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Old 08-11-2010, 12:43 PM
16 posts, read 31,746 times
Reputation: 10


Hi all,

My husband and I are hoping to move to the DC area next spring from Park Slope in Brooklyn, NY. Depending on whether I'm able to find a job, we may be living on just my husband's salary, which will be anywhere from $140K to $300K (gov't job versus law firm job - he's hoping for the former, so we're budgeting for that lower salary). If I get a job, or am able to transfer within my company, we may have an additional $120K coming in.

Our son will be around 18 - 20 months when we move and we're hoping to have a second child when he's 24 - 36 months.

We want to be in a house with parking, preferably 4 bedrooms (so my husband can have a home office), good schools, walking to Metro is nice but not a must (but will need transportation into DC to avoid driving/parking charges), good activities for kids/families, etc etc etc...

We're planning to rent for the first year or so and then buy once we've had a chance to really explore the area. We'd love to rent and buy in the same neighborhood, but it's not essential.

Given ALL of that...wonderful forum posters, where should we look for housing?? I've seen some posts on this, but most people seem to have more $$$ to spend than we will. For the rental, we could do a 2 bedroom (prefer 3) and would be very very open to renting a house. Arlington looked nice, but I feel like the homes are way too expensive if we end up with a total income of $140K. Am I wrong? Is MD a better choice for us?

Thanks so much!!!
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Old 08-11-2010, 12:50 PM
Location: The Port City is rising.
8,874 posts, read 11,369,632 times
Reputation: 2576
there are lots middle class civil servant families getting by on that salary or less.

You almost certainly wont find a 4BR house within walking distance to a metro in a decent area (and we really dont have 4BR apts around here) But thats okay, lots of people take express buses (which run in HOV lanes) and transfer to the metro, to get to downtown DC, which opens things up considerably. (If YOU get a job downtown, living near a metro will be more important, but also more affordable).

Fairfax county has the standard big wealthy suburban school system.

We are paying less than 1800 a month (which you should be able to afford) for a 3br TH in Annandale (older inner suburb, heavily korean). You can find similar THs and (older) SFH's around here for that, and towards Fairfax City. You will find cheaper toward Braddock Road/Burke. If you want to stay closer in while you look around you can look at apartments in Skyline, Park Center, Shirlington, etc.

Yes North Arlington is pricey - you are paying for being close in, for metro access, for the best public school system so close in (and really not to many big cities other than maybe Brookline/Boston have such a "reputable" public school system so close to downtown) and for the general atmosphere - the orange line corridor is yuppie heaven (if not as fashionable as the red line corridor in DC, but with better schools) N arlington would be be closer to the Slope lifestyle than Fairfax county, but you sound like you have come to terms with moving to suburbia.
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Old 08-11-2010, 12:51 PM
Location: Northern Virginia
4,489 posts, read 10,062,936 times
Reputation: 3673
I don't know that it's even worth looking until you figure out your budget. It sounds like you'll have anywhere from $140k to $400k in income, and that means some very different possibilities. It also depends on where your jobs are. If you end up with work along the dulles tech corridor, you don't want to live in Maryland, but if you're working in Silver Spring or something, then living in Alexandria would be a crummy commute. Even if your husband gets a government job, there's no guarantee that it will be in a metro accessible location. Many positions are on the military bases around here, and you can't take the metro to Belvoir or Ft Meade. If that's the case, there's little sense in paying the premium for the metro if you won't use it daily.

I'm a total type A planner, so I understand wanting to have everything narrowed down months in advance, but I don't know that you can in this situation. Traffic is a monster in the area, and it's often best to plan around your commutes.

If you're planning on coming down here without jobs, then yeah, it might make sense to rent in Arlington since it's so central and would make for a relatively decent commute anywhere. You'll pay a premium for it though, since it's so convenient.
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Old 08-11-2010, 01:08 PM
5,354 posts, read 6,522,789 times
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With $140K in income, you could afford North Arlington. And it sounds like the place you're looking for. Some people greatly overestimate the amount you need to live close in.

Parts of Maryland comparable to Arlington (like Bethesda) will be more expensive, I think, in part because of higher taxes in Montgomery County.

Whether the homes are too expensive for you depends on whether you have equity or a good down payment at your disposal.
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Old 08-11-2010, 01:18 PM
16 posts, read 31,746 times
Reputation: 10
Thanks for the already very helpful responses! A couple clarifying things that may help narrow things down... My husband would be working in DC regardless of whether he's with the gov't or at a firm, as the agency and the firm are both in DC proper. I probably would be in DC as well.

We won't move to DC without jobs, as we're both at good jobs here in NYC. We're just sick and tired of alternate side parking, NYC taxes, and apartment living. We own our place now and will need to sell, which is the only thing keeping us here until next spring - hoping the market rebounds a little so that we can MAYBE break even on our current place. Sigh.

My husband works almost every weekend, so we have very little time to really go down and explore the different neighborhoods and make an informed decision, hence why I'm trying to gather some information now so that we can have a plan of attack when we finally do have a free weekend. Agree with you, CaliTerp07, that this is kind of impossible to plan with the salary in flux, but I can't help myself!
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Old 08-11-2010, 01:22 PM
2,462 posts, read 8,322,267 times
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If your husband definitely does NOT want to drive into DC, that will limit your housing choices. For instance, there are many nice family neighborhoods in McLean (and even parts of Arlington) that are not walking distance to Metro nor well served by bus connections, but which offer relatively easy driving commutes into DC.
Arlington or Alexandria are probably the closest spots in northern Virginia to Park Slope, and I agree with the previous poster that it will be hard to make specific neighborhood suggestions without a better idea of your housing budget and commuting requirements. There is a wide range of housing in Arlington, so check out some zip codes on a realtor web site to see how much the various options will cost you.
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Old 08-11-2010, 01:22 PM
Location: The Port City is rising.
8,874 posts, read 11,369,632 times
Reputation: 2576
A 3br TH with a finished basement would give you room for each kid and a place for a home office. You can easily afford to rent one (not necessarily where you want to eventually buy) and look around. (you can also probably afford a 4br th) If you dont like the bother of looking for a rental house some apt complexes have townhouses as well. If that ends up being less than you can afford, well than you can start saving massively.
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