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Moving is Never Easy, but St. Louis is a Great Choice!

by Jaron Clinton

Moving isn’t a simple task, and choosing where you want to live next can sometimes be the hardest part of the process. If you’re looking for a new city that offers good schools, well-groomed parks, noteworthy public institutions, a strong corporate presence and plenty of craft breweries, then moving to St. Louis is an excellent choice.

The first reason to consider St. Louis is that living here isn’t actually too expensive. According to the Cost of Living Index Calculator, in 2010 the greater St. Louis area has the lowest cost of living among the nation’s 20 largest metropolises. Next, the city is well-known for its academic excellence. Even if you’re not attending one of these schools or don’t have children, you will still benefit from the city’s good school programs because they increase the value of your new home to families. The nearby cities of Clayton and Ladue have two of the most reputable and well-funded public school systems in the U.S., and the several colleges, including Washington University which is often ranked in the top 10 nationally. Plus, if you’re a recent college graduate then St. Louis is great for you because it has common high starting salaries and Forbes ranked St. Louis as the happiest city for job-seeking college grads in 2012.

Besides the obvious go-to factors of education and cost of living, St. Louis offers a much more subtle gift, which is literally giving. St. Louis has garnered a quiet, but well-earned reputation as one of the most charitable cities for how it treats its residents and visitors alike. The city is consistently ranked as one of the most charitable cities in the country, coming in ninth last year, and nearly one third of residents volunteer. St. Louis has placed a Victorian emphasis on artistic and cultural institutions as a way to elevate society, which includes the city’s zoo and museums, and consequently most of these are free of charge.

Central Park in New York City gets all the attention, but it really shouldn’t. St. Louis’s Forest Park beats it by miles. Offering nearly 1,300 acres of land that is used for in-line skating, biking, walking, running, golf, tennis, and other sports and activities. Plus, the park is home to five of the region's major institutions: the St. Louis Art Museum, the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center, the Missouri History Museum, and the Muny amphitheater. 

A Vistor's Guide to Drving in St Louis

by Colleen Lawler

I received this as an email from my sister, who lives out of state...I think she is poking fun at us!  I wish I knew who authored this so that I could give proper credit.

If you live in St Louis you'll understand this.
If you've ever visited St. Louis you'll understand this.
If you've never been to St. Louis consider this your Visitor's Guide to Driving in St. Louis .

1. There are 75 "unofficial neighborhoods" in the City of St. Louis .  St. Louisans commonly give directions--especially for restaurants--to strangers based on these neighborhoods, which aren't marked on any maps that are handed out by the tourist board, the AAA or Mapquest.

2. There are 54 school districts--on the Missouri side alone--each of which has their own school bus system with scheduled times to block traffic.

3. There are 91 official municipalities in St. Louis County . Each municipality has its own rules and regulations, and often their own police departments.

4. More importantly, most have their own snow removal contracts so it's not uncommon to drive down a road in winter and have one block plowed, the next salted, the next piled with snow and the last partially cleared by residents wanting to get out of their driveways.

5. Snow plowing is never a problem in the City of St. Louis . They plow nothing, and if the forecast calls for snow, they close everything. Except on "The Hill" (refer to #1 above) where each homeowner goes out to the street and shovels out one car-sized rectangle and then stands watch over it.

6. Any car parked longer than 4 hours in the city is considered a parts store.

7. The City of Ballwin actually proposed that drivers use connecting strip mall parking lots to get from place to place rather than drive on Manchester road to cut the traffic on Manchester . (And for good reason. There is a stoplight at every intersection on Manchester ).

8. Laclede Station Road , McCausland, Lindbergh , Watson , Reavis Barracks, Fee Fee, McKnight, Airport Road , Midland , McKelvey, and Olive mysteriously change names as you cross intersections.

9. Gravois Road, Spoede and Chouteau can only be pronounced by St. Louis natives. (Highway 40 as is pronounced as "farty".)

10. A St. Louisan from South County has never been to North County and vise versa. West County just has everything delivered.

11. No native St. Louisan knows that Lindbergh runs from South County to North County . And if you tell them, they will not believe you.

12. Lindbergh belongs to every neighborhood except Kirkwood , who had the nerve to creatively change the name to Kirkwood Road ." (Which may be the reason for number 11.)

13. There are 2 interchanges to exit from Highway 40 onto Clayton Road and 2 for Big Bend . Stay alert, people!

14. If you need directions to O'Fallon , make sure to specify Illinois or Missouri . This is also true for Troy , Maryville , St. Charles , Springfield and Columbia .

15. The Page Avenue extension and Airport expansion projects took over 20 years to get approved. St. Louisans lost track of how many political figures claimed them as their own ideas.

16. St. Louisans were aghast when the federal government required them to redo the highway signs to indicate that the federal highways went to cities in other states instead of local municipalities.

17. Drivers are starting to cut their OWN plates rather than go through the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles to get new tags. You can also purchase tags from dealers behind Quick Shops in the city. They are cheaper, the clerks are nicer, and the service is faster.

18. Lambert Field and St. Louis International Airport really are the same place. The East Terminal, however, is a different place.

19. Highway 270 is our daily version of the NASCAR circuit.

20. You can go all four directions on Highway 270: North and South in West County , East and West in South County , and East and West in North County. Confused? So are St. Louis drivers.

21. The outer belt is Highway 270 which turns into Highway 255 in South County . The inner belt is Highway 170. Highway 370 is an outer-outer belt. Highway 40 is the same as Interstate 64 (but only through the middle part of St. Louis ). If you are listening to traffic reports and they are calling it 64, the traffic jam is in Illinois . If they are calling it 40, the traffic jam is in Missouri .

22. The morning rush hour is from 6:00 to 10:00 AM. The evening rush hour is from 3:00 to 7:00 PM. Friday's rush hour starts Thursday morning.

23. Never ever try to cross a bridge in St. Louis during rush hour unless you have a sack lunch and a port-a-potty in the car.

24. "Yield" signs are for decoration only. No native St. Louisan will ever grasp the concept. (Actually, the drivers who are supposed to yield will not, and the drivers who are not supposed to yield will wait politely for the ones who are supposed to yield, so it all works out.)

25. If someone actually has their turn signal on, it is probably a factory defect, or has been on for the last 17 miles.

26. Construction on Highways 40, 64, 70, 255, 270, 44, 55 and 170 is a way of life, and a permanent form of entertainment.

27. All blue-haired old ladies in Cadillacs driving on Olive west of 270 have the right of way.

28. If it snows or rains, stay home!!!!!!!!!!!!

29. It is called a rolling stop at any stop sign intersection. Only native St. Louisans can do it just right.

30. In West County, 20 cars will go through a yellow light. Longest yellow lights I have ever seen. If you slow or stop on a yellow light, you will get rear-ended or someone will angrily sound their horn at you.


by Colleen

  Weather seems to be the topic this week.  When weather is the news, I guess there isn't much in the news, and that's a good thing!  It's winter, after all.  It's cold, it snows. What else is there to say? 

  I don't think that I like the local news media whipping us all into a frenzy so that we can't help but strip the shelves bare at Dierbergs, Schnucks, Walmart and Target.  I do like that the state, county, and municipal street departments are really pretty good at getting us back to normal.  I especially appreciated those guys and gals when it took me 2 hours to clear my driveway of frozen solid sleet that only came up in 3 foot chunks with a chisel!  The only thing that kept me going was the inviting view of actual pavement on the street at the end of the drive.  Knowing that if I could just get there, the rest of the world was ready and waiting...or at least passable!

I've lived in the St Louis area for all of my 54 years. For those folks who are just recently arrived from warmer climes, I'm sorry!  At the end of the season, you can usually get a snow blower at Lowe's for about $125.00.  If you buy one, you probably won't need it more than once or twice for the next several years.  For those of you from harsher climates, I apologize for the hysteria that emerges every time a flake of snow drifts by...we don't have bigger, badder things to talk about most days, and that's ok.

What will 2011 be like for Real Estate?

by Colleen Lawler

After 2 years of imperfect and unreliable forecasts, you can call me jaded.  Trying to interpret housing data can make me crazy!  Most data that we read about in the headlines references "median sale price", and I am not sure that's a valid way to gauge the market. Here's an example:  At the end of 2008 and into  2009, jumbo loan rates and products were dismal, and fewer high end homes sold as a result. Then we saw tax credits for first time buyers, so more entry level priced homes sold.  That put a definite drag on the median price, and made us all feel like the value of our home was falling off a cliff. 

I much prefer looking at the price per sq. ft. in a particular area and price range when there is enough data. Not only does it better reflect the true changes in the market, but for the most part, it's not nearly as dire!

Now, let's get to 2011.  I am still jaded...and I hope the market proves me wrong!  There are indicators that the economy in general is improving.  Retail sales, new car sales, consumer confidence, are all looking a little better than anticipated.  That may bode well for the housing market, and I hope it does.  My concern is that until we see sustained improvement in the unemployment rate, we simply can't expect much improvement in the housing market prices in the St Louis Metro area or the nation as a whole.  In recent months, nearly one third of all home sales have been "distressed", either foreclosure or other sharply discounted sales.  That probably won't change in the next 12 months, and that's another drag on prices. 

All that being said, this is a great time to do what really smart people when others are selling.  This is a profound "coulda-woulda-shoulda" moment in real estate, with great prices and great interest rates - neither of which will last. 

I have a collection of newspaper headlines from every decade since 1900.  They each  proclaim the end of real estate as an investment.  And yet, within the same 10 year periods, real estate ended up outperforming other investment vehicles, and real estate continues to be a huge source of real wealth.   A gradual, sane and sustainable recovery will probably sneak up on us in the next 12-18 months...if nothing else comes along to upset our apple cart!!

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Photo of Colleen Lawler & The IrvineTeam Real Estate
Colleen Lawler & The IrvineTeam
Coldwell Banker Gundaker
111 Chesterfield Towne Centre
Chesterfield MO 63005
Office: 636-391-2100
Toll Free: 800-791-3276
Fax: 636-536-3018