I grew up in merced and yes N. Merced is the best part of town, NE merced is even better. Unless you have a killer deal, stay away from the development west of r street which is called Farhens park. The problem with that is it is close to Loughborough St which is a rough area with low income housing. Generally speaking east of G street and north of olive ave. There are some more expensive homes along north east bear creek (east of G street) that is in an area called harris acres. These are older homes, big yards, etc. They are also very nice too. if you go east on olive past mckee about two miles there are some very nice/expensive homes on the edge of town that is called white gate. Very nice neighborhood, lots of professionals live there.