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new orleans

Messages
13
Points
1
how come nobody talks about this place at all? i have been searching on the net for all info about this city (i want to move here), but no one seems to really come through with info. i have been to the new orleans forums online (www.nola.com/forums) and found it to be an interesting read.

anyways, back to the issues at hand, i've heard that this city is extremely livable. the city is as flat as could be (great for biking), it's compact in size from what i hear (great for walking), loads of great restaurants and bars (even away from the touristy french quarter), great music, warm climate (my personal preference), european look and feel, and it's really cheap. i know the city has issues with crime, etc, but does anyone have a first hand account if this city is really a hidden gem in the south?

thanks!
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
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11,491
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41
breeze said:
how come nobody talks about this place at all? <snip>

anyways, back to the issues at hand, i've heard that this city is extremely livable. the city is as flat as could be (great for biking), it's compact in size from what i hear (great for walking), loads of great restaurants and bars (even away from the touristy french quarter), great music, warm climate (my personal preference), european look and feel, and it's really cheap. i know the city has issues with crime, etc, but does anyone have a first hand account if this city is really a hidden gem in the south?

thanks!
We have two active members -- BEK and Planderella -- that live and work in the big easy and you should definitely await a response from them. I have visited the city on several occasions, including mardi gras 2002 (my wife's birthday) and enjoy it as a tourist destination. For my own preference, it is much too humid for me to be consistently comfortable during the warm months and so I could not reside there (or anywhere like it). I can't comment on the cost of living directly, but where costs are generally low, so are salaries -- at least in my observations.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,175
Points
51
They don't have any ski hills there.

I was there for the APA conference a few years ago. I loved the city, it is a great place to know people, visit, and interact with others. On the other hand, it seemed that there was an amazing gap in income levels. I noticed rich and poor, and the middle class are there for a vacation.
 

otterpop

Cyburbian
Messages
6,655
Points
28
Grew up in and around New Orleans. Good people. Great food. But for me the weather was insufferable. So I headed to northern climes - the Queen City of the Rockies :-D .
 

The One

Cyburbian
Messages
8,289
Points
30
New Orleans is Sinking

Breeze:

I also attended the APA conference in New Orleans and found the City to be loaded with MOJO :-D My wife and I still joke that we will forbid any of our daughters to visit, drive through, go to college in or even look at this place on a map :-D The French Quarter has more character than almost anywhere I've ever visited (in North America) (Three words: Debauched, Defiled, Merriment)
The little I saw of the remainder of the City did cry out poverty vs. rich with little indication of the middle class as stated before. One great example of this was a trip to the surrounding swamps for a boat tour. One side of the bank had huts (think one room home with outdoor plumbing and ramshackle) vs Huge million $ + mansions on the other side of the intracoastal.

Having said all of this, I liked this place a lot and loved the character of the place.
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
25,810
Points
61
One big issue IMHO is
The always seasonal threat from a Hurricane. 8-!
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
isn't NO in big trouble if they don't get a few billion $$ from the feds to save them from their physical sinking?

the problems of crime and poverty seem to hover over Charleston and Savannah as well. I used to live in Chuck and downtown was great, a car wasn't a necessity, and it was relatively safe. North of Crosstown (US 17) was an entirely different story on all accounts.
 
Messages
13
Points
1
jresta said:
isn't NO in big trouble if they don't get a few billion $$ from the feds to save them from their physical sinking?
couple that with a direct hit from a category 4 or 5 hurricane and this city will be under water for 3 months (estimate) with a death toll round 100,000 (estimate). no one seems to mention this at all in the media. this place is likely to be gone well before l.a. or san francisco. for me, this is all the more reason to check it out.
 
Messages
5,352
Points
31
Coastal erosion is a huge problem for the state. As the barrier islands and the coasts wash away, so goes the increased chance of protection. This time of the year can be unbearable for those who aren't accostumed to hot, humid weather. Even though it rains just about everyday (it has for the month of June), it only gets hotter afterwards.

As far as the sinking is concerned, what do you expect from a city that was built on swamp? Many older houses have foundational problems and the streets are in bad shape, but I don't think anyone is literally sinking. However, New Orleans is 3-4 feet below sea level and very vunerable to hurricanes. Yes, it's true that if a category 3 + storm hits, we're in for some serious trouble. It's not like it hasn't happened before. There are plenty of people who survived hurricanes Betsy and Camille can tell you about that. I've heard many historians say that Bienville should have never settled here...maybe they were right.

Non-natives' perspectives on the French Quarter tend to bug me at times. Many of them see what occurs on Bourbon Street and associate it with all of the French Quarter. The debauched, defiled merriment you see is mainly from tourists who seem to lose their common sense when they set foot on Bourbon. I won't even get on the Mardi Gras "Show Me Your ****" soapbox - once again, tourists whose behavior have tried to ruin what most New Orleanians consider a family event, not an excuse to abandon all common sense. Back to the French Quarter or the Vieux Carre, if you venture beyond Bourbon, Royal and Decatur Streets, you'll find some of the most expensive real estate in the city. There are people who have lived there for years and I have to admire them for putting up with the constant barrage of people, trash, noise, etc.

I haven't studied New Orleans' income levels in any particular detail so I can't give any specific comments to that. However, one of the things that I've always found fascinating about the city (and this could be good or bad), is that you can drive down a street with million dollar homes, turn the corner and find yourself dead smack in the middle of urban blight. One of the problems with that is absentee landlords and the city's inability to expropriate blighted properties in a timely fashion. Of course, the other problem with that is poverty.

The city also suffers from a relatively low tax base. Louisiana has a homestead exemption tax that many consider is way too high. If your property is valued under $60k, you don't have to pay property tax. That's a lot of money when there are approximately 37,000 blighted properties in the city. To me, the homestead exemption is almost like an incentive for slumlords.

Two of the biggest concerns for residents right now is the educational system and crime. There are too many battles about the embattled educational system to go into any detail, but just know that it involves everyone from the mayoral administration, the school board to the state adminstration. Granted, New Orleans is not the murder capital it was back in 1994, but many are still discouraged by the neverending murders. The week of Father's Day alone produced about 10-15 unrelated murders.

Despite everything I've said, I'm not trying to to discourage anyone from living or even visiting New Orleans. It just takes someone who knows it to tell you these things no online forum or glossy magazine will. No doubt, I love this city and proud to call it my home. The food, the culture, the history, the politics, the people, etc. are all very unique and you have to experience it to truly understand it. Most of the movies filmed here have tried to capture it, but have failed miserably - can we say "The Big Easy??"
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
otterpop said:
Grew up in and around New Orleans. Good people. Great food. But for me the weather was insufferable. So I headed to northern climes - the Queen City of the Rockies :-D .
OFF TOPIC: You sound like one of my favorite authors, James Lee Burke (He has a cajun detective, and a Montana detective.)
 

Big Easy King

Cyburbian
Messages
1,361
Points
23
My Beloved Big Easy

Planderella addressed many important aspects that are unique to New Orleans.

The economy of New Orleans is basically driven by the tourism, service, and port-related industries, which comprise the leading economic force that sustains the City's vitality. However, there is a very noticeable lack of other industries (i.e., manufacturing; computer/computer software; automobile design/engineering; etc), which prevent the City from being competitive with other major cities such as Chicago, Atlanta, etc. as well as with other comparable-sized cities such as Memphis, Jackson, MS, and Mobile, AL. In fact, those aforementioned comparative cities are progressing in economical growth unlike New Orleans because Fortune 500 companies are attracted to those markets, not this one. Unfortunately, very high taxes, local crime, and the "good-ole-boy" and "feed my pockets first" style of local and state politics prevents major players from settling in this area. I could continue for weeks about this issue, but I think that you get the main picture.

However, the City is experiencing positive growth and development, albeit slowly, despite issues that I mentioned and others not mentioned. Hey, we have the NBA now, a major amusement park, Six Flags, and the housing market is pretty decent.

Continuing on a lighter note, the Big Easy's ambience is very hard to beat. Despite having its economic woes and other ills, there is no other place on earth that I'd rather be. New Orleans is extremely rich in culture, because of its architectural styles; music; neighborhood block parties; splendor and beauty of the Vieux Carre, local historic districts; the Mississippi River and its eastbank and westbank riverfronts; Mardi Gras; the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (EVERYONE should experience this); the streetcar; local cuisine (best in the world, IMHO); the closeness of families; the lazy Southern drawl; City and Audubon Parks; and snowballs (snowcones for all those who are unfamiliar) on a hot summer day; among many other rich aspects not mentioned.

The City of New Orleans has its problems as does any other city, but it is very rich in spirit and character nonetheless. I'm proud to be a New Orleanian.

:)
 

otterpop

Cyburbian
Messages
6,655
Points
28
BKM said:
OFF TOPIC: You sound like one of my favorite authors, James Lee Burke (He has a cajun detective, and a Montana detective.)
Both James Lee Burke and the late Stephen Ambrose divided their time between Louisiana and Montana. I used to live down the street from Ambrose's daughter.

I too like James Lee Burke's writing. "In the Mists of the Confederate Dead" is great. Burke has a real talent for depicting Louisiana, especially that part outside of the Big Easy.
 

The One

Cyburbian
Messages
8,289
Points
30
Planderella is right....

Non-natives' perspectives on the French Quarter tend to bug me at times. Many of them see what occurs on Bourbon Street and associate it with all of the French Quarter. The debauched, defiled merriment you see is mainly from tourists who seem to lose their common sense when they set foot on Bourbon. I won't even get on the Mardi Gras "Show Me Your ****" soapbox - once again, tourists whose behavior have tried to ruin what most New Orleanians consider a family event, not an excuse to abandon all common sense. Back to the French Quarter or the Vieux Carre, if you venture beyond Bourbon, Royal and Decatur Streets, you'll find some of the most expensive real estate in the city. There are people who have lived there for years and I have to admire them for putting up with the constant barrage of people, trash, noise, etc.

I imagine tourists kind of mess things up for the locals. (not unlike other destinations though....) Perception is the root of this evil.....all those tourists go home and tell everyone how crazy it was....then the cycle starts over with people wanting to get crazy in your town....(ala Spring Break destinations of the 80's and early 90's) New Orleans has better history than vegas, reminds us of parts of paris and provides us with a little bit of Amsterdam.... :-}
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,491
Points
41
Did I tell you we had some New Orleanians who could tell you something about the place or what? Planderella and BEK: you guys ought to start your own consulting firm!

Oh, wait. You all are gettting married soon. I guess that's kinda the same thing, huh? ;-)

Having attended Mardi Gras both in the Quarter and away from the Quarter, I noticed that crewes tend to toss the beads nicely when you are away from Canal Street and flat out whip them at the tourists on Canal?. Am I mistaken?

Mrs. G and I have a knack for finding the clubs where locals like to party -- I can't remember the name of the place, but it was a block (or two) east of Canal between Bourbon and Royal. Kinda divey but with a surprising selection of brews on tap. Once the other places started closing this was the place to be as bartenders and waitstaffs started showing up here. We had a blast. You guys know the name of the place, by any chance?
 

Big Easy King

Cyburbian
Messages
1,361
Points
23
Gedunker said:
Did I tell you we had some New Orleanians who could tell you something about the place or what? Planderella and BEK: you guys ought to start your own consulting firm!

Oh, wait. You all are gettting married soon. I guess that's kinda the same thing, huh? ;-)

Having attended Mardi Gras both in the Quarter and away from the Quarter, I noticed that crewes tend to toss the beads nicely when you are away from Canal Street and flat out whip them at the tourists on Canal?. Am I mistaken?

Mrs. G and I have a knack for finding the clubs where locals like to party -- I can't remember the name of the place, but it was a block (or two) east of Canal between Bourbon and Royal. Kinda divey but with a surprising selection of brews on tap. Once the other places started closing this was the place to be as bartenders and waitstaffs started showing up here. We had a blast. You guys know the name of the place, by any chance?
Funny that you should mention it because we've already discussed the possibility of establishing our own consulting firm. :-D

You're not mistaken about the krewes. It really depends on the person. Some krewe members hurl beads and other Mardi Gras goodies no matter what just for the hell of it, while some members are respectful.

I know the place that you're referring to, but I can't recall it's name. :-\ Damn! Planderella, do you know the name of the place in question?
 
Messages
5,352
Points
31
I'm not too familiar with the dive bars in the French Quarter, but the only one that comes to mind right now is Molly's on Decatur Street. Everyone from newscasters to waiters hang out there. On a side note, a lot of establishments have what's called S.I.N. or Service Industry Nights. That's when they give workers in the service industry discounts for drinks and stuff. Call it a hidden perk for working in a restaurant or a hotel, as I did during my grad school days. :)
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
otterpop said:
Both James Lee Burke and the late Stephen Ambrose divided their time between Louisiana and Montana. I used to live down the street from Ambrose's daughter.

I too like James Lee Burke's writing. "In the Mists of the Confederate Dead" is great. Burke has a real talent for depicting Louisiana, especially that part outside of the Big Easy.
Off TOPIC: That book made chills run up and down my spine. One of my absolute favorites of all time.

ON TOPIC: NO sounds like a place I really want to visit. My coworker visited once and noted the rich "stew" of the city-rich and poor, dilapidated and showplace-all in the same block.

I'm a bit repressed, though, so the whole drink yourself stupid aspect of the culture bothers me :) And, I would argue that NORTHERN CALIFORNIA has the best local cuisine :)
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
I was surprised recently to discover that one of my cousins and her husband moved to NO, after a lifetime in the VA countryside. I mean, the humidity has got to be about the only place that beats Florida. But they love it.
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
Messages
4,473
Points
25
Big Easy King said:
Funny that you should mention it because we've already discussed the possibility of establishing our own consulting firm. :-D
Or if your realy adventurous, you could get into the nutria fur business. I heard prices are expected to skyrocket;)



OT: Didn't they dredge the mississippi (sp? can't remember how it goes) in the late 70's in order to avoid having the river change its course away from NO?
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
Rumpy Tunanator said:
OT: Didn't they dredge the mississippi (sp? can't remember how it goes) in the late 70's in order to avoid having the river change its course away from NO?
When in doubt just remember: M, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, hump back, hump back, I. ;-)

If I remember correctly, the Army Corp of Engineers has done everything from dredging to building dikes, and lord knows what else, to keep the Mississippi River on it's present course through NO and other cities. Perhaps some of the natives can fill us in some more.
 

Miko

Member
Messages
21
Points
2
The Army Corps of Engineers did indeed make a huge effort to divert the river and drain New Orleans, which lies below sea level. John McPhee reports on this effort at length in his terrific book The Control of Nature. Basically, the city is surrounded by a ring of earthen dykes which keep the waters at bay. They work in normal conditions, but should they be breached by a storm surge in a direct hurricane hit, they would actually turn the city into a giant bathtub, preventing water from escaping and basically drowning the city at a depth of up to 20 feet. Scary.

It was interesting to read the comments by BEK and Planderella. I'll offer another perspective, secondhand but I hope interesting because it's a story of relocation. When we're used to our own communities it's hard to pinpoint what might jump out at people from another region.

My brother and his wife lived in New Orleans for two years after relocating from New York. They had visited several times, and just fell in love with it. Since they were just starting their careers they thought, "why not New Orleans?"

Well, they found out. At first they were delighted, as was I when I made my visits to them. They loved the restaurants, culture, nightlife, music, everything. Loved the 14-foot ceilings, marble countertops, live-oak moldings, French doors, hot tub, courtyard, and hibiscus-strewn veranda that came along with their $550/month rental house in the Irish Channel. What a quality of life for such an affordable amount, they thought!

They left after two years. Their reasons:

1. The climate. Although they adapted to the heat and even liked it, they found that the particular thick atmosphere of New Orleans had the tendency to sap motivation, energy, and industry. As they often remarked, it's amazing anyone ever starts a business or constructs a building down there, when it's oh so much more pleasant to drink a cool drink in the shade and then sleep through the afternoon. The constant 99-100% humidity really does encourage sloth. It's one thing to stroll along a promenade as a tourist at a languid New Orleanian pace, but quite another to try to accomplish your errands, go grocery shopping, sweep your sidewalk, etc.

2. Crime and related issues. My bro & sister-in-law participated in their "neighborhood association", which was basically a code for "cop bribery group". Twice a year they would take up a collection to present to their local police as a 'gift'. This collection amounted to several thousand dollars. This system is apparently well embedded in New Orleans city life. The cops apparently make under $20,000 a year (and that in a city with one of the highest murder rates anywhere). So citizens feel comfortable taking matters into their own hands and essentially paying for policing. Neighborhoods where people can't afford that are underpoliced.

Although most of the violent crime seems to be drug-oriented and centers around poor neighborhoods where there's high drug activity, a couple who were close friends and neighbors of theirs were victims of an armed home invasion burglary in which they were bound and forced to lay face down on the floor while their home was robbed. There are a lot of guns in New Orleans. Many homeowners have them, and some folks make a habit of carrying handguns around on their person. The drug situation does appear to be acute, probably associated with the desperate poverty that many New Orleanians live in.

3. Government corruption. I don't remember enough about specific issues to comment on this, but I know they were continually disturbed by the old-boy politics and back-room machinations of the city government.

4. Hurricane Threat. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. My brother and his wife were there during Hurricane Mitch. Mitch was still two days away when they decided to follow the advice of city government and evacuate. They got in their car and pointed it toward Texas, and ended up a short time later stuck in motionless gridlock. They sat on the same section of two-lane highway -- one of only two major routes out of the city -- for 10 hours. Authorities were unable to get traffic moving; an entire city trying to leave all at once just created an incredible foul-up. Had the hurricane indeed hit (instead of veering off and petering out) they and thousands of other people stranded on that highway (which is suspended over a swamp) would have been dead ducks. Meanwhile, city residents who didn't have cars were corralled in the city football stadium for a couple of days, sleeping on cots and using stadium bathrooms. Not fun!

And that was the best-case scenario -- Mitch didn't even hit. After they went through this there was no question in their minds that a direct hit would have been catastrophic, miserable, grisly. They were very shaken by the experience, because it seems that the city has no viable emergency plan (other than "deny reality and hope for the best!"). If a hurricane hit the city directly, there's simply no way to evacuate New Orleans in time to prevent mass death. The infrastructure isn't adequate. The city itself has fatal flaws in its construction that would make it a giant basin in the case of storm surge.

So, taking all this into account, they decided that while they loved the Cafe au Lait, the "real" Mardi Gras, the Zapp's chips and muffalettas and jazz and Rock'n'Bowl, they weren't willing to make the sacrifices in quality of life that New Orleans demands. And that's why those rents are so cheap on those beautiful, gorgeous apartments.

I've painted a pretty negative picture here, but believe me, I'm also seduced by New Orleans' charms. Clearly, lots of people do accept the city's terms and live delightful lives there. But there's more to the place than meets the eye. It's one thing to fall in love with the magic of the place, especially when you're from out of town and dazzled by the joie de vivre; but it's quite a different proposition to make it your home. If it were as idyllic as it seems, everyone would want to live there, and those apartments would be $1500 instead of $500. So think it over before you pack your bags!
 
Last edited:
Messages
13
Points
1
Miko said:
They left after two years. Their reasons:

1. The climate. Although they adapted to the heat and even liked it, they found that the particular thick atmosphere of New Orleans had the tendency to sap motivation, energy, and industry. As they often remarked, it's amazing anyone ever starts a business or constructs a building down there, when it's oh so much more pleasant to drink a cool drink in the shade and then sleep through the afternoon. The constant 99-100% humidity really does encourage sloth. It's one thing to stroll along a promenade as a tourist at a languid New Orleanian pace, but quite another to try to accomplish your errands, go grocery shopping, sweep your sidewalk, etc.

2. Crime and related issues. My bro & sister-in-law participated in their "neighborhood association", which was basically a code for "cop bribery group". Twice a year they would take up a collection to present to their local police as a 'gift'. This collection amounted to several thousand dollars. This system is apparently well embedded in New Orleans city life. The cops apparently make under $20,000 a year (and that in a city with one of the highest murder rates anywhere). So citizens feel comfortable taking matters into their own hands and essentially paying for policing. Neighborhoods where people can't afford that are underpoliced.

Although most of the violent crime seems to be drug-oriented and centers around poor neighborhoods where there's high drug activity, a couple who were close friends and neighbors of theirs were victims of an armed home invasion burglary in which they were bound and forced to lay face down on the floor while their home was robbed. There are a lot of guns in New Orleans. Many homeowners have them, and some folks make a habit of carrying handguns around on their person. The drug situation does appear to be acute, probably associated with the desperate poverty that many New Orleanians live in.

3. Government corruption. I don't remember enough about specific issues to comment on this, but I know they were continually disturbed by the old-boy politics and back-room machinations of the city government.

4. Hurricane Threat. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. My brother and his wife were there during Hurricane Mitch. Mitch was still two days away when they decided to follow the advice of city government and evacuate. They got in their car and pointed it toward Texas, and ended up a short time later stuck in motionless gridlock. They sat on the same section of two-lane highway -- one of only two major routes out of the city -- for 10 hours. Authorities were unable to get traffic moving; an entire city trying to leave all at once just created an incredible foul-up. Had the hurricane indeed hit (instead of veering off and petering out) they and thousands of other people stranded on that highway (which is suspended over a swamp) would have been dead ducks. Meanwhile, city residents who didn't have cars were corralled in the city football stadium for a couple of days, sleeping on cots and using stadium bathrooms. Not fun!

And that was the best-case scenario -- Mitch didn't even hit. After they went through this there was no question in their minds that a direct hit would have been catastrophic, miserable, grisly. They were very shaken by the experience, because it seems that the city has no viable emergency plan (other than "deny reality and hope for the best!"). If a hurricane hit the city directly, there's simply no way to evacuate New Orleans in time to prevent mass death. The infrastructure isn't adequate. The city itself has fatal flaws in its construction that would make it a giant basin in the case of storm surge.

So, taking all this into account, they decided that while they loved the Cafe au Lait, the "real" Mardi Gras, the Zapp's chips and muffalettas and jazz and Rock'n'Bowl, they weren't willing to make the sacrifices in quality of life that New Orleans demands. And that's why those rents are so cheap on those beautiful, gorgeous apartments.

I've painted a pretty negative picture here, but believe me, I'm also seduced by New Orleans' charms. Clearly, lots of people do accept the city's terms and live delightful lives there. But there's more to the place than meets the eye. It's one thing to fall in love with the magic of the place, especially when you're from out of town and dazzled by the joie de vivre; but it's quite a different proposition to make it your home. If it were as idyllic as it seems, everyone would want to live there, and those apartments would be $1500 instead of $500. So think it over before you pack your bags!

thanks miko! this is exactly the kind of info I was looking for. i have been seeing that a lot of people move to new orleans from san fran and nyc as an escape from the prices, but your post hilights what outsiders may fail to realize as a component of life in the big easy.
 
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