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Old 04-19-2010, 11:21 PM
 
7 posts, read 7,833 times
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Hey all,

I found out about a week ago that my girlfriend might be getting a job in DC or Boston; with the likelyhood being DC.

We're both 24, a mixed race couple (White/Chinese), and can afford $1250 a month (utilities separate) on a combined $64k salary (student loans are KILLING both of us :/). I'm a web designer and she's a field associate for an public interest group.

We've lived in Philly for the past year (Girard Estates) and it's the only city I've ever lived in. She's lived in a bunch more than me.

We're looking for a hip, safe neighborhood where we can get a 1-2 BD apartment with around 800-1000 square feet. We're also looking to get a dog, so somewhere near a park would be great as well. Obviously an accepting neighborhood to our aforementioned relationship is a must (some places in Philly will get you hassled more than others).

We're both not really drinkers, so a bar scene doesn't need to happen, but we would like to live near a farmer's market to get fresh fruit/veg/meats.

I would like to state that I know NOTHING about DC. I've never been there in my life. Here's a few things I've heard and it would be great if I could get a confirm/deny on them:

1) DC is extremely dangerous (GF tells me that Philly is worse; I'm skeptical)

2) DC jobs (a web designer answering this would be great) pay much more as sort of a cost-of-living increase. (In which case would be great because we might be able to raise our max rent to around $1450)

3) DC Metro can get you more or less anywhere

4) The more dangerous parts of DC are to the east and north


Does any neighborhood match my description and price range?
Does any neighborhood match my description but not my price range? If so, what's the price range?

Thanks forum!

--Johnny F.
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Old 04-20-2010, 12:10 AM
 
Location: Fort Worth, TX
9,400 posts, read 7,982,500 times
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1) Most of DC's violent crime is located East of the Anacostia River, and even then it's almost always between gangbangers and druggies. Don't hang out with those lowlifes and you'll be more likely to die in a car crash. Still it's a big city so keep your wits about you when walking around at night; chances are the worst that can happen is simply some guy taking your wallet.

2) I don't know the pay difference between a job in DC and a job somewhere else. In theory they should, and I know the Feds do, but I wouldn't be surprised if most private companies don't care about their employees enough to factor in cost of living.

3) Yeah

4) Like I said, East/south of the Anacostia river.

$1250 is pretty tight for a 2 bedroom.
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Old 04-20-2010, 08:54 AM
 
Location: DC
3,218 posts, read 7,722,601 times
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1) I don't know if Philly is worse or better, it would depend on your take on crime statistics. I personally consider them more or less on par, given the difference in the size of the cities (Philly being much large in both area and population). That said, DC is like Philly in that most of the crime is concentrated in certain select areas and is often drug-related. Otherwise, it's just the standard common sense and awareness that you'd exericise in any city.

2) DC pays more than Philly, but I don't know if it's an astronomical difference. Outside of housing (which yes, is a huge deal), the cost of living isn't that different from Philadelphia. For certainty I can only talk about federal salaries, which look to be about $1-2,000 higher per year in DC than Philadelphia.

3) Yup, and much better than SEPTA

4) Very very generally-speaking, yes. The worst areas are in SE across the Anacostia River. NE has some bad areas, though there are also some decent neighborhoods in there as well.

If you want something walkable, and easily accessible by Metro, your budget is very tight. For reference, my neighbors pay $1250 for basement studio apartment (though they do have a dog and direct access to a patio and the courtyard). Would you be bringing a car? Or would you need the Metro for everything? If you have a car, you might be best off in the suburbs near a bus line. You might be able to find a 1-bedroom for $1300 in Alexandria or Arlington about 1.5-2 miles from a Metro station. I did that for a year (took the bus to the Pentagon, Metro from the Pentagon to work), and it wasn't so bad. It's not ideal, but with limited budgets it made it easier.
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Old 04-20-2010, 10:10 AM
 
Location: Rockville, MD
3,548 posts, read 5,048,722 times
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I actually think DC is a safer city compared with Philadelphia. In Philly, while the "bad" neighborhoods are as pronounced as they are in DC, there seem to be more of them. Perhaps that is just my perception. Either way, what others have said is true: the highest crime neighborhoods in DC are concentrated in select areas of the city, and are for the most part easily avoided. The idea of the whole of DC being "very dangerous" is simply an ignorant myth perpetrated by people who either haven't been here in 30 years, or who are frightened by being in *any* city. The majority of DC is perfectly pleasant and enjoyable.

DC jobs do tend to pay slightly more than in other parts of the coutry, but it's not as much as some think, and it's rarely enough to offset the huge increase in cost of living experienced by people who move here from other less expensive areas.

Metro can't take you everywhere, but it's a darn good system.

And as far as your budget and what you are looking for: I'll go right out and state that you will not be able to find a 2 BR in a walkable neighborhood near the Metro and a park at the price you are looking for. That description fits many individual's idea of an ideal neighborhood in DC, and as such housing costs are significantly higher. Generally speaking, expect to pay at least $2k a month for that type of living arrangement within DC itself and the close-in burbs (i.e. Arlington). Prices drop off somewhat the farther out you get, but even at the outter fringes of the Metro system myou will be hard-pressed to find housing that fits your physical and economic criteria.
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Old 04-20-2010, 11:50 AM
 
7 posts, read 7,833 times
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Thanks for the replies!

@juniperbleu If I go to Boston, I'll keep my car (GF's parents live 20 minutes north in NH) if I go to DC, I'll ditch it and allocate those funds (insurance [$90/mo], gas [$100/mo], and registration [$45/yr]) to things like rent and metro fare.

I was hoping for a 2 BR so that my GF and I could have an office (as we both do a lot of work from home), but I'm not married to the idea.

I will make sure to steer clear of neighborhoods south and east of the Anacostia River

A few that I'm digging (just from reading on the internet) is Brookland, NoMa, and Dupont.

How are the prices in Chinatown?
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Old 04-20-2010, 12:59 PM
 
Location: DC
3,218 posts, read 7,722,601 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyfallar View Post
Thanks for the replies!

@juniperbleu If I go to Boston, I'll keep my car (GF's parents live 20 minutes north in NH) if I go to DC, I'll ditch it and allocate those funds (insurance [$90/mo], gas [$100/mo], and registration [$45/yr]) to things like rent and metro fare.

I was hoping for a 2 BR so that my GF and I could have an office (as we both do a lot of work from home), but I'm not married to the idea.

I will make sure to steer clear of neighborhoods south and east of the Anacostia River

A few that I'm digging (just from reading on the internet) is Brookland, NoMa, and Dupont.

How are the prices in Chinatown?

Just something to think about, if you keep the car and live in Virginia you could possibly save some money on rent. Insurance is a LOT cheaper down there compared to Philly. I paid under $600/year 2 years ago, and now in DC it's only about $700/year. This is compared to the $2,000 bill I would have easily had in Philly. If you look further from a Metro station then you could probably find a decent 1-bedroom near a park near your stated budget.

I haven't been to Brookland and know little about NoMa, but have heard that they're decent areas. Dupont is a great area, but in your budget you'd definitely be looking at an efficiency/studio. My friend had a studio for $1300 and it was considered a good deal. My other friend paid $1650 for hers. I think Chinatown's overpriced, but that's my opinion. The prices there are on par with Dupont Circle.

Also look into Mt. Pleasant, Adams Morgan, and Capitol Hill (it's in NE and SE, but still a nice area). I also really like living in the Southwest Waterfront area. It's quieter, but extremely accessible. There's several grassy areas and there are dogs all over the place here. It's also a tad cheaper.

If you're open to suburbs, try looking in Arlington (Ballston, Clarendon, Courthouse, Pentagon City, Crystal City) or Alexandria. I have very limited knowledge of Maryland, but have heard decent things about Silver Spring and Rockville.
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Old 04-20-2010, 01:08 PM
 
7 posts, read 7,833 times
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Thanks so much for the reply!

I'll have to check out those neighborhoods.

I've been to Boston a few times, but never to DC. I'll have to stop down and visit a few of these neighborhoods once my GF finds out where we'll be in September. I'm hoping she'll find out in June; giving me some time to check stuff out.

--Johnny
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Old 04-20-2010, 04:14 PM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
4,489 posts, read 5,651,395 times
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I would definitely recommend Arlington or Alexandria. Both are incredibly dog friendly, and you can get a decent place for $1250 (though it would still be 1 br more than likely). You probably won't be able to walk to the metro (or it will be a long walk), but a lot of the apartment complexes offer free shuttles to the metro during rush hours.
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Old 04-21-2010, 04:54 PM
 
Location: DC/Brooklyn, NY/Miami, FL
1,179 posts, read 1,360,899 times
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1. The worst parts of DC are East of the River in Greater SE (Anacostia, Congress Heights, etc..) and Far NE (Deanwood), and Lower SW (Bellevue). There are some neighborhoods that can be just as bad west of the river too, this would include Trinidad, Edgewood, Saratoga/Montana Ave, Ivy City, and Riggs Park in NE and scattered parts in NW. The bad areas that are in NW would be east of 18th street and along the Georgia Ave and 14th Street corridor (Kennedy Park, some of Shaw, Petworth, some of Brightwood, and some of Shepard Park, Kennedy Street, certain blocks in Columbia Heights. Unlike East of the Anacostia river, the hoods in NW are mostly divided by blocks, so you can be in a "good" or "okay" spot in minute then in a sketchy one the next. One thing about living in DC no matter where you live at for the most part is that you have to use common sense and be aware of whats around you, like you wouldn't get off the subway (Metro) then walk down a dark alley at midnight just because its a short cut right?

2. You should look into the SW Waterfront area, or perhaps Takoma/Takoma Park

3. If you include the bus too, yes it can. The subway system serves a good range of areas in Dc and the suburbs, but there will be times when you might want to/need to take bus. Metrobus as well as the other bus systems in the region can get you anywhere.

4. North, East, and South are where the hoods are.
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Old 04-22-2010, 01:34 PM
 
7 posts, read 7,833 times
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Quote:
4. North, East, and South are where the hoods are.
Sweet, hoods in three out of the four cardinal directions...
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