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Old 09-08-2013, 05:48 PM
4 posts, read 4,846 times
Reputation: 10


I have been browsing this forum for over a year now doing research on my move and it has been a great help. I finally decided to make a post and get some opinions on my situation.

I am a 27 year old single male working for the government and am transferring to my new facility in Warrenton. Salary is starting at about $120k. I currently live in NJ and spent a fair amount of time going out in NYC. I don't know a single person in DC area so I wanted to start out in an active area where I can go out and make new friends.

I narrowed my search down from this forum to Gainesville, Arlington, Alexandria, Reston, and Foggy Bottom. I went down to visit all of these areas and here are my thoughts.

Gainesville: Upcoming suburbs. Really nice houses and townhouses. There are very few apartments; the one somewhat appealing apartment complex I found was income limited. They are almost done with Virginia Gateway, which is a shopping area with tons of name brand, and large box retail stores. This is a place that really appealed to me to move and buy a house in a few years after I have settled in. It looks like a great place to raise a family and is within 15 min driving distance of my job. The area had a very south Jersey feel to it in that it is spread out, has farms, but all the normal conveniences you would need in life. Although some of the realtors I spoke with said they will have nightlife in Virginia Gateway, I think it will be in the form the chain restaurant bars and maybe a pub. Not the ideal place for a single guy.

Reston: This place is really clean and polished. Reston Town Center has a lot of stores and a small city feel to it. The atmosphere there felt very manufactured, because it is. There wasnít much in the form of culture, diversity, or young people from what I saw. The area seemed to cater to the 35+ age group. Although very nice, I donít think it was for me. The drive to work for me was about 40 min with no traffic from here.

Arlington: Before actually visiting, I was dead set that this was going to be the place to be. I was disappointed when actually seeing it though. Things seem spread apart, and it also seems very manufactured. Everything is clean, and in top shape it appears. I went on a Saturday and in the middle of the day I really didnít see much action in the street. At nighttime, there was a bit more but I didnít really feel like I was in a city. It looked like a city because of the streets and the buildings, but wasnít bustling at all. The rent in the single bedroom high rises I looked at was about $1900-2100. The drive to work with no traffic showed about 45min. I havenít totally written this place off yet, but it was not what I expected. I will be paying another visit and spend more time walking around to see the feel.

Alexandria: The Old Town area was very nice. I was impressed with all the people walking about enjoying themselves. The drive shows about 50 min to work.

Georgetown/Foggy Bottom: These two areas very much more my pace. Everyone was walking around having a great time. A lot of action, a lot of diversity, and people of all ages. It seems that Georgetown is over my ideal budget of $2000 a month but there are a couple places in Foggy Bottom that fit the bill. Foggy bottom seems to be in an ideal location and has a metro. I seems like I can get into something for about $2000-2100 with parking based on my very preliminary research. Google maps shows the drive to be about 50 min with no traffic.

I know these commute times can be way off with DC traffic. I have a reserve commute though and my work times will have me leaving for work at 5:20am on half the week, and at about 1:20pm during the other part of the way. I will be leaving work at 2:30pm or 10:30pm respectively coming back into DC. Is this commute doable giving the reserve commute and the timing?

Am I way off about any of these areas I researched? Any information would be helpful.

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Old 09-08-2013, 05:55 PM
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You've done a lot of research, and I agree with most of your assessments. I'm not sure where you looked in Arlington (it's a big and diverse area), but certain areas are also like Old Town Alex or Foggy Bottom,

What is your maximum for commuting?
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Old 09-08-2013, 06:10 PM
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To be honest, I don't think Warrenton is close enough to any of those places to comfortably commute for any length of time. Especially DC. Of course, you're only renting, so you can get out if it gets to be too much. I agree about DC being a place you would probably like to live most, if you can stand the commute. I disagree with your realtor about nightlife in Gainesville. I don't think you'll like it any better than Warrenton. I personally love Old Town, too, but it's not quite as young and hip as DC. Just go with your gut and make sure you can get out of your lease early if need be.
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Old 09-08-2013, 06:24 PM
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Sounds like you just didn't go out in the right part of Arlington. Clarendon is very busy on a Saturday night.
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Old 09-08-2013, 06:48 PM
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,555 posts, read 12,615,182 times
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The one thing you are off about is diversity in Reston. It's definitely very diverse. Culture or nightlife would be debatable, depending on how you define them. You're in a tough position because your job is so far out. Commutes from the city would be tough. Gainesville is very suburban. Twenty years ago it was just farms out there. Not sure what I'd recommend for you. Perhaps live in Warrenton and go into the city on the weekends?
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Old 09-08-2013, 08:00 PM
4 posts, read 4,846 times
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Originally Posted by stateofnature View Post
Sounds like you just didn't go out in the right part of Arlington. Clarendon is very busy on a Saturday night.
I was right around the Clarendon Ballroom. It was alive, but just not packed like I expected.
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Old 09-08-2013, 08:37 PM
Location: among the clustered spires
2,380 posts, read 3,859,685 times
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I'd take a look at Manassas, Winchester, Leesburg, or Fredericksburg (college town, might be a nice thing for a single guy just out of college).

All four would be more active than Warrenton and would cost less than Alexandria/DC.

Make some friends in DC/Arlington/Alexandria and crash there on weekends. The $$$ you save on rent can be spent buying drinks/meals for your friends.
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Old 09-08-2013, 10:33 PM
Location: Lancaster, PA
902 posts, read 924,157 times
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I would live as close as possible to Warrenton - DC/ARL to Warrenton everyday? Hell no. Maybe Leesburg or Ashburn, at least the rent will be way cheaper and you can use the savings for cabs to visit downtown.
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Old 09-09-2013, 05:26 AM
2,462 posts, read 8,041,304 times
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If there were regular shuttle service between your workplace and the mothership in McLean, it would be much easier to consider living in Foggy Bottom or Arlington. Unless you have made similar commutes by car in your current location, you should not underestimate how draining it can be. And based on the work schedule you mentioned, it seems that you would be getting home too late half the week to meet anyone for dinner or activities in DC.

Have you tried contacting your new coworkers of similar age? They may be in the best position to give you advice on commute realities or even shared housing opportunities. And next time you visit, definitely plan to try out the commute from the DC or Arlington areas.
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Old 09-09-2013, 07:17 AM
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I currently live in Bristow (old married lady) but have lived in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, etc and where my late 20's have been awhile, I can say I think Warrenton has more of a nightlife than Gainesville. I work just off the 66/Fairfax County Parkway and have a lot of co-workers than live in Arlington. Depending on exactly where in Arlington, I typically hear of 45 minute commutes and thats just to the Fair Lakes area. Backups on 66 going west are typical until you get past Route 28. From there (depending exactly where in Warrenton) is potentially another 40 minutes. Part of the problem is all the lights on 29.

Of all the choices you listed the only one I would consider in your shoes is Arlington and more specifically the Ballston area.

IMO, I would move as close to work as possible, get the lay of the land, settle into your job and then start working on your social life. I can only assume that your social life includes more than just sitting in a hip bar.
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