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Unread 12-18-2011, 09:26 PM
2 posts, read 3,474 times
Reputation: 10
Default DC Apartments - safe and reasonably priced


I will be moving to Washington, D.C. soon for a job opportunity, and I'm looking for a place to live. I read movingtodcsoon's very informative thread (sticky), so I have a better idea of what's there. Here are the questions in that thread along with my answers to them:

1. Do I need to be by a metro rail? Would I be okay if I were on a bus line?

Yes, I need to be near a metrorail since I will be taking it to work.

2. How long of a commute to work am I willing to have? Would I be okay driving? Taking the commuter rail? (where will I be working?)

Obviously I'd like to keep my commute as short as possible, as would anyone. Ideally, I'd like it to be under an hour if at all possible, however this is not a priority. I will not have a car, so I must take the metro. My workplace is near Union Station.

3. Would I be willing to live with a roommate or multiple roommates?

I'd prefer a one-bedroom or studio apartment (no roommates).

4. What amenities do I absolutely need in an apartment -- pets? gym? a/c? washer/dryer?

The only amenities I would really need are A/C and heat. A gym would be nice as would a washer/dryer, however these are definitely not priorities.

5. What is the absolute maximum, with utilities and any fees, I can afford?

I will be making at least $44,000/year (perhaps a bit more), so I would base this on that number. However, that is of course BEFORE taxes. So I wouldn't think I could afford much more than $1500 or $1600 per month (or perhaps I could -- let me know if you've done it).

6. What is my definition of safe?

This is really my biggest priority. I know that a lot of areas in DC are not the safest, and I would like to live in one of the safe ones. Basically I'd just like to have the peace of mind of coming home at night and not fearing for my life, worrying about muggings, home invasions, robberies, etc.

7. How important is nightlife? family community? schools?

I am young and single, so family stuff and schools are not important. It would be nice to be near some nightlife, however this is definitely not a priority.

In summary, I am a young single making about $44,000/year (gross) and would like a one-bedroom or studio apartment near a metro station in a safe neighborhood. Convenient location, extra amenities, and nightlife are all plusses, but are not priorities.

First of all, for anyone who lives in DC or who has lived in DC, do you think this is possible financially? If so, please give me some suggestions on neighborhoods to check out or, better yet, suggest some apartment buildings you know of that would fit my needs. If you don't think this is possible, are there places in the surrounding areas in Maryland or Virginia that I could live? You could suggest neighborhoods or specific buildings. Again, safeness and metro access are very important to me.

Finally, thanks for taking the time to read this LONG post. I'd really appreciate any info you could give me.
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Unread 12-19-2011, 07:19 AM
225 posts, read 220,815 times
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Look into Columbia Heights.

There's a metro station across the street from DCUSA, which houses a gym, along with Best Buy, Target, and some convenience stores and franchise restaurants. You'd also be within walking distance of two of NW DC's more prominent nightlife hubs, Adams Morgan to the south and U St to the west.

As far as safety, the area is undergoing some rapid transformation, and you'll still see some remnants of the neighborhood's ill-reputed past, but for the most part it's developing into a melting-pot of different income and age classes.

Last edited by HumbleSeaGoat; 12-19-2011 at 08:04 AM..
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Unread 12-19-2011, 07:57 AM
37 posts, read 89,251 times
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Southwest Waterfront? I've seen a few apts. on craigs that meet your budget (Potomac Place is one, I think), it is metro accessible and, from what I understand, generally considered safe on a relative basis. I guess there isn't much nightlife around there yet, though.
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Unread 12-19-2011, 08:41 AM
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I live in Potomac Place, OP, if you have any questions about that building let me know. You're within walking distance (3-5 minutes) from Metro/Safeway/CVS. You literally cross the street and all that stuff is at the corner.
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Unread 12-19-2011, 01:14 PM
Location: Springfield VA
4,033 posts, read 4,568,968 times
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I would probably recommend SW/Waterfront area over Columbia Heights. Columbia heights is very mixed with good and bad corners. Wouldn't recommend such a transitioning area to a newcomer more for someone who's been in DC for a minute. So I guess I'm saying Columbia Heights isn't the best starter neighborhood. Although I think nearby Mt. Pleasant is a good "starter" neighborhood.

I'd recommend renting someone's basement versus an apartment since they tend to be a little cheaper.
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Unread 12-19-2011, 01:21 PM
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Re your comment about rent: I would say $1,500 a month on 44K a year is WAAAAAAY too much of your income being blown on just rent... I'd aim for something closer to half that amount or roughly 25% of your gross take home.
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Unread 12-19-2011, 01:35 PM
Location: Springfield VA
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Keeping in mind what I just said not recommending Columbia Heights I do know several young folks who got their first place in Columbia Heights specifically the Woodner with $900 efficeincies. Personally I'm not a fan of that particular building but its like the biggest in DC. With its long gray hallways it just feels so...bleak. At the same time its a chance for many to have their own place in one of the most expensive cities in North America.

Last edited by terrence81; 12-19-2011 at 02:36 PM..
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Unread 12-19-2011, 02:09 PM
225 posts, read 220,815 times
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I'd recommend against renting at the Woodner. It's cheap, yes, but it's cheap for a reason. Parking is a nightmare, the entire complex is mismanaged, some of the people who live there are not the best neighbors for which one might hope, and there are severe issues with pests. People used to call the place "The Carter" (after New Jack City), and it's still one of the worst apartment complexes in NW D.C.
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Unread 12-19-2011, 02:42 PM
Location: Springfield VA
4,033 posts, read 4,568,968 times
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I agree its cheap for a reason. I've heard about their bed bug issues. As mentioned their studios are like $900. Was just visiting someone in Mt Pleasant paying $1200 for a tiny efficeincy. I'm renting a large basement bedroom with more space. However he lives in a nice secure building that looks like its actually been renovated. Also he can bring whoever he wants over at 3:00 am. I've only done the sneaking in a hook up at 3:00 am thing once. Even woke up extra early to kick him out before any roommates woke up. Not a cute look.

However, I personally would rather just deal with roommates at $44K a year so there's more money in my pocket to actually enjoy city living. Ironically enough the type of person who has 3:00 am and needs more money in their pocket for bar hopping is the one that also needs more privacy.
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Unread 12-20-2011, 08:15 AM
23 posts, read 18,359 times
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I did the math and according to my calculation you should try to keep your rent around $916. That's based on taxes eating 25% of your income then I divided by 12 months and assumed you want to use only a 3rd of your monthly take home pay for rent.

As far as places to check out since you said you want to be near Union Station I would look at the NoMa neighborhood. If you are close to the NY Ave/ Galludet Metro station that's only a single stop to Union Station. There are also many bus lines that run up and down H st. They are also planning a streetcar which should be up and running within the next year or two. H St has bars and nightlife as well for hanging out after work. You should be able to find something around there within your budget.
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