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Old 06-12-2008, 01:01 PM
9 posts, read 28,607 times
Reputation: 15


I'm considering a job in Alexandria (King St. & 395) and am researching my apartment options. I want to minimize my commute (currently 60 min each way in Chicago). Like others, I'm looking for good Metro access and a fun, walkable neighborhood.

I'm moving from Chicago, so I'm used to the neighborhood feel with 'quick' access to downtown Chicago. I'm a single 32 y/o female looking for local businesses, organic produce, cool bars, yoga studios, live music, parks (I have a small dog) and maybe a water view? If anyone knows Chicago, let's just say I'd be moving into a loft downtown or on Printer's Row or maybe to Andersonville or East Lakeview if I was staying. I'm not a Lincoln Park/Wrigleyville kind of girl. A few chains are fine (where isn't there a Gap?!) but I DONT want to live near Olive Garden strip malls.

I've read some good posts and characterizations of Clarendon, Ballston, and other areas. I've heard good things about Old Town Alexandria, and that is appealing because of the King Street access to work. But how "old" is "old" when folks describe the demographic there? Clarendon is described as "hip" but the list of businesses sounds pretty corporate. I know the Dupont Circle area pretty well, but don't want that kind of commute. Also considering the Eastern Market area in DC, although Old Town and Clarendon seem like the best options.

I'm thinking of going to a high-rise for my first place. I want a/c, w/d, and other amenities. I looked at the Alexander (next door to work) and The Grove at Arlington but neither are near Metro stops. Input on neighborhoods and suggestions on apartment search sites would be much appreciated.
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Old 06-12-2008, 01:42 PM
Location: DC
3,286 posts, read 10,572,489 times
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I lived right by where you're working for a year and loved it. If you don't "need" the metro, the King&395 area is definitely a good consideration. There are buses to Shirlington and the Pentagon metro. For that area, you're looking at a 15-minute drive to DC out of rush hour (in rush hour it took me 20-25 minutes to the Capitol). Metro-wise, you'd have to either take a bus or park by Pentagon City and metro/cab from there. Basically, the huge plus for this area would be 1) cheaper than Old Town, but still close, 2) ridiculously close to work.

As far as Old Town, at 32 I'd say you're the perfect demographic. Especially with the dog. Old Town has an infatuation with dogs (they're everywhere). It's not a college-kid type of place (many people looking for places are 22-24, hence the references to an "older" demographic in Old Town), but I still love it and felt that I could appreciate it so much more if I were closer to 30 than 23. Lots of nice restaurants, bars, shops, etc. Everyone I've ever brought there has loved it, hands down. I'm not sure about traffic, but my guess would be that you'd be going against most of it if you were to go out to King & 395. You'd probably hit a little bit of a slow-down near the entrances for 395, but nothing too bad. Off-highway rush hour there lasts about 20 minutes.

As far as where to look in Old Town, for a high rise I'd look in the Carlyle area. It's a development between the King Street and Eisenhower metros, and is where most of the Old Town high rises would be. If you'd be interested in an apartment or townhouse, your best bet would be a realtor (Long & Foster or McEnearney are all over) or CraigsList. The Old Town zip code is 22314.

Regarding Clarendon v. Old Town, obviously I'm biased. In general, I've found Clarendon to seem a little too "developed" for me. I'm not sure if that's the right word or not, but I'm much more partial to historic districts that grew up into their own, instead of one created by a developer. BUT, that's my opinion, and it's one that's been formed by only a few visits to Clarendon. Many people absolutely love it there, and I've heard great things about the area.
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Old 06-12-2008, 05:41 PM
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I'd agree that age-wise, Old Town is early 30's. Clarendon/Ballston is more early-to-mid 20's. I agree with juniperbleu: Tons of early thirtysomethings in Carlyle.

Over by King St. and 395 is a good area too, but if you don't like Olive Gardens and strip malls, it's probably not right for you. I'd look to Carlyle or Old Town. Shirlington would fit well for you too, and be a close commute. It's a pretty "hip" place with lots of restaurants, but does not have a Metro station.
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Old 06-13-2008, 09:12 AM
9 posts, read 28,607 times
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Thumbs up Thanks!

Thanks to both of you. I'm leaning toward Old Town now Was wondering what the King/395 area was like. The Alexander's list of things nearby was all national chain restaurants, so I was a little worried.
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Old 06-13-2008, 09:45 AM
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I'll also cast a vote for Old Town. I live in Clarendon right now, and I've liked being there, but it does seem to be overrun with early to mid-20s people. I'm 29, and it makes me feel ancient to walk around some parts of Clarendon on a Friday night, because everyone seems to be just out of college. Also, it's definitely a more yuppie neighborhood - I grew up outside of Chicago, so I think I know what you mean when you say you aren't looking for a strip mall place. Clarendon's not exactly that - there are some more unique places - but the shopping center in Clarendon is filled with a Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Ann Taylor, those kinds of stores.

I'm actually moving to Old Town later this summer for a lot of the reasons I mentioned above. Look at the highrises that are on Holland Lane - I know the Post is very dog-friendly. There are some great condo complexes, but I'd advise you to make sure they aren't the type that cater mostly to retired people - there are a couple of them around there, and it does make it harder to meet people your age in the building.
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Old 06-13-2008, 10:34 AM
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Just realized there isn't much talk of Shirington, although I did see it mentioned elsewhere in this forum. How does it compare to Clarendon or Old Town?
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Old 06-13-2008, 10:57 AM
3,156 posts, read 8,101,200 times
Reputation: 1977
Shirlington is a bit smaller than Old Town or Clarendon but still has a bunch of non-chain restaurants and a movie theater. It's very walkable, definitely not strip mall city. I'd say that, like Old Town, it also appeals to the late 20's, early-30's crowd. The big negative on it is that it doesn't have a Metrorail station, but it does have a lot of buses that will get you to and from the Pentagon Metro station. This would be a very easy commute for you because it's only 1 exit down 395, or I'm guessing a short bus ride.

About Shirlington (http://www.commuterpage.com/ART/villages/shirlington2.htm - broken link)
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