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Old 04-06-2016, 10:32 AM
 
8 posts, read 9,690 times
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Hello,

I received notice that I am accepted to work for the Federal Government in DC as an non-unionized auditor, with a salary of $53,400, however I must start May 2nd. I've been reading about the metro area all day long for a couple of days now, but running out of time.

The office is near the Metro Center stop, and I will be out of town on business travel nation wide up to 10 days each month.

I'm single, 31yr male. I don't care much for nightlife or most amenities, other than just enjoying to walk around. Originally, I'd be willing to live in a suburb and just commute or drive into the city on weekends to visit a museum, or parks all day. I'm mostly into museums, history, reading, and photography.

Rather live alone with my own apartment. Just tired with the whole roommate thing by my age.

Financial wise, net after taxes will be $37,920.35 (+$1,200 if I live in VA instead of DC or MD). From what I can tell, the typical health insurance plan will cost ($5,400 premium+deductible.) So that leaves me with $32,520.35 to work with.

Lived in Buffalo for a number of years, Boston and Seattle one year, and grew up in the projects of NYC, which I'm fine with being on the border between developing and bad neighborhoods, especially if it is the only option for me to afford.

Also have to figure out what to do with the car. The Feds will pay up to $255 for transit commuting if I forgo driving into DC. The catch is it is based on a direct route to the office, so the closer I live in DC, the lower the subsidy due to the distance fare of Metro and never includes cost of commuter train lot parking. (I'm used to NYC subway single fare.)

Since I'll be out of town for 10 days, I can't alternate side park the car. If I sell the car, I save around $4,000, but have to live closer and thus the transit subsidy drops and rents skyrocket.


If you could please help me out with some ideas and suggestions, it would be greatly helpful:

1) What neigborhoods would you suggest I consider? I'm open to both city and suburban choices, and if last resort, can handle being on the border between good and bad areas.

2) If I choose a suburb, how long is the commute by suburb bus to Metro, to then DC?

3) What are the off street parking rules in DC for alternate side street parking? How often? In NYC, its nearly daily.

4) Which trains lines are the most reliable? I don't mind waiting 30 minutes for a train on the weekends, but I'm expecting it to actually work without serious delays.

5) Are the suburban Metro parking lots full at capacity like I read they are?

Thank you, greatly!

Edit: Forgot rental range: $1,200 w/ car to $1,500 w/o car.

Last edited by Urba|\|; 04-06-2016 at 11:46 AM.. Reason: Forgot rent range.
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Old 04-06-2016, 11:32 AM
 
Location: West Hollywood, CA from Arlington, VA
2,701 posts, read 2,171,712 times
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Don't worry about your transit benefit -- it will cover every penny of your train travel. The only possible way it might not possibly pay every penny is if you take a bus to one of the end-of-line stations like Vienna, Reston, or Springfield.

1. I'm really throwing a dart here because I'm not entirely sure what you're looking for. Sounds like you would like something more suburban -- Reston, Falls Church, Merrifield, or Shirlington might be options in Virginia as they are suburbs but are still walkable. What is your budget?

2. There are way too many variable to answer this. It entirely depends on where you live and the bus route you take. It can take 5 minutes or 30 -- sorry, I know this isn't what you want to hear.

3. Side street parking is always a max of 2 hours -- metered or not. Pretty much all parking downtown is metered. Really is no reason to drive unless you absolutely must!

4. They are all pretty much equally reliable, except for the Blue Line. Not so much that it's unreliable as is the fact that it only comes every 12-15 minutes during rush hour. Not a huge issue though if you can take a Yellow Line train instead from Franconia-Springfield.

5. Not really but entirely depends on the station. On the Silver Line, parking is plentiful in Reston. On the Orange Line, parking is pretty much always available in Vienna and West Falls Church -- I think parking at Dunn Loring is an issue. On the blue line, parking is plentiful at Springfield and never an issue, but is a big issue at Van Dorn. On the yellow line, parking is plentiful at Huntington. There are no parking lots at stations in 99.9% of DC, Arlington, or Alexandria.

FYI, there are also many commuter buses that go directly from VA suburbs into Downtown like the 7Y (convenient if you lived in Shirlington), the 3Y (convenient if you lived off Lee Highway in Arlington), and the 16X (convenient if you live off of Columbia Pike in Arlington). Also, you can park at the Springfield Mall for free and walk to the Metro Station if you're cheap (legal and sanctioned by Metro).
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Old 04-06-2016, 11:45 AM
 
8 posts, read 9,690 times
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1. Sorry, forgot to include the rent range. I figure between $1,200 with car or $1,500 without car.

2. Well, are there any Metro rail lines that are notorious slower than others so I could expect longer commute times? How about car traffic? Is the 95 south of DC very congested at rush hours, or still at decent driving speeds? I ask because some highways into NYC require 45-60 minutes just to cross the bridge and tunnels.

3. Outside of downtown, lets say Capital Hill or the northern parts of DC, is street parking still 2 hours max? Are there residential permits for certain neighborhoods inside DC that as a resident of the area, I could have overnight street parking?

5. Thank you! This will help me out in considering areas.
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Old 04-06-2016, 12:49 PM
 
Location: West Hollywood, CA from Arlington, VA
2,701 posts, read 2,171,712 times
Reputation: 1462
Quote:
Originally Posted by Urba|\| View Post
1. Sorry, forgot to include the rent range. I figure between $1,200 with car or $1,500 without car.

2. Well, are there any Metro rail lines that are notorious slower than others so I could expect longer commute times? How about car traffic? Is the 95 south of DC very congested at rush hours, or still at decent driving speeds? I ask because some highways into NYC require 45-60 minutes just to cross the bridge and tunnels.

3. Outside of downtown, lets say Capital Hill or the northern parts of DC, is street parking still 2 hours max? Are there residential permits for certain neighborhoods inside DC that as a resident of the area, I could have overnight street parking?

5. Thank you! This will help me out in considering areas.
There aren't really any lines that are notoriously slower. The Red and Orange Lines are the most heavily used lines in the system while Yellow is like the least used. Consequently, the Red and Orange Lines usually have more people on the trains. You will notice that pretty much all the lines slow down at merge points: (1) Trains slow down going through Rosslyn into DC because that's where the Blue Line merges with the Orange and Silver Lines; (2) Trains slow down going into L'Enfant from the Pentagon and Waterfront because the Yellow and Green Lines merge at L'Enfant. It delays the train about 1 or 2 minutes -- more of an annoyance than anything.

Traffic is just horrendous around here. Just as bad as NYC if not worse according to many studies. The 14th Street Bridge (395) is the biggest choke point, it might take you 30 minutes to cross if there's a bad accident but it's nothing like the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, GW Bridge, or Lincoln Tunnel. The Southwest/Southeast Freeway is constantly jammed through the city and downtown gets very gridlocked during rush hour. There are other alternatives though -- I cross between Arlington and DC pretty much 7 days a week and almost never use the 14th Street Bridge.

Sorry I didn't realize you meant residential parking -- I thought you meant to park for work. Yes, there are residential parking permits. However, even with that pass, it can be extremely difficult to find parking in the hot spot areas like Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle, U Street, etc. However it's not nearly as difficult in the neighborhoods that are more off the beaten path like Petworth, Brookland, and Capital Hill.
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Old 04-06-2016, 03:03 PM
 
200 posts, read 117,089 times
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You could get a nice studio (or perhaps even a 1-br) in downtown Silver Spring (MD) for your price range, and you wouldn't need a car. You would have access to the Red Line as well as numerous buses that would take you to downtown DC in roughly 30-40 minutes. The Red Line goes straight to Metro Center. Buses can be good for when the Metro collapses; the train system in DC is a disaster.


Alternatively, you could probably find something in the Cleveland Park area of DC, which is also on the Red Line. Check out Quebec House - I had a friend who lived there for a long time, and the prices were reasonable.


The suburbs of Northern Virginia would be another obvious choice, but I have to say I don't know them too well and thus can't really be of help.


As has already been mentioned, DC traffic is horrendous. The area's infrastructure was built for a small city with a few smaller towns around it, and population growth in recent decades has just swamped the region. Getting to DC proper from the outlying region on a weekday is a nightmare.


If you work in Metro Center, I would strongly advise against driving there. I think your best bet would be to forego the car, live somewhere central, and rely on public transit, plus cabs/Zipcar if you need to.
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Old 04-06-2016, 06:03 PM
 
8 posts, read 9,690 times
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These are all wonderful suggestions.
If I did consider having a roommate with the same rent range (so total $2,400-3,000), what areas would be good given the constraint that I will likely need a place to keep my car when I'm sent around the country?
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Old 04-06-2016, 09:49 PM
 
Location: DC
2,025 posts, read 1,878,826 times
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I am not sure you are going to be paying that much for health insurance. The deductible is really only if you use the insurance quite a bit. Basically you would need to get REALLY sick for that to happen. The reality is you need to worry about the premium. Because annual doctors visits usually have a co-pay. You are really overestimating the insurance if you have a government job.

I am not sure the last time I paid much more than $2k annually for individual employer covered health insurance that requires an employee to chip in for the premium. I am not saying ignore the deductible, but do not consider it something part of your annual cost. That is not how insurance works, at least not with the feds. It takes quite a bit to even trigger the deductible to since nearly everything is in-network her for fed workers.

The red line is most reliable right now, oddly enough. It used to not be. The green is not bad either if we are talking about Petworth.

My advice if you are working in metro center, it is the center of the system so you can live anywhere on the metro.

Going without a car is more likely in the city and close in suburbs. You may be able to find a studio in a number of neighborhoods.

Since you don't know DC I would avoid east of the river. Some people say SE, but this is a misspeak. Capital Hill and Navy Yard are both SE and okay. It is the river which is the boundary to keep in mind. You don't know the city well enough to risk this.

You have the budget for a studio in a walkable neighborhood at $1500, so without a car and close to the metro. A car is not necessary in the city for the most part, or Silver Spring. Elsewhere in the suburbs it becomes more necessary. If you get in a shared house, the budget will go much further.
Areas to check considering your budget: Wheaton, Alexandria, Downtown Silver Spring(MD), Petworth (DC), Takoma Park (MD), and maybe parts of Arlington(but harder on your budget).

Downtown Silver Spring may be the best recommendation though. It has good transit access for bus and rail. You can also keep your car there without an issue.

The increased rent range with a roommate, I would consider Arlington as well as Silver Spring. Basically not much changes but it can get cheaper, yes you can afford places like capital hill, but parking can still be a pain.

It is harder to keep a car close to downtown in DC. I don't even live downtown and I don't own or need a car in DC though.
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Old 04-07-2016, 08:38 AM
 
Location: Washington, DC area
607 posts, read 951,960 times
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I think you could live in almost any neighborhood with a roommate with your budget but in the city, parking will be tough. Like the above poster says, stay away from any area east of the Anacostia river also don't consider places east of the Arboretum and you'll be fine. I feel like most of DC is on the border between developing and bad neighborhoods so keep that in mind.

In addition to the places listed above, I recommend looking in South Arlington. Pentagon City and Shirlington. In Shirlington, most of the apartments include parking. There is a bus depot with buses all day to the metro (usually to the Pentagon) where you can hop on a train to Metro Center and a strip of restaurants and shops nearby. Pentagon City has a metro there and stuff to see and do. Plus, you'll be close to the airport (Reagan National) for those frequent flights.
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Old 04-07-2016, 09:28 AM
 
Location: West Hollywood, CA from Arlington, VA
2,701 posts, read 2,171,712 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DistrictSonic View Post
You have the budget for a studio in a walkable neighborhood at $1500, so without a car and close to the metro. A car is not necessary in the city for the most part, or Silver Spring. Elsewhere in the suburbs it becomes more necessary. If you get in a shared house, the budget will go much further.Areas to check considering your budget: Wheaton, Alexandria, Downtown Silver Spring(MD), Petworth (DC), Takoma Park (MD), and maybe parts of Arlington(but harder on your budget).
This. You can definitely get a studio in Arlington for $1,500 although it won't have all the bells and whistles of a luxury apartment. I'm not convinced you need a car for work travel? If you're traveling around the nation, I imagine you'd fly and get a rental car, no?

You are definitely not going to get an apartment that doesn't have mice and roaches within walking distance of a metro station for $1,200, so I'd recommend getting roommates or getting rid of your car and getting a studio. Street parking is very easy in North Arlington FYI.

With a budget of $2,400 - $3,000 for two bedrooms, you could live just about anywhere around here.
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Old 04-07-2016, 02:16 PM
 
200 posts, read 117,089 times
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I just did some checking. The Blairs is a big apartment complex located adjacent to the Silver Spring Metro, and it looks like a fair number of 1-bedrooms are available in the $1500 range.

Home - The Blairs

I lived in downtown Silver Spring for almost five years when I was in DC. Housing is rather less expensive there than in the District, and the area is also much safer. Plus there are several good bars and restaurants all within walking distance.

I'd be wary of so-called "gentrifying" or "up-and-coming" neighborhoods in the District like Petworth, particularly as you don't know the city yet. DC has major crime issues, and while there's a lot of new development moving into neighborhoods like that, there are still lots of problems. I could see moving there more if you were a longtime DC resident looking to buy a home and catch the appreciation wave, but not so much as a recent arrival and a renter.
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