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Old 04-19-2010, 11:59 PM
 
252 posts, read 561,883 times
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For those of you who remember me from a few months ago, I have an update to the saga of moving. Otherwise, here is my background.

I am 28, married with a 4 year old son. We live in Des Moines where we are both from. We both make between 40-50k annually and we both work in the insurance industry. I have applied and been accepted to several Law Schools. I have decided to attend the University of Minnesota-TC this fall, and we plan to move in August. In order to do this, I will be giving up my job to live on 16k/year of student loans (law students are not permitted to work at all the first year, and then not more than 20 hours for years 2 and 3). My wife will also have to find a new job of near equal pay (not easy considering she doesn't have a college degree).

Not having ever moved to an entirely new city before, we face the challenge of finding a house that meets the following requirements: 1) under $145k list price; 2) is safe (we come from suburban Des Moines, so our standard of what "safe" means is very high); 3) is tolerably close to the U of M West Bank. We consider all of the school districts in the areas which meet the other three criteria not statisically significant since Minneapolis has a great reputation for school systems; 4) Single-Family dwelling, or possibly a lower priced townhome with reasonable association dues; 5) At least 1200 sq. feet. I understand that these narrow the options significantly, but we have found several listings in this category. We are considerring buying a foreclosed home as a viable option.

Recently, we spent 3 days attending campus preview activities in MSP, and checking out addresses of pseudo homes in our price range (likely these won't be the same selection as 4 months from now when we move). After reading this forum many times, here is my opinion of the areas we checked out. If you are familiar with Des Moines you will catch the references.

White Bear Lake - Loved this place. Great little downtown area and it appeared to be very safe, moreso by the lake than across the highway but still nothing to worry about. The only downside is the time it took to drive in non-rush-hour traffic in good weather back to the U of M was a little excessive, but not impossible.

Fridley - seems like a nice enough area. I heard from my local barrista (MSP native), that this is a post-WWII area which never got abandoned by the original inhabitants. It seemed pretty safe with plenty of modern ammenities (Target, etc.). The one concern I did have is that when we stopped by a lakeside playground area we did notice that several of the youth seemed to be rather riff-raffey (mohawks, baggy shorts, skate boards, piercings, snide glances, etc.). My initial impression is that this would be a good neighborhood possibly on the downhill slide as the original, good residents pass on and the replacements sprawl from the ghettos of the inner city.

Bloomington - East of I35W, S. of I494 -We really thought this would be a good option, but something just diddn't click. We checked out two homes. This really felt like the south side of Des Moines; a lower income area with run-down ammenities and an abundence of tobacco and liquor stores.

Camden/Victory - Holy *****. Lock the doors, revert to combat mode. I don't reccomend anyone who doesn't have armor and side-arms even look in the general direction of this place. We drove through on the way to Robbinsdale. Initially, we drove through the curvey road next to the river and it seemed fine. Then, we got a few blocks to the west and it was pedal to the metal without trying to look out of place.

Robbinsdale - Once we got to about Broadway and some park next to a hilly road, the neighborhood went from scary to super peaceful all at once. We saw hookers and groups wearing like-colored clothing one block, and then families out raking the yard and grilling out the next. We really like Robbinsdale. The problem is, what parts of it are too close to the Victory/Camden to be safe? The one thing I don't like about some of the Robbinsdale area is the alleyways that you use to access your garage. How do you keep this area free of snow in the winter? Also, where is the Target and modern grocery store?

Crystal - We really liked this area; especially the area around Kentucky park. There were many families outside walking around or playing. Seemed like a very safe area.

New Hope - Parts of this area are like Crystal, but other parts seem a little dicey (ala Bloomington per above).

Maple Grove - A very nice area. We would consider a townhome here. This seemed like a hell of commute, though. I did see a transit station but I checked the schedules and there are only 2 or 3 busses that run in the AM/PM.

Eden Prairie - Several law school students live in townhomes and apartments here. It seems great but a little out of our price range. I'd put this at the top of our list if we decided to go with a townhome.

Richfield - We checked this little neighborhood out and really clicked with it. We made sure to check out all four directionals. I wouldn't look too far north of CR 66 (may be the wrong number) as you get closer to the airport; however the farther west we went, the more it seemed like it was OK to venture north. The houses were a little smaller than in Robbinsdale for our price, but the neighborhood seemed very peaceful and safe.


A couple of notes in general. It seems like you have a great transit system, and most of the law school students use it. The thing about law school is that you typically show up around 8A and leave as late as 9p (although I plan to leave to be home in time for a family dinner most nights, and then either to return at night for studying or study at home). I wouldn't be opposed to using a bus for most of my travel, so long as it diddn't take me too much longer than an hour to get back and forth. Parking is attrociously expensive; how do you manage the expense? I tried Matt's Bar for the famed Juicy Lucy and had an intersting experience. When we walked in we diddn't realize that the gaggle was actually a line waiting to be seated and walked directly to the front. Some donkey was pretty rude, and pretentious about this, but this was quickly followed up with some polite conversation with an older couple. I see what they say about the Minnesota Nice and the Minnesota passive-aggressive.

Please look at my summary and tell me a) did I miss any good options similar to those that are favorably reviewed; b) did I get the wrong impression about any of these neighborhoods either negatively (i.e. Did I pass up a good opportunity) or positively (i.e. Did I think a place was safe but not realize that it was actually a high-crime area?). Note with this, that although an area may be relatively safe, the mere interaction or proximity to a questionable looking drunkard, hellion teenager, or suspect looking individual is just undesired as crime.

Also, what do young, law abiding, Minnesota families do for cheap fun? Obviously there is the mall or the movie, but do you have good camping, apple orchards, pumpkin patches, festivals, street fairs, etc. to occupy your time on the weekends?

All in all, moving up to MN is a logstical challenge with some uncertainty, but the UMN is a fantastic law school with opportunity abound. I regret leaving our extended family behind but hopefully we will be welcomed as Minnesotans and will enjoy life once we get settled in. It looks like Minnesotans enjoy a high quality of life, and hopefully it is comparable to suburban Des Moines.
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Old 04-20-2010, 01:16 AM
 
Location: Homewood (Willard-Hay, Mpls.)
51 posts, read 192,634 times
Reputation: 90
Based on your route description, it sounds like you were driving through Minneapolis on West River Road (curvy road next to the river with spendy new condos and townhomes interspersed with parkland) and turned left on West Broadway on your way to Robbinsdale.

If that's the case, you never drove through either Camden or Victory. Victory doesn't match your description at all. In many ways, it strongly resembles Robbinsdale (architecture, neighborhood vibe, age).

West Broadway is a long-beat-down commercial strip that is only now seeing reinvestment and the beginnings of a renaissance. There is a lot happening there (trust me, it was even more desolate two years ago). It's flanked by many great micro-neighborhoods of Minneapolis such as Old Highland, Homewood (where I live, 1 mile south of West Broadway), and the areas along Theo Wirth Pkwy/Victory Memorial Pkwy., the latter of which provides the N-S border between Minneapolis and Robbinsdale. Camden, which consists of seven Minneapolis neighborhoods, reaches as far as 3-4 miles north of West Broadway.

Don't judge West Broadway too harshly. It's what happens when a city turns its back on a once-thriving commercial district for 40 or 50 years. There are a lot of people -- old and new residents alike -- working every day to change that.

Robbinsdale has several nearby grocery stores -- there is a Rainbow Foods on West Broadway at 36th, a Cub Foods near West Broadway and I-94 in Minneapolis, and a Byerly's at Highway 100 and Duluth St. There is a Target nearby in Crystal (West Broadway & Bass Lake Road).

In the summertime, there is no lack of cheap entertainment - art fairs, street fairs, museum exhibits, music festivals, Halloween hay rides, you name it. Citypages.com has a pretty thorough calendar of stuff going on. This is the 16th biggest metropolitan area in the country, and there is entertainment consummate with that size.
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Old 04-20-2010, 01:38 AM
 
10 posts, read 20,899 times
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My suggestion is to just stay in Des Moines. If you think the neighborhoods you were in are not safe I don't know how you could possibly survive in the U of M neighborhood, some people there actually dye their hair and last week I saw some SOB on a skateboard with tattoos near campus. Just because someone has a hair cut not seen in Iowa or because the neighborhood has some diversity does not mean it's not safe. Every neighborhood you mentioned is a nice, safe neighborhood with hard working people. Anyone would be lucky to live in any one of them, including the Victory/Camden area.
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Old 04-20-2010, 01:49 AM
 
20,793 posts, read 58,592,732 times
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How far are you willing to drive to the U?

As far as your wife finding a job, especially if she wants to stay in the insurance industry, a job in the $40-50K range with experience is not going to be difficult. What will be difficult is supporting a family off that in the Twin Cities. From your previous posts here and on the Iowa board I was assuming your wife made closer to $100K. Many administrative assistant jobs here pay over $40K. The hardest part will be landing a job with the current job market. I would suggest she start now.
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Old 04-20-2010, 04:27 AM
Status: "I no longer live in Minnesota, yay!!!" (set 28 days ago)
 
Location: Gladstone, MO
2,064 posts, read 4,754,202 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nrogers1122 View Post

Camden/Victory - Holy *****. Lock the doors, revert to combat mode. I don't reccomend anyone who doesn't have armor and side-arms even look in the general direction of this place. We drove through on the way to Robbinsdale. Initially, we drove through the curvey road next to the river and it seemed fine. Then, we got a few blocks to the west and it was pedal to the metal without trying to look out of place.
You have no idea what you're talking about there.
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Old 04-20-2010, 07:41 AM
 
812 posts, read 2,050,368 times
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I also don't think you were in Camden. It's a nice area. I've also lived in Robbinsdale for ten years and have never seen a hooker. However there are certainly enough people around who don't know how to dress.

Robbinsdale has Targets nearby almost every direction you go which is like any area here, Targets are everywhere. Bass Lake and Broadway just expanded to add the grocery, there's one in Brooklyn Center by the library and Community Center, there's a SuperTarget in Fridley, plus a couple more a bit further.

Crystal and New Hope are both overall nice. I'd live in either one.
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Old 04-20-2010, 08:53 AM
 
335 posts, read 627,919 times
Reputation: 105
just stick to the st. paul suburbs and you will be fine. trouble does happen around north minneapolis to the point where i would avoid the area and the suburbs around it if i had a kid not that i think those suburbs are really bad but there are a good amount of trouble makers around there. i know people from the area are used to the area but not everybody is used to that. whitebearlake, vadnis heights, invergrove heights, eagan, circle pines are all some areas you might want to check out.
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Old 04-20-2010, 09:39 AM
 
10,629 posts, read 25,442,963 times
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I'll agree with the Victory comments; it doesn't sound like you made it to the Camden/Victory neighborhoods, or if you did, maybe the parts that you thought were Robbinsdale were actually in the Victory neighborhood. I know some people who live in both the neighborhoods bordering Minneapolis as well as those who live in Robbinsdale; over there they sort of blend together. You're right about neighborhoods changing quickly, however (although again, am virtually certain that what you thought was Camden/Victory was not); that's part of the reason on some of these threads people get upset with the profiling of all of north Minneapolis as "bad." And like the others have said, don't worry about Target or grocery stores -- you never have to go far to find one in the Twin Cities.

On the alley question: that's pretty typical around here. Most neighborhoods in the city, and in some of the older suburbs, have alleys. In Minneapolis the city plows them, while in some other places private residents pay for the plowing. That's just the public part of the alley, though; you're on your own when it comes to the little patch of snow that is right outside of your garage. Sometimes that's a hassle, so if you're looking at a place and want to make life easy for yourself make sure there's enough space somewhere convenient to put the snow. There probably will be.

I really like Richfield, or at least some parts of it. Woodlake Nature Center is there, which is a great place for cheap family activities if you do end up in that part of the city. It's been a number of years since I've been to their formal activities (used to volunteer there sometimes), but they have classes for kids and adults, Halloween trick-or-treating and autumn-type outdoor events, winter skiing, summer camps, etc. It's all pretty affordable, and even cheaper with an inexpensive membership.

Another useful fact: Coffman Union at the U sells discount museum (including to the children's museum) tickets at their visitor service desk. Also, even cheaper, once you get a Hennepin County Library Card you can check out free passes (two per month, but each usually admits 2-4 people) to many museums and attractions. A lot of them have family activities available, often included in price of admission. Como Zoo isn't too far from the U and is affordable (very minimal suggested donation) and great for kids. You'll also find plenty of seasonal events throughout the year.

Parking at the U really IS expensive; I think your best bet is to use the bus when possible. If you do go back after dinner for a couple of hours (or on weekends) you can probably get some cheap meter parking or at least won't be shelling out money for a full day. There are more affordable park-and-ride lots on the edges of campus (or over on the way to the St. Paul campus), but if you end up near an express bus route you may well find the bus to be both cheaper and more convenient.
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Old 04-20-2010, 04:42 PM
 
252 posts, read 561,883 times
Reputation: 75
Interesting. I definately think that there is some potential in a lot of these areas. Now, however, I am curious to know where it is I was. As far as what Chrisobill was saying, I really think he/she needs to read my full posting. I diddn't see any problem with several of the burbs I mentioned, but I did see problems with some. Kids will be kids, but when you see an abundence of punkishly clad youngsters its a pretty safe bet to assume that there will be trouble soon to follow. Honestly. I get the city pride thing but don't be so myopic. I do also look at the crime maps published by the city. Not sure exactly where I drove through but wherever it was, the point is that it was blantently unsafe. Thats all I was saying. Sorry if I offended any residents of safe neighborhoods by indicating otherwise, but again, read my full posting to see that I was looking for variance boudries on my analysis. I'll thank you to be a little less snide in your response, Chris.
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Old 04-20-2010, 07:16 PM
 
252 posts, read 561,883 times
Reputation: 75
"You have no idea what you're talking about there.You have no idea what you're talking about there." Posted by Radical_Car

Why don't you elaborate on this? What exactly don't I know? I don't assert to know much about the area,I'm just making observations. It seems like the crime-maps on the police website and the experience driving through whatever that place was indicates its relative unsafety.
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