Downtown loft living?

For most of my adult life I’ve lived in a near center of town neighborhood, and I’ve recently begun shopping for a home.

Whew! The sticker shock just about dashed my hopes of living in the area in which I’ve been renting for years (Montrose in Houston). I like the area and would like to stay close. It is apparent that I could have a mansion (not that I’d want one) if I were willing to move into the 3 hours of commuting per day segment of the population that inhabits the 'burbs; but, well, I’m not.

So an alternative that has presented itself to me is to perhaps buy a downtown loft. They’re almost all fairly new construction (<5 years old), so they have modern amenities, and they are eminently more affordable than houses around here.

Upside to lofts include that they are generally new, have onsite security, many clubs, reataurants, theaters, etc., are within walking distance and my commute would remain the same.

The downside is that they are not houses, so we share walls (and possibly ceilings and floors as well).

Anybody have experience with downtown loft living?

The downside is that they are not houses, so we share walls (and possibly ceilings and floors as well).

This is a really important bit of information. Have you been searching for stand alone homes thusfar? Are you willing to go the condo/loft/whatever route? That’s a huge decision in itself, regardless of where the actual home is located. I think you ought to flesh your thoughts out on THAT. I mean, to save money, would you find it viable to buy a condo outside the downtown area? If no, then the loft isn’t an option. If you would, then we can take the next step of what it’s like to live downtown.

Do you currently live in an apartment? That would be help in determining whether a loft or something of nature would be OK for you. I was in a similar situation when I was looking for a place earlier this year. My wife and I looked at quite a few lofts and loft style apartments.

Some things to consider are,

  1. How big is the loft?
  2. What is the floor plan like? How much privacy will the bedrooms have?
  3. Which floor is it on?
  4. How solid is the Construction? This will determine whether you can hear the neighbors?
  5. What is the condo fee?
  6. Does it have parking?
  7. Will the styling of the loft look dated in a few years.

I looked at a few and some of them had a pretty private bed rooms, while in some of them, the bedroom was on the second floor and was exposed. Also some of the ones I looked at had some interesting style choices. The ceiling was exposed concrete that was painted to look like plywood. The ducts were exposed and instead of regular doors, the doors were aluminum and glass sliding doors. This may be very trendy now, but I have to wonder whether in ten years it won’t look incredibly dated.

I was considering one for downtown los angeles for work-related convenience but I got really turned off by multiple articles I read about dodgy elavators, the fact that downtown hadn’t gentrified enough for stuff like stores and trouble getting hot water and heat in certain converted buildings. They looked really cool and the views were gorgeous but the sketchiness of amenities + safety issue turned me off.

This is an interesting point. Are the buildings conversions? Or are they new buidings built loft-style?

Interesting observations.

I had started out looking for a stand alone residence, but they’re quite steep in my areas of interest unless I go for a fixer-upper, and I have no heart for that.

So, considering a loft/townhome/condo is very much backpedalling to some degree.

I’ve rented a duplex for the last several (many) years, and the shared walls are something I’d cared to get away from. But the area may outweigh that concern.

I’m 52 and single. I don’t want to get (back) into the 2-3 hours of commuting every day community and, more importantly, I don’t want to become, as I suspect I might, somewhat isolated from my social outlets by living in a 'burb 30 miles away.

Downtown Houston’s regentrification began in the late '80s, and the pioneers did have to journey for groceries and gasoline. But the residential redevelopment of downtown swung into high gear in the mid-'90s and there are now both new and redeveloped old residential buildings, as well as consumer amenities and a pulsating entertainment district.

While I’m unsure about going into hock for a $XXX,XXX place in a loft setting, I’m sure my life would be better in that environment than as an isolated middle age guy in his castle in the 'burbs. And I’m really unsure about going into hock for a 2*$xxx,xxx stand alone in this area.

Ringo, I am speaking from slight ignorance here. I have friends in Houston, and have visited them a few times. They live quite close to downtown in a gated community of freestanding homes. Quite a nice little community–the houses ran from the fairly small to fairly large. One of the streets in the development is Memorial Crest Drive and it’s in the 77007 zip code.

Don’t know if this will help or not–but that little neighborhood has made my visits to Houston enjoyable. (Get some zoning laws, will ya? :wink: )

Dearie, that’s the way between 50 and 90% of the European population live. The percentile varies with country and region. You yanks are too used to all that space :smiley: To give you an idea, in Spain the population of Miami gets piled up into an area the size of Deer Park.

(I just love the stunned look in Texans’ faces when us furriners call 'em yankis)

I’ve always shared walls, floors and ceilings when in Spain. People tend to be less noisy about sexual activities than in the US — around here, I’ve been right on top and right below people who were at the time making baby number 2 and never noticed; over there, I’ve had neighbors that if it was the summer and the windows were open you heard the grunts from across the street. You get the occasional noisy neighbor but since we’re all used to living “hive-style”, people tend to be considerate.

I lived in a downtown loft in Lowell, MA for three years. I liked it.

I was within walking distance of theatre, cafe’s, pubs, restaurants, etc. I felt a real sense of community because of seeing the same faces around the neighborhood. The security is excellent. Being up on the third floor means nobody is coming in the windows. They’d need to get past several doors to get to mine. Much more secure than a home in the burbs.

No lawn to mow, no yardwork!

However, there were drawbacks. Parking was a couple blocks away. Carrying stuff in and out was a hassle. Noisy neighbors can be a problem. STORAGE! I’ve got a lot of stuff, so storing it all required creativity.

One consideration is that there is an extra level of bureaucracy, i.e. the condo, co-op board (btw if you are dealing with a co-op you need to educate yourself about that form of ownership). They have a say over how you live your life (e.g. can you have a dog?). Get a copy of the rules of the building before you buy. While some condo boards are almost invisible, others can be very intrusive.
You also assume any obligations for capital improvements & maintenance. Since you indicated that these are all recent construction, this should not be an issue (you will need to pay condo fees, but at least the roof doesn’t need replacing).

In Texas, do you get to review the condo docs before you purchase? Here in DC after the offer has been accepted, you still have three days to review the condo docs.