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Old 04-21-2011, 04:19 PM
 
17 posts, read 31,468 times
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Ok...long time reader but I guess it's time to get some collective wisdom... Here's the background:

- We're (me and my wife) both late 30s, married, no kids, both professionals.
- We're living in Rockville, MD right now, but renting. I sold my house in 2005 (got married since then, 4 years ago) and have been renting ever since.
- We both have decent jobs (I'm in Federal IT consulting, my wife is into finance) and make about $350-400K a year at this point (although we were making less before).
- We have a decent amount of savings (~$300K cash and liquid investments)

Now, I've been tracking the local real estate market ever since I sold and I "think" we're reaching the point where we're ready to buy again. I "think" the market is reaching the point where it doesn't have a whole lot to fall more, although I agree that it will probably fall a bit more. So, why are we looking to buy now rather than wait? One word. Taxes. We gotta reduce our tax liability otherwise the AMT is gonna kill us.

Anyway, after a lot of deliberation we've made the decision to move to VA rather than stay in MD. Why? Again, one word. Taxes. MD is killing us with the state and local taxes (8.5% and counting). Here's our criteria/likes/dislikes/wants etc:

- Single Family, no townhouse/condo/etc
- Would idealy love a .5+ acre lot but could settle for a bit less.
- Willing to spend up to $1M for location, quality of housing, schools, demographics etc etc.
- Don't necassarily need a "mansion" but we do want atleast 3000 sqft above grade. That's just who we are. We like a spacious house.
- Atleast a 2 car garage. A must.
- Walkable community a big plus, country feel, nice to have
- Proximity to metro a HUGE plus.
- My wife will be commuting to Rockville (atleast for the next few years) and I'll be commuting to downtown DC (preferably metro)

With these in mind, I've narrowed down our list to Mclean, Great Falls, Tysons area, Vienna, Falls Church, Arlington, Ballston etc. Basically the "close in" neighbourhoods to DC. Obviously even $1M doesn't buy you a whole lot in Mclean or Great Falls, but there's a few properties that seem desirable now and then. From the others, I'm fast zeroing in on Vienna as the best alternative. We're fairly familiar with all of these neighbourhoods, and "seem" to like that whole Vienna pocket. However, we're not in love with it or anything.

Given all of the above, any words of wisdom? Any input is highly appreciated as we're looking to potentially move into something by year end.

Cheers.
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Old 04-21-2011, 05:23 PM
 
Location: Novastan
384 posts, read 901,412 times
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Given your your budget I would buy one of the renovated SFH around Clarendon Town Center.

Clarendon isn't 'country' at all. However the neighborhood is very walkable and close to metro. Most of the home lots along the orange lines are quite small. North Arlington will have bigger lots but the neighborhoods aren't that close to the metro.
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Old 04-21-2011, 06:15 PM
 
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If you go north out of Vienna on Lawyers Road or out of Oakton on Hunter Mill Road, there are still very nice houses on larger lots for a million and under. You won't do so well on walkability, as there isn't really so much to walk to, but it would come pretty close on everything else. Fifteen to twenty minutes to the Orange Line. The Rockville part would sound scary, but the only real crapshoot is the few miles of the Inner Loop up to 270. Coming home in the evening might be a little worse.
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Old 04-21-2011, 07:38 PM
 
885 posts, read 1,269,107 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kapone View Post

- We're (me and my wife) both late 30s, married, no kids, both professionals.
Are you plan to have kids? If so, when? If not, why not?
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Old 04-21-2011, 09:44 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,569 posts, read 12,665,533 times
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I was going to ask the same thing about kids, but all of the communities you have identified have good schools, so not really a problem. If you can swing McLean, it is a great area, pretty convenient to most places, and you can still get the feeling of space with lots of trees. Vienna is a cheaper version of McLean. You can get more for your money, generally, than McLean. Falls Church is a good option but more urban than country. On the other hand, there are two Metro stops nearby and decent walkability. Great Falls is beautiful and more country but not as convenient to Metro stops and much less walkable.

I don't know how the commute to Rockville would be from Clarendon. I used to commute to Rockville from Falls Church and from Vienna, and it's not too terrible.

All of your options are good ones; you just need to rank your most important qualifications - Metro? Walkability? Country Feel? It might be easier to pick an area.

Personally, I think Bethesda would be a better bet for you, but I understand you don't want the higher taxes, and $1M doesn't go too far in Bethesda. Then again, it doesn't go too far in Arlington or McLean either.

Last edited by michgc; 04-21-2011 at 10:47 PM.. Reason: because I know the difference between "too" and "to" but was typing too fast.
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Old 04-21-2011, 10:14 PM
 
17 posts, read 31,468 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Winter2010 View Post
Are you plan to have kids? If so, when? If not, why not?
Yes. Probably in the next 2-3 years. (We got married late, so just getting around to it...)
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Old 04-21-2011, 10:17 PM
 
17 posts, read 31,468 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michgc View Post
Personally, I think Bethesda would be a better bet for you, but I understand you don't want the higher taxes, and $1M doesn't go too far in Bethesda. Then again, it doesn't go to far in Arlington or McLean either.
Trust me, we thought about it hard. We have family in MD, so its tough to make that call, although we have friends scattered all over the metro area.

And as you said, Bethesda is not better or worse than Arlington or Mclean, and if we can save on taxes, without giving up anything (well, almost anything), I'm all for that.

Without getting a political debate, I'm getting a lil tired of the Democratic BS..and VA is Republican.
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Old 04-21-2011, 10:21 PM
 
515 posts, read 1,508,402 times
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I feel your pain. Lived in Montgomery County for 15 years until we finally escaped to NOVA. When we left we were paying 9% tax on some of our income. Not to mention the ridiculous property tax.

I would be in a better position to comment if you would post something about the type of house you prefer. Most people in the area love colonials, but some prefer a more contemporary home or a ranch. What about age? Some people only want old, some only new....

Great Falls is wonderful, but given where you work, I'd be very hesitant to choose it. AFAIK there is only one route into D.C. and traffic on it is horrific during rush hour.
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Old 04-21-2011, 10:52 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,569 posts, read 12,665,533 times
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I guess to me, you're giving up an easy commute to Rockville and a good commute to DC on the red line. I commuted from Bethesda to both Rockville and DC, and they were both pretty easy commutes. But I won't push Bethesda if you are done with Maryland. I hear ya.

I think your best bet is to drive around the various neighborhoods and towns you have listed and see which ones "click" with you and narrow it down that way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kapone View Post
Trust me, we thought about it hard. We have family in MD, so its tough to make that call, although we have friends scattered all over the metro area.

And as you said, Bethesda is not better or worse than Arlington or Mclean, and if we can save on taxes, without giving up anything (well, almost anything), I'm all for that.

Without getting a political debate, I'm getting a lil tired of the Democratic BS..and VA is Republican.
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Old 04-22-2011, 07:36 AM
 
17 posts, read 31,468 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michgc View Post
But I won't push Bethesda if you are done with Maryland. I hear ya.
Leaving Maryland is not written in stone as such, but it's getting close. Last week Maryland introduced 17 additional "surcharges"/hidden taxes on everything from parking to alcohol to cigarattes to car registration renewal to storm water fees...I'm just tired of this nickle and diming. If they wanna raise the taxes, have the balls to call a spade a spade and face the consequences.
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