New to Duluth

My family (hubby, myself, and two 3-year-olds) are relocating to Duluth this summer from Madison, Wisconsin. We want to rent a 3- or 4-bedroom family home with a backyard for the little ones, a garage, and laundry. Any ideas/suggestions/tips for a newbie would be welcome. What are your favorite neighborhoods or areas in town? What is the best way to find a place?

38 Comments

YouKnowMe

about 10 years ago

Just prepare yourself to be shocked by the cost of rent for a home like you described.

heysme

about 10 years ago

I agree with YouKnowMe but check on Craigslist and in the Duluth News Tribune. There are quite a few rental companies out there and if you start now and do a little research you may find something appealing.

Dorkus

about 10 years ago

Rent is high, that is true. But that is purely  because we are a college town. Coming from Madison, you should be very well used to that. 

As far as favorite neighborhoods; Lakeside, Congdon, Hidden Valley, Piedmont, Hermantown, Woodland and the hillside in Spirit Valley are all very good areas. There are other areas that are nice as well, but they border areas that you would probably rather avoid for a residence. 

As far as finding a place, you can use Craigslist but it is hit or miss as it is with anywhere else. Personally, I have found the best deals there, but it would be hard if you are relocating. 

I have had good experiences with Apartment Advisers. They are a local rental agency that seems to deal with some good people.

johnjaundice

about 10 years ago

Yeah on apartment advisers!  They are geared more towards family homes so that's a good place to start.  I've lived in Woodland, Hunter's Park, and Congdon and would highly recommend all three.

waferdog

about 10 years ago

It would be helpful to know what your budget is.

I may be biased but I believe that you get the most bang for your buck in Morgan Park.  Very solid old homes that are noticeably cheaper than those on the East side (I am not sure if they are cheaper to rent but I would guess so), two nice parks with playgrounds and direct access to trails and the St. Louis River, tons of wildlife and an active community group.  I will warn you that some people hold a negative view of Morgan Park, and I will agree that there are a few undesirables there, but I have found it to be nice, comfortable, and quiet place to live.

Dorkus

about 10 years ago

I can second Morgan Park. There is one small area where a slumlord owns a few buildings which house the majority of the problems, but the rest of the area is very nice.  It is an old steel mill neighborhood and is much like a small town. 

Lots of duplex/triplex/fourplex buildings with decent yards, but there are still plenty of single-family homes with nice yards. Most of the houses were built in the 1900s and built well.

-Berv

about 10 years ago

I would recommend Morgan Park if you have some sort of mental illness you're trying to exacerbate, or if you are about to retire and have no interests except television, or if you really, really hate walking anywhere.  There's as close to nothing in Morgan Park as is humanly possible.  The fact that the sun sets there at like 2pm everyday should be enough to scare you away.  You should drive through there just to appreciate other places better. Sure there's some decent sub-neighborhoods in there but really, recommending someone from Madison move to Morgan Park?  Have you been to Madison?

andrew

about 10 years ago

My girlfriend and I moved up from Minneapolis last spring.  We were very shocked and disheartened that there are so many slumlords and over priced dumps in Duluth.  We got outright lied to a few times and stood up for a couple showings with listings on Craigslist.  God forbid you have a pet, this town hates cats.  I had never had such trouble finding an apartment as we did moving to Duluth.  But we did finally find a great place and great landlords, thankfully, by posting a listing in the "Housing Wanted" section of Craigslist which they responded to.

As for the Morgan Park suggestions, I don't understand the appeal of the place.  I would rather live in any other neighborhood in Duluth than Morgan Park.

Claire

about 10 years ago

I love Chester Park myself... no interest in moving west of Mesaba or east of 24th,,,

AlliH

about 10 years ago

Thank you so much for your truly helpful comments! Apartment Advisors was super to talk to this afternoon and we will use them to help us find a place later this spring. We are definitely leaning east towards Woodland or Lakeside.... my husband drove through Morgan Park (which he thought was New Duluth) last weekend and was definitely not impressed. And thanks for making us both laugh Dorkus.

AlliH

about 10 years ago

@ waferdog, we were hoping to spend less than 1300/month.

vicarious

about 10 years ago

Stay far, far away from Park Point. Those people are scary (...drugs).

BadCat!

about 10 years ago

Unlike most cities, Duluth's "good" and "bad" areas aren't really whole neighborhoods, but rather go block by block. I've seen it as distinct as one side of the street was a very nice, comfortable neighborhood, while directly across the street was super-ghetto.

If someone tells you "avoid such and such" or "all of this area is good," they're over-simplifying. I will say however that Duluth seems to have a fair number of bad landlords and over-priced properties. There are however a lot of awesome landlords who really care about their rentals. Just take your time looking around, get some referrals, and drive past any potentials at 11pm on a Saturday to see if it's scary.

jakester

about 10 years ago

I'm with BadCat regarding over-simplifying good/bad neighborhoods. There are bad/good things about all neighborhoods in Duluth. I lived for 25 years in what is now called Observation Park on the fringe of downtown. Many people in Duluth would have avoided this location because they thought it unsafe (haha - Duluth is pretty safe in general). I had an incredible view and easy access to downtown. Plus there was an actual degree of diversity (relative for Duluth) that most of the good neighborhoods do not have.

One of the things you will find about Duluth is that there is a lot of natural space left. If you put in some time looking you may be able to snag a house that is located near or adjacent to one of these spaces. Again, in my Ob Hill neighborhood I was within walking distance of Observation Park (an actual park in the neighborhood) and to Central Park. The latter is a relatively unknown but large tract of land just west of downtown. I have spent many an afternoon walking Central Park and enjoying views of the harbor and never seeing another person. Nowadays the Superior Hiking Trail cuts through it and you can do some distance hiking as well.

While it might sound like I am pitching Observation Hill I am also trying to get across the idea that there are various places in Duluth to find interesting places to live without confining yourself to the generally accepted "nice and safe" neighborhoods. And they are likely to be cheaper.

emmadogs

about 10 years ago

On the other hand, there are safety concerns in downtown that don't generally exist elsewhere.  I rented in downtown when I first moved here, into a gorgeous old converted apartment.  I moved out when Minneosta started placing sex offenders in that area.  So I think if you have kids, there are safer areas.  I live in Congdon, and it's a short walk/bike to the Lakewalk, and little parks scattered through to hang out in.

rappdaddy

about 10 years ago

AlliH, 

Depending on timing I might be able to help you out although we are hoping for spring not summer. We are moving a whopping 850 feet away and renting our current house this spring.  4 bed, 3 bath, 1 car attached with walkout basement in Lakeside off 40th Avenue East. Fenced backyard with playset. I am a real estate agent (who saves dogs from impending doom off the freeway in my free time -- see the "Why I love Duluth" post).  If interested in talking more about it email me at krappana @ remax.net.  -- Kevin

lauriejo57

about 10 years ago

Have you considered Superior?  Flat/no steep hills, great schools, great parks/trails/etc and five minutes from Duluth!

BadCat!

about 10 years ago

You should totally trust any guy who's willing to rescue a wayward freeway dog! :)

StrangeDamage

about 10 years ago

I was raised in Madison and moved to the twin ports 13 years ago. Whatever you do don't even bother to look in Superior. Yes the rent may be higher in Duluth than Superior but after you spend some time here you will be glad you landed in Duluth. Welcome to the Duluth!

Conrad

about 10 years ago

Duluth is such a hard city to point to one neighborhood and say it is bad or good.  This city is so full of "pocket" neighborhoods created by the hill or the woods running through the city where you might be in what is considered a bad part of town and it's just wonderful.  I live in Lincoln Park which is a "bad" part of town but I am in a pocket where I couldn't feel safer and it's smack dab in the middle of town which makes getting to places easy.  Check the crime website map thingy before a final decision but know that 2-3 blocks away from a seedy part could actually have a nice, tucked away neighborhood protected by woods, the hill, or both.

Fitz

about 10 years ago

There's one other thing that lauriej forgot to mention that Superior has and Duluth lacks: a view of a beautiful city.

*ducks*

waferdog

about 10 years ago

-Berv, I don't get your objections to Morgan Park. In fact, your response sort of makes you look like an elitist. I live there and it has most everything I need.  Everything else I can jump in my car and go get.  Where do you want to walk?  You can walk forever in and around Morgan Park.  Walk till you can't walk anymore.  Or do you want to be able to walk from bar to bar easily?  If someone wanted that, they could just move downtown.  The sun-setting argument?  I would venture a guess that we get more sun than the communities that are actually on the hillside.  Also, are there not nice, quiet neighborhoods in the Madison area.  Do you think they are looking for a pure urban experience?

 To be quite honest, I am aware that there is a bias against Morgan Park and far west Duluth from the other areas of town.  But this bias is not based on fact.  Having lived in all portions of town over the years, I can tell you that Morgan Park is just as good as any of them.

BadCat!

about 10 years ago

My only complaint about Morgan Park is that it feels so far away (even though it really isn't). When I lived in Minneapolis, traveling 15 minutes to go somewhere was a short trip. Now I live in Duluth, it's practically a road trip. :p

Herzog

about 10 years ago

Alli, let's focus on the meat of what we're trying to get at here and ignore all this other stuff shall we?  I'm going to fill you in on one of Duluth's dirty little secrets, free of charge.  Remember back to when Claire insisted she wouldn't live anywhere east of 27th?  This is interesting, because 27th Avenue East, coincidentally, happens to be the exact street whereby the city of Duluth ceases to legally sell alcohol.  From this point west, all the way to the Pacific ocean, alcohol is readily sold, but for ten miles east of 27th, alcohol is strictly verboten. This will surely raise further questions for you and your family as you consider all the implications of this rule.

 Indeed,  it highlights the 'unusual' geopolitical climate of the very town to which you are moving. Remember that Duluth is 26.2 miles long, and an average of 2 miles wide, this is not like very many other places. There are a great many differences between East/Middle/West. If you can procure a nice VHS copy of the film West Side Story, you'll probably get the gist to what I am referring.  Now, I don't know if school districts are important toward your decision, but if they are, I might consider the dog gentleman's offer.  Statistically speaking, there are a great many things left in/out of the side of town where there is no alcohol, depending on your needs.  

On my last check of the map, the sexual predators seem to be somewhat evenly distributed throughout the city, much to my surprise.  One can't surmise that no alcohol means no offenders, but there does appear to be a great drop in other forms of crime when alcohol is absent in one area,  but purchasable in other parts of the city. Perhaps this an idea which will catch on in the rest of the country.  So...do your homework, and good luck.

Claire

about 10 years ago

I said I would never live EAST OF 24th Herzog. Access to alcohol has nothing to do with it. Well... maybe it does.

sean42

about 10 years ago

Boy, after reading some of the comments in this thread I realize what a fool I was to move to Superior.  Every neighborhood in Duluth is better in every way by comparison!

Oh well, I guess I will have to console myself by hanging out in my large backyard in my quiet neighborhood.  Maybe I'll walk the short four blocks to the Osaugie Trail if I'm feeling really suicidal over my poor life choices.

lauriejo57

about 10 years ago

I'm here for you sean42. I may be on the Millenium Trail or in the Superior National Forest ... little secrets -- with many Minnesota people taking advantage of them!  You're no fool!

in.dog.neato

about 10 years ago

Duluth also sports the southern end of the Superior Hiking Trail which winds its way from one end of the city to the other...and a mere block from my own chunk of the universe. It'll eventually link up with the southernmost terminus of the main trail south of Two Harbors which continues northeast to Canada.

"our" section (that being the shot of trail that stretches from Chester Bowl to E. 4th St is also called the Dan Proctor Trail, named for the man who tirelessly gives of himself to help maintain it.

It also happens to run right past both my place of employ *and* my neighborhood watering hole.

rev

about 10 years ago

I think I'm with Claire. My wife and I grew up in the Twin Cities burbs, which gave us both an aversion to the suburban lifestyle. We like Chester and the East Hillside, and bought a house near Grant Elementary after living near 4th St and 12th Ave East for 6 years. We like the hills, the woods, access to bus routes, and the people we know here (EHCC represent). 

Good luck and welcome to Duluth!

AlliH

about 10 years ago

I really appreciate how much city-pride and neighborhood-pride people have in both Duluth and in Superior. It seems like every comment testifies to how much you each love your community and location- and it makes us feel like we are moving to a special place where we will be able to find our own nook.

Claire

about 10 years ago

I was just thinking yesterday, some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in Duluth have the most incredible views. And some of the nicest neighborhoods don't ... which is so strange to me. Anyway, Rev lives in my favorite neighborhood, it's just difficult to find a 4 bedroom house in that neighborhood.

emmadogs

about 10 years ago

Claire, you're right about the views.  I lived in Central Hillside when I first moved here.  I was warned that this was the "bad" part of town, and I couldn't believe it.  The fantastic views, gorgeous old architecture, and access to downtown would have made it the most exclusive district in any other city. This dynamic still truly puzzles me.

Claire

about 10 years ago

Emmadogs, I don't get it, I would love to be enlightened why this is so.

gfinseth

about 10 years ago

Central Hillside! My husband and I lived in an adorable three bedroom house with laundry and garage for well under your budget. We could walk downtown, to Chester Creek, and to Whole Foods. Being from Minneapolis, we found it to be the perfect mix of the natural beauty that Duluth offers (views of the lake from the master bedroom) and city amenities (bars, restaurants, and theatres in walking distance). The house we had actually may be for rent again in June. The agency that handles it is Ally Realty.

BadCat!

about 10 years ago

I used to live on Lake and 4th (the dead center of the ghetto as some would call it) and I absolutly loved it! It was (mostly) quiet, and I could look out my huge picture window to see the lake, the bay, and the bridge. And I didn't need a wall clock, as the cool Central clock tower was right there.
It did make for interesting stories though, like when the Duluth swat and police helecopter were questioning people as they came to my Halloween party (apparently they were looking form some shooter in the neighborhood).

BadCat!

about 10 years ago

Hrm, upon re-reading, my comment makes less sense. No, the helecopter was not the one asking the questions.

wildgoose

about 10 years ago

If anyone tells you that there are no sex offenders in Lakeside or Congdon or Woodland just smile and nod, that's what everyone else does.  I grew up in one of those very desirable areas according to this post and trust me, there are sex offenders there. Also, the threshold for being publicly registered is high enough that someone with a good lawyer can plead the offense down to something that keeps it quiet publicly. Sex offenders love keeping things quiet. If you are ever in the nightmare scenario of dealing with a sex offender who has contact with your kids you will most likely find it is someone that you know and trust and that income, race and neighborhood really don't matter.  That said, there are certain areas that seem to have many more sex offenders than others which has more to do with rental issues than with the character of the people in the neighborhood.  I live in rockthrowing range of where  Badcat! described and there are certainly problems but I have some of the best neighbors that I have ever had in my life here, too. Plus all of the other amenities of living in the heart of what is for me the world's greatest little city to live in.   This concludes this threadjack.

wildgoose

about 10 years ago

Also -Berv's rant on Morgan Park is hilarious but I do tend to think that Morgan Park is a great place for some families. If you like that sort of thing.  I actually might even have recommended it to you but I see that you have already ruled it out.  One other area that is nice is Endion which is very close to where In.Dog.Neato lives.  

Another note about Duluth's neighborhood pride issues is that they were done that way by design of the people who have streets and parks named after them today. A very class conscious bunch with white supremacist leanings laid out these particular neighborhood boundaries and after a hundred years and more the East-West psychic boundaries and other hallmarks of the bad old days are fading and blurring. This is in part due to new people coming in, taking a look around and making their own decisions based on new perspectives not old ones.

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