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Old 04-19-2017, 02:12 PM
Location: Loveland, Colorado
18 posts, read 26,481 times
Reputation: 28


After being away from the Twin Cities for eleven years, my family is getting ready to move back this summer. Previously we owned a house in north Minneapolis so we got to know that area pretty well, but now we've decided on St. Paul, specifically because we have some good friends in St. Paul and for the proximity to the river (my husband loves mountain biking and rock climbing and is grieving leaving Colorado, so he's hoping the trails and bluffs around the river might be a bit of a consolation).

We're looking specifically at three neighborhoods - West Seventh, Hamline/Midway, and West Side. Of these, we know the least about West Side, so I'd love to hear from anyone who knows the area.

Here are some of our considerations:

We're looking to buy a house for under $200k. Willing to do some cosmetic updating, build a garage if needed, etc., and small and old is just great for us. We're two adults, two kids and a medium-sized dog, and we currently live very happily in a 1,164-sq-ft house. Working with a realtor already and feel pretty hopeful about finding something in this price range, although I understand the market is pretty tight right now so we're prepared to go through a couple offer rejections before getting into something.

My husband will be commuting to Savage, so part of the attractiveness of West Side is the accessibility to Highway 13. Anything to consider about where in this neighborhood is easier access or more obstructed to 13?

Where is river/park/trail access best from West Side?

Does West Side feel cut off from the rest of St. Paul? I'm just curious about how it feels living on the other side of the river like that.

What's the neighborhood/community vibe? We've always enjoyed city living. North Mpls. was of course sketchy but we were on a block where neighbors connected and looked out for each other, and we loved being able to bus or bike right into downtown Mpls. Currently we're in a house that's walking distance to restaurants, breweries, library, etc., etc., here in Loveland CO, and we love being able to walk/bike to so many amenities. West Seventh feels a bit like where we currently are to me. How does West Side compare? What do people do for fun in your neighborhood? How walkable is it?

What about schools in this neighborhood? We'll have a fifth-grader and an eighth-grader. They actually are already enrolled in a couple charter schools that we toured in March, but they'd need to bus to them if we lived in West Side (they've always walked to school). I just didn't research schools in that neighborhood earlier b/c it wasn't as much on my radar then. Anyone know anything about Open World Learning? I did look briefly at that one but we didn't get to tour it.

And anything else anyone wants to share, I'd love to hear your thoughts & experience. Thank you!
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Old 04-20-2017, 04:23 PM
1,277 posts, read 1,833,860 times
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Hello -- this is my neighborhood!

I'll try to address or comment on most of the desires and questions you have:

Hubby's biking and rock climbing: The West Side of St. Paul has very easy access to Lilydale Regional Park and Harriet Island which are located just below the West Side bluffs (with Cherokee Park being on top of the bluff). Harriet Island runs right into Lilydale Regional Park. Both are very beautiful and situated alongside the Mississippi River. Both areas have paved biking and walking trails from end to end of the parks. I don't think I've seen people rock climbing there. It's not quite Colorado, but for an urban area, it's quite nice. And it's very easily accessed from the West Side--especially if you try to move closer to Cherokee Park (west end of the West Side) versus nearer to Robert Street (east end of the West Side).

Other areas in consideration: The West 7th area is more affordable, but you're down in the "flats" so to speak---not up high on the bluffs like the West Side. One drawback (for me anyway) is that West 7th area has a lot of older beer joints. It's really the only reason I haven't sought out that area myself (I kid you not---seems there's a beer joint on every corner on W. 7th). The Hamline/Midway area is also good---depending on where you choose. There are some pocket neighborhoods that are not that great after dark. Howevever if you stick to the areas around Grand and Summit Avenues---it will be very nice. But the prices are definitely way higher in Grand/Summit area. Summit Avenue is one of St. Paul's showcase streets---lots of mansions and older stately homes, the St. Paul Cathedral, and other big beautiful churches. The Grand Avenue area is the hip, trendy area of this neighborhood---lots of restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques and such. Grand and Summit area only a few blocks apart (they run parallel).

Price range: I think you can find something good for under $200k in the West Side or West 7th area. Grand/Summit area of St. Paul---I don't think so. There are plenty of older, but nice homes to choose from---in fact, there is a house about six blocks from me (technically in West St. Paul--has WSP zip code) that is listed for $150k. It's on a busier street (Smith Avenue), but the house looks to be in pretty good shape.

Commuting: Savage is not close to the West Side. Yes, you can get on Hwy 13 right by Cherokee Park (mentioned above), but the commute all the way to Savage will include a LOT of red lights (Hwy 13 is not a through highway--there are a lot of traffic lights from end to end).

Does West Side feel cut off from the rest of St. Paul? No, we are 5-7 minutes from downtown St. Paul. However, bear in mind that one of our bridges that connects the West Side to St. Paul is due for construction starting this year. Therefore, we'll only have two bridges in operation to get across the river. The High Bridge will be closed during construction. The Wabasha Bridge and Robert Street Bridge--further east will have to be used. It will snarl up traffic for awhile, I'm sure.

What's the neighborhood/community vibe? West Side: If you live near Smith Avenue, there are a few restaurants and coffee shops in the neighborhood, plus a grocery store, fitness center, and some of the usual small strip mall type of stores. The east end of the the West Side is the Latino area of St. Paul. Personally, I love the mix of the neighborhood. The east end of the West Side has a vibrant Mexican community and lots of Mexican bakeries, restaurants and annual festivals. West 7th area: This area has more restaurants and shops and such. If you can live with the beer joint scene along that main street, it does offer more. West 7th is undergoing some regentrification, so it might not be a bad place to invest in now. As for walkability, both areas are definitely walkable. I am partial to the West Side because I like being on the bluff overlooking the city, and having close access to Cherokee Park and the big parks (mentioned above) so close by.

What about schools in this neighborhood? I'll defer to others about schools. I don't have any school age kids, so i don't know much about this!

Feel free to ask other questions---I'll be happy to answer what I can! Good luck with the move.
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Old 04-20-2017, 08:18 PM
1,277 posts, read 1,833,860 times
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I forgot to mention, I have a great realtor in mind if you need a referral when you get here! Private message me and I will pass on the name and phone number of the realtor. Cheers!
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Old 04-21-2017, 08:22 AM
Location: Loveland, Colorado
18 posts, read 26,481 times
Reputation: 28
Thanks for your thorough answer, TotallyTam! Nice to hear from a WestSider, and some good helpful information here.

I should clarify a couple things - my husband doesn't expect to do any rock climbing right in St. Paul (except Vertical Endeavors , but just thought living in a neighborhood where he can be around some beautiful outdoor scenery would be a plus. And also his commute to Savage would only be two days a week, as it's a part-time, part-remote job. The commute was the biggest roadblock in making this move, because he got that job offer but we really don't want to live anywhere except in the city. Eventually we just decided to bite the bullet and plan on him having a couple days a week of 40 miles commuting (we're looking at electric cars now!)

Also it sounds like I should be able to find a good tortilleria in West Side! We have one just across the street from us here in Colorado and I will miss it!

We do have a realtor we're working with already, but thanks for thinking of that!
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Old 04-21-2017, 10:10 AM
1,277 posts, read 1,833,860 times
Reputation: 3440
Hi again--yes, you're welcome! That two day commute to Savage shouldn't be that bad. Thank goodness he can work from home the other days--ideal! By the way, the town of Red Wing (famous for Red Wing work boots and pottery) which is about 40 miles south of the cities has natural rock climbing at a spot called Barn Bluff. So perhaps on weekends, if he gets the itch--you all can check out Red Wing and he can climb! It's a nice weekend get-away destination. The whole Mississippi River valley is breathtakingly beautiful. You can also visit the headwaters of the river in the north part of the state (Itasca State Park). It's one of the loveliest parks I've seen. Our state parks and natural reserves are among the most beautiful in the midwest, in my opinion.

In any case, there is beautiful scenery right here in St. Paul, especially on the east end of the West Side and the adjacent Mississippi River. Good luck with it all. Cheers!
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