Setting down in the Land of the Delta Blues?
February 19, 2008 9:59 AM   Subscribe

Moving to Memphis: It seems a bit crime-y, am I going to die? Give me the low-down on real life in Memphis.

Based on previous AskMes It seems that Midtown or Cooper-Young is the place to live if you must live in the city. What about the 'Burbs? Cordova, Germantown, Olive Branch or Covington?

Moving for a job with my SO And two dogs, we enjoy the urban life here in Boston and while we know it will be different there do we keep any of the urban feel (and is the crime risk worth it?) by living in Midtown? Or should we house shop outside the city limits?

If you live in Memphis what do you love/hate about it?
posted by MasonDixon to Travel & Transportation around Memphis, TN (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have lived in Memphis for approximately 30 years. Most of those years were spent in Midtown. I'm male and 47. I never felt physically threatened but did experience a number of acts of petty crime (yard tools disappearing, etc.). Cooper-Young is pretty much part of Midtown. You might want to check out an area called Mud Island. It's downtown and probably more secure than most of Midtown.

Cordova, Germantown, Olive Branch, Southhaven and Bartlett are your main suburbs (except at least part of Cordova is actually in the Memphis city limits). If you like strip malls and chain restaurants they are the places for you. Covington is a little distant to be considered a suburb of Memphis.

Where will your workplace be located?
posted by Carbolic at 10:12 AM on February 19, 2008

Response by poster: Work will be near Midtown actually . . .

I've lived in Birmingham, AL, which seems to have similar crime stats (at least per 100,000 residents) but it seems like crime in Memphis is less segregated to certain areas.

And no. Not a huge fan of strip malls. Nor is access to an Applebee's is one of our considerations.
posted by MasonDixon at 10:46 AM on February 19, 2008

I can't comment to the lack of culture, but we've visited several times and the Germantown area seems very safe in general (just from an outsider's feel).
posted by shinynewnick at 11:17 AM on February 19, 2008

[I live an hour or two from Memphis, and] I hate the way that the newly-elected mayor of Memphis replaced the city's library director with one of his cronies, a man who isn't a librarian and, in fact, has never worked in a library.

Also, I hate the constant, seemingly-accepted-by-nearly-everyone low-level racism and de facto segregation. I've got friends who have spent their whole lives in the South, and many of them say that Memphis is the most racist city they've ever visited. And I definitely hate the way that Memphis has, over and over, ignored its real social and cultural history in favor turning Beale Street into something like the Disneyfied Times Square, or the low-rent tourist traps that cluster on the highways outside theme parks.

I like the National Ornamental Metal Museum, though.
posted by box at 11:18 AM on February 19, 2008

Best answer: You are not going to die. I live in East Memphis, which is a perfectly wonderful part of town. Midtown is nice, but the most expensive part of town to live in. I wouldn't recommend downtown to live in at all. Not because of crime, but because of convenience. Downtown is all bars and malls and business, but nothing so pedestrian as a grocery store without driving a ways.

For the most part, you're going to find out that Memphis is pretty balkanized, so traditional ideas about "good neighborhoods" and "bad neighborhoods" do not apply as you might expect. I mean, for god's sake, it's not Detroit or anything.

Carbolic: You forgot Lakeland.

As to where to live: Depends on your lifestyle. Do you like going out and hitting what passes for the "Scene"? If so, you want to live in Midtown or East Memphis "inside the loop." (The I-240 exchange) You'll be 15 minutes or closer from everywhere you'd ever want to go. If you're more of a homebody, I'd say go to the burbs. See, the thing is, Bartlett, OB, and the other Burbias don't have anyplace original or novel or unique: It's all chain places. Upscale chain places, in many cases, but still just part of the Factory. Additionally, traffic on Germantown Road and I-40 (the two main arteries to the Suburbs) are choked with traffic during rush hour.

I would recommend living in the loop somewhere, or even in midtown.

Anyway, as the saying round these parts goes: "Midtown is Memphis."

So, as it turns out, i'm a pretty experienced Memphian, so feel free to MeFi mail me if you want more details or a lengthier conversation about my fair city. When you finally touch down, let me know, I'll show ya'll a couple local treasures. . . or what passes for them, at any rate.
posted by absalom at 12:03 PM on February 19, 2008

box: newly elected? We've had the same mayor since 1991.
posted by absalom at 12:05 PM on February 19, 2008

My mistake, absalom. I think I just assumed that appointing his former bodyguards to highly-paid positions in city government was the kind of thing that a newly-elected mayor would do.
posted by box at 2:44 PM on February 19, 2008

Best answer: Um, yeah... our mayor has been around long enough to embrace our city's proud history of corrupt cronyism in government. It's true that the new library director is not a librarian, but she is also not a man, so you'd best take box's comments with a big old shaker of salt.

I agree that Beale Street is touristy but if you go there for live music you'll still hear the Memphis beat, not a Disney soundtrack. This town has kickass music and food everywhere you go. If you want social and cultural history, check out the excellent National Civil Rights Museum and the fabulous Stax Museum.

MasonDixon, if your job is in midtown, please don't live in the suburbs. You'll waste so much gas and time in traffic! Give midtown a chance. You can always move next year if you hate it.

I've lived in Memphis for 28 years, in five different neighborhoods and mostly in midtown. My husband, daughter and I now live in the Evergreen Historic District and we love it.

I found a map of the official boundaries of midtown, but this map is easier to read. The part of midtown that I personally like best is roughly bounded by North Parkway (aka Summer), East Parkway, Peabody, and Belvedere/Evergreen.

Central Gardens is a lovely midtown neighborhood, although too expensive and socially conservative for my taste. The adjacent Idlewild Historic District is also nice and the homes are less expensive. Cooper Young is great if you want a hip and funky neighborhood with easy walking access to bars and restaurants. Downtown has a large supply of new and newly renovated condos and apartments, and Mud Island (Harbor Town) has townhouses and a greenbelt park along the Mississippi River.

Unfortunately we do have a lot of crime in Memphis. Here's the MPD CrimeMapper if you want to monitor the situation. But I think it's important to keep in mind that most murders are committed by people who know their victim. If you avoid your family members and don't make any friends here, you should be fine.

Seriously though... just take the normal urban precautions. Make sure your house has iron security doors, get to know your neighbors, pay attention to your surroundings, don't walk alone after dark, turn on your porch light and security lights at night, always lock your car, that kind of thing. But it sounds like you are familiar with the urban experience already.

Welcome to Memphis. I hope you enjoy it!
posted by naomi at 3:40 PM on February 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

And a few local bloggy links for you...

My Midtown Memphis
Live From Memphis
The Gates of Memphis
West Tennessee Photography & Info
posted by naomi at 3:47 PM on February 19, 2008

So, will this call for a Bluff City meetup or what?
posted by absalom at 5:09 PM on February 19, 2008

Again, my mistake. In the interest of clarification, and after doing some more research: The new library director, Keenon McCloy, is female. The new deputy director, Michael Gray, is male. Neither one of them is a librarian, and neither has ever worked in a library. They're both the mayor's cronies, though, as far as I can tell, only Gray worked as one of the mayor's bodyguards.

Also, the Stax Museum is, indeed, a good one.
posted by box at 11:45 AM on February 21, 2008

Well I moved here last august to mid-town Evergreen. We decided to move to mid-town because the suburbs looked like every other suburb I lived in (I have lived in 9 states) and I wanted a little more than wal-mart, target, outback and Friday's. The jury is still out whether we stay in mid-town or move out to the suburbs. It is very artsy and quirky. I can find almost anything within 10min driving range from my house. The neighborhood here is fantastic with the most friendly people I ever lived with in a neighborhood. There are many clubs in Evergreen like biking, running, historic, and all are so welcoming. There are also plenty of bar spots where some of the neighbors play with their bands. We have neighborhood restaurants and some decorating stores in walking distance. Home depot was allowed to come but wal-mart was told absolutely NO. Being a mid-towner is a way of life for people here and going to the "burbs" are fighting words.

We also have our share of crime. It seems to run in waves until they catch the crooks. We immediately had a two car garage built after we moved here and we set our house alarm every night. I don't let my kids out of my sight. I do have a teenager who has found her nitch here. Drama and the arts are high priority here. So - both good and bad. My biggest hurdle to overcome is our old dilapidated house that needs so much work. For the price of this house I could have a beautiful house in the burbs, but of course it wouldn't have the "charm". Good luck and hope Y'all like it.
posted by bethrossrn at 5:56 PM on March 2, 2008

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