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Old 03-23-2014, 01:28 PM
4 posts, read 4,957 times
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I'm pursuing a job opportunity in STL...having dome some consulting work there and having some friends and family there, I have some familiarity with the city, but wanted to start gathering housing information before I get too far down the interviewing process.

We'll be moving from Chicagoland where we have lived in the city and about 4 years ago moved to the inner suburbs.

What would be the best area for me to look given the following:

1) Looking for about 2500 ft^2, 4 bed plus den, with basement,prefer hardwood floors under $300k...not concerned about the age of the house...I can handle a house that needs some work, but not looking for a project.
2) I'll be working near UMSL...short drives are a plus but I am well aware of the 20 minute rule (two points are always 20 minutes apart)
3) Family friendly and younger community (We are lower 30s)
4) Looking for a town and house with some character (we like to dine out and go for drinks). We're comfortable in an urban environment and strongly prefer to be close to or in the city. We would also like to be near parks and/or a fitness path. A strong park district is a plus.
5) I know this is not the norm for STL, but we'd see a international community to be a plus...particularly if there is an area that may have a number of eastern/central Europeans.
6) Not interested in an area that may be prone to flooding
7) Looking for good schools, but don't need the best.
8) We don't mind a neighborhood with grit and grime, but my wife should feel comfortable walking the dog at night by herself.
9) Needs to have a low hoosier quotient :-)

A couple of other questions:
1) What should we expect to pay for private school if we moved to an area with lesser schools? We are not catholic, but would have no issues sending our kids to catholic schools.
2) How are property taxes? I know someone in Arnold who pays $800/yr on a $150k place. Is this the norm?
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Old 03-23-2014, 03:30 PM
Location: Saint Louis, MO
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Another Chicagoland transplant here--moving back to STL shortly!

Here's what I would say the reality is:

STL is affordable, but you're not going to find 2,500 sqft in the inner ring burbs with good schools at that price point. $300k is a rough price point in the nicer inner burbs--believe me, I just finished looking in it. You can find stuff at that price point, but it's not going to be 2,500 sqft. Likely less than 2,000. And even then, the nice stuff is going fast. Nice inner burbs include Webster Groves, Kirkwood, Clayton, Brentwood, University City (although schools aren't so great--there are some elementary options but past that its messy), Maplewood/Richmond Heights (similar to U-City situation). I'd say stereotypes dicate that the suburbs immediately south of the city (affton and beyond) tend to be more hoosier, with less character so I did not mention them. There are some options to the north, but again, schools aren't so good, and in my opinion, there are better options housing/community wise in the city than in the north suburbs.

In the city, you'll have more options (although looking at current listings, less options than I thought...I think the very large sqftage is driving this), except the good school part is a challenge. We decided to take on the school challenge. There are some excellent magnet/charter school options, and if that doesn't work, we're willing to go the private school route. Elementary school seems to run about $4k/year right now, with each additional child being discounted. High school is where it gets ridiculous.

I'd say shaw/tower grove south are great places to start in the city. Not a terrible drive to UMSL (you could also take public transit), younger community, pretty diverse crowd (nearby universities help drive this), Shaw is in the 1st catchment zone for City Montessori, some grit left but overall not the worst, low on the hoosier level, some great places to eat and drink in the area, Tower Grove Park is great. We were looking in the area recently and inventory is pretty tight under 250k--we ended up buying elsewhere.

Property taxes are much, much lower than in Chicagoland. I'd say that the Arnold example is a bit lower than the norm, though, in STL (although I'm not very familiar with the southern burbs). Know that if you're looking to live in the city, or if you work in the city (regardless of where you live), your income will be taxed an extra 1%. Property taxes are pretty low though--in the city things seem to hover right around 1% of property values, at least what I was looking at.

PS: I'll leave you with this house, which is one I'd be highly interested in looking at if I had a $300k budget in the city. It's in a very nice area (central west end) although this particular corner of CWE is on the lesser nice end of the neighborhood. Couldn't tell you more about it because it was beyond our price point to check out: http://www.cbgundaker.com/property/d...-MO-63108.aspx.

Last edited by billiken; 03-23-2014 at 03:41 PM..
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Old 03-23-2014, 05:34 PM
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Thanks for the help Billikin, that property has WAY nicer amenities than what I need...it's amazing it comes for $325k.

Could I get in with my price if I were to drop down to 1800 sq ft with a full, finished basement? We have 1800 sq feet now with a half basement and given me working from home and a MIL who lives with us a few months a year, we're outgrowing it. I'm seeing what you are talking about...it seems prices skyrocket around 1500-2000 sq feet as there doesn't even to be much stock available in that size.

Also, what about Creve Coeur and Maryland Heights?
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Old 03-23-2014, 06:24 PM
Location: St. Louis, MO
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Maryland Heights and Creve Coeur are great areas with great schools, ease of access to dining options and shopping, and definitely family oriented. I moved to Maryland Heights when I was in my early 20s and would recommend it to anyone!

However, the areas are definitely suburbia and don't have a whole lot of character or charm. Think 1950s and 1960s housing stock and car-oriented.

I wouldn't let that deter you though. The areas are safe, have great parks and outdoor recreation (Lake Creve Coeur in Maryland Heights is wonderful and has a trail for walking or biking). There are lot of restaurants, both chain and non along Olive Blvd in Creve Coeur, and a small entertainment district with restaurants and nightlife in Maryland Heights called Westport.

Maryland Heights and Creve Coeur are right next to each other so if you pick either you'll be in good shape.

When I lived there, it used to take me 25 mins to get to my job downtown. It will take you less than that to get to the UMSL area.

Good Luck!
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Old 03-23-2014, 07:18 PM
Location: Saint Louis, MO
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Agreed with glamatomic--Maryland Heights and Creve Coeur are very nice, but don't have the same charm as the city or other suburbs mentioned in my opinion. Westport in Maryland Heights is an entertainment district, but its not really built into a community. I think you'd have to go check it out and weigh your own priorities. I wouldn't move there, but I know plenty of people who live there and love it! Location is nice with great highway access for both work and fun.

I think you have a better shot if you're looking 1800 - 2000 with a finished basement. However, in the city at least, your trouble is going to be finding a basement that's actually finished or finishable. STL city is full of very old houses that have basements, but not ones with the ceiling heights that are now considered normal in newer builds. We looked at a ton of places in the city and maybe 2 of them had finished basements. When we were looking in Webster Groves, about half the houses we looked at had basements.

In Webster Groves and Kirkwood, there are a lot of 3/1.5 ranches or 1.5 stories for around $200k, and then the larger homes seem to be more in the 400s and up. In between, the pickings are slim/interesting.
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Old 03-23-2014, 07:31 PM
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So it looks like I can get what I want with a few compromises. That's what happened here in Chicago...we got the house we want with the accessiblity to the city we want, but nothing "right here." (I'm in Mount Prospect). The nice thing about STL is everything is 20 minutes away :-)

I know Webster Groves well...my ex of many years ago lived there (and still does) :-/ nice town but...my ex lives there

It's kind of funny because the most promising places seem to be my old stomping grounds...I know Westport well and while it's not the city charm, at least the restaurants aren't chain (or at least weren't when I was consulting around there 10 years ago). Kirkwood is along the lines of what I'm looking for and seems to be attainable but may need to work to get in there.
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Old 03-23-2014, 10:36 PM
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Another area to consider would be Edwardsville on the IL side.

The downsides are longer commute (prob 35 min for you) and higher property taxes. The upside is excellent housing choice in terms of what you want (size, proximity to a walkable downtown, etc.) + good schools. In reality, the commute probably wouldn't be that much longer than it would be from Webster or Kirkwood. It's further in terms of distance but traffic is much smoother up there.
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Old 03-24-2014, 05:44 AM
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Brentwood or Kirkwood, but IMO it get's better a little further out. Chesterfield and Town and Country are nice places and shopping is right around the corner. Manchester and Ballwin aren't bad their. The first thing I noticed when I moved here is traffic, there isn't much of it. When I hear people complain of traffic in STL I have to laugh every time.
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Old 03-24-2014, 08:19 AM
Location: St. Louis, MO
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Originally Posted by MJ7 View Post
When I hear people complain of traffic in STL I have to laugh every time.
^^ this!!!
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Old 03-27-2014, 09:42 PM
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We moved from the city when we had our second child. Some of the public grade schools are acceptable in the city, but the sad truth is, the high schools are bad news. We found the best of everything in Rock Hill. It's in Webster Groves School District, which is great even for those without kids. Properties don't sit long if properly priced...everyone wants these schools. In Rock Hill, you don't have the higher taxes or home costs of Webster Groves. We can walk to popular places like Hacienda, Farottos, Ami's, etc. within 2 blocks. If emergency response is ever required, you get not only Rock Hill, but often neighboring responders (Warson Woods, Glendale, Ladue, Brentwood, Webster Groves, etc.). It's truly Mayberry! Our two story brick home with tons of old character would've been well over $300k in Webster Groves. In Rock Hill it was $200k. Yes, we could've gotten a lot more for the money further out, but it's all about location for us! I hope that's helpful. I work in law enforcement and I know the neighborhoods very well. If you have kids, honestly, stay away from the city as a long term plan. I also graduated from UMSL, but you don't want to live close to there. Trust me.
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