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Old 02-25-2013, 09:09 PM
 
Location: DC Area
2 posts, read 2,232 times
Reputation: 10

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Hi! My husband and I are moving to the Twin Cities this summer, and we plan to buy a house. I've only been to the area once before (loved what I saw of it), so I don't know much about all the different neighborhoods. I've been doing a lot of research recently (these forums are amazingly helpful), and I'm hoping you all can verify/clarify the results I've put together.

As a quick preface, we're shopping in the under-$60k range. We're looking at older, smaller houses and know some repairs will likely be necessary. We also know we don't want to live in the suburbs, on the south end of Minneapolis, or in West Saint Paul below the river for commute reasons.

That said, here's the neighborhood list I currently have going based on the results I've gotten searching for real estate in our price range over the last year or so:

Good:
* Saint Anthony
* Como
* Macalaster-Groveland (ok, so I haven't actually found anything in our price range here, but I still have it on my list because the Whole Foods is there )
* Holland

Take it on a block-by-block basis:
* Payne-Phalen
* Thomas-Dale
* Midway
* North Minneapolis (with Victory being among the better options)
* North End

Does that seem pretty accurate? Also, I know that the light rail is going near Midway and Thomas-Dale — that should make things better, right? And if we were in one of the block-by-block areas, would it be dangerous to go running in the daytime onto less nice blocks?

A lot of my confusion comes from the fact that I'm currently in the DC area, and when I look at, for instance, Google street view of "bad" neighborhoods in the Twin Cities, much of it looks like neighborhoods here where houses go for $300k or more. I've looked at the crime maps, but they don't look that much worse than our crime maps here.

Thanks in advance for all your help, and apologies if I'm asking questions which have been asked a million times before. And also for how extremely long this post is.
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Old 02-25-2013, 10:51 PM
 
Location: Hennepin County, Minnesota
59 posts, read 93,216 times
Reputation: 43
Hi Seriously joking,

Welcome to the Twin Cities (almost).

That's a tricky price range if you're looking for a good, safe neighborhood. Just a quick skim of the just about 100 single family homes available in Minneapolis & St. Paul right now that are active on MLS shows most of them in neighborhoods that the two police departments' statistics show are higher crime neighborhoods. And yes, block by block can be different, but walking at night is walking at night.

There are a lot of other great neighborhoods in the Twin Cities that I would add to your list as my favorites (especially if you let us know what neighborhoods in DC you love), but your price range will make it a bit tricky. Your best bet is to start at looking at what's available, and then looking at the neighborhood, working backwards so to speak.

That said, you never know what's going to come on the market!

All best,

Michael
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Old 02-25-2013, 11:00 PM
 
1,807 posts, read 2,678,369 times
Reputation: 1508
Quote:
Originally Posted by seriouslyjoking View Post
Hi! My husband and I are moving to the Twin Cities this summer, and we plan to buy a house. I've only been to the area once before (loved what I saw of it), so I don't know much about all the different neighborhoods. I've been doing a lot of research recently (these forums are amazingly helpful), and I'm hoping you all can verify/clarify the results I've put together.

As a quick preface, we're shopping in the under-$60k range. We're looking at older, smaller houses and know some repairs will likely be necessary. We also know we don't want to live in the suburbs, on the south end of Minneapolis, or in West Saint Paul below the river for commute reasons.

That said, here's the neighborhood list I currently have going based on the results I've gotten searching for real estate in our price range over the last year or so:

Good:
* Saint Anthony
* Como
* Macalaster-Groveland (ok, so I haven't actually found anything in our price range here, but I still have it on my list because the Whole Foods is there )
* Holland

Take it on a block-by-block basis:
* Payne-Phalen
* Thomas-Dale
* Midway
* North Minneapolis (with Victory being among the better options)
* North End

Does that seem pretty accurate? Also, I know that the light rail is going near Midway and Thomas-Dale — that should make things better, right? And if we were in one of the block-by-block areas, would it be dangerous to go running in the daytime onto less nice blocks?

A lot of my confusion comes from the fact that I'm currently in the DC area, and when I look at, for instance, Google street view of "bad" neighborhoods in the Twin Cities, much of it looks like neighborhoods here where houses go for $300k or more. I've looked at the crime maps, but they don't look that much worse than our crime maps here.

Thanks in advance for all your help, and apologies if I'm asking questions which have been asked a million times before. And also for how extremely long this post is.
Yes, I think that you're on the right track. The Twin Cities are both very, very block-by-block. In a lot of older cities in the East, I feel as though you know you're in a rougher area by the built environment-- that is, a lot of open lots. While there is an abandonment issue on Minneapolis's Northside for sure, you don't have as much urban prairie there as you do in a city like, say, Cleveland or Baltimore. And since so much of the housing stock is approximately the same age and was built for the same type of clientele (working class-- flour mill and railroad families), a very nice, stable neighborhood can look pretty much identical to a neighborhood, that is, um....*not* quite as nice and stable.

As a brief segue, North Minneapolis is plagued by slumlords. A lot of times, they own significant amounts of entire blocks, and since they don't care much about the properties (these aren't the type of guys who really care if they have squatters in a vacant property or if a tenant fails a background check), that is part of the reason that you can get entire blocks where the crime is relatively high, and be pretty safe just a few blocks away, I'd imagine.

Bear in mind that your chance of property crime is just as high-- or higher-- closer to commercial districts where criminals feel that they can prey on drunks after bar close. There has been an influx in crime in Uptown, Whittier, and-- recently-- Downtown Minneapolis/Warehouse District, as they have become popular bar destinations. But, if your priority if dodging bullets, your instincts on neighborhoods to avoid is pretty much on the money.

Keep in mind that St. Paul is very established, family-oriented, and safe. While Minneapolis will log anywhere from 40 to 70 homicides a year, St. Paul would be having an unusually violent year if it cracked 20. So, while the property in, say, Payne-Phalen may be a bit more unkempt or dilapidated than other parts of the city, or while the North End may have its issues with drugs and prostitution, the danger poised to your average Joe and Jane Smiths (who *don't* buy or sell drugs, and *don't* solicit prostitutes) is pretty low. I don't think you'd have any issues jogging in broad daylight anywhere in the city of St. Paul, although I'd recommend against doing it on the Northside or some parts of the Southside of Minneapolis....if only for "better safe than sorry."

But, if you can get the same type of house for the same price in Mac-Groveland, St. Anthony, Como, etc., I don't think that there is any reasonable poster on here who would direct you towards Payne-Phalen, North End, or the Midway instead, if crime is a primary concern of yours.

Good luck, keep us posted.
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:41 AM
 
Location: Colorado
4,308 posts, read 12,269,212 times
Reputation: 4440
You know, I read "Holland" on your list and very patronisingly thought: Oh bless, they've confused it with Highland. Then realised to my chagrin there actually is a Holland neighbourhood in NE Minneapolis !
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Old 02-26-2013, 11:01 AM
 
1,816 posts, read 2,696,519 times
Reputation: 773
You're spot on that some of our "bad" neighborhoods can look like decent neighborhoods elsewhere. We're lucky to have clean cities and pretty good housing stock.

Where exactly will you be working? Your description seems to indicate somewhere in the near north suburbs, perhaps? Just wondering as that could affect the decisions where people offer advice. And do you have any other requirements (access to certain places, public transit, etc.)

I actually think Holland might be a decent choice. NE Minneapolis is one of the safest parts of town (though a bit sleepy, too) and with new development near the river that has been slowly creeping up, it very well might do wonders for property values later on.
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Old 02-26-2013, 11:41 AM
 
391 posts, read 578,967 times
Reputation: 192
I think that finding something in your "good" areas in your price range would be next to impossible, unless it was in tear-down condition.

I think that you could definitely find something in your "block by block" areas. I live in North End, where there are plenty of properties below 60k. You will still have to contend will a lot of problem properties that may be difficult to finance or require considerable work to make livable. It's also possible to find a foreclosure in decent shape.

I find the "block by block" thing to be true here. We haven't had any problems on our block in the 3 years we've lived here, but just a few blocks north or east can be a different story. While more serious crime does happen, I think the two most common types of crime in North End are drugs and domestic disturbances. It tends to be worse in the summer.

Buying near the light rail could be a good long term investment. It seems like the businesses who weathered the major construction are bouncing back, and a lot of new development is planned.

It really depends on your comfort level, but since you've described DC as higher crime AND more expensive, what's considered high-crime here might not seem so bad. Definitely spend some time in the neighborhoods to get a feel for them. The reputations of these areas seem to exceed the reality in most cases.
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Old 02-26-2013, 11:51 AM
 
20,793 posts, read 56,050,054 times
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Just curious, why the low budget? Also, chances are you are going to have to sink a significant amount of money into the place to make it livable. You are looking in the foreclosure market, which likely means appliances are gone, kitchen cabinets removed, carpet removed or so gross it has to be fixed, broken plumbing, removed plumbing, etc., etc., etc. Then, in that condition, you have to either finance conventional, meaning 20%+ down or pay cash. Then you get to deal with the banks......and if there is more than one mortgage on the place, plan on it taking months to close....

Even at one job at $10/hour, which you can easily find, you could expand your budget to closer to $90,000-100,000 and have a lot more options, and a lot less work.
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Old 02-26-2013, 01:11 PM
 
1,816 posts, read 2,696,519 times
Reputation: 773
Quote:
Originally Posted by golfgal View Post
Even at one job at $10/hour, which you can easily find, you could expand your budget to closer to $90,000-100,000 and have a lot more options, and a lot less work.
$10/hr is a pretty low annual salary. It's about $20,000 a year. I don't think anyone would recommend someone with income that low to buy property.

Perhaps they just want a fixer-upper?
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Old 02-26-2013, 02:44 PM
 
Location: St Paul
112 posts, read 189,967 times
Reputation: 76
I live in St Paul near the Hillcrest and Sunray neighborhoods and there are probably properties that you could find in your budget with mainly cosmetic issues. I just purchased a home 3 years ago and got an amazing deal! (mine was already flipped, as I am no handyman).
As was previously mentioned, I hope no one recommended the Midway area to you. I dont like driving thru there even. And I do NOT mean that to be snotty or anything else, just saying.
Sadly alot of the gorgeous old homes (which can be pretty cheap), especially the Victorian ones, are located in crumby neighborhoods. I dreamt of taking one and moving it to a nicer area! haha. A very serious thing to consider when buying an older home is to check and see what the Heat bills average! I almost bought a home and then checked that and came to find out it was around $350/MO! Outrageous!
Another area that you didnt mention, that is only about 10 minutes from the others mentioned above, is Maplewood or North St Paul. Both very good family oriented neighborhoods and have an abundance of smaller single family homes available. And I dont really consider them to be suburbs, just an extension of teh good St Paul neighborhoods.
Good luck!
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Old 02-26-2013, 03:17 PM
 
20,793 posts, read 56,050,054 times
Reputation: 10571
Quote:
Originally Posted by xandrex View Post
$10/hr is a pretty low annual salary. It's about $20,000 a year. I don't think anyone would recommend someone with income that low to buy property.

Perhaps they just want a fixer-upper?
Actually a 60K mortgage would give them a house payment, with taxes and insurance of about $300-350/month. It's very affordable on that income.
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