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Moving from Fairfax, Virginia to Maryland, interracial Asian and White couple considering Bowie outdoor activities, utilities, real estate taxes, housing prices, schools and commutes

 
Old 02-23-2009, 11:17 AM
 
3 posts, read 3,978 times
Reputation: 10
Question Thinking of crossing the river

Hello Everyone!

My fiance and I are considering hopping the potomac over to MD. We currently live in Fairfax, VA. For various reasons we think that MD would be a better fit for us. Since I grew up in NOVA I have visited MD on numerous occasions. Both my fiance and I have family there and we are even getting married there! BUT we really don't know much about the DC burbs both in MoCo and PG county. I have been browsing the forums for a few weeks now and have gotten a good deal of helpful information.

When I told my mother about our possible move to the area she was shocked. PG COUNTY! Lets just say that our perception of the county isn't the greatest over in the commonwealth. I also spoke with my future father-in-law who happens to be a retired PG county paramedic. Needless to say he, during that time, did not see the finer points of what the county had to offer and he never lived there. Some of the stories he told us years ago are down right scary. I asked him what areas he would consider safe for us and he said Bowie. I was glad to hear that because it is on my short list of possible places.

After scouring these boards and researching for hours online we put our prejudices aside and finally had a chance to visit some of the areas we thought had potential this past weekend. We traveled through four different counties, saw a ridiculous amount of neighborhoods and at the end we both agreed, Bowie has what we are looking for and what we can afford. I think it was beautiful! We did like a few other places but for now we are going to concentrate our efforts on finding out more about Bowie.

As I said I have read pretty much every post on Bowie in this forum but still have plenty of questions. I would really appreciate any info on the area but really want to hear from people who live or have lived there.

- People seem to agree that the Bowie Town Center and surrounding areas seem to have the most crime especially later in the day. Some say to avoid it during the evening hours. Does this mean that we can't go out to dinner or to the movies at night without worrying about our safety and our wallets?

- We both love taking walks and biking and saw people doing these things while we were there. Is it really safe enough to do this anywhere in the town? Someone in this forum said that a friend was robbed around allen pond. We want to get a dog as soon as we move out there. Is the area around the pond and dog park unsafe? how are the woodsy trails around the are in terms of safety?

- The area in which we live now is literally crime free according to several crime maps we have looked at. I never feel scared no matter what time of day it is and have never felt threatened. From what I have read online people say that crime is increasing in the Bowie area. I have also looked at crime maps for Bowie and it seems that compared to the area I live now there is a good amount of crime occuring. Most of these seem to be robberies, theft, breaking and entering, and vehicle theft and its happeing all over the town. Is this really a big problem? Some may think of these as petty crimes but I don't like the idea of being robbed at gunpoint. Safety is a huge priority for me!

- We are a interracial couple. I am asian and he is white. Not that race is a huge thing to me.... I am 100% amercianized and often forget that I am "different". just wanted to see if anyone had any thoughts on this....

- Electricity and gas! Friends and family say their bills are pretty high. Some people on here are paying what seem to be ridiculous prices. So if we were to move the area, are there other electric companies that are cheaper than BG&E that serve Bowie? we are looking at sf homes. a rough estimate of what you pay if you live here would be awesome!

That's it for now. I know more questions are inevitable but I thought I would stop here. Anyway, feel free to post any info about Bowie, be it good or bad, even though it might not pertain to any or the questions I asked. BUT please keep it informative and hopefully based off of personal experience, I don't want a pg county sux or is the greatest place ever fight.

Thanks for reading and i hope i can't wait to get some feedback!

(sorry my post is so long )
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Old 02-23-2009, 11:40 AM
 
Location: Baltimore, MD
205 posts, read 529,842 times
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Have you taken a look at Crofton or Columbia?

If I were you I'd wait until later this year or into next year. Prices in MD near DC haven't fallen like they should. Sales are way down so further price drops are inevitable. I'm looking to buy too, but there's absolutely no way I'd want to live in PG county. They are increasing real estate taxes during a housing depression! That's absolutely insane! Taxes are way too high there.
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Old 02-23-2009, 02:13 PM
 
460 posts, read 1,270,524 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDragon View Post
Have you taken a look at Crofton or Columbia?

If I were you I'd wait until later this year or into next year. Prices in MD near DC haven't fallen like they should. Sales are way down so further price drops are inevitable. I'm looking to buy too, but there's absolutely no way I'd want to live in PG county. They are increasing real estate taxes during a housing depression! That's absolutely insane! Taxes are way too high there.
I agree with the first part of this post - if you can wait, do so because prices are going nowhere but downward. That being said, have a timeframe and don't try to time the absolute bottom of the market - if we didn't have to buy (we closed in december) we would have waited probably another 6 months until this summer. i would suggest waiting at least 6 months if you can.

The remainder of this post - jack johnson withdrew his crazy stupid homestead tax increase idea (after the stupid county council narrowly voted it through to the MD general assembly for voting) because once it got to the general assembly, he clearly realized that he would NOT have enough delegates vote it through. Of course, he claimed he withdrew it right before consideration at the assembly the other week for other reasons that escape my mind right now, but they are stupid excuses anyway so it doesn't matter. Though Johnson cannot run again next year due to term limits, I'm sure that most delegates in the assembly didn't want to clearly jeparodize their remaining political lives by voting this crap through. . .

PG remains one of the strictest counties in the NATION when it comes to property tax increases, so even though many would say they pay a boatload (around this DC area, who doesn't no matter what county you are in?) and get little back for it, it is very VERY difficult to increase property taxes in PG - it has to go to a referendum (unless you get really stupid like Johnson and try to ram it through the assembly. . .).

Since you said you read these boards in depth, and have talked to your f-in-law about PG county, you obviously are aware of the millions of opinions on PG county, schools, etc. So I won't go there. Good luck with your choice.

p.s. one more thing - on utilities - I've been posting alot on the BGE threads lately - coming from Frederick (MD) - the cost of the utilities was somewhat of a shock. We had never done budget billing before but since I already knew they were going to be higher in base rates compared to Allegheny power, I opted for budget billing right off the bat. You have to be prudent with your gas and electricity usage. Don't think that turning your thermostat down from 70 degrees to 68 is going to save you a ton of money. you have to really turn it down in the winter and turn it up in the summer, as high a you can stand it. Though it's not very comfortable, if you can get in the mindset of layering and wearing sweaters and using blankets - while lounging around as well as sleeping - you CAN have a reasonable bill. In the summer, get some ceiling fans installed and keep the shades drawn. Our bill dropped $147 dollars when they did the first adjustment (the budget billing was based off the previous owners' budget billing as they used that service and this was an existing home we bought). It kills me when I read in the Post how someone turned down their thermostat - from 72 to 70 - and they're shocked they are not saving a $100 month - plus they are not even HOME during the day while the darn thing is running. . . .
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Old 02-23-2009, 02:44 PM
 
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Thanks for the replies.

Fact of the matter is we cannot afford the kind of house we want in either of those areas. Yes, housing prices may drop in the next year but who knows for sure when and where it will bottom out. Maybe as spring rolls around there will be more inventory in Columbia and Crofton in our price range but at the moment there just aren't.

We are also interested in buying in the near future because of the low interest rates and the tax credit. I have heard many predict the rates could begin to climb in upcoming months which could totally offset any savings we would have had we waited a little longer. We can however, consider waiting till the summer because, lucky for us, we are very flexible in our current situation.

As for my future FIL, he retired about 10+ years ago. So I can only imagine things have changed a lot in that time. He is not very fond of PG but has not discouraged us from looking at certain parts of it. After reading many threads these questions represent my major concerns with the area that can really only be answered by people who live there or have lived there recently.

oh and thanks for the tip on energy saving. It will be something we have to deal with regardless of where we choose to live in MD. hopefully we can find a place with multiple fireplaces or a nice woodstove!
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Old 02-24-2009, 04:21 PM
 
1,764 posts, read 3,716,697 times
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Fireplaces & woodstoves are a great idea. They'll be esp. useful as oil/gas prices resume their upward climb. Currently, anyone with gas and esp. oil heat is saving a bundle compared to those with heat pumps in BGE's service area.

We moved back to MD in May '08 and were dreading the winter oil heat bills. Heating oil was about $4.60/gal when we got back; we topped off at 3.89 in the fall, and then filled the tank in Jan. for $1.99/gal. Unbelievable. I don't think those prices will last forever, but depending on how long the slowdown lasts we may have another year or two of cheap heat. Hopefully.

I would say you could hold off for now on the home purchase, but consider buying in '09. There's an $8K first-time buyers credit this year...a real credit, not the loan-credit they offered in '08. Straight off the top of your taxes. Another thing about buying before the "herd" does is you'll get a better chance at getting the home you really want. Would you pay an extra $10k for a home you really, really love vs. one that you're "basically" happy with? I would!
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Old 02-27-2009, 12:25 PM
 
Location: Burke, VA
269 posts, read 644,806 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Singspiel View Post
Thanks for the replies.

Fact of the matter is we cannot afford the kind of house we want in either of those areas. Yes, housing prices may drop in the next year but who knows for sure when and where it will bottom out. Maybe as spring rolls around there will be more inventory in Columbia and Crofton in our price range but at the moment there just aren't.

We are also interested in buying in the near future because of the low interest rates and the tax credit.

You are smart to buy now, while interest rates are low, and while househunting I noticed that Bowie has many many nice affordable homes with big backyards, and you just can't find that same quality of life in Montgomery/Fairfax w/ot paying almost twice as much!

The elementary schools are alright from what I hear, but you didn't say whether or not you had kids or where you work. There is no Metro stops that go to Bowie, so ultimately this is what diswayed my husband & I from buying there. We both work in downtown DC and just couldn't take having a long long commute since we have a 7mo old son and already work long hours as is. Still, we did look into Bowie at first, and we liked what we saw!
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Old 02-27-2009, 04:38 PM
 
Location: Baltimore, MD
205 posts, read 529,842 times
Reputation: 160
Remember, when interest rates go up, housing prices come down. Rates can be refinanced lower unless they're already as low as possible. Maryland has a Florida-like over-saturation of risky loans, particularly pick-a-payment adjustable loans. Don't jump in too soon. In a few months when the BRAC is completed it's likely housing prices will fall further as buyers with relocation benefits dry up.
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Old 02-28-2009, 06:42 PM
 
3 posts, read 3,978 times
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Well, me and my significant other are really eager to get a place of our own sooner rather than later.

We don't plan on having kids for a while (i'm talking at least 5 years) so schools and commutes arent that important to us just yet.

Another area we are looking at is silver spring but it seems that the areas we can afford have been labeled as sketchy in this forum. I'm talking about the areas around aspen hill and along veirs mill rd into rockville.

If anyone else from Bowie can answer some of my questions or has any other thoughts I'd be very grateful.

Thanks again.
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