Buying a House in a Ghetto: Bad Idea?

There’s a house for sale that is priced at about 60% of my budget. It’s 3BR, about 1400 square feet, 2-car garage, central air, and it’s in great shape. The same house in any other part of town would be priced at about 140% of my budget.

However, it is in the GHETTO. It’s not in Springfield’s worst neighborhood, but it’s near enough. You could easily threw a rock and have a one-in-five chance of it hitting a crack dealer.

What gets me is that this house is on a street that is itself a little enclave of nice houses, but is otherwise surrounded by ghetto.

I grew up in a ghetto, and it sucked. However, apart from some bullying, the only crimes we were victims of were property crimes - mainly to our cars, since we didn’t have a garage and had to park our cars on the street.

So I guess what I’m asking is, should I run away from this as fast as I can? Or should I look at it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a great home with really cheap monthly mortgage payments?

I wouldn’t do it, but I’m so risk averse that we didn’t even buy a house in Philadelphia proper, because I didn’t want to live in a neighborhood that went bad later (it’s a sickness, I tell you).

I’d think about it as far as quality of life otherwise- other than being in the ghetto, is is close to other things you want to do? If you use public transit, is it relatively convenient and sufficiently safe? If you have guests often, will they be able to safely get to your house? Do you value spending time outside? What does Mrs Homie (is there one?) think of the idea? Do you have the means to get the hell out and afford an interim place if you really can’t stand it? Are there other safety factors that you should be considering part of the expense of the house (more driving rather than walking, perhaps a security system, that kind of thing)?

Finally, how well do you know the neighborhood? Is it crappy now, but thought of as potentially up-and-coming? If the neighborhood is one in decline rather than one that’s getting better, you may end up taking a hit on it if you have to sell it after the surrounding area gets worse, which is definitely not worth it.

If it’s an up-and-coming neighborhood, and the immediate neighbors are good, and it’s perfect otherwise, it could end up being a great decision. It’s more risky, though.

Quality of life, man.

Is it a ghetto in the sense that people are poor, but take care of their shit? Or is it a place where people don’t give a shit, and have parties at 2 am, lift weights in the front yard, and park on the grass?

I see that you mentioned crack dealers. I would say hell no. Crack dealers = petty thieves, worse thieves, and potentially gun violence. Here in Austin there was a story about a grandfather who was in his house, shot and killed by a crack dealer aiming at someone else. That’s the kind of shit you have to worry about in a “bad” ghetto neighborhood.

Also, do you have time to be a community activist? Are you comfortable confronting people? I’d say no to both, which is why I chose to live where I do. I think one of these days I might live in a neighborhood that needs help, but I don’t have the time to be that guy now, with a demanding job and a kid.

I’d be aware of issues like school quality - one of the major factors dictating the house value. If the schools are terrible without any hope of them getting better, you will probably end up selling that house at a loss.

[ul][li]Do you have children? If so, do you want them to go to the local school? [/li]
[li]How did the house come onto the market? [/li]
[li]Do you look on a house as an investment as well as a place to live? Unless there is gentrification in your neighborhood’s future, selling it is going to be a matter of finding someone else willing to live in a ghetto (or near one) and also willing to pay more than you did for the privilege. [/li]
[li]Is it going to be difficult to get a mortgage? How about home insurance? Car insurance? What are the prices like at the nearest grocery store? [/li]
[li]Have you met the neighbors? How much turnover is there in the neighborhood? [/ul][/li]
Personally, I would run screaming in another direction, but that’s just lily-white me.

The bottom line is that there is a reason why this house is selling for so much less than houses in another part of town. The mantra of the real estate business is “Location, location, and location”. To which I would add, ‘Location’.


Don’t do it! I live NEAR the ghetto and I can’t leave lawn ornaments outside. Somebody threw a rock through my window at one of my cats. A homeless woman was once caught sleeping in my boyfriend’s car. I don’t open the door after 10 anymore. This isn’t even in the ghetto, just a few blocks away.

Quality of life, indeed. Also, resale.

Same here, and I’m so Black I could be navy.

There are other expenses to think of too - what will your home and car insurance rates be like, living there? As a grad student I had my first car, and living in Minneapolis in a neighborhood bordering on one of their worst neighborhoods, my car insurance rates were going to go through the roof based on my ZIP code. Fortunately I managed to stick with my mom’s insurance company as a student rather than having to get my own policy.

The crack dealers would seal the deal for me, too. I’ve lived in a run-down apartment complex in my time but it slid downhill after it changed owners - but there weren’t any drug dealers (that you could see). I got out of there pretty quickly.

Well, we don’t have kids, so schools aren’t a consideration. And the house is at the intersection of one of the enclave streets and a major arterial street (albeit one that goes through, you know, the ghetto). Mrs. Homie would be significantly closer to work; I would be about a minute further away.

What blows my mind is that there is this little enclave of nice, well-kept houses totally surrounded by ghetto. Like, the house I’m looking at is comparable to this both in size and in condition. A block the other way is stuff that looks like this.

Oh, keep in mind that most crime is poor-on-poor, because the kind of people who break into your house and take your TV aren’t, you know, world travelers. That means it’s your TV they’ll take.

The reason that’s a nice enclave, I bet you - the houses there are owned by Grandma, who worked her whole life to buy them. Which is fine. EXCEPT, when Lil’ Ron and his dealer get evicted, guess who they come crash with?

You may want to sell it one day, and I imagine there is a reason why its listed so low…

For just me and an SO, I’d absolutely give up an extra bedroom, central air**, or a garage to not live in a run down neighborhood. In fact I’d probably give up all 3. They’re nice to have but not necessary, YMMV.

**I went to U of I, I kinda know the climate we are talking about.

Yeah, me too. I do know people for whom it worked out well, which is why I’m not totally against the idea, but they all lived in apartments in the area where they were planning to buy. They knew the area very well, knew that it was improving, and, more importantly, they knew why it was improving and would probably continue to improve.

If you don’t know those things, it almost certainly isn’t worth it.

Here is the location on Google Maps. (If it doesn’t work, input East Ash Street at Gregory Court Springfield, IL.)

Ash St. is a major arterial road through the ghetto. Go west on Ash from that location and the ghetto gets worse. Go north from Ash street and it gets really bad :eek:.

Gregory Court north of Ash Street is in pretty bad shape, but Gregory Court (and Randall Court) south of Ash Street is perfectly nice homes. You can use Street View and take a virtual “drive” down the street and see what kind of neighborhood it is. It’s really really weird how one neighborhood can be kept so nice in the midst of all that ghetto. :confused:

And directly to the east is Springfield Southeast High School, my alma mater. Go Spartans!

I lived in a nice place in a dumpy neighborhood. Then I moved into a run-down house in a nice neighborhood.

I VASTLY preferred the later.

You can always fix up and improve the house, but the neighborhood is out of your control. My advice is to get the worst house in the best neighborhood you can.

Judging by the OP’s name, it seems like he would feel at home in a ghetto.

I used to live in Spiffeld and um…I wouldn’t buy in that neighborhood, unless it’s turned around a lot in the last 5-6 years, and I mean a LOT. Have you looked on the south side at all, or on the near west side?

I have lived in da hood proper, on the edges of the hood, and in non-ghetto areas, and in the first two, experienced about 10x more crime, easily. Try crackhead walking in your front door (which you forgot to lock), coming in the window to steal the tv, hanging out on your lawn…no.

Agree. When you live in a crappy nieghborhood, or on the edge of a crappy neighborhood you never get a minute of peace. You can never really truly relax, you can’t even relax when you are away from the house. You are always worried when “it” is going to happen. What is “it”? No one knows until it happens. I got to the point I was hiding the box that my new microwave came in so that no passing idiot thought that my house was the one to pick for the day.

Being patient and finding a house in the right area or neighborhood within your budget is the way to go. It is so easy to use those real estate websites, you can regularly search multiple neighborhoods in a matter of minutes.

Is there any chance they will come through and condemn it an rip it up for a freeway ramp or something? My brother who was a landscape architect for a city, and as such had some inside information, made a modest fortune buying houses in the neighborhoods that might be condemned.

My opinion as well.

The only way I would consider buying a house (in such an area), is if the neighborhood is turning around. Clues to watch for: young professionals moving in, prices going up, houses being renovated.
Believe me, you do NOT wont to live in a decaying neighborhood. Not only will your equity drop, but the danger of living in such a place is not worth it. Not onl will insurance and costs be higher, but you wil have to install window bars, alarm systems, etc., just to be safe.