. You pay more for prestigious areas and great school districts, just like anywhere else...but your housing will be much less than NJ and no...it's not $10 for a gallon of milk either

4. WRT, in the bad neighborhoods, it's bad. In other neighborhoods, it's don't leave your doors unlocked. I live in the suburbs and I could leave my garage open and my windows open and my doors unlocked and nothing would likely ever happen unless a neighborhood teen decided to act like an a-hole. I don't leave things open though

5. We have a reputation for being insular here. Honestly though, you'll find some transplants that felt like it was tough to make friends here and others who have more friends than most natives...so I think each experience is different. I'm a native, but I have plenty of friends who are transplants. I'm not the insular type. My husband is a transplant and has a bigger social circle than I do really (he's the extrovert and I'm the introvert).

6. Four seasons. Relatively mild winters with a few snowfalls, but we can get some very cold days, and usually will get a few. Generally we will have the over 90 days a few times in the summer. This year, we've had them for the last few weeks and it sucks. Our last few summers were pretty mild. It's not deep south humid at all, but it's humid and when we hit a spell like this one, it sucks. But it's just that...a hot spell, not a whole summer thing. Great for pool parties Spring is lovely, although we get the spring rain. Fall is really pretty.
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Old 06-25-2016, 03:39 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
411 posts, read 253,325 times
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1. St. Charles is a distinct city that was eventually engulfed by StL suburbs. St. Charles City is as old as St. Louis, but St. Charles County is largely newer and suburban. It's like our version of the Valley in LA. It's politically and geographically distinct from the remainder of the metro, but is still a major part of the area.

2. You're spot-on.

3. COL is low by coastal standards, average by Midwest standards. Most of the expensive areas are along highway 40. Every metro has them. However, you won't have any issue finding quality housing in more affordable areas. St. Charles County is growing rapidly, in large part, because it is affordable and solidly middle-class.

4. Crime is bad in some inner-city, inner-ring areas, but practically non-existent elsewhere. Avoid areas dominated by poor blacks. It's sad, but demographic maps closely match crime maps. You won't have any issues finding a safe area in the city or suburbs.

5. I've heard that we are relatively insular. Some areas, though, have high numbers of transplants and younger folks. The central corridor and outer suburbs in particular. These areas would surely be more welcoming.

6. There is always a few weeks of deep cold in Jan/Feb, and a few weeks of 90F+ heat in Jun/July/Aug. However, the summer dew point usually high, which results in higher heat indices. Summer is very sunny and lush green.

Winter is moderate and short. December thru February. We probably average 15" of snow per year, across four or five snowfalls, and it always melts within a few days. Only one month, January, has an average high below 40F. The worst part of winter is not the temps or snow, it's leafless trees and "grayness."
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Old 07-01-2016, 08:25 AM
 
Location: St Louis, MO
1,014 posts, read 1,707,510 times
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One point I'd make on cost of living, as a recent transplant myself - people from STL seem to generally have the impression that it has a low cost of living. However, I wouldn't consider it low at all compared to most parts of the country. At least not in St Louis County (South of Olive). If you are willing to go further out, into St Charles County or east to IL, then yes it does get low, but you are much further from the more cosmopolitan types of things that it sounds like you're looking for.

I lived in NJ for many years, as well as NYC and Philly. Cost of living in the suburbs here is comparable to the Philly suburbs, or central NJ (ie. Freehold, Princeton). Not nearly as expensive as Northern NJ however. Though, as I said, you do have the option of going further out to where it's cheaper, whereas you don't really have that option in the NYC-Philly corridor.

I haven't noticed people here to be much different than NJ or anywhere else in the country that i've lived, though they don't have the obnoxiuos attitude that some northeasterners have. Crime in the good suburban areas here is no different than it is in the good suburban areas in NY/Philly (ie. non-existent). If you're looking in the city proper, then it is highly dependent on the neighborhood, just like anywhere else. The City itself has nothing like the dense, walkable, higher-end neighborhoods of NYC or Philly. There are nice areas, however, though they are scattered around.

It is a bit hotter here. For example, the last month has been 90 - 100 degrees every single day, and humid. You get stretches like that in the northeast, but not for as long. I'd say a bit warmer in both the summer and the winter.
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Old 07-01-2016, 09:46 AM
 
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In my experience, housing seems cheaper in STL than in San Diego, or NJ, or Charlotte. Otherwise things seem to cost about the same. I've never noticed a particular difference between the attitudes of people in different cities or countries, either, except that every restaurant in San Diego seemed to exclusively play music from c. 1990 for some reason.
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Old 07-01-2016, 09:58 AM
 
Location: St Louis, MO
4,677 posts, read 4,379,034 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angus215 View Post
At least not in St Louis County (South of Olive).
To be fair, St Louis County south of Olive and north of 64/40 is the most expensive region in the metro area and is _extremely_ wealthy (the 63131 and 63124 are zip codes are among the wealthiest in America, but still have average home values under $1m). Median net worth there makes you a multi-millionaire easily.
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Old 07-01-2016, 11:08 AM
 
Location: St Louis, MO
1,014 posts, read 1,707,510 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marigolds6 View Post
To be fair, St Louis County south of Olive and north of 64/40 is the most expensive region in the metro area and is _extremely_ wealthy (the 63131 and 63124 are zip codes are among the wealthiest in America, but still have average home values under $1m). Median net worth there makes you a multi-millionaire easily.
That is true, and I do live in that area (though not the most expensive part of it) so that is my perspective. But I'm comparing to comparable parts of the areas I mentioned above. St Peter's and Dardenne Prarie are a long way out for someone who either works in or wants to have relatively easy access to the city, but they certainly are cheaper.

Last edited by Angus215; 07-01-2016 at 11:21 AM..
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Old 07-01-2016, 01:44 PM
 
Location: Chicago
2,277 posts, read 1,848,057 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by midwestmaybe View Post
I currently live in New Jersey and am considering a few job opportunities, one in St. Louis and one in St. Charles. I have never been to Missouri before, although I have lived all over the country, so I'm not really a "northeasterner." I have tons of questions that hopefully people can help me with.

1) Is St. Charles a suburb of St. Louis, or is it like its own separate city or is it a "bedroom community"? They seem fairly close together. Do they have separate identities?
St. Charles proper has its own distinct character, such as its historic downtown area, but it was eventually enveloped by all of St. Louis' suburban sprawl. St. Charles County is full of said sprawl.

Quote:
2) I browsed some of the other threads and I get the general gist of "in the Midwest we don't have oceans or mountains and it's hot and humid in the summer." But often in larger cities, the atmosphere is different. For example, Atlanta is in Georgia, but it's probably quite different from a general description of "the South," where people are usually talking about some small rural town. I assumed that when people were talking about "the Midwest" not having much shopping other than Wal-Mart, that didn't really apply to St. Louis. So what is a comparable city to St. Louis? I'm thinking something like Baltimore, which is like a "little big city." It's got enough restaurant options and is definitely urban, but you wouldn't mistake it for NYC. Is that about right?
There's frankly nothing in the country that you're going to mistake as NYC. Even Chicago feels quite different. That being said, St. Louis and its core suburbs are substantially different than rural Missouri and the rural Midwest in general. St. Louis is currently a blue city trapped in a pretty red state.

As for dining and shopping, you shouldn't have trouble with either, but I will note that you'll do most of your shopping outside of the city. Plaza Frontenac (a more upscale mall with the likes Neiman and Saks), the Galleria, West County, etc, are all in St. Louis County rather than city, for example. You'll find the restaurants spread everywhere though, and shouldn't have a problem.

Quote:
3) How is the cost of living in St. Louis? Obviously in the Midwest in general it's low, I get that. But is it MUCH higher in St. Louis or St. Charles? (New Jersey has a high cost of living, but I think it's mostly in property taxes and housing costs. It's not like a gallon of milk costs $10.) Also, for housing, I always hear that the Midwest is pretty cheap, but again is that the same for St. Louis or is that only in reference to rural areas?
Obviously St. Louis will be more expensive than a rural town in the middle of Missouri, but it's also cheaper than a place like Chicago when looking at comparable neighborhoods / suburbs. Your housing costs should be lower in St. Louis than in New Jersey, unless you decide to live in a very affluent area. Even then, if you live in an affluent area now, it should still be a bit cheaper in comparison.

Quote:
4) How bad is crime in St. Louis? Is it Chicago hood bad? Or is it just "as long as you don't do something dumb like leave your doors unlocked, not much will happen"?
It's entirely dependent on where you are. There are some very safe and wonderful parts of the city, but the fact is that St. Louis has had the highest per capita murder rate in the country the last few years in a row. I don't have a neighborhood by neighborhood rate comparison with the worst parts of Chicago, but, overall, St. Louis' rate is quite a bit higher than Chicago's. It's been that way for decades.

That being said, St. Louis' suburbia is like suburbia anywhere else, meaning it's incredibly safe. There a few sketchy / dangerous towns to avoid, but they are easy to spot and steer clear of (example: you would obviously realize something was wrong if you crossed the river and ended up in East St. Louis, IL).

Quote:
5) What's the general vibe in St. Louis? The Northeast has a fairly deserved reputation for people being pretty rude and sort of cold to each other. On the other hand, I've also heard that the Midwest is sort of insular, like "if you're an outsider, you'll always be an outsider, even if they're not rude to you." That always scares me because I don't want to move somewhere where people will be like peeking out the shades at me or whatever. (That's just a joke, I realize that people wouldn't do that in a larger city anyways, but you get the idea.) Or is St. Louis like some cities that have so many people from all over that nobody really cares?
People in St. Louis are politer than the people here in Chicago, IMO, but St. Louis has far fewer transplants which means it can be a harder place to break into socially. Some people on this forum have stated that they've had no problem at all making friends in St. Louis, and others have claimed they've been completely iced out. A lot of it will depend on you and how actively you seek out new people.

Quote:
6) Getting back to weather, what's it like? I like having all four seasons, but I'm more of a cold weather person. But in the Philadelphia area, for example, it's not uncommon to have 90 degree-plus days in summer and pretty bad humidity. So in Missouri, is it way worse? Like, are you basically swimming in humidity for the entire summer? Is it as bad as the deep South? Or is it like the worst of both worlds, where it's ungodly humid in the summer but frigid in the winter?

Thanks for any help!
90+ with extremely high humidity is the name of the game in July and August in St. Louis. This June has also been warmer than average, and the city was hitting 95-100 degrees quite a bit of the month. I'm not sure what the humidity typically is like in Philadelphia, but, if it's comparable to Chicago, then St. Louis is noticeably more humid. That being said, the Deep South is going to be hotter still.

As for winters, the worst thing about them are the gray skies. Temperatures aren't that bad, and snow has the decency to melt after a few days or a week at the most. The average high in January is typically around 40 degrees, for example. That being said, there can be colder than average years. That polar vortex a couple years ago turned St. Louis into an ice block like it did the rest of the Midwest and the Northeast. That aside, winter isn't that bad, and fall and spring are lovely seasons in the area.
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Old 07-02-2016, 10:12 AM
 
Location: St Louis, MO
4,677 posts, read 4,379,034 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angus215 View Post
That is true, and I do live in that area (though not the most expensive part of it) so that is my perspective. But I'm comparing to comparable parts of the areas I mentioned above. St Peter's and Dardenne Prairie are a long way out for someone who either works in or wants to have relatively easy access to the city, but they certainly are cheaper.
I live not that far away in parkway north, and 1800 sf homes are going for around $160k even with it being a good district. That's way below what you would expect for a solid district 25 minutes from downtown in the rest of the country.
Rentals are still relatively high, but that's an issue with the entire rental market nationwide right now.
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Old 07-04-2016, 08:52 AM
 
3,473 posts, read 2,016,143 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PerseusVeil View Post
It's entirely dependent on where you are. There are some very safe and wonderful parts of the city, but the fact is that St. Louis has had the highest per capita murder rate in the country the last few years in a row. I don't have a neighborhood by neighborhood rate comparison with the worst parts of Chicago, but, overall, St. Louis' rate is quite a bit higher than Chicago's. It's been that way for decades.
This is highly misleading, as the FBI (the guys tracking the statistics) point out that comparisons lead to "simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents." Chicago hasn't even been reporting crime for "decades" in a way that meets the FBI standard for reporting, so you have no basis for making that claim. More broadly, even if you could factually state that one city has a higher proportion of dangerous neighborhoods than another, that only matters if you spend time in those neighborhoods.
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