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What is happening in St. Paul’s West Seventh Neighborhood? I’ll tell you, because I live there now.

Almost exactly one year ago, my husband, son, dog and I were looking for a new place to call home. Originally from St. Paul, my husband and I knew we wanted to stay on the East Side (#keepstpaulboring), but we struggled to find an affordable option for the life we hoped to build as a family.

Then one day, a unique property with a double lot became available in the West Seventh neighborhood. It needed some work, but we only needed to see it twice before pulling the trigger. As we told friends and family about our exciting new home, the first question was inevitably: “How is that neighborhood?”

Of course, this was our first question, too. Growing up in St. Paul’s Highland Park, the story I was told of the West Seventh area was that it was full of crime and abandoned buildings. It was an area we drove through, not to.

After one year in our new neighborhood, I can say without hesitation that it was the best decision for our family — and here’s why.

1) It’s shockingly affordable.

If you take a walk in the neighborhood, you’d be surprised how many lovely, well-kept homes and manicured parks there are along West Seventh. Mostly built in the early 1900s, each home feels unique and special.

In today’s competitive housing market, it seems like every other pocket of St. Paul is overpriced. We found that there were very few three- to four-bedroom homes in neighborhoods like Highland Park, Mac-Groveland or Summit Hill for less than $350,000.

Along West Seventh, however, the prices are very reasonable. Plus, many of the homes are newly remodeled, have open floor plans and big backyards. It’s a growing family’s dream.

2) Restaurants, markets and bakeries — oh, my!

Have you been to Keg and Case yet? Then you know how special it is for St. Paul — heck, Minnesota in general. Compared with destinations in major cities like New York’s Chelsea Market or Chicago’s Italian Eatery, Keg and Case offers a similar experience of multiple vendors in one location. From meat shops to mushroom farms, the experience of Keg and Case is truly unique. Plus, having a Five Watt coffee within walking distance is a dream come true.

After Keg and Case opened, other major restaurants have announced their spots along West Seventh. Rose Street Patisserie opened a unique cafe full of delicious pastries, and Tori Ramen just announced that it’s moving to a West Seventh location.

In short, if these majorly popular restaurants, markets, and bakeries are moving to St. Paul’s West 7th neighborhood, you should too.

3. A short distance to nearly everything.

Whether or not you’re a fan of electric scooters, you’ll find comfort knowing that downtown St. Paul is just a five-minute scooter ride from the West Seventh neighborhood. With events like Flugtag, St. Patrick’s Day, Wild games, and more just down the road — it’s the easiest commute, ride-share or scooter ride you’ll take.

Also, the neighborhood is commuter-friendly. In each direction, there’s easy access to major highways that more often lead to a reverse commuter situation.

4) The neighbors are generous.

One thing I did not expect when I moved to the West Seventh neighborhood was how welcoming and inviting the neighbors would be. Our immediate neighbors have all lived in the area for years — even decades — and have not seen a lot of turnover. That’s because everyone knows and supports one another and spends time together. It’s heartbreaking to them when someone leaves, which is why I was worried when we — as outsiders — were moving in.

We’ve experienced nothing but generosity from our West Seventh neighbors, more than any other community we’ve lived in so far.

If you’re in the market, or will be soon, I’d highly suggest checking out the West Seventh area as we did. You’ll find the homes to be affordable, the food and event scene to be lively, the commute times to be short, and the neighbors to be welcoming.

But that’s just my opinion. Come see for yourself.

Madeline O’Phelan is a marketing professional who lives and works in St. Paul.