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Old 11-03-2009, 12:47 PM
 
6 posts, read 8,988 times
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This is a very useful, helpful forum. I would love some feedback from this group. I'm planning on relocating to DC from Boston. I've lived in NYC (Brooklyn) for the last 12 years and spent 2 years in the Greater Boston area (Waltham, MA). My partner and I will be moving to DC in spring 2010. I work in policy and he is a software engineer. We plan on renting for a year or so before buying. I'd love some suggestions of neighborhoods to rent in based on these qualities:

- ability to use public transit to commute to DC within 60-80 minutes
- ideally be able to walk to public transit station
- progressive, diverse community
- urban-ish feel
- rent around $1200-1500 (one bedroom)

Any feedback would be so helpful and appreciated.
Thanks!
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Old 11-03-2009, 01:00 PM
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
995 posts, read 1,465,841 times
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Adams Morgan in DC, may just be right up your alley. I will let Scranbarry give his opinion.
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Old 11-03-2009, 01:11 PM
 
Location: Expatriate Philadelphian in Northern Virginia
7,788 posts, read 12,020,797 times
Reputation: 2250
Will both of you be commuting to DC?

If so, then Arlington will likely fit the bill, specifically anywhere in the Clarendon-Ballston corridor. It's got virtually everything you're asking for. Rents within walking distance of the Metrorail might start on the high end of your range... but it's been said on the forum that there are places within a healthy walk/short bus ride that are less expensive. It's the social hub of 20somethings in NOVA about which you may feel good, bad or indifferent. Alternatively, consider the Columbia Pike area of Arlington as well. A fleet of buses make up for the lack of nearby rail.

You may also like the Del Ray neighborhood in Alexandria. It's about as progressive as one gets in NOVA. It's sort of a "Berkeley lite" for grownups and young families with lots of local businesses along Mt. Vernon Avenue, including many alternative health establishments. It's a short bus ride to the Metro.

On the other hand, if you are indeed looking to live in the place where you prefer to buy then, based on your rental range, neither Arlington nor Alexandria may be the right place.

Fairfax County in general is diverse and moderate. Falls Church and Reston may come closest to what you seek, although you may possibly need to up your mortgage, especially if you want anything more than a condo.

Loudoun County, particularly the eastern half, is fairly similar to Fairfax in terms of demographics. There is no rail service there at this time although there are commuter buses to DC on weekdays. You may like Leesburg; others have suggested the Brambleton community.

Prince William County and points south will offer the best value for your buck. The vibe does lean conservative although it's not exactly the Bible Belt. If you can flow with those differing views, then you might otherwise like Old Town Manassas and (in Spotsylvania County) downtown Fredericksburg. You can catch the Virginia Railway Express from either of these cities.
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Old 11-03-2009, 01:30 PM
 
Location: Dudes in brown flip-flops
660 posts, read 1,040,508 times
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I like Northern Virginia, but if neither of you will be working in VA, I think your best bet may be in Maryland.

Downtown Silver Spring is a diverse, urban-ish area about 20 minutes from downtown DC on the Metro Red Line. It has a huge selection of restaurants within walking distance, a range of housing styles and prices, and is extremely liberal. Plus, I am assuming from your post that when you say partner, you are referring to someone of the same sex (if that is not true, I apologize and these next statements are irrelevant). Maryland does not have same sex marriage, but as a state it is far more progressive than VA on LGBT issues. VA is electing an extremely conservative (on social issues) Governor and Attorney General today, in fact, so any progress on LGBT issues will have to wait til 2013.

Plus, Silver Spring is cheaper than its Virginia equivalents, which are Arlington and Alexandria. My personal opinion is that Arlington and Alexandria have more to offer than Silver Spring, but that is reflected in the cost of living. You could probably find a one bedroom for $1500 in those towns, but you will get more for your money in Silver Spring.
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Old 11-03-2009, 01:38 PM
 
6 posts, read 8,988 times
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Thank you so much for these responses. I am planning a visit to DC this weekend and I hope to check out these neighborhoods and do some more research. Does it make sense to do the research via the Metro and just get on/off the train and walk around? Or rent a car and get around to different neighborhoods that way. Our hotel is in downtown DC.

I've been to Adams Morgan and I love it there but we're trying to stay out of DC proper if we can since we will ultimately want to buy somewhere affordable in NoVa.

We're early 30-somethings with no kids. When we plan to buy our budget is up to 450K. I prefer something with some grass and trees, but definitely not a suburb or cul-de-sac type vibe.

Again, thanks and this is really helpful.
Suggestions/feedback welcome!
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Old 11-03-2009, 01:41 PM
 
6 posts, read 8,988 times
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Thanks. I'll check out Silver Springs. I'm not LGBT but most of my friends are so I'd be looking for a LGBT friendly community. I say partner because at 31 saying boyfriend seems weird

I'm not sure where partner will work yet. Where are most of the IT/tech jobs located?

Thanks again.
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Old 11-03-2009, 01:45 PM
 
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,400 posts, read 18,101,957 times
Reputation: 18806
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tone509 View Post
Will both of you be commuting to DC?

If so, then Arlington will likely fit the bill, specifically anywhere in the Clarendon-Ballston corridor. It's got virtually everything you're asking for. Rents within walking distance of the Metrorail might start on the high end of your range... but it's been said on the forum that there are places within a healthy walk/short bus ride that are less expensive. It's the social hub of 20somethings in NOVA about which you may feel good, bad or indifferent. Alternatively, consider the Columbia Pike area of Arlington as well. A fleet of buses make up for the lack of nearby rail.

You may also like the Del Ray neighborhood in Alexandria. It's about as progressive as one gets in NOVA. It's sort of a "Berkeley lite" for grownups and young families with lots of local businesses along Mt. Vernon Avenue, including many alternative health establishments. It's a short bus ride to the Metro.

On the other hand, if you are indeed looking to live in the place where you prefer to buy then, based on your rental range, neither Arlington nor Alexandria may be the right place.

Fairfax County in general is diverse and moderate. Falls Church and Reston may come closest to what you seek, although you may possibly need to up your mortgage, especially if you want anything more than a condo.

Loudoun County, particularly the eastern half, is fairly similar to Fairfax in terms of demographics. There is no rail service there at this time although there are commuter buses to DC on weekdays. You may like Leesburg; others have suggested the Brambleton community.

Prince William County and points south will offer the best value for your buck. The vibe does lean conservative although it's not exactly the Bible Belt. If you can flow with those differing views, then you might otherwise like Old Town Manassas and (in Spotsylvania County) downtown Fredericksburg. You can catch the Virginia Railway Express from either of these cities.
What an excellent post! Seriously, you should save this and use it over and over.
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Old 11-03-2009, 02:19 PM
 
Location: Expatriate Philadelphian in Northern Virginia
7,788 posts, read 12,020,797 times
Reputation: 2250
Quote:
Originally Posted by acb200 View Post
Thanks. I'll check out Silver Springs. I'm not LGBT but most of my friends are so I'd be looking for a LGBT friendly community. I say partner because at 31 saying boyfriend seems weird

I'm not sure where partner will work yet. Where are most of the IT/tech jobs located?

Thanks again.
Well there is the Dulles Tech Corridor with many IT-related companies near the namesake international airport that sits on the border of Fairfax and Loudoun Counties. But I believe there's opportunity for IT jobs all over Fairfax County and, to a lesser degree, Arlington, Alexandria and DC. This would certainly add more of an incentive to live in NOVA.

That said, I agree that Silver Spring, MD would be worth looking into. In fact, Takoma Park, MD - right on the NE border of DC - is about as progressive as it gets in this area. I don't know enough about its walkability, though.

In general, the MD side of the river may suit your progressive preferences more than VA, particularly the often urbanish burbs that ring DC as well as the communities heading out towards Baltimore. Back in VA, the close-in walkable areas are expensive, albeit not so much differently than in the Boston metro, I would think. Prioritizing housing wants is not unusual in this area. You can find detached homes for $450K around here... but it will likely require trade-offs with your preferences.
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Old 11-03-2009, 02:21 PM
 
Location: Expatriate Philadelphian in Northern Virginia
7,788 posts, read 12,020,797 times
Reputation: 2250
Quote:
Originally Posted by normie View Post
What an excellent post! Seriously, you should save this and use it over and over.
Thanks! I aim to please.
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Old 11-03-2009, 02:26 PM
 
Location: Dudes in brown flip-flops
660 posts, read 1,040,508 times
Reputation: 340
Quote:
Originally Posted by acb200 View Post
Thanks. I'll check out Silver Springs. I'm not LGBT but most of my friends are so I'd be looking for a LGBT friendly community. I say partner because at 31 saying boyfriend seems weird

I'm not sure where partner will work yet. Where are most of the IT/tech jobs located?

Thanks again.
Arlington and Alexandria are LGBT friendly communities, so your friends won't feel odd or out of place there. It's just the state laws that aren't friendly.

I think Tone509 was completely correct about where the IT jobs are. There are IT positions in MD, but there are more in VA. And as everyone on this forum will attest, it's best to avoid commuting from MD to VA or vice versa.

Takoma Park is definitely the most progressive town in the DMV (District/Maryland/Virginia), and it's Metro-friendly, but for such a progressive town they have some remarkably anti-smart growth feelings, and you'll get no sense of being in an urban, or even urban-lite, area.
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