We Wanted to Move; the Police Warned Us Not To
New Orleans... there’s no other city like it. The food, the entertainment, the architecture... this is a city not to be missed. A thirty and forty something couple, we are well traveled (internationally and nationally) and searching for a place to put down roots. How could you not to fall in love with so much soul, beauty and history?
If youre thinking of visiting, absolutely go! The people and the experience is a customized blend of so many cultures. Diversity is aparrent in language, in music and in love. As a mixed couple, living in present day America, New Orleans was reminiscent of another time, a dawn before the days of so much judgment and hatred divided us. Of course, the weather absolutely can be oppressive, but nowhere is perfect, right?
Having lived in (and loved!) many transitional neighborhoods (DC, NYC and LA) we were not at first put off by the crime. We were after a walkable historic neighborhood with great eats and green spaces. Although the price of real estate in NOLA has catapulted skywards, we were willing to sacrifice space to live our dream.
Like many dreams, however, we had a somewhat abrupt awakening. As local police explained to us, NOLA has incredibly high crime rates... and we’re not talking mere muggings and petty theft. Rape, murder and violent crime occurs continually and thoroughout the city... although some areas may be less affected than others, these brutally tragic and life altering incidents (carjackings are a reality of life) weave their ways through so many neighborhoods. The city of New Orleans has fundamentally flawed infrastructure- pot holes can require an SUV with off road capabilities, just to navigate an otherwise upscale neighborhood. As one Officer pointedly asked us “Dont it tell you nothing about the corruption here that we cant even get these roads straight? Crime here ain’t never gonna change. It ain’t worth it.”
It was the last three words that stayed with us. We subscribed to a neighborhood bulletin whilst in town (thanks to our realtor) and the violence was sobering.
Equally worrisome, as was reported in a New York Times article, the USA has not functionally supported the levies surrounding NOLA. In the era of climate change that we now live, it’s no longer a matter of ‘if’, its ‘when’ and ‘how badly’. NOLA is functionally below sea level- think about that. Many of the houses (we toured almost 100) have extensive structural damage, due to the flooding. Are you really able to make a financial investment into a city like this? I’ve heard it said that NOLA is tantamount to a bad relationship that you just can’t leave, because the good times are so overwhelmingly intoxicating- and that’s a fair analogy. But there’s an instrinsically violent side, as well. For us, the police officer’s four little words (“It ain’t worth it”) were sobering.
What you think a neighborhood looks like at lunch time, is often worlds apart from the reality of that same area late at night. More than once, we thought we had found our forever home- only to come back “after hours” and realize that there were major issues that we would never have uncovered, had we not returned.
Ultimately, the violent crime was a dealbreaker. So, too, was risking our financial future in such an at risk area. We ended up picking Wilmington NC- beautiful historic homes, walking distance to downtown, great weather, fun and funky with an artsy vibe- and our favorite place to grab drinks here is (no joke) called Bourbon Street. We are 20 mins drive to sandy beaches, a boat ride away from untouched barrier island, steps to loads of cafes, fantastic eats and so many dog /people parks... the houses here are less than half the price we would have paid in New Orleans. We still got hit with our hurricane (thanks Florence!) but the worst damage that happened was a few shingles off our shed. We can only imagine what it could have been, had we been living in New Orleans.
All of that being said, if the violent crime isn’t a concern for you and youre not planning to invest in buying a home, NOLA is an incredible scene. The Magazine Street Area is fantastic!
Samira | Wilmington, NC