Keep these financial rules of thumb handy while you parse the options, brah.
It ain’t Hotlanta, but STL get’s crunkin’ steamy in the summer. Budget a $60 or more increase from May-September unless you still believe that just opening a window really works.
Complexes either outfit your climate control with all electric heating and cooling or with gas heating and electric cooling. In older parts of town (say, the Central West End, por ejemplo) it’s rare to see all electric—total bummer, cause gas ain’t inexpensive these days!
The good news is that water, sewer, and trash pickup are usually included in your contract. Still though, it’s always a good idea to ask your manager or landlord which bills he or she picks up and which you’re responsible for.
The bad news is that washers and dryers are generally not included in most units, so hunt down a good Laundromat or be ready to spring for the complex that offers this amenity at no extra cost.
Lastly, expect an added pet deposit for Bubba (unless Bubba is a betta fish). These are sometimes refundable, sometimes not. A few units also charge around $20/month for “pet rent.”
So Where Does Nelly Live?
No, we’re not telling you. But we will tell you the distinctive features of a handful of St. Louis neighborhoods as well as the price range for each. Neighborhoods are noted for their proximity to parks and commercial shopping districts as well as access to the MetroLink light rail, the pride and joy of urban planning departments at St. Louis universities.
Downtown: St. Louis’s Downtown has sort of a corporate feel, but the city’s pumping lots of money into making it fun and pedestrian-friendly (Citygarden, an “urban oasis” which opened last July, and Laclede’s Landing, a new commercial strip on the waterfront, are two such efforts)—so it’s certainly worth considering an apartment in this district. Additionally, the area near Downtown (often called “Midtown” by Google Maps) is mostly owned by St. Louis University. So if you need to be near the CBD, Busch Stadium, and the Gateway Arch, Downtown and the waterfront may be your best bet.
- Beautiful one-bedroom lofts on Chouteau Ave. go for $1100/month and require a 12-month lease. Be wary, though: “secured parking” is sometimes not included and may cost as much as $150/month. A little further south will get you $850/month for a comparable apartment.
Central West End: The CWE is the premier urban neighborhood of St. Louis, similar to Boston’s Back Bay or New York’s Upper East Side (OK, that’s a bit generous…but you get the point. Yuppies.). Walk to glorious Forest Park or hop on the MetroLink to jaunt Downtown. This neighborhood boasts lots of historic homes but also features lofts and condos for the short-commute professional.
- One-bedrooms run $500-$700/month and usually include free parking. And for $850/month you’ll easily find a decent two-bedroom in this pet-friendly area of town.
Forest Park Southeast: Directly south of CWE, this neighborhood is also within walking distance of Forest Park. (Seriously, you want to be near this park. It has a zoo inside! How’re you gonna beat that?!) Forest Park Southeast is also less than 15 minutes to a MetroLink station. Home to the Grove commercial shopping district, an LGBT friendly strip of boutiques and bars. Edgy? Sure—but also affordable.
- You’d be silly to pay more than $800/month for a two-bedroom historic brownstone on the Grove.
Tower Grove South: Forest Park isn’t the only greenspace in town. Tower Grove Park sits southwest of Downtown; the community named after it spreads southward. Known for its international flavor (the South Grand commercial district has more Ethiopian restaurants than you can shake a stick at). TGS enjoys good bus connections to the rest of the city, but if you love the MetroLink, you may be found wanting.
- TGS is on the second tier as far as pricing goes. One-bedrooms range from $500-$700/month; two-bedrooms regularly exceed $1000/month.
Old North: This neighborhood is up-and-coming: historically low-income, it’s seen lots of reinvestment over the past five years. Old north offers a nice blend of affordability and historic preservation. Being the lowest cost close-in area, this place is crawling with hipsters. Get in quick before they impose skinny jean quotas on the whole district!
- You probably don’t need three bedrooms, but here you can have ‘em for $850/month. And that includes a washer and dryer!
Shaw: This neighborhood sits north of Tower Grove Park. It lacks a commercial district but there’s a fabulous dog park and some healthy racial diversity. Almost as inexpensive as Old North.
- $700/month per studio apartment; add $100/month for an extra bedroom.
Soulard: This south waterfront neighborhood brags a huge weekly farmer’s market and the 2nd largest annual Mardi Gras parade every year (New Orleans beat ‘em out by a hair…). Lots of beautiful brick architecture and a mix of single family homes, complexes, and townhomes. The lack of transportation options available in Soulard (no MetroLink in sight) might be an inconvenience, though the abundance of friendly corner bars should release you from the CBD’s magnetic pull. Second tier pricing.
- $700-800/month for two-bedrooms, about $100/month less for only one.
Maplewood: On the outer south edge of Forest Park, Maplewood is a more residential, suburban-feeling community. St. Louis’s only microbrewery, Schlafly’s, is here, and MetroLink stops by. (Though beware the noise: the above-ground sections of MetroLink can annoy more sensitive ears.)
- One-bedrooms often average $500/month in this community.
Skinker DeBaliviere: No, it’s not a talking moose from the Beverly Cleary books. It’s actually the name of this Washington University-dominated area. Seriously (why do we feel the need to qualify every sentence about this neighborhood with “seriously”??), there are some great options if you don’t mind living amongst undergrads. The Loop (West Delmar at Skinker Blvd.) is a popular destination with lots of entertainment: it’s rumored that Chuck Berry still plays Blueberry Hill monthly, despite the fact that nobody around is old enough to know who the heck he is…Further out is University City, the first real suburb.
- The Wash U crowd drives prices up in Skinker DeBaliviere. Expect to pay anywhere from $700-$900 a month for an all-inclusive one-bedroom right on the Loop.
Happy trails, folks. May the road rise up to meet, you; may your barns be full of grain; and may you invite us over for Thanksgiving dinner once you find that killer apartment in pioneering St. Louis! (Remember who made this possible. That’s all we’re sayin’...)
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