Some of Memphis is a good place to raise a family. I found Memphis, during my five years there, to be cleaner than New Orleans and Savannah, if you were in the right neighbourhoods. If you want clean clean then move to Vancouver, and look around there.
I find your question somehow loaded. There’s a context in there which in order to understand it, I need to ask you some questions. Are you from North of the Mason Dixon line? Are you non-white? Black? I ask this because in my view there is a very clear segregation which is established by neighbourhood. I’m not sure about the public school system, but there are several private white schools where if you have the income you can guarantee your children a good education. They may treat minorities well there, but I’m not sure. We need to hear from alumni of the different schools, and parents of children there.
Did you know Mother Theresa established a mission in North Memphis, which is predominantly—no, almost 100% Black? Now, Memphis is fairly diverse in Midtown, but I can’t answer for how is the life there now. I haven’t lived there since 1991. Things were changing fast even then. I do know there are strong Catholic parishes, in St. Peter’s downtown, Sacred Heart is my favourite because of their ministry to the homeless and the non-white ethnic minorities, especially Asians and North Africans. The Cathedral in Midtown, I can’t remember the name of the avenues, but it is in Central Garden, which is a very safe place to live, with its own private security force, I felt was rather too upper middle class for me. See, where to live in Memphis seems to me depends much on your income, your class, and your race. Based on my own observations and Peter Taylor’s book, Nashville could be worse, but things have changed too since he wrote it. Sorry can’t remember the name.
If you’re one of those upwardly bound middle class types, or Waspish, consider living in East Memphis near the University, or in Covington, or any of the other suburbs, and commuting. Frazier though, is reputed to be a bastion of the rednecks. That could be changing, I suppose due to gentrification. If you’re into multiculturalism, consider Summer Avenue, Madison Avenue in Midtown, even downtown if you’ve got the money. If you’re a progressive, Leftist type, consider some of Midtown, or near the University, or move to Orange Mound, North Memphis, or any of the several black ghettos in the inner city.
I do apologize to my friends and acquaintances in Memphis if I’ve spoken to bluntly. And I do recommend you visit to see whether my observations are too dated. Do your homework. By all means do visit Memphis for its great blues, rock and roll, art, history, and Southern culture. I will not be offended if any of you correct me on any point. I still love Memphis, and would very much like to go back to visit. But not to live. But my priorities include having my children learn Spanish and Irish, and I don’t find support for either one there.
Thank you for all the info. I am white and from the DC area (northern virginia). My significant other and I are going to be moving soon and we are trying to do some research. He is from Mississippi, but would rather not live there again, and I do not want to either. We are fairly conservative in our values (which is why I asked about family friendly). We don’t know much about Tennesse so I am trying to find out about Memphis and Knoxville and how they compare. Thanks so much for your input so far.
I also answered your question about Atlanta. Having also lived in Memphis I’ll just say that it doesnt hold a candle to living in Atlanta. There are some good things about Memphis. Memphis in May festival, 4th of July. But otherwise it’s much more of a lazy river city and quiet. The heat and humidity can be very oppressive.
Also to comment on the quietly racisit views of the first poster. Asking “Are you non-white? Black?” WTF is that about. You’ve also neatly segregated the city telling the questioner exactly where to live if shes white and waspish and telling her where the “black ghettos” are, good work.
I currently live in Memphis and love it. Though, it definitely has its down sides. If you live in the right area it’s great, but like most large cities, can be dangerous if you are in the wrong area. Currently, the downtown area is being renovated and growing quite nicely. A lot of Memphis can be a risk. It seems to be in a transitions state. An outstanding neighborhood could be run down in a matter of years, while a run down neighborhood could flourish from a renovating facelift.
I haven’t been here long, but from what I hear Memphis crime is a problem. However, there have been drastic improvements over the years. I’m not sure about the segregation mentioned by a previous poster. However, I do know that Memphis is unique in its minority status. The population is something like 66% black with a minority of only 23% – 25% white. Though, I don’t think that’s the case with every city in the metropolitan area.
I don’t have children, but I have many friends who do. What I understand from them and the news is that the Memphis school system is pretty much an embarrassing disgrace. So is the public transportation to name just a couple. Evidently the mayor here is somewhat of an idiot. Though, I don’t think he’ll be around much longer. I believe he was just caught in a scandal.
Harbortown on Mud Island is a perfect community if it’s your style and price range. But you’d definitely want to send your child to private schools. Actually, from what I understand, pretty much any neighborhood that fits your criteria, will have to be upscale and require private education. However, Surrounding communities such as Germantown and Collierville are just as much apart of the cityscape and would offer you what you seek.
You mentioned your significant other was from Mississippi. If you want to live in a great family friendly area of Memphis, I would highly recommend Desoto County in North Mississippi – specifically, Olive Branch. It’s growing by leaps and bounds and would be much more suited to family needs I would think. It’s much cleaner and safer, but still very much apart of the Memphis metropolitan area.
Short answer to your question: Memphis is a great place to live and raise a family if done in the right area. I hope this helps.
I’m originally from Chattanooga, TN but did live five years in Memphis (Collierville) and three years in the DC/northern VA area.
While living in Memphis before moving to DC, Memphis had the second-highest crime rate (per capita) in the country, second only to D.C. I don’t think much has changed.
Memphis-proper is very racially-divided, or segregated, if you will. The outer lying suburbs are predominately white, asian, and middle eastern with an annual salary very similar to Reston and Fairfax VA, to give you a comparison. This diversion in race and income is very diliberate, as there was a huge ‘exodus’ out of Memphis-proper several years ago into the suburbs to ‘escape’ (so the story goes) and people had to “pay-the-price” to ‘escape’
Granted, there are some exclusive areas within Memphis-proper, but the bulk of the city is not the greatest place to be.
There is a lot of activities (night life, art districts, museums, music, theatres, etc.), but I’m not so sure I would consider it “family-friendly” in that sense of the word. It is a very bohemian/artistic type atmosphere.
Also, being right on the Mississippi River, it is HOT & HUMID all summer long! And, I mean HOT!! One year, the most popular bumper sticker around was:
“I own property in Memphis and Hell; I rent out Memphis and live in Hell!”
It can get really miserable by July, and totally unbearable by August. There are also potential chances for tornados in the area moreso than other areas in Tennessee.
Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE Tennessee! But, Memphis just isn’t the place I would choose to live if given the choice of cities throughout the State. It’s flat, and hot, and dirty. I’d rather go for somewhere that had mountains and lakes and trees — a bit more variety!
Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous
Hi everyone..I am new to this website and could’nt pass up the chance to answer this question. Because you see, I was born in Memphis and spent about 35 years there. If anyone would like to here what my take is on the city of rock and roll and blues please say ‘ahy here cap’in’….I would be gald to enlighten all those whould are interested in an accurate answer to thsi question based on almost 40 years experience there.
Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous
forgive my typos..was so excited to answer!
I’ve been here all of my life so I don’t know how well it compares, but there are some good neighborhoods. There are good private schools and a few very good public schools such as Grahamwood, Richland, White Station and Ridgeway. Lately though, the crime rate has been very high. On average, there has been one murder a day. The people are diverse and just about every religion is represented. I’m only 14 though, so my knowledge is a bit limited on the rest of the world and again, how we compare to other cities.
My husband was relocated here from Northern Virginia a little over a year ago. I gave up a great, high-paying job in DC to accompany him and have regretted few decisions more in my life. The job market is flat, unless you’re in distribution or the medical field.
The crime rate here is out of control, police response is pathetic and ambulances are even worse. We thought moving to the suburbs would alleviate that problem, but the crime wave is following the money
- in a desperate flight east to the ’burbs.
The public schools are a gang-riddled disgrace and the private schools are fine only if you don’t mind dropping $10,000 a year on a religious education. Race relations in Memphis are stuck somewhere around 1964, smoking is still “in” and quite oppressive in some restaurants. Utility costs and taxes are high, city government is corrupt with a capital “C”, and good luck getting a direct and reasonably-priced flight anywhere in America from Memphis unless you’re packaged in a Fed Ex box.
I have lived in many cities, large and small, and have never in my life not felt safe in my own home until I moved to this godforsaken blight on the map. The only positives I can say are that you get a LOT more for your money in the housing market in Memphis than you will ever find in the DC-metro and traffic here doesn’t hold a candle to the mixing bowl or any of the DC bridges. Other than that, my advice to you would be this: run, don’t walk, in the other direction! There is a reason why Elvis left the building and it’s probably because he hated Memphis, too.
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