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Old 02-20-2014, 11:19 PM
 
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We are a gay male couple living in Los Angeles, but wanting out asap because of the common complaints-traffic, poor air quality, rude people and a lack of community, but most of all outrageous housing costs. We want to buy a house, but can't afford anything here with the prices starting around $500,000 to $700,000 for a fixer-upper.

We have been looking to move to the east coast, but the more I think about it and the more we search for a house-we want to buy next year, St. Louis looks more and more attractive for the real estate prices and investment opportunities. I grew up within a few hours of St. Louis and lived in South City for a year back in 2000 and lived in KC for 6 years. I enjoyed St. Louis overall and would like to be back in Missouri near family and familiar Midwest customs, values, attitudes, etc.

A move back hinges on two things. First, we want to see how current challenges in court for the gay marriage ban work out. I know that Gov. Nixon recently announced that or tax purposes, gay couples would be treated as married and I expect the current challenge to at least recognize our California marriage. All in due time.

The second important thing is employment for my husband-I work online, so I have no worries. He is a licensed CPA in California and recently received his greencard as well. In your view, is the economy strong enough for him to find a well paying job relatively quickly in the accounting/CPA field?


Additionally, I didn't feel unusually endangered, but always had the crime rate on my mind. Having not been back in the city itself for any amount of time in the last 13 years or so, would you say that things have improved significantly overall as far as crime goes? Throughout the years, I have kept up with development and community news forums and sites from St. Louis, so I know there has been a ton of investment downtown and in other city areas.

Lastly, where to live? Previously, I lived on the edge of Compton Heights, near Compton and Russel. I enjoy the area around South City around South Grand, Shaw and Soulard in particular. Searches on sites such as Zillow and Trulia reveal many houses for sale within our price range-we don't plan to go over $250,000. Are there any areas in South City in particular that you would suggest avoiding purchasing a house?

Any answers to these questions and suggestions about possible places for us to locate are very welcome!
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Old 02-21-2014, 06:37 AM
 
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Hi, and welcome to your new (possible) home! I'm sorry I can't answer most of your questions (so I hesitated even to post!), but thought I would share a thought or two.

I've lived here about ten years, and I do feel that the crime overall seems under better control (though I haven't followed the statistics closely), although there are still pockets I try to avoid. Downtown in particular, as you said, is much better developed and safer.

Also, although I never noticed a truly hostile attitude towards gays, I feel like it's only improved with time (take this with a grain of salt, of course, since I'm a heterosexual female). But I often see gay couples walking around the Central West End who aren't given a second look. I'm not as sure about South City, since I'm not there as frequently...I do enjoy Shaw and Grand, although Shaw seems to have its safer and less-safe streets. (I was considering moving there, and still might).

Hope this helped even a little...I'm renting, so I can't say much about buying a house, unfortunately...but best of luck to you!
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Old 02-21-2014, 07:48 AM
 
Location: St. Louis
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Well if you've lived here before then I'm sure you're familiar with St. Louis' very laid-back attitude toward gay people, despite the state of Missouri's alarming rightward shift. If anything, the city has probably become less laid-back and actually more pro gay, with Mayor Slay's efforts and the robust anti-discrimination ordinances in place. They even flew rainbow flags from city buildings during pride last year, so I wouldn't worry about feeling ostracized. Now if we can just get Missouri's gay marriage ban to fall in the current domino effect we'll be all set.

As far as crime goes, it's always going to be an issue in any big city, but it's not any worse in South City or the Central Corridor than any other city of similar size. The real issues are in North City, but there's really no reason to ever go up there so I wouldn't worry. Just exercise general street smarts and don't leave valuables in plain sight in your cars and you should be fine.

The only area in South City that I would avoid purchasing a house would be in the Dutchtown and Gravois Park neighborhoods. Although South City is generally the safer part of the city, those areas are crime hot spots and don't appear to be improving very much, so I'd stay away. It sounds like you're on the right track in looking at Soulard and Shaw.
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Old 02-21-2014, 09:09 AM
 
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Thank you both of you for your input.

As far as the gay thing goes, I never once felt it was an issue growing up in Missouri and living in both St. Louis and Kansas City for years combined. Perhaps midwesternerns are too polite to say much openly, but even in rural areas, I always felt perfectly fine. That said, that isn't really my concern, so much as legal and financial issues surrounding it-in particular insurance at this point.

Dawn, yes, from my memory and research, it seems that Dutchtown and Gravois Park are the areas of trouble in South City, which is a shame, because those two areas have some of the most beautiful architecture and lots of potential.

Any feelings about how the economy is going?

Thank you again for your comments!
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Old 02-21-2014, 03:36 PM
 
Location: Saint Louis, MO
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I'm very familiar with the CPA market in STL. Nobody I know has had any trouble finding employment in STL as a CPA. Pretty much every firm I know of is hiring constantly. Industry opportunities are out there as well. I don't know how a green card works exactly--basically, you might have more trouble if the employer would have to pay for immigration related costs.

I would agree with avoiding the Dutchtown and Gravois Park neighborhoods.
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Old 02-21-2014, 04:54 PM
 
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Billiken, thanks for your advice too. A greencard is permanent residency, so there are no extra steps or costs on the part of the company. He is essentially treated as any other worker in the eyes of the Federal Government.

As far as other areas in the city, where specifically on the south side would you recommend? We want to buy a multi-family unit as a live-in investment next year and see where that takes us. Any particularly up and coming areas, where you might see a rise in property values in the next 5 or so years? I've seen lots of activity around Cherokee, but wondering if that is a bit close to the iffy areas?
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Old 02-21-2014, 05:15 PM
 
Location: Saint Louis, MO
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I'd say the areas that are getting a bunch of investment right now are Benton Park (commercial strip along Cherokee) and the Grove, also known as Forest Park Southeast (commercial strip along Manchester). Someone else probably has a better idea of the iffy parts of Benton Park--a couple years ago, the part west of Jefferson was not as nice as the part East. I'm more familiar with the Grove because I've been looking for a place there--north of Manchester is a lot nicer than the part south of Manchester. If you want to break it down even further, I'd say the area west of Newstead is generally nicer than the part east.
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Old 02-21-2014, 05:54 PM
 
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Ya, when I was back through town a few years ago a friend took me through The Grove. I was impressed with the investment and improvement. I've noticed on the Urban St. Louis forum that there are a few new construction projects too.
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Old 02-21-2014, 07:50 PM
 
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Yes, I've been looking pretty closely into the Cherokee Street area and some into the Grove as places to move, and I've visited those often.

I really enjoy the "vibe" of Cherokee Street and feel like it's really up-and-coming, especially with new artists (though it could still really go either way at this point, it seems...not guaranteed to succeed, of course). There, I'd recommend staying close to Cherokee Street itself with regard to "sketchiness"...and there is a difference between the two sides of the street (separated, I think, by Jefferson? I have trouble with names sometimes).

I agree about the Grove too...a lot of new, nice places being built...though I also would say there's a certain boundary where walking around begins to feel less safe. (Probably around Newstead, as biliken said). If you're looking for walkability (as I was), I was leaning a little away from the Grove since it still seems to have more bars than community-oriented things like groceries and drugstores (although this is beginning to change...there's a great yoga studio there now). But this may not be an issue for you.
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Old 02-22-2014, 07:59 AM
 
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Cherokee and the areas north in Benton Park and Benton Park West have always been some of my favorite parts of the city architecturally. From threads I've read online and searches of maps and such, it seems Cherokee has had a lot of development since I last visited and I'm interested to take a look for myself to see how it looks in person.

I do remember the areas off the strip there being a bit dodgy. Is it anticipated that the area is improving? Last time I was through there, I clearly remember seeing large groups of young men hanging out, drinking out of paper bags and looking rather suspicious. Of course I'm sure this rather psychological from years of influence, as very few people statistically are criminals, yet still these images put up a sort of roadblock for many people looking for a safe area. The housing stock seems to be rather intact, so I'd imagine with time and commitment from true enthusiasts, the area can really make a comeback.

Living in LA, we've witnessed an amazing turnaround in areas formally considered downright slums. Today, areas like Silver Lake, Echo Park and even Eagle Rock have seen a massive influx (some would say invasion) of younger people-mostly hipster types, who have really transformed the area. Would you say that is akin to what is happening there, albeit on a much smaller and slower scale I'd presume?
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