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Old 08-03-2011, 02:48 AM
 
7 posts, read 30,225 times
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Which location is better for two young professionals who are newly wed?

About us:
We will both work for the government in Washington, DC.
If it helps, I'm a third year international trade/economics lawyer and he is a fourth year bio-chemical engineer (our combined income far exceeds 100k).
We currently live in central NJ.
We just got married six months ago and we're looking to move somewhere outside of Washington, DC but still close that is safe and has either a very good school system or very good private schools.
We are a young (I am 26 and he is 28) interracial couple (I am from Jamaica and he is from Germany).
We would like somewhere with an attractive urban area close by; somewhere lively and a town with much to do.

If you can think of any other place in the DC metro area that sounds like it would fit us, pleasendont hesitate to mention it! Any suggestion will be given consideration. Thank you!
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Old 08-03-2011, 05:33 AM
 
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Popular opinion is that the orange line in Arlington is more for the younger 20s crowd, while Alexandria is more for the older 30s. It really doesn't matter though as they are both nice areas.

If you are both working in DC it would make more sense to look for places in DC. There are many nice areas in the NW part of DC like Dupont Circle that would be a good fit.
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Old 08-03-2011, 06:14 AM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,131 posts, read 27,101,754 times
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In your situation I'd live right in DC. Capitol Hill is a great area for childless 20 somethings working in the city. You'll save a lot of money on commuting. I'd suggest Arlington or Alexandria if you had jobs in NoVA or had small kids and needed more space and better elementary schools.
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Old 08-03-2011, 06:42 AM
 
Location: among the clustered spires
2,380 posts, read 3,874,280 times
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Many areas of DC are fine even though elementary school, and I'd have no problem sending my kid to Deal/Wilson for MS/HS (then there's Banneker/Walls/Ellington for your future kids in HS).

1. Are you renting or buying? If your income is $150k then I'd be looking at places under $450-$500k. Renting ... 28% of $150k would get you $3500 or so but I'd top it off at $3000 a month. IMO, renting would probably get you more house but you'd need to prepare for increased rent, potential moves, etc.
2. Are kids on the way right now? I'd hesitate to use school district as a qualifier -- especially if you're renting -- in the absence of kids aside from a hazy "maybe someday."
2a. Keep in mind private school is going to run you an extra $1-2k a month for 13 years.
3. Do you want a single-family home, or are you ok with a townhouse or condo near a park?
4. Are you going to insist on recent (under 10 years) construction?
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Old 08-03-2011, 07:29 AM
 
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Since you indicated outside of DC, I would pick Alexandria over Arlington based on the information provided
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Old 08-03-2011, 07:54 AM
 
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You can't go wrong with either if you pick the "right" section of town.

The "Orange Line" area of Arlington - particularly Clarendon and Ballston - is indeed the young professional mecca for Northern Virginians. The premium rent probably won't be an issue for you. The only drawback may be that some of the more "meat market" atmosphere of some of the bars may grow tiresome for a newlywed couple.

Old Town Alexandria, by contrast, is very popular with couples ages 30-100. A lot of people enjoy the neighborhood's historical feel as well as the ability to jog/bike along the Mount Vernon Trail that starts near George Washington's home, goes through Old Town and ends past Reagan National Airport; you'll often have great views of the Potomac riverfront. You may see a fair share of touriss The bars and restaurants are still lively with patrons more likely to know when to say "when". So while it may find it a bit more difficult to find peers in your age bracket at first, you will soon "grow into it". Rent will be similar in many cases to "Orange Line" Arlington.

Each neighborhood I mentioned has easy access to the Metro. In fact, the "Orange Line" nickname sprouted from the train route that goes through the aforementioned Arlington areas.

Edit: Note that I'm assuming that you two will be renting. If you want to buy, then other factors may come into play...especially if you aspire to have an attached home which would be harder to find/afford in the places I suggested.
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Old 08-03-2011, 10:01 AM
 
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We have decided to hold off buying for now and rent an apartment or townhouse. I ask about the school district because my husband's niece will be staying with us for a while. We have spoken to a realtor and he "strongly and absolutely" believes that we should look outside of DC as it will give us more options from which to choose. The Orange Line does sound like a great area and honestly I'm happy to hear people recommend it. The age of the building really doesn't matter, as long as the building isn't falling apart.

We were actually thinking that since our combined income is about $240k and we are paid monthly, renting would be a good option for the areas at which we are looking. We were considering DC, but our realtor pretty much talked us out of it. We are still curious, so are there any suggestions for neighborhoods in DC?
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Old 08-03-2011, 10:41 AM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
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My wife and I are similiar to you guys--both federal employees, different races from each other, similar income, but about 10 years older than you. We live in N. Arlington and love it.

Keep in mind that not everywhere along the Orange Line is bars and condos--just the areas within about a quarter-mile of the station. There are still many single-family homes (though they are expensive). We live near Ballston, but we never go to any of those bars, and our street is very quiet. We like that the schools are great and most of the houses have that pre-war charm (though there are a few McMansions, unfortunately). And we're still near restaurants and shopping. No one on our street is under 30, and most of them are also Feds.

I think you should buy now. You have the income, and interest rates and house prices inside the Beltway will not ever be this low again. If you buy wisely--a house that's not overpriced, in Arlington or a nice part of Alexandria--your home value will only go up. All the stuff you read about plummeting home values does not apply inside the Beltway. (Prices have fallen somewhat from the 2006 peak, but not by that much--except in cases where people massively overpaid.)

Back to locations:

A lot of Alexandria is nice to look at, with historic structures and lots of trees. The negatives seem to be the schools (particularly the high school), the slightly longer commute, and occasional flooding in Old Town. The taxes may be higher as well, though I'm not sure about that.

I agree with your realtor about DC. Unless you're 100% positive you will never have kids, the bad schools and higher crime (and taxes) there make it a tough choice.

I would suggest you consider almost any neighborhood in North Arlington--22205, 22207, 22203, or 22201. Even S. Arlington isn't bad (just some parts). In Alexandria, Del Ray is the hip, progressive neighborhood, but it's right next to Arlandria, which has a lot of crime and is mostly Hispanic immigrants.

You could also look at Falls Church--particularly the portion near I-66.

Good luck!

Last edited by Carlingtonian; 08-03-2011 at 10:49 AM..
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Old 08-03-2011, 02:18 PM
 
Location: among the clustered spires
2,380 posts, read 3,874,280 times
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Rereading ... On $240k combined, you should be able to spare $4k a month for rent, which will be getting you a pretty nice TH in Orange Line Arlington.

You may also want to consider Falls Church City, which is also on the Orange Line, has good schools, and may not be quite as much a party haven as Orange Line Arlington.

With your income and no kids, you'll be able to afford $4k a month in rent, which will get you a fair bit of house pretty much anywhere in the region.
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Old 08-03-2011, 02:25 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,740 posts, read 8,980,272 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stpickrell View Post
Rereading ... On $240k combined, you should be able to spare $4k a month for rent, which will be getting you a pretty nice TH in Orange Line Arlington.
Actually, you can get a decent-sized SFH on the Orange Line with a mortgage of that amount. We did.
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