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Old 05-20-2009, 08:13 AM
 
34 posts, read 91,745 times
Reputation: 23

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These two communities seem very similar...but I am most interested in which is more affordable. I know both have great school systems and my husband can transfer to either. Right now, our biggest concern is cost of living. Any opinions? Is there any real difference?

I was also offered a position in Cincinnati, which is far from our original area of interest, but could also work. We would like our children to grow up in a good school system, a culturally diverse area where they feel comfortable (we are a bilingual/bicultural family), and close enough to family (VA. MD, NY, MA) that we could visit once in a while. We like that VA/MD seem to be highly educated...don't know about Cincy, since I haven't been there in over 15 years (I was 12!).

Thanks for your time.
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Old 05-20-2009, 09:10 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,569 posts, read 12,665,533 times
Reputation: 8332
I think of Sterling and Columbia as two very different places. Columbia is laid out very pretty because it's a planned community so shopping centers are masked behind trees as are gas stations. There are lots of lakes, a community center and a mall. There are several "villages" as the layout. As far as demographics, I believe there are more whites, blacks, and Asians, while I tend to think of Sterling as whites and Hispanics. It's unclear which ethnicities your family are, but that might help some. I haven't been to Columbia in some time so it may have changed some. Their school system is very good and often beats Montgomery County on test scores (Howard County, that is, where Columbia is located). Having said that, there are some schools that are the better ones to get in to as is the case everywhere.

Sterling is not laid out as nicely as Columbia and doesn't have a "planned" look about it. There are nicer parts and some lower income areas that are a bit unkept, and maybe even rough (Columbia has low income areas, too). If I had to pick one, I'd probably go with Columbia but either would probably be fine. Overall, I would expect that Columbia is a cheaper place to live as it is farther from DC and is considered more of a Baltimore suburb than a DC one, although it's sort of in the middle. Those are my thoughts. I'm sure others know a bit more about each place than I do, but it hopefully has given you some starting information.
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Old 05-20-2009, 09:26 AM
 
5,071 posts, read 8,636,362 times
Reputation: 2722
Quote:
Originally Posted by michgc View Post
I think of Sterling and Columbia as two very different places. Columbia is laid out very pretty because it's a planned community so shopping centers are masked behind trees as are gas stations. There are lots of lakes, a community center and a mall. There are several "villages" as the layout. As far as demographics, I believe there are more whites, blacks, and Asians, while I tend to think of Sterling as whites and Hispanics. It's unclear which ethnicities your family are, but that might help some. I haven't been to Columbia in some time so it may have changed some. Their school system is very good and often beats Montgomery County on test scores (Howard County, that is, where Columbia is located). Having said that, there are some schools that are the better ones to get in to as is the case everywhere.

Sterling is not laid out as nicely as Columbia and doesn't have a "planned" look about it. There are nicer parts and some lower income areas that are a bit unkept, and maybe even rough (Columbia has low income areas, too). If I had to pick one, I'd probably go with Columbia but either would probably be fine. Overall, I would expect that Columbia is a cheaper place to live as it is farther from DC and is considered more of a Baltimore suburb than a DC one, although it's sort of in the middle. Those are my thoughts. I'm sure others know a bit more about each place than I do, but it hopefully has given you some starting information.
Excellent post...Reston (VA) and Columbia (MD) are often compared, because they are both planned communities, but few in the area would consider Sterling and Columbia similar types of communities, although each has its advantages.
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Old 05-20-2009, 09:43 AM
 
34 posts, read 91,745 times
Reputation: 23
Default To clairfy...

I can see I wasn't clear in my original post. I have visited both communities, and I do agree that they are very different in their layouts. I was referring to the cost of living and the school systems (my two concerns) as being similar.

I found Columbia a little difficult to navigate, but I guess that is because of the "village" concept...hopefully that would be easier to figure out if we actually lived there.

Sterling is maybe more urban, but that's not such a bad thing for me.

Is there someplace very close to either of these cities that might have a lower cost of living? I am a teacher and my husband is a chef. We are going to make less that $100k and I am trying to be realistic. A $400k home is not an option for us. We do plan to rent for a year to get to know the area.

Thanks for the replies so far.
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Old 05-20-2009, 10:05 AM
 
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,400 posts, read 25,817,519 times
Reputation: 18992
Are you talking about Sterling Park, or about the sections of Sterling north of Rt. 7 (frequntly called Cascades or Potomac Falls).
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Old 05-20-2009, 02:27 PM
 
943 posts, read 2,780,065 times
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Old Sterling is having lots of trouble with illegal aliens and the resulting foreclosures.
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Old 05-21-2009, 08:58 AM
 
14 posts, read 50,089 times
Reputation: 15
We moved to Sterling (Potomac Falls zip 20165) late 2008 and find the life here so convenient and reasonable. We are a bi-racial couple (Caucasian/Asian) and love the fact all the ethnic restaurants and groceries are at your fingertips. People are extremely friendly in our neighborhood!
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Old 05-21-2009, 11:07 AM
 
Location: Sterling, VA
1,059 posts, read 2,627,667 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weekend Traveler View Post
Old Sterling is having lots of trouble with illegal aliens and the resulting foreclosures.
How do illegal aliens cause foreclosures? The foreclosures I see are from people being unable to make their mortgage payment due to loss of a job or being given a mortgage due to shoddy, greedy underwriting practices by the lender. There are foreclosures in Lowes Island, not exactly a haven for illegal aliens.
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Old 05-21-2009, 12:37 PM
 
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,400 posts, read 25,817,519 times
Reputation: 18992
Quote:
Originally Posted by Margery View Post
How do illegal aliens cause foreclosures? The foreclosures I see are from people being unable to make their mortgage payment due to loss of a job or being given a mortgage due to shoddy, greedy underwriting practices by the lender. There are foreclosures in Lowes Island, not exactly a haven for illegal aliens.
Don't pay any attention to this poster, Margery--apparently this is a kid down in Tampa who gets bored and likes to wander around the forums trying to rile people up. She hangs out on the political forums a lot and is well known for making stuff up just to try to stir up a little excitement.
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Old 05-21-2009, 12:53 PM
 
34 posts, read 91,745 times
Reputation: 23
For what it's worth, my husband is not American-born and we like the diversity of Sterling. Illegal immigrants are irrelevant to our choice...actually, since I am a certified Spanish teacher, I prefer to live in an area where I can use my bilingual skills.

Thanks, cityfam, it's good to know that you enjoy living in Sterling and that your neighbors are friendly.
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