Where to live in Memphis?
March 6, 2007 7:04 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for suggestions on places to live in Memphis. Should I rent or buy?

I've accepted a job offer at the University of Memphis for the fall, and I'm going down there this weekend to scout for housing. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the info I've gathered from the Internets so I'm looking for suggestions to target my search. I'm not really interested in very suburban or anything rural, and I'd like to be within a 30-minute commute to the university (I have no idea what traffic is like there). I'm open to renting or possibly buying a condo, so I'm also wondering what the market is like. Will buying be a good investment? Also, I'll be moving down there without hubby, who's staying behind for his job, so he wants me to be "safe." We're especially concerned about some things we've read that suggest there's a lot of property/auto crime in Memphis. Any suggestions on areas, streets, complexes, etc. are welcome.
posted by DiscourseMarker to Work & Money (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Right now it is a buyer's market in midtown. There is something like an 18-month supply on the market. I live near overton square (madison and cooper) and that offers me a 15 minute commute to campus (by bike or by car including parking time). East Memphis and Chickasaw Gardens (two neighborhoods immediatly contiguous to the UofM) are a fast becoming more expensive and are a decidely sellers-markets right now.

As for property and auto crime, it can be a problem. Most of it seems to be crime of opportunity, but it is a poor city with a majority african american population that has long been denied opportunities for wealth and education. Most crime is concentrated in poorer neighborhoods, but there is a lot of overlap between rich and poor in Memphis. My neighborhood, East End, for example, has seen some property crime (last year there were two cars broken into and a large brass urn stolen from a neighbor's front porch) but its visibility does not mean the neighborhood is a bad one. With nearly 500 households in the 20 square blocks, three (well-publicized) incidents is actually a spectacularly low number compared to the city and national urban averages.

There are a couple of gated condo communities immediately west of the University (near the country club) that you might explore if you are unwilling to deal with the possibility of crime outside the walls. But honestly, if you remain in the "white belt of wealth" that extends from downtown to Germantown you will be safer and have a better investment than the vast majority of people in Memphis
posted by jmgorman at 8:15 AM on March 6, 2007

I'm not a Memphian, but I frequently make trips up that way. I've found most of Midtown, with Overton Square and Cooper-Young as focal points, to be a stellar place to be. Very eclectic shops and restaurants, and some beautiful neighborhoods there. Germantown is, well, wealthy and kind of bland, but as safe as most new suburbs anywhere are.

Crimewise, Memphis is comparable to most other Southern towns. I suppose it doesn't faze me any, but I'd imagine if you're coming from an Ann Arbor/Austin/Boulder/Berkeley kind of place, you'll be pretty shocked.
posted by The Giant Squid at 9:14 AM on March 6, 2007

crimemapper.memphispolice.org and the state of the city report (http://www.hopeccf.org/learn/StateoftheCityMemphis2006.htm) will give you some specific information about neighborhoods you are interested in. I really cannot recommend midtown enough. It is quickly becoming a vibrant, walkable space with good schools and entertainment facilities.
posted by jmgorman at 10:04 AM on March 6, 2007

Midtown is the coolest but it suffers from some bleed over crime from adjacent areas. I lived there for approximately 20 years and never felt myself in physical danger but I lost a couple of kids bikes, a few yard tools, etc. and my auto was broken into once. There are certain areas and activities that I would avoid if I were a lone female. Still, I only changed locations because I found a place to live for almost nothing. I'm seriously considering moving back.

The determining factor may be the amount you want to spend. Compared to many areas of the country housing in Memphis is very inexpensive. What seems like a reasonable sum to you may make the absolutely swankiest parts of town of town available. If $200K seems like a bargain you'll have a lot of options in Memphis. Midtown and downtown also have several secured high rises that are available for rent.
posted by Carbolic at 11:29 AM on March 6, 2007

I would try to stay in Midtown if I were you, but it depends on your interests and level of "hipness" I suppose. There are lots of cool shops and restaurants there and some decent stuff do to at night. When I originally moved to Memphis I lived in Bartlett which is a suburb of Memphis (technically it's a separate city). I was concerned about moving into the city since the crime is relatively high there. I spent a year of extreme boredom and long drives into Midtown to do stuff until my lease ran out. Germantown is another suburb but also boring and very snooty. I lived in 3 different sections of Midtown over the next few years. There are good, safe areas of Midtown but they can be tough to find. I always liked the area around the zoo. I had some friends living there and it was nice, quiet and not too expensive. I would also agree with other posters that all areas of Midtown have major bleed over between rich and poor. I also lived downtown for about a year. That was a HUGE mistake. Winos, crack heads, car break-ins, ect. I would also avoid south Memphis (towards airport).
posted by bda1972 at 4:41 PM on March 6, 2007

My family and I are relocating to the Memphis area. I have a 16 year old daughter and a 6 year old boy. My daughter and I would love to live in mid-town with all the activities and my husband doesn't care, but I worry about my son. Will there be safe areas to play for him and other children to play with. We have always moved to the suburbs but I find them blahville. I am a nurse but have not worked for a few years and wonder about the memphis city hospitals. I am also considering mud island.
posted by bethrossrn at 1:57 PM on April 1, 2007

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