Step one: learn how to pronounce "Louisville"
July 2, 2010 4:03 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be spending about 9 months in Louisville starting in a couple of months. I need to find an apartment; what neighborhoods would be best for me and what resources (aside from Craigslist) should I know about?

I've only been to Louisville once for a few hours, so I basically have no clue what the city is like. I'll be working downtown, and I'll have a car. Before I knew where I'd be moving I set a budget of $725/month; this appears to be more than enough for a studio or 1 bedroom, and I'd be happy to spend less.

My priorities are, in order:

1. Safety. I'm a small female, and I'll be living by myself. I'd like to feel safe walking around alone at night.

2. Quiet. Maybe this is mutually exclusive with safe, but I'm a really light sleeper and so I'd prefer not to live across the street from, e.g., a bar or an ambulance bay. This might be very apartment-specific rather than neighborhood-specific, though. (Maybe no areas heavily populated by college students, though?)

3. Non-horrific commute to downtown.

4. Proximity to stuff like grocery shopping.

Things that are not important to me: size of apartment, proximity to nightlife.

More about my tastes: I like to be able to walk places (e.g. to the supermarket), but I don't know if this is feasible in Louisville (which seemed to be a pretty car-centric city when I was there). My ideal neighborhood is mostly residential with some funky restaurants/coffee shops/book stores, but again, I have no idea whether this exists in Louisville. Since I'm only there temporarily, I'm okay with compromising on basically everything but safety.

Finally, any suggestions for where I should be looking for apartment listings, aside from Craigslist? I'd prefer a furnished apartment, although I could make do with unfurnished. I'll be making a weekend trip to Louisville about a month in advance to check out apartments and hopefully sign a lease.
posted by pluckemin to Travel & Transportation around Louisville, KY (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My very good friend lives in Germantown, which is a family-friendly place (and I believe they can walk to some restaurants and groceries) and has quick access to downtown. Traditionally Louisville's hippest place has been the Highlands. You could live off Bardstown Road or Frankfort Avenue and easily walk places, be safe and have reasonably quick access to downtown. You could probably go all the way out Frankfort Avenue until it turns to Shelbyville Road and live in St Matthews and have all of those things with a more adult vibe. Louisville turns from hippie to yuppie as you move out Frankfort Avenue, basically.

I grew up in Louisville and visit my parents there frequently (going tomorrow in fact). My impression has always been that it is a pretty safe city. The parts that have a reputation for being dangerous are places that you are exceedingly unlikely to go (parts of far West Louisville or parts of far South Louisville).

As for pronunciation - I grew up swallowing the word as many working class natives would do, so it would look like "Lulvul." When I lived overseas, people hardly understood that as a word so I got used to saying "Loo-ee-vill." I think Louisville has gotten diverse and cosmopolitan enough that people will accept however you decide to pronounce it.

If you get a chance, catch some performances at Actor's Theatre, or get season tickets. It's consistently rated one of the best (if not THE best) regional theatre groups in the country.
posted by Slothrop at 4:46 PM on July 2, 2010

You are talking about Lou uh vulle right? Indiucky?

The highlands, around Bardstown Road, would be your best bet as far as funky local flavor. The further from downtown you go down Bardstown the safer and quieter things will get, but really most of Louisville is pretty safe.
posted by natteringnabob at 4:48 PM on July 2, 2010

You might do okay in Schnitzelberg or Germantown, around Eastern Parkway and maybe Goss. Lu-uh-vul on the whole is pretty safe, though. And Slothrop, people do still at least make a quiet mental note if someone pronounces it differently, although that probably doesn't affect anything.
posted by dilettante at 5:13 PM on July 2, 2010

You don't have to live there, but Bardstown Rd/Baxter Ave is going to be the funky part of town. Plan a meetup some time and I'll drive up there.
posted by deezil at 5:19 PM on July 2, 2010

I lived in Louisville for a year - Highlands is the way to go. I lived near where Baxter split off from Bardstown and couldn't have asked for a better location. Paid about 800 per month for a one bedroom apartment that I thought was quite nice. It was a great year - I'm jealous.
posted by slide at 5:42 PM on July 2, 2010

Best answer: Long-time (30+ years) Louisville resident here. I have lived in what amounts to every neighborhood in the city, so I have a fair amount of insight:

First, chances are you will love it. It really is the best kept secret in the region. TONS of great food, amazing park system, lots of (unimportant to you) quality nightlife, good local music scene, etc...

Second: rent is insanely cheap here. For your taste and budget, I would recommend the Highlands as well. If you look in the area known as "The Original Highlands," you can find great deals easily. Some streets include Rufer Ave., Christy Ave., Highland Ave., Morton and Barrett/Baxter avenues. I have rented, in the past 4 years before buying my house, in that area for as low as $500 for a gorgeous 2 bedroom. Those prices are not the norm, but are totally findable.

Another option is the Cherokee Triangle area of the highlands, which is slightly more "upscale" than the OG Highlands, but only across the road. The Triangle neighborhood is almost exclusively 3 and 4 story Victorian homes around 100-120 years old, with many of them converted to duplexes. It is a truly beautiful area, with great tree-lined streets and a 5 minute walk from the nicest metropolitan park I have ever seen. Rents in this area will likely be closer to your top-end budget, but it is a completely reasonable budget for a stunning 1 bedroom (or even a 2 bedroom if you get lucky).

Both of these areas are extremely friendly to the walking lifestyle, and no more than 5-8 minutes from downtown. There are endless shops, restaurants, and quality groceries and farmer's markets no more than a 10 or 15 minute walk from the Highlands.

I can also recommend Germantown. More specifically, I myself live in the Schnitzelburg area, which is really just a few square blocks of Germantown. To give an example, I bought my lovely 2 bedroom shotgun on a well kept and quiet street 2 years ago for 75k, and after remodeling the whole thing and finishing the garage into a separate recreation/work area, I could probably rent it for about $750 or 800. Honestly, though, there is a slightly undesirable element in all of Germantown that would make me shy away from advising it for a young, single woman new to town.

Crescent Hill (area around Frankfort Ave) is also great, but has one giant issue: absolutely NO grocery options. Lots of eateries and shops, but no decent grocery stores. That, combined with the slightly inflated rent and attitudes makes it lower on my list.

Old Louisville, the area just south of Downtown proper, and right near the University of Louisville is a great area, but also has grocery issues. It can also be a very dangerous area, on a block-to-block basis. For a newcomer, it would be nearly impossible to tell the difference between a safe block with great neighbors and a block where you may well be robbed at gunpoint on your first day.

Downtown is a growing residential option, if condos and high rise apartments are your thing, which I imagine they are not. Also, grocery issues are again prohibitive. The Butchertown area, right near downtown, is a truly awesome neighborhood, but it is SO small that finding things there is tough, and there is very little within safe walking distance.

All in all, I think The Highlands is what you want. Or, if you find something good, Germantown. I would keep checking craigslist, but also look at the rentals on the LEO website and Courier Journal website. Honestly, the best way to find places is to drive around and look for yard signs, but since that is not an option, the above methods should suffice. And please, feel free to message me if you have questions about specific streets, neighborhoods, properties, landlords or anything else related to the city.

As for the walking/cycling friendliness issue: in the Highlands, walking is the way to go. You could pretty easily live in the Highlands and not own a car while working downtown, if you do not mind buses and walking. It is no more than a 30 minute stroll from the Cherokee Triangle to downtown.

Again, let me reiterate that it really is a great city. It can be odd to new people, though; be prepared to be asked "where did you go to school?", with the appropriate answer being a local high school. Be prepared to be shocked at the late night bar scene (4am closing time). But really, it is an exceptionally friendly place.

Louisville offers a great quality of life, for a great price. Between the huge amounts of public green space (with a park system designed by Frederick Olmstead that literally wraps around the whole place), the growing arts community (currently anchored, on a national scale, by 21c, and nearly every other amenity you would want and expect from a city of this size, you will like it here.

Welcome aboard!!
posted by broadway bill at 10:33 PM on July 2, 2010 [4 favorites]

OH yeah, one final thing:

Pronunciation: I, personally, say LOOEYville, but I am the exception, I think. Basically, just do what feels right, as long is it is not LEWISville. We hate that.

I think most say LUHLville. Trying to type it phonetically may be the toughest thing I have done all week.

Also, when you visit, go across the bridge to the dreaded enemy, Southern Indiana, and eat and have a beer at NABC Bank Street. It is a great place.
posted by broadway bill at 10:44 PM on July 2, 2010

Response by poster: Wow, thanks everyone for the answers! Looks like the Highlands is the way to go.

broadway bill, you've got me excited about the move!
posted by pluckemin at 2:21 PM on July 3, 2010

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