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Thread summary:

Moving to St. Louis: buy a home, good schools, school district, daily commute, community solutions.

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Old 03-29-2008, 11:01 AM
 
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Hello everyone. Moving to the St. Louis area where my husband will be working in St. Charles. I'm reading prior posts and trying to get a feel for the different suburbs/areas but I'm confused. Can anyone help me?

We had our hearts set on Edwardsville, IL - seemed perfect - but have realized that the daily commute will be too much for my husband. St. Charles/St. Peters are both alternately described as wonderful and terrible and I'm not sure what to think. Brentwood, Ladue, Kirkwood, Webster, Clayton, etc. sound ideal, but I'm finding them too pricey.

Our housing budget is 250-400K and we'd like to buy a home where we can settle in for several years. We would like to live somewhere that has excellent schools, a great community, where our housing dollar would go pretty far, and where there are a lot of things to do for families. Of course safety is a no-brainer. Importantly, we are lefties and the rumors about conservative, gun-toting people in some areas scare me. I know I'll experience a bit of that wherever we live, but I would like to live among some similar-minded people, if possible. Any practical advice or feedback would really be appreciated.
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Old 03-29-2008, 12:48 PM
 
Location: Leaving fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada
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I have been looking in the St. Charles County area, too. I have been on one house hunting trip. I really enjoyed the area. People seem friendly, there is shopping and restaurants and there were several homes to choose from in my budget. The schools have an excellent reputation. I think I can be happy in the area. Hope you can be, too!
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Old 03-30-2008, 07:49 PM
 
Location: South City
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Even as a city fanatic, I couldn't bear to make a daily commute from St. Louis to St. Charles and back.

Chesterfield, Ballwin, Wildwood, and O'Fallon, MO would be the first communities I would check out due to their proximity to St. Charles. Heading west on 40/64 to St. Chuck in the AM is nothing like the commute into St. Louis, and vice versa in the PM. You are traveling "against" traffic for the most part.

With your budget, you would have no trouble finding a house within your price range, and if you are willing to live in a house that's 20+ years or older instead of the new McMansion subdivisions, you can get yourself a nice sized yard to boot. I still can't believe how inexpensive some of the older neighborhood houses are found off of Clarkson Rd. between Manchester Rd. to the south, and Hwy40/64 to the north.

Feel free to jump in, suburbanites!
;-)
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Old 03-31-2008, 09:39 AM
 
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[quote=TomServo;3304031]Even as a city fanatic, I couldn't bear to make a daily commute from St. Louis to St. Charles and back.

This is why everything in life is relative. While commuting from St. Louis to St. Charles and back is not ideal, it is light years better than some commutes of same mileage in other cities. So, it all depends on how much is too much to the commuter. Although the rest of Tom's advice is pretty good.

The original poster was previously set on Edwardsville, so that gives some indication of what they may be seeking, an outer rung bedroom community as opposed to urban living. ?

Edwardsville to St. Charles is something I wouldn't do because there are plenty of other choices much closer to St. Charles that you would enjoy enough to add to the joy of smaller commute times.

As far as the conservative gun toting people, etc...not sure what you know about St. Louis, but it's a pretty moderate place with lots of liberal areas. The further rural you go in any metro, often times, but not always, the more conservative the people. You shouldn't have a big problem with this issue if it concerns you.

I would look most for a community you enjoy, then consider the commute times. St. Louis isn't a huge traffic problem place. There is some construction going on for a little while, but long term shouldn't be a problem.

St. Charles and West has been the traffic migration for many years now. Many people wanting more bang for their buck keep moving further and further out in sprawl fashion for many years now in Stl. But again, depending on where you are coming from, it isn't a huge problem.
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Old 03-31-2008, 10:12 AM
 
Location: Tower Grove East, St. Louis, MO
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I grew up in St. Charles/ St. Peters and I think it would be everything you need. The area is heavily Catholic, so it leans a decent amount right, but my mother is a liberal and had always found like-minded people. I've found conservatives in the area are more "old-school" conservatives- meaning they want government to stay out of their life, most are not particularly strong social conservatives as you'd find in rural areas.

I have know few people with guns in the area... that would hardly be in issue. If, however, you were living in more rural portions of the county, this might be different, but with your budget there'd be little reason to do so.

Francis Howell schools are typically ranked the best as far as test scores, though St. Charles or Fort Zumwalt would also both probably be fine- above state averages to be sure.
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Old 03-31-2008, 10:35 AM
 
816 posts, read 1,255,701 times
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Default Come to Ballwin! We need more lefties!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ptimonhill View Post
Hello everyone. Moving to the St. Louis area where my husband will be working in St. Charles. I'm reading prior posts and trying to get a feel for the different suburbs/areas but I'm confused. Can anyone help me?

We had our hearts set on Edwardsville, IL - seemed perfect - but have realized that the daily commute will be too much for my husband. St. Charles/St. Peters are both alternately described as wonderful and terrible and I'm not sure what to think. Brentwood, Ladue, Kirkwood, Webster, Clayton, etc. sound ideal, but I'm finding them too pricey.

Our housing budget is 250-400K and we'd like to buy a home where we can settle in for several years. We would like to live somewhere that has excellent schools, a great community, where our housing dollar would go pretty far, and where there are a lot of things to do for families. Of course safety is a no-brainer. Importantly, we are lefties and the rumors about conservative, gun-toting people in some areas scare me. I know I'll experience a bit of that wherever we live, but I would like to live among some similar-minded people, if possible. Any practical advice or feedback would really be appreciated.
OK - here's my perspective: We are a lesbian couple with two teenagers in the Parkway school district. My spouse and I decided to buy a house in the suburbs for all of the reasons most families - straight or gay - do: excellent schools and a safe environment. We have never been harassed, our girls are open about their two moms at school. Parkway is an OUTSTANDING school district. I envy at the choices of classes our girls can choose from. My spouse and I believe strongly in public school education.

We have friendly neighbors. A lot of our neighbors are older, retired folks, having bought in the neighborhood when the houses were new about 30 -some years ago. I can imagine in the next few years some of the properties will be on the market as these older folks go into assisted living, etc.

The houses in our area range from the low 200 - 400 thousand. Come this summer there will be a Whole Foods and Target opening 5 minutes (drive) to the north of us and a Costco/Super Walmart opening 5 minutes (drive) south. We have beautiful Queeny Park within walking distance, as well as a wonderful kennel (Country Acres) where we board our dog and she's treated like a queen.

Community: I stated that we have friendly neighbors but we don't really know them except for the families of our daughters' friends. The problem with suburban sprawl is that every time you have to go somewhere you have to drive. if you're religious/spiritually inclined, there are several United Churches of Christ in West County. It seems that a lot of people find their community through houses of worship regardless of where they live.

Our community is predominantly our friends who live in the city, so, for us, when our youngest graduates in 2011, we'll be moving either to South City, University City or Clayton/Richmond Heights. We didn't settle in any of those areas because St. Louis City has a lousy school system (except for the magnet program - didn't want to buy a house in the city and depend on a chance lottery system for possible placement and Catholic school were out of the question.) Clayton: too expensive for a single family dwelling. U City: very questionable school system.

We want to be able to walk or bike safely to the grocery store, the bank, restaurants, etc. We'll be able to do that much more easily in U City, Clayton/Richmond Heights, Dogtown, Tower Grove South or The Hill.

We are "lefties," too. West St. Louis County is predominantly Republican, yes. At the high school, though, our girls tell us there's a lot of pro-Obama sentiment, some Hillary and not a lot of McCain conversation; more hold outs for Ron Paul, actually. I've seen Ron Paul signs, a few Obama, but bo McCain or Hillary yard signs in my area of West County. There is a West County Democrats organization, FYI.

So, that's my input. Hope I didn't bore you.

inahandbasket
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Old 04-04-2008, 05:42 PM
 
4 posts, read 21,004 times
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Default Thank you!

Hi again everyone,
Thanks to you all for your input and feedback. Coming from a green perspective and not being married to any particular area yet I think it makes sense to try to live as close to work as possible. I thought I read good things about the Francis Howell school dist., but a real estate agent I talked to led me to believe otherwise. She mentioned (as did someone here) that the Fort Zumwalt schools might be a better bet.

And looking at demographic info. I am a bit concerned about the lack of diversity in St. Charles Co. overall. Additionally, the county overall was 58% Bush and 40% Kerry in the last presidential election(!). I'm kind of used to living on the margins, and have always been able to find a group of forward thinking people wherever I am. Much as I'd like to live in an urban setting, with kids now I can't deny the importance of a big yard and a good school. Thanks again to everyone for your comments - I will put them to use as we make our decisions!
Be well,
Paula
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Old 04-04-2008, 06:11 PM
TGS
 
360 posts, read 1,626,581 times
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I don't know where your husband will be working in St. Charles, but homes in the Parkway school districts in St. Louis County may be a better fit. If your husband is working in northern St. Charles County, then Parkway North near the Page Extension won't be too far of a drive. If your husband is working closer to Weldon Springs, then the Parkway Central area around Chesterfield would be a good choice. Those areas tend to have pretty good diversity. In my kid's Parkway elementary school, there were Asian, Indian, African-American, Hindu, Muslim, and Jewish kids. The area certainly isn't completely liberal, but it is far less conservative than St. Charles.

I think that the St. Charles City school district may also have more diversity. I know lots of mixed-race couples that live in that district and are happy with the schools, but I can't say that my small sample is enough to know for sure.

Any differences between the Francis Howell district and the Fort Zumwalt district are not anything to really be concerned about. They are both average suburban school districts.
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Old 04-05-2008, 06:50 PM
 
Location: Tower Grove East, St. Louis, MO
12,063 posts, read 29,636,058 times
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Conventional wisdom has always been that Francis Howell is better than Fort Zumwalt- houses right on the border show a price difference because of this, but in reality their test scores are fairly similar.

The biggest plus I see in Francis Howell is the the area is a bit more established. When I was a kid going to Francis Howell schools I got switched from boundary changes between Kindergarten and 1st grade and then again between 7th and 8th grade because of building new schools.

This has slowed in Francis Howell, but the constant expansion is now in full swing in the Fort Zumwalt district.

They're both well above state averages.
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Old 04-09-2008, 06:51 PM
 
1,816 posts, read 5,449,581 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptimonhill View Post
Hi again everyone,
Thanks to you all for your input and feedback. Coming from a green perspective and not being married to any particular area yet I think it makes sense to try to live as close to work as possible. I thought I read good things about the Francis Howell school dist., but a real estate agent I talked to led me to believe otherwise. She mentioned (as did someone here) that the Fort Zumwalt schools might be a better bet.

And looking at demographic info. I am a bit concerned about the lack of diversity in St. Charles Co. overall. Additionally, the county overall was 58% Bush and 40% Kerry in the last presidential election(!). I'm kind of used to living on the margins, and have always been able to find a group of forward thinking people wherever I am. Much as I'd like to live in an urban setting, with kids now I can't deny the importance of a big yard and a good school. Thanks again to everyone for your comments - I will put them to use as we make our decisions!
Be well,
Paula
Generally speaking, St. Louis is a black/white town lacking in other racial diversity unfortunately, in any decent sized numbers. The inner rung suburbs will be more in line with your line of thinking to some extent. St. Charles is definitely more conservative than other parts of town.
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