03.22.11 By Kailey

Where Should You Live?

Greetings Friends!

Oh Yes! It's the "Full House" House.

I am refreshed after a delightful spring break trip to Napa and San Francisco (see photo which seamlessly ties this paragraph together) and am now ready to write you a lengthy blog post about where to live when you come to WashU (of course you’re going to come to WashU after we showed everyone who is boss on the US News & World Report Rankings). It is sometimes difficult to navigate a new city, and since our school has such a diverse student body, I know STL will be new to many of you!

Housing is important! I fully believe it can make or break your law school experience. You should find a place that fits your needs because when you’re miserably stressed out from law school (this sometimes happens), you need a place to wind down. WashU operates Quadrangle Housing which is an easy choice because their buildings are safe, well-maintained, and are close to campus. If you come to Housing Day, you can knock the housing adventure out in a few hours and be done with it. While I think this is a great option, it just wasn’t for me. So, if you don’t want to live in an all-student building or prefer a different area of town, here are my opinions on the popular neighborhoods where law students reside:

University City

U-City is where I live and where the Law School is technically located. It’s a municipality of St. Louis County and has lots of shopping, dining, and nightlife within walking distance. It’s a really safe neighborhood and is very moderately priced. Parking is easy to find in U-City and it has a more suburban feel, but you’re also within walking distance of Metro and WashU. You’ll find students, families, and young professionals in this neighborhood.

To Sum It Up: Inexpensive, lots of law students live here, great if you have a car, great if you don’t have a car, safe, older apartment buildings/ 2 family houses

Clayton

Clayton borders one side of campus and is slightly nicer than University City. The apartments are more expensive and many feature modern updates. Parking can be a little more difficult but there are still shops, restaurants, and bars within walking distance. Metro and the Law School can also be reached by bike. This is a significantly quieter area though, and fewer law students live here.

To Sum It Up: On the expensive side, some law students live here, fine if you have a car, not great if you don’t have a car, modern updates

Central West End

The Central West End is about a 7-10 minute drive from campus and is also an easy Metro ride. This area of town, if you remember from my previous post, features a ton of shopping, nightlife, and is near the medical school. It is also technically located in the City of St. Louis and has a more diverse feel. Lots of law students live here but you’re also mixed in with young professionals, nursing, and medical students. Apartments here vary widely from older to beautifully modern, from studios to lofts to traditional spaces. CWE is typically more expensive, and parking is a real issue. Many buildings will offer a secured lot for an additional fee, so when you’re researching make sure to factor that into your budget. However, if you don’t plan to have a car, this is the most accessible neighborhood by foot or bike.

To Sum It Up: On the expensive side (for St. Louis), not great for cars, excellent for walking/biking, lots of law students live here, ALL the law students hang out here

Brentwood / Maplewood

Brentwood and Maplewood offer a more suburban feel than UCity or Clayton so if you want to be near Target or Nordstrom at all times, this is where you want to be. There are a few metro stops, but this is a place you’d probably want to have a car. The Apartments are moderately priced and some are similar to U-City with an old school feel, but many have a complex-type layout (great if you want a pool!). This is about a 10-15 minute drive to campus and some law students choose this area.

To Sum It Up: Pretty inexpensive, suburban feel, some law students live here, great if you have a car, not so great if you’re sans-auto

Midtown

Midtown is the neighborhood surrounding St. Louis University so there are great typical “college bars” as well as restaurants and coffee shops within walking distance. This is closer to the city so the apartments are less expensive and many old buildings have been converted into huge, cool lofts. Parking is not as much of an issue here, most buildings have secured lots. This would be about a 15 minute drive to campus, and some law students live here but many law students hang out here.

To Sum It Up: Inexpensive, urban, a little far from campus, some law students live here, unique apartment options

South City

South City is really cool and is the location of many of my favorite restaurants. They have beautiful parks and architecture, and when I’m a grown up, I’d love to have a house facing Tower Grove Park. If you want to get away from other law students (it’s ok, we all do), this area is a funky, safe, unique part of St. Louis with very inexpensive apartments. It’s about a 20-25 minute drive to campus on surface streets and though some adventurous law students visit the cafes, coffee shops, bars, and stores – it’s mostly young, interesting locals (yes, they exist!). Parking is no problem and if you have pets, you would likely be able to find a place with a yard. (Multiple neighborhoods here: Tower Grove South, Shaw, Tower Grove)

To Sum It Up: few law students, a little far from campus, inexpensive, quirky, urban

Downtown

Finally, downtown! Through recent revitalization, many lofts and awesome apartment buildings have been renovated downtown. These are relatively inexpensive and within walking distance of all the attractions downtown has to offer (Cardinals Games, City Garden, Bars, Restaurants, Shopping). Downtown is a 15-20 minute drive from campus, but you should be mindful of traffic and parking when looking here. Not many law students live downtown, but those that do have really neat places.

To Sum It Up: few law students, new buildings, moderately priced, far from campus, parking isn’t stellar, close to downtown fun

I hope this helps you with the inside scoop! I know the “neighborhood layout” of St. Louis can be a little confusing, so if you have any questions about where you think you want to live, I’m happy to answer them! Post a comment!

- Kailey

9 comments to Where Should You Live?

  • Justin

    Great post by Kailey! I know this is a question on the minds of a lot of students (I hear it all the time during tours), so I’ll briefly give my input as well.

    My top three recommendations for housing are University City, Central West End, and Clayton. All three neighborhoods are very different, and all three offer certain pros and cons.

    Clayton is probably going to be the most expensive of these three, but I have heard that it is very reasonable if you have a roommate. It offers more of a “downtown” feel than the other two neighborhoods. It is about a 5-10 minute drive from school, but it is definitely not walkable. You could also take the metro, but most of the apartments in Clayton are a good 10-15 minute walk from the metro stop. Clayton is a very nice little suburb with a lot of bars and restaurants. While I don’t live in Clayton, I go there often for the post office, bank, cigar store, and evening scene.

    Central West End is probably about as expensive as Clayton if you live near Euclid, but is cheaper as you move away from Euclid. Like Kailey said, this is where students spend a LOT of time. I find myself going out in CWE more than any other neighborhood, and it is where a lot of my friends live. This is one of, if not the most, popular place for law and other grad students. Like Clayton, this neighborhood is not close enough to walk, but taking the metro to school from CWE is very easy. It is a lot of fun and it is relatively safe.

    Finally, U-City is close enough to walk and is a popular spot for Wash U students of all sorts. It is also pretty cheap and the Loop runs right through it, which offers a lot to do. I live close to U-City (right off of Delmar, but on the St. Louis side) and I love my apartment. I will have to disagree a bit with Kailey on the safety thing, however. I think it is the one potential drawback to U-City and the Delmar area in general. While Delmar is relatively safe around the major hotspots in the Loop, it also can attract a lot of shady characters at the fringes. The Shell station on Skinker and the metro stop can be a little rough, and some of the nearby neighborhoods (especially north of the Loop) are less than stellar. If you are going to live in U-City, make sure you see the neighborhood and the apartment first. Overall it is safe, but you should be careful.

    If anybody has any questions for Kailey or I about housing, post them here!

  • David McKenzie

    I hope you are getting paid, by the school or by St. Louis. Great article, extremely helpful.

  • Kayla Skelton

    I have to give extra props to my neighborhood (Tower Grove) listed here as South City. There are actually several coherent neighborhoods included in the broad south city designation, but Tower Grove us the best. You can get twice the space as an apartment in CWE for the same price and it really only takes about 15 minutes to get to campus as long as you aren’t trying to get there during rush hour. But since most classes don’t start until 9 that isn’t a problem. There are tons of great ethnic restaurants within walking distance, plenty of parking and a god mix of families, young professionals, and SLU law and med students.

  • Kailey

    In response to Justin, you’re right about walkability with Clayton, that’s a mistake I will correct in the Post.

    In response to Kayla, I completely agree that TGS is the best! Shaw and Tower Grove proper are also nice areas in South City.

    In response to safety in general, I want to make sure we don’t scare anyone and I want to be candid and clear about this: Washington University is located in a city, and as with any city, there is crime. When I applied to Undergrad and when I look for apartments, I always check out the owner, crime statistics for the area, and definitely see the place in person. The neighborhood area of U-City close to campus and between Big Bend and 1-170 is extremely safe, however the closer you get to Skinker, the closer you get to the city which is where the majority of crime takes place. I trust that everyone knows using common sense is important and being aware of your surroundings is too. It often takes someone with some experience in the area to know the nuances of boundaries between safe streets and less-than-safe streets, especially in a city like St. Louis that is such a patchwork of different neighborhoods.

    As I said before, feeling comfortable and happy in your living situation is a big factor to your law school success. Anyone in admissions, the WashU campus police, or even Justin and I would be happy to answer questions and help guide you. This certainly isn’t rocket science (that’s why we’re at law school, ha) but if you want to make double-triple sure you’re in a good spot, never hesitate to ask someone!

    I hope this clarifies a bit. There are also other neighborhoods and opinions on these locations, this is just what I came up with during a free hour in the library.

    Have a great day and thank you so much for the feedback! I love it!

    -Kailey

  • Jackson

    Hey Kailey and Justin,

    I love the blog. Thanks for all your contributions. After some research, I’m thinking that around the north part of the school (Delmar/University City) is probably not for me (I’m married with kid). I’m leaning towards Clayton, but I was wondering if you all knew anything about Creve Coeur? Seems nice and a little cheaper. I don’t think I’d mind a 15 minute commute if I could get an apt in a nice neighborhood.

    Thanks for the time you guys put into this blog. I appreciate it and I’ve learned a lot from it.

    • Kailey

      Jackson-

      I’m so sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you and I hope my response isn’t moot by the time you see it. We get a fair amount of spam since the blog is linked from the wustl home page so sometimes comments get lost on my side. Apologies.

      In regards to your question – I think University City, Clayton, Creve Coeur, or Tower Grove/Shaw would be great locations for your family. University City, as I wrote above, is close to night life, etc. – but there is another area in University City closer to highway 170 that offers tree-lined streets, single family homes, and plenty of peace and quiet. (While still being 3 minutes from the law school). Look online at the streets between Hanley and Pennsylvania – from Amherst south toward Delmar (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=colgate+and+amherst,+university+city,+mo&aq=&sll=38.659929,-90.324054&sspn=0.008663,0.021136&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Amherst+Ave+%26+Colgate+Ave,+University+City,+St+Louis,+Missouri+63130&ll=38.660833,-90.323732&spn=0.008663,0.021136&z=16 ). This is a very diverse neighborhood with really charming houses and many professors live there. Also – gorgeous parks!

      Clayton is just across the street from U-City and is a little more expensive so depending on your budget you may not be able to get the square footage or a yard like you would in U-City, but it’s definitely family-friendly. Clayton also has great public schools.

      I worked in Creve Coeur for a state representative a couple of years ago – it’s a beautiful suburb. It sits in West St. Louis County which is the most affluent part. Again, depending on how old your child is, the public schools here are good. However, if the route you plan on taking involves Olive Blvd – you should plan to add 10-15 minutes onto your commute at prime times. A lot of people who live in Creve Coeur work in the city so I would suggest you check google maps with a traffic view at rush hour to get an idea of a worst case scenario commute.

      If you want a historic house + square footage + a yard + city life – the Tower Grove and Shaw neighborhoods are quite nice as well. However, the city public schools are not stellar (we’re working on it!) so that is something to consider.

      Hope this helps! You’re welcome to email me with other questions – kailey {at} wustl.edu

      Good luck!

  • Marc T

    Are there actually locations that are located right next to the campus? What wold be the best place to search for housing if you don’t have a chance to go to St. Louis until classes start? Thanks in advance for the help!

    • Kailey

      Marc-

      Apologies for not getting back to you sooner!

      There are locations right near campus and many of them are owned by WashU’s rental company – Quadrangle Housing. This is a good option if you won’t be in St. Louis because they rent to a lot of students so they are a little more flexible. I know many students who rented from them and were able to walk to class from their apartment.

      You can check out more information about Quadrangle here: http://www.offcampushousing.wustl.edu/QuadrangleHome/Index.aspx

      Best of luck. See you in the fall!

      - Kailey

    • Jack

      Encapsulated within the section Kailey mentions as Clayton, there is a small section called Demun. You can craigslist search for Demun and are likely to find some great walking distance apartments. I would highly recommend checking that out.

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