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Old 03-16-2009, 02:10 AM
81 posts, read 212,111 times
Reputation: 44


Gates of McLean is a quite horrible place; traffic noise from the beltway AND the toll road extension must be horrible, and now you have the HOT work. There used to be trees in the area around the beltway and interchanges, but now it looks a barren wasteland, so I am sure it's even worse. (I ave encounted deer several times at the 123/ beltway interchange.) McGates was a notorious hotspot for flippers during the recent bubble. I am sure that there are many foreclosures; maybe you could get a deal. I know that McLean Chase (see below) is 50% off the peak in 2005. I saw a short sale for 175k at McChase; the peak price in 2005 was 380k. But I wouldn't necessarily catch the falling knife......

However, I would also avoid the condos on the other side of the beltway in Tysons proper. Beware of flippers trying to charge ridiculous rents in desperation of covering mortgages, but most of them have probably foreclosed by now.

Other options nearby include Dolley Madison (avoid like the plague), an apartment complex. It's twin (half went condo in the 1980s bubble) is called McLean Chase; it's hit or miss since the condos are privately owned but the same horrible structure as Dolley. Do not rent anything that is not on the top floor due to the bad construction! There are two high-rises (condos) next to these: the Regency and XXXXX. Full of older people but more upscale; beware of unrenovated units from the 1970s. Then there is another 1970s low rise, gated condo development called the Colonies. Again beware of 1970s but this could be a decent choice. All of these developments are up Old Meadow Rd and would be 5-10 minute walk from your job. I assume it is at Mitre or nearby on the opposite side from Gates of McLean and Capital One.

Another rental development is called the Commons. It is adjacent to a Safeway, which is being redeveloped and probably the closest development to Mitre. It's a weird place with high rents and some townhome type units, but the structure look as if they may be of decent quality and I think it may have been designed by a renowned architect. Since the place is over-priced they always have vacancies and advertise 2-3 months off if you move in. There are also some crappy 1970s condo townhouses next to the Commons that rent for around $1600; the address is Westwind Way.

There are also some high-rises in McLean proper. There are lower end townhouses that rent for just north of $2000, but there are even SFHs in that range in McLean. The aforemention condos range from $1250 to $2000+ for a large 3BR unit in the high rise. There is also a new high-end condo development in downtown McLean called the Palladium. It's very nice but rents are going to be much higher. The cheapest units sold for $650k in 2004-5, I think.

Getting to IAD from McLean/ Tysons is a breeze. I live in downtown McLean and it takes me 18 min door to door, and it's never time of day dependent due to traffic because of the access road, which starts in McLean. Getting to DCA takes just over 20 min but I would allow 30 min in traffic. My record is that I left my house at 15 past the hour to catch a shuttle from DCA that departed on the hour; no problem. BWI is 40 min without traffic and driving fast (45 miles). However, would not attempt in rush hour.

p.s. I sometimes reverse commute in the morning from DC (Dupont) and it takes me 20 minutes via the GW Parkway. I usually don't take 66 but have not noted any slowdown the few times I did. My impression is that reverse commuting is common from Falls Church/ Arlington to Tysons/ Reston corridor. If you go into town from Tysons on 66 in the evening the traffic is heavy from the toll rd/66 junction until Glebe Rd but then it opens up and it's mostly VA plates. Thus you would only be affected during your drive home if you take 66; can be avoided via GW Pkwy. So if you want to live in DC then it's not a bad commute at all. I find that people around here exaggerate the traffic problems.
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Old 03-16-2009, 05:07 AM
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I would rent because there is much less opportunity for long-term appreciation with a condo than a SFH home in northern Virginia. The Beltway reconstruction project will make the Tyson's area a mess over the next few years. When the dust settles (and the economy recovers), there might well be new condo construction that will make it more difficult to sell older units. Based on what you've posted, DC is unlikely to be your permanent home in the foreseeable future -- why tie yourself down by purchasing a condo that you will have to unload down the road? Renting gives you the ultimate flexibility, and all you're giving up is a tax deduction, the value of which is questionable in the current administration. All you really need is a place near your office to sleep during the week, and a base for the occasional weekend when family members join you in DC.
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Old 03-24-2009, 07:30 PM
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Default Thanks!

Thank you to all the responders - I found your information to be extraordinarily helpful. I should be finding out in the next 2-3 weeks if my job situation will be taking me to NOVA. If so, I'll be using your input, and the information on related threads, to make good, sound housing type and location decisions.

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Old 03-24-2009, 07:32 PM
6 posts, read 16,447 times
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Thank you so much for your uber-detailed response. If/when it comes time to find a place near MITRE (you were right) to call home, I'll be referencing your post quite a bit.

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Old 03-24-2009, 07:37 PM
6 posts, read 16,447 times
Reputation: 10

I wanted to thank you, too, for your thoughtful response on renting vs. owning. Politics aside, if the mortgage interest deduction remains in place for the near future, and I'm going to have to be paying a large sum of money to live, be it rent or mortgage, I'm going to be inclined to buy and take advantage of the tax break. Based on your info, though, I can see that I'll have to make a very smart, well-thought-out decision if I decide to do so.

All the best,

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