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Thread: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

  1. #1

    Default Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    So my wife and I are looking to buy a house within the next year. We currently rent an apartment in downtown OKC. We would like a house in the $150-$200 K range. We may be able to find a smaller type house in the Mesta Park\Heritage Hills area, which is basically between 13th and 23rd Street, and between Classen blvd. and Robinson. We would prefer to live in downtown OKC because we enjoy the atmosphere and its many offerings.

    However, we are concerned about the safety of the area in regards to raising children. There are some houses in the area that are boarded up, or completely dilapadated, not many but a few. We have heard from people in Heritage Hills that there are worries about safety from time to time, more worries than one would find in a typical suburban neighborhood. I generally accept this concern as true since usually crime increases a bit the closer you get to downtown.

    If we choose not to live in downtown, we will most likely move out to the burbs.

    So, in your opinion, is downtown okc safe to raise a family? Thanks!

  2. Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    Yes. I just started.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    Where would your kids go to school? Is it a good, safe school? How would they get there? When my kids were coming up, that was the most important thing about choosing where we bought our home.

    Where I live, we are very near an elementary school (walking distance) in a nice neighborhood. Unfortunately, the school is simply full of kids from thuggish families and the crime rate is horrible just a few blocks over. Child Protective Services are constantly at the place and the school has taken out protective orders against a number of parents who have come to the school causing trouble. Sad but true.

    I love our neighborhood and my kids are grown so the school is not an issue for me. In contrast, my next door neighbors simply can't send their kids to that thuggish school. it only goes to 5th grade but there is graffiti all the time, fights, big kids hang out at the playground, police are called all the time, staff turnover is constant, 82% of the families whose children attend live below the poverty level (we live near the projects) and the school habitually performs poorly on standardized tests. They neighbors spend several hundred dollars a month for their two children to attend a private school and that will be $700.00 per month when their youngest is eligible for kindergarden, next year. It is crazy and they are somewhat panicky about whether they can afford it (they can't). They'd be better off to move to a different neighborhood where they wouldn't feel like they had to shell out that kind of money. But they love the neighborhood and the neighbors. This is not a fancy neighborhood but it is well maintained. It is about twenty years old and full of nice people. The neighborhood is probably half black but everyone takes good care of their property and many are FBI, military or former military. Most of the parents send their kids to private school. Before you buy, check out what the schools are like. You'd never know from looking at our place that the school is just awful.

  4. Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    Downtown is great for the most part. Just use common sense and pick an area where the truly good homes and owners way outnumber the bad. Also, call Neighborhood Alliance and get their input on how active the neighborhood association is for whatever area you plan to live in. I'd get the the association's phone number too and call - ask if they put out monthly newsletters and see if you can get a few months worth to go through.

    Check out the neighborhood at various times (morning, afternoon, warm nights, etc.) to gauge foot traffic, vehicle traffic, noise, etc. Personally, I'd never look for a house over the winter because it doesn't give you a real feel for the community.

    With kids though, my number one goal would be school choice. Living downtown will most likely mean putting them in private school.

    You also want to make sure (ask the neighborhood association) how many kids your kid's ages live in the area that have "good" homes and parents.

    Even if the kids are in a good school, if they come home to thugs their own age you will have problems.

    Good luck.

  5. Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    You could always homeschool.

    (flamed in 3...2..1..)

  6. #6

    Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    Are home prices in downtown OKC area going down due to the nation's housing woes?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    Quote Originally Posted by CuatrodeMayo View Post
    You could always homeschool.

    (flamed in 3...2..1..)
    No flames here... go for it if you know what you're doing. Otherwise, leave that to the professionals.

    As for the professionals, if you get in the right elementary school, you'll be fine. I've heard great things about Edgmere. There are also charter and enterprise grade schools around town. You'll just have to do your research.

  8. #8
    MadMonk Guest

    Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    Quote Originally Posted by CuatrodeMayo View Post
    You could always homeschool.

    (flamed in 3...2..1..)
    If I had to raise kids in that area, I think it would be either that or private schooling.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    I'm pretty sure that downtown, within the boundaries of Broadway to Classen, from Reno north, is in the Wilson school district. It is a very good school that's in Mesta Park. It's an arts integrated school. Downtown OKC is probably the safest area to live in in the city.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    Quote Originally Posted by soonerguru View Post
    I'm pretty sure that downtown, within the boundaries of Broadway to Classen, from Reno north, is in the Wilson school district. It is a very good school that's in Mesta Park. It's an arts integrated school. Downtown OKC is probably the safest area to live in in the city.
    Agreed -- and it's just going to get better.

    The only issue I see is that the housing in this part of town is price-wise, a bit out of reach for most young families. $125-$300/sq. ft. won't cut it when you can get excellent suburban housing in Edmond for <$75/sq. ft, along with a yard and a 2/3 car garage.

  11. Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    We look in Heritage Hills, Mesta Park etc. from time to time since we have friends there. We often see homes with "Reduced Price" out front and have looked at a few nice old two-story homes that could be had for $200,000. Prices are down from what they were a few years ago. Partly because of the economy but also because once you go over $200K you've got some really nice, NEW options in/around Bricktown. The upkeep of those older homes is the only thing that's held us back so far. Maybe when the kids move out.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    If you get into any of those homes for $200K, be prepared to set aside about $50K for new sewage and electrical systems. We went shopping for older homes a couple of years ago. Lots of cloth wiring, no W&D hookups, sometimes, no place in the kitchen for a fridge, original pipes, clay sewage, foundation problems out the yin-yang. Not to mention the accouterments of living in a historical district, notably the fact that you have to preserve the exterior of the home and that any changes have to go through a ridiculous bureaucratic process.

    If you're shopping there, get a realtor who knows his stuff, and for chrissakes, have an inspection done.

    That said, I'd have no problem living in one of these houses if I could get it fixed up and properly modernized on the inside. I think the historical neighborhoods are great, have an abundance of green space and socially active neighborhood committees. All good stuff.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    The only issue I see is that the housing in this part of town is price-wise, a bit out of reach for most young families. $125-$300/sq. ft. won't cut it when you can get excellent suburban housing in Edmond for <$75/sq. ft, along with a yard and a 2/3 car garage.
    I agree also. However, I'm not sure how much young families have actually been targeted for this housing. That said, I know some young families that are choosing to live there for the lifestyle (which is still lacking in some areas as we wait for more big-city options to happen there).

    People who want to live in Edmond are probably not going to really get the allure of urban living; it couldn't be more different.

    Where you live is often reflected by your choice of friends as well. I want to live around people who I share similar values with. The Edmond "lifestyle" would make me feel like a rat in a cage, and I know it's a nice place with good schools. Just a little too "Stepford Wifey" for my taste, and not very diverse. WASP all the way, baby.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    If core-to-shore takes off as proposed, I think downtown OKC will be a magnificent place to raise a family. With parks everywhere and what I hope to be a culturally diverse set of folks, it could be a great place.

    The way things are shaping up now though, think the diversity of Nichols Hills with more vertical housing, more compact parks, and no golf course. If your idea of diversity = WASPs and Lebanese, then you'll be happily surprised.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    the way things are shaping up now though, think the diversity of nichols hills with more vertical housing, more compact parks, and no golf course. If your idea of diversity = wasps and lebanese, then you'll be happily surprised.
    lol

  16. #16

    Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    Quote Originally Posted by Midtowner View Post
    If you get into any of those homes for $200K, be prepared to set aside about $50K for new sewage and electrical systems. We went shopping for older homes a couple of years ago. Lots of cloth wiring, no W&D hookups, sometimes, no place in the kitchen for a fridge, original pipes, clay sewage, foundation problems out the yin-yang. Not to mention the accouterments of living in a historical district, notably the fact that you have to preserve the exterior of the home and that any changes have to go through a ridiculous bureaucratic process.

    If you're shopping there, get a realtor who knows his stuff, and for chrissakes, have an inspection done.

    That said, I'd have no problem living in one of these houses if I could get it fixed up and properly modernized on the inside. I think the historical neighborhoods are great, have an abundance of green space and socially active neighborhood committees. All good stuff.
    Where did you end up buying your house? Did you go ahead and get a house that needed major fixes? I would imagine that there are some houses in the heritage hills\ mesta park area that have already been fixed up. Maybe someone bought a house in there 10 years ago and went ahead and put in the money to fix it up...Of course, that kind of house may be 200K+

  17. #17

    Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    Quote Originally Posted by mecarr View Post
    Are home prices in downtown OKC area going down due to the nation's housing woes?

    Not that I've seen. Again, we're not seeing near anything the national economy has been.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    Originally Posted by soonerguru
    I'm pretty sure that downtown, within the boundaries of Broadway to Classen, from Reno north, is in the Wilson school district. It is a very good school that's in Mesta Park. It's an arts integrated school. Downtown OKC is probably the safest area to live in in the city.

    Agreed -- and it's just going to get better.
    What they said. I've been downtown nearly 3 years now and have felt completely safe, and I live in the more sketchy part of downtown. No kids, but often have a 3 year old nephew over. Never felt unsafe. Wilson elementary is better than many suburban elementary schools, including Edmond IMO.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    Quote Originally Posted by mecarr View Post
    Where did you end up buying your house? Did you go ahead and get a house that needed major fixes? I would imagine that there are some houses in the heritage hills\ mesta park area that have already been fixed up. Maybe someone bought a house in there 10 years ago and went ahead and put in the money to fix it up...Of course, that kind of house may be 200K+
    We didn't. We still rent.

    Considering the fact that I don't know what my income in 2010 will be, coupled with the fact that I'll have some pretty major student loan payments coming due, it didn't seem like an ideal time to buy a house.

  20. Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    Quote Originally Posted by Midtowner View Post
    We didn't. We still rent.

    Considering the fact that I don't know what my income in 2010 will be, coupled with the fact that I'll have some pretty major student loan payments coming due, it didn't seem like an ideal time to buy a house.

    Same here.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    Quote Originally Posted by Midtowner View Post
    We didn't. We still rent.

    Considering the fact that I don't know what my income in 2010 will be, coupled with the fact that I'll have some pretty major student loan payments coming due, it didn't seem like an ideal time to buy a house.
    Buy anyway - as soon as you qualify.

  22. Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    Quote Originally Posted by East Coast Okie View Post
    Buy anyway - as soon as you qualify.
    Especially if you can qualify for an adjustable rate with no money down and payments only 200/month!

  23. #23

    Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    Quote Originally Posted by Midtowner View Post
    If you get into any of those homes for $200K, be prepared to set aside about $50K for new sewage and electrical systems. We went shopping for older homes a couple of years ago. Lots of cloth wiring, no W&D hookups, sometimes, no place in the kitchen for a fridge, original pipes, clay sewage, foundation problems out the yin-yang. Not to mention the accouterments of living in a historical district, notably the fact that you have to preserve the exterior of the home and that any changes have to go through a ridiculous bureaucratic process.

    If you're shopping there, get a realtor who knows his stuff, and for chrissakes, have an inspection done.

    That said, I'd have no problem living in one of these houses if I could get it fixed up and properly modernized on the inside. I think the historical neighborhoods are great, have an abundance of green space and socially active neighborhood committees. All good stuff.
    It would be difficult to find a home in heritage hills for 200K that doesn't need significant work. Most of the homes that have been renovated go in the neighborhood of 150 to 165 per sq. ft. (under 3500 sq. ft), homes larger than 3500 sq. ft, it is not uncommon to see them go for 165-180. We have actually had homes go higher in the past few months, as high as 213. To the poster who posted that home prices have declined, that is simply not true. Homes are taking longer to sell, but they are still appreciating. As far as downtown being safe, I feel that it is safer in downtown than in the suburbs. Midtown area is safe, depending upon the neighborhood. Here in hh and also in MP, we have private off-duty police officers who patrol the neighborhoods nearly full time. The cost is $40 per month, but it is well worth it. They will pick up your mail and newspaper when out of town, check your house to ensure it is secure, etc. It's fantastic and they respond much quicker to emergency's than 911. The crime rate (which was in line with other neighborhoods) is significantly less than what it was prior to the new security patrols. Also, I would say that at least 50% of the homes in heritage hills have been renovated within the last decade. 25% of the remaining homes are in very liveable condition with a little modern updating, and about 25% of the homes need renovation. Typically the closer you get to 23rd the smaller the homes and the more homes that need renovation. As far as the education system. I know that heritage hills neighborhood assoc. has made a committment to build 4 new classes at wilson at a cost of nearly 400K. Wilson is one of the top elementary schools in the U.S., and is an arts integration school. It is also unique because you have a very diverse group of children from all socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities. A great melting pot of culture and learning experiences. Of course I am biased because I have lived in both Mesta Park and now HH since 2003, and also make a significant portion of my living investing in historic properties. I have also lived in Norman (both east and west), and can tell you hands down HH beats any neighborhood in Norman. The neighborhood is fantastic, not only are there old homes, but the neighbors actually act like neighbors. Our porches, not our garages are the focal points of our homes and due to this the neighborhood is extremely extroverted. (with the occasional exception).

  24. #24

    Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    you may want to check out the area from about 19th to 23rd broadway to classen. Affordable prices for most... some all ready renovated, cute houses with character. Two other neighborhoods to check out close to downtown would be Jefferson Park (alot like the previous mention area) and Gatewood with all different styles and sizes of houses. Larger houses are around Rosary on Nineteenth west of Indiana and then along Classen. Good Luck And I agree with some of the previous post If you can find something you like and can afford you need to go ahead... Find your mortgage broker now.... and work with them to find out what you can afford, and what they can do for you. Most home purchase contracts now require you to have your financing in place before a contract will be accept by seller. Don't forget about credit unions, as they usually have some of the best rates for mortages also.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Is Downtown OKC safe for families to live in?

    Midtowner - "If core-to-shore takes off as proposed, I think downtown OKC will be a magnificent place to raise a family. With parks everywhere and what I hope to be a culturally diverse set of folks, it could be a great place."

    I would definately move from Edmond to the C2S area IF it is developed as planned (and once the kids are out of school.) The main issue I see is that huge "IF" - I hope our elected officials carry on the vision Mayor Cornett and company has put out that has so many people excited about the future of downtown OKC.

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