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fearlessvk

Relocating to Memphis?

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fearlessvk    0

Hi all,

I've just joined urbanplanet, mostly to be able to post on this board! Please forgive me if this seems like a lot of unnecessary autobiography, but I have some questions about moving to Memphis (i will be making this move in about 6 months) and figure some background details would be helpful :)

I'm a 28 year old female and I'm finishing up my phd at Berkeley right now. I've been living in the Bay Area for 7 years and I absolutely adore it; I know I'm going to miss San Francisco. But I've gotten a faculty position at the University of Memphis and will be starting in the fall. As I am originally from Boston and have no relatives or friends with any real connection to the South, I'm a little apprehensive about this move and about impending culture shock - I'm single, moving by myself, not religious, extremely liberal, and very attached to dense, lively, diverse urban spaces - and, while I'm genuinely excited about the new experience and getting to know a place I would probably never encounter were it not for the vicissitudes of the academic job market, I'm also hoping to get a realistic sense of how difficult this transition will be, and how alien I might feel in Memphis. I am sure there is a great deal of unfair stereotyping of Southern cities and a lot of Northern and Californian snobbery towards the South which I don't want to fall into, but it's also the case that when I visited Memphis for my job interview, I couldn't help but feel a bit depressed at the extent of sprawl and the seeming lack of pedestrian life. I've never owned a car, and while I will buy one before moving to Memphis, I'm hoping there are parts of town that do have a more lively pedestrian spirit which perhaps I just missed in my very brief tour.

Reading this board has been really illuminating and promising for me - it sounds like Memphis is a rapidly changing city and I gather there's a lot of excitement about the future. I'm really impressed at the extent of everyone's familiarity with, an involvement in, local urban planning issues. I'm curious if anyone might have any thoughts/advice for a Boston & San Francisco transplant to Memphis...

Thanks in advance, and forgive me if this is not the appropriate place for such a post! I'm brand new to the forums and not entirely acclimated yet...

Cheers,

S

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TennBear    0

Hi all,

I've just joined urbanplanet, mostly to be able to post on this board! Please forgive me if this seems like a lot of unnecessary autobiography, but I have some questions about moving to Memphis (i will be making this move in about 6 months) and figure some background details would be helpful :)

I'm a 28 year old female and I'm finishing up my phd at Berkeley right now. I've been living in the Bay Area for 7 years and I absolutely adore it; I know I'm going to miss San Francisco. But I've gotten a faculty position at the University of Memphis and will be starting in the fall. As I am originally from Boston and have no relatives or friends with any real connection to the South, I'm a little apprehensive about this move and about impending culture shock - I'm single, moving by myself, not religious, extremely liberal, and very attached to dense, lively, diverse urban spaces - and, while I'm genuinely excited about the new experience and getting to know a place I would probably never encounter were it not for the vicissitudes of the academic job market, I'm also hoping to get a realistic sense of how difficult this transition will be, and how alien I might feel in Memphis. I am sure there is a great deal of unfair stereotyping of Southern cities and a lot of Northern and Californian snobbery towards the South which I don't want to fall into, but it's also the case that when I visited Memphis for my job interview, I couldn't help but feel a bit depressed at the extent of sprawl and the seeming lack of pedestrian life. I've never owned a car, and while I will buy one before moving to Memphis, I'm hoping there are parts of town that do have a more lively pedestrian spirit which perhaps I just missed in my very brief tour.

Reading this board has been really illuminating and promising for me - it sounds like Memphis is a rapidly changing city and I gather there's a lot of excitement about the future. I'm really impressed at the extent of everyone's familiarity with, an involvement in, local urban planning issues. I'm curious if anyone might have any thoughts/advice for a Boston & San Francisco transplant to Memphis...

Thanks in advance, and forgive me if this is not the appropriate place for such a post! I'm brand new to the forums and not entirely acclimated yet...

Cheers,

S

The first thing that I would say would be that you would be far more comfortable living either in the downtown area or the midtown area. Certainly inside of the I240 Loop. The two areas that I mentioned are going to be the most urban and diverse areas of the city. I have also lived in the Bay Area and have always enjoyed an urban lifestyle. The South Main Area will be the closest that can be expected. I will tell you that most of Memphis is suburban in it's feel and nature. No matter where you live in Memphis, you will need to have a car. I don't know if you currently own a place in Berkeley. If so, you should be able to afford something that should be very comfortable in Memphis. Go to realtor.com and put in 38103 as a zip code. That will at least get you in the downtown South Main real estate area to see what is available.

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hgupta    0

Hi, and welcome to the board:

You're not going to find a place like SF in Memphis. Its a dramatically different city, but Memphis has its own charm. I know several people from the west coast who love it here.

I would guess you would like something in Cooper Young area, or near Overton Square or maybe Downtown. Although the city is spread out, I have many friends who bike from midtown to UofM daily. Theoretically, Downtown is more walkable, but I would bet midtown probably has more people of similar tastes to yours.

I would avoid areas East of the UofM...those are better suited for families, and are very unwalkable.

You beat me to it TN bear....

I better clariify: cooper young and overton square are in Midtown. 38104

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Rural King    1

As the others have stated, downtown and midtown offer the best urban environments. Those are also areas in which you might could limit your use of a car to shopping, as mass transit would be a viable and fairly quick option to get you to work and back.

Mud Island (an island right downtown with higher end housing and a park) is an interesting area, I have no clue what the price range of that area is though. We have a forumer who lives on it though.

I think once you learn the ends and outs of Memphis you will love it, its going to be a culture shock, but I think find that the city and region has a unique charm and attractiveness all its own.

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Bears    0

Yep, sounds like you'd like the Cooper Young and Overton Square area in Midtown. IMO its a nice neighborhood that caters to the bohemian and artistic lifestyle. Tennessee is the buckle of the Bible belt and its more socially conservative than most parts of the nation. Memphis is home to the only real liberal in the state senate. I think Memphis and Nashville are about as liberal as you'll get in the Mid South. In the city, you'll have the conservative democrats and out in the suburbs and country, the conservative republicans. There are liberals in the city but in my experience, I'd say Memphis is about 50/50.

As Tennbear said, a car will be a definite neccessity. Memphis is really far along compared to other southern cities in limiting sprawl. Sprawl hit the city pretty late, so its the densest city in Tennessee. Coming from the northeast, it may suprise you that Memphis is as dense as you'll get in the state :lol: . Going around Downtown without a car is no problem but if your working at the Univeristy of Memphis, a car is probably best. I'd also recommend the area immediately around Clark Tower (the tall, blue, rectangular building in the center of town). Its a 5-10 minute drive from the University of Memphis and there are many resturants, a movie theater, and a couple of grocery stores (Schnucks and Wild Oats) within walking distance. The zipcode for this area is 38117 and 38137.

People usually walk in downtown and midtown. South Bluffs and Harbortown are a bit pricey and Uptown and Southend are still developing and are mixed income. The Downtown core has nice apartments and condos, but the apartments in the Med District aren't really nice.

Here's a link that might help you out:

http://www.henryturley.com/memphis/neighborhood.php?hood=7

Welcome to the forum and good luck!!! If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

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Clobber    0

Welcome to Memphis! Here is an article about someone else from what seems to be a similar circumstance, and what she's doing. Like most everyone else said, though, your best bets to get a feel for the city and be able to live a pedestrian-friendly lifestyle would be Downtown and Midtown. And then you'll need to drive to the U of M. Also, there are some articles out there about developments that have recently been announced near the university. I'll try to find them. This article is about a woman who has homes in SF and Florida, and wants to stir up and spread the pedestrian lifestyle in East Memphis (where the Clark Tower is located).

[edit: I forgot the link. My bad. Here it is: http://www.bizjournals.com/industries/real...tml?t=printable. It looks like we can't paste the actual articles anymore, just the links. If it's ok to paste the articles as long as we attribute the sources with links, let me know, and I'll post the actual article. Otherwise, enjoy bizjournals.com. Always interesting and informative stuff!]

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Clobber    0

Oh yeah, if you want to get involved in the community early, and meet new people, join Mpact Memphis (www.mpactmemphis.org). There are lots of people from various backgrounds, from all parts of the political and economic spectrum. It's a young professional networking group that does a lot of outreach and things in the community.

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Rural King    1

[edit: I forgot the link. My bad. Here it is: http://www.bizjournals.com/industries/real...tml?t=printable. It looks like we can't paste the actual articles anymore, just the links. If it's ok to paste the articles as long as we attribute the sources with links, let me know, and I'll post the actual article. Otherwise, enjoy bizjournals.com. Always interesting and informative stuff!]

Administration prefers a link with commentary. It is okay to write a blurb on an article, then post a SMALL part of the article along with its link. Admin. is mainly just concerned with full article posting with links, since most people won't click on the link if the whole article is there, thus depriving the news source of ad revenue.

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sleepy    1

About the only neighborhood where you could get by without a car would be downtown. By that, I mean it has small stores, small groceries, bars, restaurants, etc. Even then, getting out to UM would require a car or most likely an hour bus-trip.

Shelby County (Memphis) went something on the order of 57% Kerry to 43% Bush. Although, it's no Bay Area, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised how tolerant people are, particularly in Midtown and downtown (socially conservative? the bars downtown stay open til 5AM!). And no one will care--or stereotype you--for being from San Francisco. There's a lot of good music everywhere as well.

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fearlessvk    0

Hello again,

Just wanted to thank everyone for the helpful and informative replies! It sounds like, from what everyone says and from everything else I have been able to scrounge up online, that Midtown is probably the destination of choice for me.

I'm definitely going to get a car - I don't mind owning one for particular purposes (like driving to work) but I think it's important to live in a walkable neighborhood, and I find it depressing to be in an area where the streets always seem desolate and abandoned. As long as I can walk to a nearby cafe with a book, I won't complain :)

I have a million possible questions about Memphis but don't want to be the irritating newbie so I'm going to browse aroun a bit first and try not to be terribly redundant!!

(i did watch jim jarmusch's mystery train a few nights ago - someone please tell me there really IS a seedy motel somewhere in memphis with screamin' jay hawkins as the bellhop?? ;) )

S

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hgupta    0

Unfortuantely that hotel is no longer there...

but, if you're a movie buff...you can't beat living near cooper young where the neighborhood video store is primarily devoted to underground, independent, and cult films. (Black Lodge Video)

Also on Cooper at Madison (in overton square), is the arthouse movie theater (studio on the square).

And Goner Records in cooper young and Shangri-la Records on Madison will keep you stocked with Memphis music favorites. (the Goner-Records site has lots of great tips for absorbing the Memphis flavor, but it looks like their Memphis tips page is temporarily down...).

I think you would be happy anywhere close to Cooper (its not a long street). Lots of cafes, restaurants, clothing stores, and bars. None of them being chain stores. Lots of people walking (but also a lot of drivers). In my neighborhood, near Overton square, there is a health food store, used bookstore/coffeeshop, and playhouse theaters, lots of bars. Plus the art museum, zoo, and a very large park are also in walking distance.

Morning driving commute to U of M is about 10 minutes from either cooper young or overton square area.

Anyways, don't be afraid to ask too many questions. The boards been a bit slow anyways.

oh yeah...if you see a cheap place to rent in Cooper Young near a deli, beware! The deli is a loud rock club in disguise.

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sleepy    1

fearlessvk, if you notice down lower on this subforum there are a couple of photo threads of Midtown Memphis. Midtown is basically Memphis' early 20th Century area, of about 12 square miles, bounded by the Parkway system--a 1920's loop around the old city. I would imagine that for $600-$700 per month, you could get a very nice 1 bedroom in that area. Many places would be cheaper.

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Bears    0

I have a million possible questions about Memphis but don't want to be the irritating newbie so I'm going to browse aroun a bit first and try not to be terribly redundant!!

Keep those questions coming. I don't think any of us can talk about Memphis enough and we all might learn about something new in our city. I think this can turn into an intresting thread and might inspire some of our lurking guest to join and relive this lack of posts we've been having lately.

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Keep those questions coming. I don't think any of us can talk about Memphis enough and we all might learn about something new in our city. I think this can turn into an intresting thread and might inspire some of our lurking guest to join and relive this lack of posts we've been having lately.

ya seriously, ask questions. I enjoy answering them. especially when im bored at work. haha :)

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jmduke    0

It's refreshing to see locals not telling a potential transplant to "run like the wind" away from Memphis and instead move to the "cultural Mecca" of (gasp) Atlanta. Memphis is unique, not cookie-cutter, it's eccentric with a little slower pace than some places (unless you're a FedEx employee and then everything has to be done yesterday) and that's not a bad thing. We make up for our lack of skyscraper stories with foot traffic on the downtown streets.

Other Memphis tidbits:

We don't all eat barbecue, at least not all the time. Besides, you have to fit catfish in your diet from time to time. However, barbecue shows just how diverse Memphis really is: Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and many people of the Jewish faith love barbecue equally and we all eat in the same BBQ places.

Cordova does not signal the death of civilization; that would be Horn Lake...just kidding North Miss! Memphis does have retail options away from Wolfchase.

You will not be burglarized 15 minutes after you move into your Midtown apartment. Do view the guys carrying rakes around Midtown with a wary eye, however.

It's All Good Auto Sales does not live up to its name, so don't buy your first car there.

Within 1 mile of the intersection of Cooper and Young lies just about any type of restaurant you'd be interested in frequenting.

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Bears    0

It's refreshing to see locals not telling a potential transplant to "run like the wind" away from Memphis and instead move to the "cultural Mecca" of (gasp) Atlanta. Memphis is unique, not cookie-cutter, it's eccentric with a little slower pace than some places (unless you're a FedEx employee and then everything has to be done yesterday) and that's not a bad thing. We make up for our lack of skyscraper stories with foot traffic on the downtown streets.

Yea, one thing you might notice when you move down here fearlessvk, is that some older Memphians absolutely hate Memphis and consider it a crime ridden ghetto. They miss the good ole days of the 1960's :blink: Most transplants and toursits I've met, love the city but comment on how HOT it is in the summer time. One visitor I met from the UK said "It's like you open the door and are hit by a wall of heat" :lol: Memphis' weather isn't exactly best but its still nice and utilities (especially the water bill) are cheap.

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sleepy    1

fearlessvk, like the man said about the weather, summers are plenty hot, but spring and autumn are perfect, and winters aren't particularly cold (aside from some cold snaps, not a whole lot different than the Bay Area).

I believe it snowed about 3 inches a couple weeks ago which was the largest snowfall since 4 inches in 2003, which was the largest since 5 inches in 1988. And it gets up into the 60's a couple days after the snow--so you get the picture.

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mandrws1    0

Most transplants and toursits I've met, love the city

Every single visitor that I've invited to the city had an enjoyable time and two have moved here from the Nashville area (Clarksville and Gallatin), so I'm pretty confident that you'll love it too. You get the best of both worlds in Memphis, an urban metro & a slower pace city (in some areas) so you'll be able to pick and choose from plenty of unique environments in which to live!

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Clobber    0

Yea, one thing you might notice when you move down here fearlessvk, is that some older Memphians absolutely hate Memphis and consider it a crime ridden ghetto. They miss the good ole days of the 1960's :blink: Most transplants and toursits I've met, love the city but comment on how HOT it is in the summer time. One visitor I met from the UK said "It's like you open the door and are hit by a wall of heat" :lol: Memphis' weather isn't exactly best but its still nice and utilities (especially the water bill) are cheap.

Which is why she needs to get involved with Mpact. Those folks don't carry around and spread that kind of infectious baggage.

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Clobber    0

It's refreshing to see locals not telling a potential transplant to "run like the wind" away from Memphis and instead move to the "cultural Mecca" of (gasp) Atlanta. Memphis is unique, not cookie-cutter, it's eccentric with a little slower pace than some places (unless you're a FedEx employee and then everything has to be done yesterday) and that's not a bad thing. We make up for our lack of skyscraper stories with foot traffic on the downtown streets.

Memphis is arguably more of a cultural mecca. Think about it. In music and literature, America has contributed a lot to the global cultural community. We may not have the heritage that Italy has in painting (with the Medici, the Renaissance artists, etc), but we have a similar impact on the world of culture that Italy has in painting through music and literature. In music, America is largely the birthplace of several musical forms that have transformed the world -- blues, country, jazz, soul/r&b, rock and roll, among others. And Memphis can lay a claim to at least being an indispensable cornerstone, if not the foundation, of just about all of them. That's impact on a cultural level. Literature? Southern literature spawns as much here as it does elsewhere in the south, particularly with the proximity of Oxford, MS, but throughout the Delta.

And today, Memphis is home to a thriving visual arts scene, two symphonies, and nationally-recognized ballet and opera programs. But the best service Memphis provides to the world is its preservation of history. Most cities bulldoze their past, particularly their dirty past, trying to hide it, as if it never existed. Memphis preserves some of its worst reminders. And that is nothing short of a noble service to America. The civil rights museum, Graceland (at least the time leading up and after the Death), Stax (although it had to be reconstructed after the initial mistake). They make the best out of a bad situation by helping visitors learn from the past. Every city has skeletons in their closet. Very few cities preserve mistakes to remind themselves and learn from them. As proud as I am for the city matching and leading other cities in various aspects, I am proudest for this characteristic that is almost singular in its uniqueness among supposed "progressive" yet sterile cities in America.

I know most people here understand Memphis' importance to the world. But we gotta continue sharing it with others, even if they don't come here.

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Bears    0

Which is why she needs to get involved with Mpact. Those folks don't carry around and spread that kind of infectious baggage.

So true. I dunno if the people who dislike Memphis know that their probably the ones causing the most trouble to the city by exaggerating the problems. Select Tennessee and then Memphis and click on the plus sign on the bottom of the page to see what people say about Memphis...

http://www.bestplaces.net/city/profile.aspx

No wonder why people don't wanna move here!!! If I had no idea about what Memphis was really like and I read some of those comments, I might second guess going there. My jaw just dropped reading such crazy lies (one commenter actually said he always saw people walking out the stores with stolen goods all the time :wacko: Where was he shopping?). Don't believe everything you read on the internet, but for many, its the main source of information.

Thread about Memphis' image problems:

http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=19622

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Rural King    1

Memphis is definately a cultural center as Clobber said, and thats one of my draws to the city. It has a very nice educated and cultured appeal in many of its amenities to it that is more appealing IMO than what some of its peer cities offer; I suppose I'm trying to say that if offers the quality in cultural amenities you would expect from a much larger city.

If you like NPR, Memphis BY FAR has one of the best NPR outlets outside one the "big" cities like Chicago, San Francisco, New York, etc. (IMO)

The Memphis Zoo is amazing too, it has Pandas with puts in a league with only 3 other cities: DC, San Diego, and Atlanta. The quality of the zoo I think would impress anyone, even folks from much larger cities.

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Clobber    0

So true. I dunno if the people who dislike Memphis know that their probably the ones causing the most trouble to the city by exaggerating the problems. Select Tennessee and then Memphis and click on the plus sign on the bottom of the page to see what people say about Memphis...

I think there are some who get an elitist thrill out of downgrading Memphis and creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. They must get the same kind of visceral satisfaction, and feel some level of promotion in social status, that Leonard Maltin gets when he creams a movie. Sort of a "if you criticize it, you must be too good for it." Therefore, to achieve that status, what do you need to do? Dis it. And it spreads. And creates a misperception on visitors and transplants about what kind of city Memphis is.

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