Maryland vs. Virginia (Baltimore, Silver Spring, Bethesda: for sale, condos, crime rate)
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Hi, everyone. I didn't mean to start a controversy with the title of this thread , but I'm a single, thirty-year-old male who is considering moving to the DC area for work, and I'm trying to decide where exactly within the area I should move.
A few passionate Marylander friends of mine have been trying to sell me on the Maryland suburbs, which they say are "better" than the Virginia suburbs for some of the reasons below:
-The housing is cheaper.
-The area is not as densely packed.
- You don't have to cross the Potomac River to go to DC, which reduces your commute time. (The reasoning being that bridges are traffic chokepoints.)
-Aside from the traffic issues associated with crossing the Potomac from Virginia, traffic within the Maryland suburbs isn't as bad as traffic within the Virginia suburbs.
Is that a fairly accurate assessment, or is there more to the comparison?
While still keeping an open mind about the Virginia suburbs, I've been looking at a few of the Maryland suburbs. My Marylander friends have warned me to generally avoid Prince George's County, so I've been looking in Montgomery County.
Silver Spring is one of the suburbs I'm looking at, particularly for its lower crime rate (relative to Prince George's County and DC) and the fact that it seems to be one of the more affordable options in Montgomery County, as far as housing goes, that's still close to DC.
I've also been looking at Rockville, which has a lower crime rate than Silver Spring but has pricier housing and is farther away from DC.
Another Montgomery County suburb I've been looking at is Gaithersburg. Housing there seems to be cheaper than even Silver Spring but with a much lower crime rate. The only negative, if you consider it a negative, is that it's alot farther away from DC than Silver Spring or even Rockville.
I intend on making use of the Metrorail to commute, and the northwestern terminus of the Red Line is the Shady Grove station in Gaithersburg. I researched the Metrorail commute time from that station to the Foggy Bottom-GWU station in DC and the Rosslyn station in Virginia and found that the average commute time was about forty-four minutes, which doesn't seem that bad if you don't have to sit behind a steering wheel.
With all that said, another important question I have is, since finding housing near Metrorail stations can be an expensive proposition, are the park-and-ride lots at the stations in Gaithersburg, Rockville, Silver Spring, and the other suburbs in general adequate enough to accomodate those who want to park-and-ride? The cost of the parking is not my main concern. My main concern is that I'd have to get up at some ungodly hour just to make sure I got a spot in one of these park-and-ride lots. Is getting a spot generally a problem, or is it specific to certain stations? And if it's specific to certain stations, how does availability of parking fare at the stations of the three suburbs I mentioned or any other suburbs you suggest?
Any information you guys can offer generally on the Maryland vs. Virginia debate, which suburb in Maryland is the "best" for a young, male, single working professional, the Metrorail issue, or any other related issue for that matter would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Wow well it sounds like you're your best council on the matter but yes you're on the right track from my perspective.
Having lived in both Northern Virginia (NOVA) and Maryland suburbs I'd pick Maryland anyday. One thing that was particularly frustrating to me was I could be 20 miles from somewhere in NOVA or 60 miles from it in Southern Maryland and the travel time was almost identical on most days due to traffic problems. I don't miss I-66 in VA at ALL!
You did happen to pick the most expensive county in Maryland to try and reside though. Montgomery county is known for big dollars on just about anything. You might be able to find some more affordable housing in other counties as well if you explore some other commuting options, if riding the metro is a major desire then you're pretty much on the right path there with your research.
I haven't personally tried the park and rides in Montgomery County but from the other counties I can tell you that if you miss the wrong window of parking opportunity you are in a world of hurt and might as well just drive to work.
At the end of the day it's not where you "are in life" it's where you want to be. If you're content being single, no remote shot of having a family anytime soon then you have many townhome opportunites you can explore to save a little dough. If you do eventually wish to settled down and have the luxury of the option you may want to invest in a single-family home so you avoid moving, and with (hopefully) raises in pay in the future it will only become easier to finance as you get older.
Good luck in your search, you seem to have done your homework and have a level head about you...stick to it.
Thanks for taking the time to offer that valuable information, teleblazer. So given what you've suggested;that Montgomery County is the best option as far as being the closest Maryland county to DC with the lowest crime rate (basically lower than Prince George's County's crime rate), what would your choice be within Montgomery County, taking into account affordability of housing, access to the Metrorail, and proximity to DC? I've pegged Silver Spring, Rockville, and Gaithersburg? Which one is "the best" among them and why? If not these Montgomery County suburbs, which ones would you say are "the best" and why?
I wish there were an easy answer but there isn't. Most areas are better in crime rate than portions of PG County and near Baltimore. The majority of the state is actually pretty good. There are multiple counties that border DC from both Maryland and Virginia's perspective.
Having lived in Northern VA I hated having a long ride on the Orange line and then commuting some ways further just to get to my house so I'd avoid considering Fairfax County and stick to just MD sources.
I lived in Calvert County (in MD) before moving more north in the state last year, and I would drive through PG County to park at one of the green line stations near Andrews AFB. You can do something similar from Anne Arundle county going to the New Carrolton Metro stop I believe. Often if parking was bad at any of these stations I visited I'd just drive right into DC and go to where I was headed. Many DC employers offer parking stipends or metro rail credits since they know you commute to get there. You have options...
If you stay in Montgomery County I'd recommend (from a Metro perspective) staying near Bethesda or Silver Spring. They offer good metro stops to get you into the city. Anything on the Red line pretty much goes through the heart of the area with limited transfers.
Silver Spring is nice but getting pretty crowded. Both Silver Spring and Rockville have MARC train access. Bethesda has two metro rail stops...but neither have MARC train access. One of the stops is at the medical center and one is named Bethesda itself. Rockville is a little further out of a drive or metro rail ride so that might get tiring after a while since it's almost the last stop on the Red Line.
Here's a detailed map of metro stations and where they are located incase you wish to refer to it before heading out this way.
Now the evil question...housing. While I'm no skilled realtor what I can offer is this info based on no real guidance as to how many bed/bath or what style of place you're looking at with what budget range.
Places near Bethesda can have townhomes/condos from the 200s up to single family properties with land up to 14.5 million.
Silver Spring goes from sub 100k for condo/townhome up to single family
properties with land up to about 8 million. There's more posted homes for sale
in this area than Bethesda to my knowledge.
Places near Rockville can have townhomes/condos from the 200s up to single family properties with land up to 7 1/2 million. This area has slightly fewer homes for sale than Silver Spring.
I suggest doing much more research on housing in the area and weigh that against your commute tolerance. If it's convenient, safe or has a lot of what you want you're probably going to pay through the nose for it. =)
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