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Old 08-02-2020, 10:14 PM
 
Location: USA
299 posts, read 557,018 times
Reputation: 372

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After spending the last 7 1/2 years up in Maryland (relocated for a job), the COVID situation caused the job to come to an abrupt end. I scrambled to find another (I work in I.T.) and got one fairly quickly with Amazon.


But... a lot has happened here, family-wise. Two of the kids in our blended family are reaching college age now, and the marriage just isn't working out so well either. Probably looking at an amicable split and going our separate ways after selling the house we're in now.


I'm left trying to decide what to do next, but really thinking it's time to just move back someplace close to the St. Louis area, where I was born and raised. Still have family and friends there, etc. Not sure what I'll do for work, but confident I can find something even if I have to take a big pay cut to get it.


Looking at really trying to downsize and find a cheaper way to live anyway....



Been browsing for cheap but decent houses in "not terrible" neighborhoods, and it seems like I keep coming back to finding some potential deals out in Alton, IL. (Found one in south St. Louis across from Jefferson Barracks park that looked great, but it went under contract only 24 hours after I saw it listed!)


I seem to have a selection of at least 5-6 suitable possibilities in Alton/E. Alton for the $30-50K price range though, which is where I'd like to be so I can just buy the thing straight out. Fine with a place that needs a kitchen and/or bath update and the like -- but not fine with foundation issues/water issues.... Only need something small with 2 bedrooms/1 bath or so.


Can anyone tell me honestly how life is over in Alton these days? I saw a lot of negative talk about high crime and poverty/drugs running people out of downtown there back in 2004-2005 or so. But more recently, people I know who visited out there speak positively of it. Sounds like a lot of grass-roots attempts at revitalizing things like the old post office converted into a coffee house have happened. I'm in my late 40's. Would I find myself surrounded by a lot of much older people, or ?? If I had to park a nicer car on the street outside my place, would I have to be worried about theft or vandalism? Trying to gauge what I'd be getting myself into.
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Old 08-03-2020, 09:14 AM
 
Location: STL area
2,125 posts, read 1,396,474 times
Reputation: 3994
In general, my best friend from college lives in the Alton area and I find the downtown area to be pretty cool myself. I wish I was more up on what were the better neighborhoods. For sure, there is some crime in Alton...hopefully someone else knows more about the locations. Usually the real estate sites do give kind of an overview of the crime in the area. So, say, go to realtor.com, find the house, click on neighborhood and on the map it will give you the option to look at crime rates...

https://www.realtor.com/realestatean...-03579?view=qv
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Old 08-04-2020, 07:56 PM
 
Location: Saint Louis, MO
3,483 posts, read 9,017,258 times
Reputation: 2480
Alton is a very cool area - with a really neat downtime. I wouldn’t say it’s “vibrant” in the sense of many local downtowns in St. Louis County (ie Kirkwood or Webster) but from an architectural and historical standpoint, Alton’s downtown district would rival any of those.

Your price point is fairly low - which honestly will put you in a lower wealth area of Alton. I get that you’re paying cash for the home - so financially you’re likely to be very different than many of the people around you when you move in. There is definitely crime and drug use in Alton, IL and the surrounding areas...and as you’d expect, that will be highly concentrated in lower wealth areas with less access to quality education and work.

With the economy currently in the toilet, there’s quite a bit more unemployment and continued underemployment throughout the region...and it appears to be effecting professional and entry level work the same...however the latter typically finds themselves underemployed (as you’d expect).

A good friend of mine owned a few rental homes in Alton, and they were always making $$ with those properties. They lived in a one of the homes for a number of years when they first got married as well, and I don’t believe they had any “trouble” living in Alton. Personally, I find it to be a very interesting town, as some of the historic homes you can buy are literal historic mansions for the same price of suburban homes in St. Louis County.

At your price point, I lived in St. Ann for about a decade and the area had a plethora of smaller 2 bedroom homes. Historically ones in good shape would go for $80k give or take, and ones that required some work could be had at the $50-70 price point all day. I haven’t looked at those homes/neighborhood recently, but I’d definitely check ito it. On the S. County side of St. Louis, Affton is a similar area.

Happy hunting!
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Old 08-04-2020, 08:49 PM
 
396 posts, read 653,611 times
Reputation: 314
Quote:
Originally Posted by tw71 View Post
After spending the last 7 1/2 years up in Maryland (relocated for a job), the COVID situation caused the job to come to an abrupt end. I scrambled to find another (I work in I.T.) and got one fairly quickly with Amazon.


But... a lot has happened here, family-wise. Two of the kids in our blended family are reaching college age now, and the marriage just isn't working out so well either. Probably looking at an amicable split and going our separate ways after selling the house we're in now.


I'm left trying to decide what to do next, but really thinking it's time to just move back someplace close to the St. Louis area, where I was born and raised. Still have family and friends there, etc. Not sure what I'll do for work, but confident I can find something even if I have to take a big pay cut to get it.


Looking at really trying to downsize and find a cheaper way to live anyway....



Been browsing for cheap but decent houses in "not terrible" neighborhoods, and it seems like I keep coming back to finding some potential deals out in Alton, IL. (Found one in south St. Louis across from Jefferson Barracks park that looked great, but it went under contract only 24 hours after I saw it listed!)


I seem to have a selection of at least 5-6 suitable possibilities in Alton/E. Alton for the $30-50K price range though, which is where I'd like to be so I can just buy the thing straight out. Fine with a place that needs a kitchen and/or bath update and the like -- but not fine with foundation issues/water issues.... Only need something small with 2 bedrooms/1 bath or so.


Can anyone tell me honestly how life is over in Alton these days? I saw a lot of negative talk about high crime and poverty/drugs running people out of downtown there back in 2004-2005 or so. But more recently, people I know who visited out there speak positively of it. Sounds like a lot of grass-roots attempts at revitalizing things like the old post office converted into a coffee house have happened. I'm in my late 40's. Would I find myself surrounded by a lot of much older people, or ?? If I had to park a nicer car on the street outside my place, would I have to be worried about theft or vandalism? Trying to gauge what I'd be getting myself into.
About 2007 I was part of marketing effort to crack the renovation market in Alton, the building stock was excellent and had attracted some inerest in urban housing. The crash happened and our potential clients dried up.

There are some renovations that have happened in the last 5 years along with a planning group called Altonworks that is seeking more investment

https://altonworks.us/?fbclid=IwAR19...QUbcwUeAl_AS0M

I have an acquaintance who was captivated by the historic architecture, views, and prices, who rehabbed a place just to the north of downtown, seems to like it, but has also said they put as much into the house as their purchase price. I think you are looking at more then 50K
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Old 08-04-2020, 08:50 PM
 
Location: USA
299 posts, read 557,018 times
Reputation: 372
Default re: homes in Alton, IL

Right... Just doing a virtual "drive" through Alton using Google Maps "Street View" shows me that it has some amazing architecture, but also an overall feel of a city that's a bit "run down" or "well worn". Really, that's ok with me. I've lived in Kirkwood before and it's mostly well maintained, with lots of new things going in all the time. But you really pay the price for all of that with higher taxes and a lot of local regulations. (I remember when my sewer lateral line collapsed near the street. Kirkwood had an "assistance" program to help pay for part of the repair, but they had strings attached. Had to use one of the contractors on their "approved" list, who of course charged 2x as much as other quality plumbing companies.)


The thing is? I've worked in computers and I.T. for the last 25+ years and it just keeps getting more and more complex and demanding. It's always been the one thing I'm really good at that people will pay me to do. But SO much has changed from the part I used to really like; building custom desktop computers for customers and shopping at the many "mom and pop" corner computer stores to find good deals on the latest gadgets or add-ons. These days, it's all about paying "cybersecurity" specialists who have to have a number of certifications and grasp a ton of detailed knowledge about inner workings of network protocols, etc. Or of course, the software developers who write all the code -- which was never really my thing. All of my knowledge about doing support for people's workstations or laptops, or setting up the Internet and local network and servers for an office? That makes you little more than a "digital janitor" in the eyes of a lot of management types. It's like the hamster running on the wheel, just trying to maintain the status quo in the industry. Some project manager or middle manager over you always earns 2x the pay, no matter how experienced you are in a technical support role. And I have no interest in being a manager. I've still got a ways to go before retirement, but I'm not getting any younger and I can't memorize all this information like I used to. That's why I really just want to get into a situation where the roof over my head is fully paid for, and it's a cheap to maintain home that's small enough so my utility bills are moderate too. It'd be amazing to finally just feel content that I'm not risking losing it all if I don't keep making X$ week after week after week, consistently. Might just go into business for myself doing some on-site computer service or consulting work and do some food deliveries for Door Dash or Uber Eats or whatnot to cover my living costs, and just stop with the goals of climbing some economic ladder.


That's where I'm coming from with all of this, if that makes sense?


I keep seeing properties in Alton like this one:

https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/7.../4995694_zpid/


Under $50K for a duplex I could live in and rent out the other part of? That seems almost too good to be true, except maybe this place has some costly issues they're not disclosing (bad roof or foundation issues, maybe?) ... or it's really just not in a good neighborhood so nobody wants to live there.







Quote:
Originally Posted by flynavyj View Post
Alton is a very cool area - with a really neat downtime. I wouldn’t say it’s “vibrant” in the sense of many local downtowns in St. Louis County (ie Kirkwood or Webster) but from an architectural and historical standpoint, Alton’s downtown district would rival any of those.

Your price point is fairly low - which honestly will put you in a lower wealth area of Alton. I get that you’re paying cash for the home - so financially you’re likely to be very different than many of the people around you when you move in. There is definitely crime and drug use in Alton, IL and the surrounding areas...and as you’d expect, that will be highly concentrated in lower wealth areas with less access to quality education and work.

With the economy currently in the toilet, there’s quite a bit more unemployment and continued underemployment throughout the region...and it appears to be effecting professional and entry level work the same...however the latter typically finds themselves underemployed (as you’d expect).

A good friend of mine owned a few rental homes in Alton, and they were always making $$ with those properties. They lived in a one of the homes for a number of years when they first got married as well, and I don’t believe they had any “trouble” living in Alton. Personally, I find it to be a very interesting town, as some of the historic homes you can buy are literal historic mansions for the same price of suburban homes in St. Louis County.

At your price point, I lived in St. Ann for about a decade and the area had a plethora of smaller 2 bedroom homes. Historically ones in good shape would go for $80k give or take, and ones that required some work could be had at the $50-70 price point all day. I haven’t looked at those homes/neighborhood recently, but I’d definitely check ito it. On the S. County side of St. Louis, Affton is a similar area.

Happy hunting!
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Old 08-05-2020, 07:26 AM
 
Location: St. Louis
685 posts, read 767,611 times
Reputation: 879
The better parts of Alton are west of State (along the river) and north of Homer Adams. East of Washington is probably alright, but is decidedly working-class. Downtown has improved dramatically in the past decade, and is still a work in progress. I would also consider East Alton and Wood River.

Godfrey and Bethalto are the best-kept areas of the Riverbend, but are probably beyond that budget. They are essentially the "good suburbs" of Alton.

I'm in a similar mindset. I've had homes in Maplewood and Granite City. Granite has a similar feel to Alton.
While Maplewood is a gentrified area, the Granite house has been the better value: solid brick/stone home in a well-kept neighborhood, good working neighbors, parks and trails. And at a third of the price of my Maplewood house. Still only 15 minutes from StL. As I've gotten older, being around flashy development and heavy traffic has lost its allure.
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