Post # 1
I’ll preface by saying we’re childless (until probably next year) and we both work for ourselves with meetings all over DFW, so a central location is what we were after.
We just put in an offer for our first home. It’s beautiful, bigger than we’d hoped, about $40,000 less than the max we wanted to pay, ready to go, centrally located, loaded with features and in a beautiful older neighborhood. By beautiful, I mean the immediate neighborhood (about 6 streets in all directions). Outside of this area, it is a bit lower-middle class but not too rough. We felt good about the area, it’s quiet and we saw older people walking their dogs around the neighborhood so we put in an offer.
Negatives: the schools there aren’t rated very high. The iSD is not one of the most “desirable” in DFW. However, there are several very good private schools within 2 miles. And we don’t have kids yet. Also, we looked up the crime rate… and it’s way higher than the area my husband grew up in and in the other areas of town we’ve been looking at. It’s comparable to the rest of the city stats, but not suburbs.
Our offer hasn’t been accepted yet, but I wanted to hear about y’all’s experiences with crime rates and the areas you live. Have you lived in an area like this? Would you do it again?
Post # 3
You definetly will get more house for your money if you buy in an area like this. If and when you do have children are you able to afford private schools? Also, you need to think of day care facilities as well as organized sports and activities you get involved in with the children.
My brother bought a house in a neighborhood such as this. He paid 100k less than I did for my house and his house itself is nicer, but he has this problem with his area. If and when they decide to have children he will need to look into going to other cities for childrens programs and will also need to pay for private school.
Post # 4
I think crime rates are always higher than you’d expect because they are taking into account all sorts of different crimes when they are compiling those numbers. I live in Miami and I feel comfortable where I live. I have an alarm for my house that I set when I’m in the house as well as out, and that makes me feel a lot more comfortable, but I go the alarm for my own piece of mind because I’m super paranoid about break-ins and stuff.
Post # 5
I’ve rented a lot of apartments, houses, and even owned a house once. My mom gave me good advice before I ever settled for a house (we moved a lot when I was young b/c of the military) she said to drive through the neighborhood during the week…day and night and then do it again on the weekends. I used to do that and always had a good representation of what the neighborhood was like. I’ve lived in some pretty shady areas too but at least they were quiet during the day so I wasn’t afraid to walk around during daylight hours….nights were a different story.
Post # 6
I think it depends what type of crime it is and whether you’re comfortable with it. Little things like vandalism or car break-ins would bother me but not be a big deal breaker, but lots of house break-ins would steer me away from that area cause I would find it too psychologically troubling.
I’d say get an alarm and lock your doors and windows and don’t leave anything in your car and you’ll probably be fine.
I once lived in a neighborhood in midtown Kansas City that was filled with beautiful older homes, but was near the border where it turned into a complete ghetto – falling down houses, drug users openly on the streets, etc. I never had a problem personally, but I knew many people whose apartments were broken into, several were mugged, one was shot (but survived.) I would never have kids in that area due to that. But, I don’t know how bad your area really is. Have you gone around and talked to your potential neighbors?
Post # 7
- Wedding: October 2011 - Bed & Breakfast
I purchased my first house in 2003. The neighborhood was nice, but there were hints of bad things creeping around nearby. I purchased anyway because it was a deal I couldn’t turn down. The years passed, bad things creeped closer, old owners sold their homes, and the neighborhood went downhill. By the time I decided to move, there had been a drive-by shooting on my street, a woman robbed at knifepoint around the corner, a hostage situation a block away, my Jeep was broken into twice, and the police helicopters circling the neighborhood with their spotlights on had become a nightly occurrence. I had teen LK to look after and decided to get the heck outta dodge.
I can’t sell that house now. It sat on the market with one very low offer in a year. Fortunately I can rent it and help out someone I know well who needed an affordable place to live. I’m making no money on the arrangement, but at least I’m not losing any either. My point is, if there’s even a whiff of problems, i’d run the other way. otherwise you run the risk of being stuck with a house in a neighborhood that has changed for the worst where you don’t feel safe. It’s not a fun position to be in.
Post # 8
St. Louis has a really high crime rate (most dangerous city in the US, two years running, wahooo!). That being said, there are definitely areas that are WAY more dangerous than where I live, even though I still live in StL proper. No matter how cheap the house is I would never live in one of those areas. Now, if you literally go 1 mile north or east of where I live, the neighborhoods get a lot more dangerous – but in St. Louis, going that far away from anywhere is like a different world. And the public schools suck in St. Louis city – but everyone sends their kids to private schools so it’s really not a factor when buying houses in the city.
The big thing for me is – would you, as a woman, feel safe walking down the sidewalk at night with your purse? If the answer is no, then don’t live there. I regularly walk around my neighborhood, run at night alone, etc, and feel perfectly safe in my ‘hood, so that’s why I’m okay with it!
Also, as PP mentioned, neighborhoods tend to get worse, not better.
Post # 9
You might want to investigate the crime rates more thoroughly – is it all crimes together, or are you looking at petty crimes vs. violent crime? I currently live in an area that experiences petty crime – vandalism, car thefts, drug-related crime, and occasional break and enters – but much lower violent crime.
Where my SO lives in the US, there are extremely high rates of violent crime. His neighbourhood sounds like what you’re describing, older neighbourhood, pretty nice, a variety of neighbours, etc. Looking at the crime statistics and the crime maps are horrifing, to be honest, including muggings with weapons involved, gun crime, breaking and entering all around. We have an alarm we set at all times, and all windows are closed and locked at night. Everyone takes proper precautions, but the risk is always there. It doesn’t stop people from having kids, walking around during the day (people think we’re nuts for going outside at night), and generally living life.
Post # 10
It sounds like all of the $ you’ll save on the house you’ll end up paying in private schools. On top of that it won’t be safe for your kids to play outside.
I recently moved from the city to suburbia because we knew we were ready to have kids soon. It was my decision to put myself at risk by living in a heavy crime area, but I felt like it would be wrong to do that to an innocent child. Plus the drama with the drug dealers next door got old.
As someone previously posted, selling your home in that type of area can be very difficult. If you find yourself in a position where you are ready to go, you may not be able to move as quickly as you’d prefer.
I’d err on the side of moving to a less crime prone area since you want to start a family soon.
Post # 11
Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it. When the time comes, we will be able to afford private school. Eventually we’d like to build a place of our own, but I don’t know if it’ll be before our kids are school age. Daycare and sports –hadn’t thought of that, I’ll look around.
The resale value is something I worried about. This house is on par with the other homes in the area–if not a big bigger for this street. It’s value is right at the average home value for the neighborhood. Values have gone down slightly, but I’m not sure if that’s due to the overall housing market or what.
Types of crimes: no. 1 was assault, followd by burglary, theft and vandalism. The home has a gated driveway and an alarm. We’ve driven around at 6-7 pm on a weekday… I think we’ll drive around during the day and on the weekend. Thanks for the advice, gives us some things to think about.
Post # 12
I’d actually try to spend some time in the neighborhood before forming an opinion. It’s impossible to make a blanket statement like “you won’t be able to resell the house later” or “your kids won’t be safe playing outside” because so much depends on just an individual block and the people who live on it.
I bought in 2000, in an “up and coming” neighborhood, in a larger area that still has a ways to go. In hindsight, it’s been a fantastic experience. I got WAY more house for the money than if I’d gone to a more upscale neighborhood, and even though the crime statistics in the immediate area are higher than other parts of the city, the only crimes nearby have been those of easy opportunity. So if you don’t leave your iPod on the dashboard or walk around drunk at 3 in the morning, you won’t be a victim. To be fair, we do have iron bars on the ground-level windows but truth be told, I’m kind of surprised that these are not more common in the suburbs, where foot traffic is so much lower during daytime hours (folks not home and no passers-by mean no one to stop a break-in).
There are quite a few kids on the block and they all play outside. The parents take turns supervising. Many big cities have public school programs where children from any neighborhood can be registered into unfilled slots at the more prestigious public schools at the start of the school year at no cost, so look into those.
Drive through all parts of the neighborhood at different times of the day or night to get a feel for it. And make an effort to get to know your neighbors. A close-knit neighborhood is going to make all the difference in the world, both as a resident and as a seller.
Post # 13
- Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL
Since you don’t have kids yet I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Be smart, lock your doors, get an alarm, make friends with your neighbors so they will recognize you. As for schools I would suggest finding out whether they have some sort of magnet program for public schools in the area or even nearby charter schools. Even if you have a child next year they wouldn’t be enrolling for another 4-5 years depending on pre-K rules. A lot can happen between now and then with school stats. You and your husband may even decide to move between now and when your child would be enrolling in school.
Post # 14
You have to think about resale value and the schools. Not every potential home buyer can afford private schools.
Post # 15
What part of DFW is it? I grew up in Ft Worth/Keller/Watauga (Keller ISD).
I think if you’re not planning on trying for a kid for a year, which puts you at having the child in about 2 years, and them not starting school for about 8 years from now, that’s a lot of time for the area to possibly gentrify, or for you guys to upgrade by selling and moving to a different area.
We’re looking where we are in the same type of area – glorious in the immediate 6-8 block radius, but encroaching on Oakland on the south and eastern sides. Schools not so great. BUT, in our area, a 1000 sq ft 2-bedroom home goes for over half a million. We can get an amazing 1300 sq ft new build very modern and efficient townhome for $400,000 in the new area! So, we’re doing that since kids are a few years away yet.
DFW is quite cheap though – if you’re iffy on the area, save for another year and look again. Loan rates arent going anywhere – the Fed said they aren’t raising interest rates till 2014.
Post # 16
@Miss Damask: I grew up in an area just like this. My surrounding streets were very nice, but outside of them it became rough. I went to school with the people from the other areas. Our schools had terrible ratings. My freshman class in high school has 908 people in it, I graduated with 305. But, my parents taught me to be self-motivated, and I was largely able to ignore the other things going on around me.
Outside of school I never personally expeirenced any crime directed towards me, and I feel very safe in my neighborhood.
So I guess my advice would be to think about it. Just because the area has a high crime rate, does not mean it will happen to you. Just because the schools are bad, does not mean your kids will get a poor education. It does mean, however, that you will have to work a bit harder to make sure you are safe, happy and that your kids are well educated.
ETA: Scratch that, you said your surrounding area was lower middle class. You might be in a different situation than!