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Washington, DC suburbs in Maryland Calvert County, Charles County, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County
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Old 04-06-2013, 12:21 PM
 
8 posts, read 17,644 times
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Hello all!

I am certain that this has been covered previously, but a search didn't turn up results that I was looking for.

My husband and I are contemplating a move to the D.C. area. We have two children who are not in school yet, and I would be working in the city. Our budget is probably in the 400-450 range. Not interested in condos but townhomes are OK. Prefer single family house. Fixers are just fine. We are coming from Connecticut. For a number of reasons, we would prefer Maryland over Virginia.

Here are the priorities in order of importance:

1. High quality public schools. Graduation and college attendance rates, diversity, safety, and parent/teacher involvement is what we are looking for. Less concerned with test scores.

2. Safe walkable family-friendly neighborhood. We want to be able to walk around our neighborhood or have the kids ride their bikes. It would be amazing if we were walking distance to shops/restaurants/parks, but this is not totally necessary.

3. Near the metro. We know it won't be walking distance but we do want to be close enough to take a short (5-8 minute) drive or maybe take a bus.

4. No more than 45 minutes one way on the average to get into the city. Less is better.

5. Close to a nice downtown area with restaurants and shops. Close to parks and outdoor activities. By close, I mean less than a ten minute drive.

I have been confused by the references to counties. Are school systems county based rather than town based? Are there really whole counties that are good or bad? What specific towns should we be looking at? Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-06-2013, 12:33 PM
 
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Rockville might have have what you're looking for but expect the drive to DC be more than 45 min. School systems are county based, not town based.
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Old 04-06-2013, 02:03 PM
 
Location: Metro Washington DC
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I'm thinking Kentlands in Gaithersburg, which sort of fits except for the slightly longer than 5 to 8 minutes to Metro. It's more like 10 to 15 min. There are two buses going to Metro. Three if you count another one nearby. The reason I suiggest there is the schools.
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Old 04-06-2013, 05:20 PM
 
Location: Fort Washington, MD
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Gaithersburg to DC is ~45 minutes via car with low/moderate traffic. I think it should take a minimum of this amount of time via metro, if not more.

Honestly, there is no community on the Maryland side that fits all of your criteria. You will be sacrificing commute time for all of your other tick marks...or you would be sacrificing a lot of your tick marks for commute time.

I don't want to sway you, but perhaps you may be interested in something in Fort Washington in one of the Tantallon subdivisions. I personally purchased a house in a new development in DR Horton's Tantallon on the Potomac subdivision in Fort Washington, which takes me on average about 30 minutes to get from my house to Crystal City/Arlington/DC during rush hour (even less during low/moderate traffic). My new construction house costed 430K for a 6 bedroom with major upgrades (i.e. upgraded jacuzzi, sunroom, 23 speakers throughout the house, home automation, advanced security system with perimeter motion-sensing infrared cameras that upload to a secure hard drive system and is also streamed onto the net and sends out emergency alerts autonomously, home theater system, central vac, finished basement, etc etc). The neighborhood here is very safe given the proximity to DC, and there are some major amenities nearby (to include National Golf Club Tantallon, Fort Washington National Park, National Harbor). BUT there is no metro nearby although there are metro express bus lines within a block or two from my house and National Harbor in the medium-term future will have a metro lightrail (proposed). Also, when your kids reach middle school age or above, you will have to send them to private school (but most of the new construction houses in this area have been in the high 300s, so you should be able to save away some of your budget for that)!

Last edited by molukai; 04-06-2013 at 05:32 PM..
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Old 04-06-2013, 07:49 PM
 
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Thanks for the replies. Upon further consideration, the metro really isn't a top priority. It would be nice, but it is probably the least important criteria. I would *really* like to avoid private school if at all possible, and would be willing to sacrifice almost everything else so that we have good schools within
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Old 04-06-2013, 07:51 PM
 
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Less than an hour commute. I love the idea of affordable new construction close to the city. Certainly worth considering. What are the elementary schools like in the area?
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Old 04-06-2013, 08:30 PM
 
Location: Fort Washington, MD
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ReadytoleaveCT, the area in which I live in (Fort Washigton) is largely serviced by Potomac Landing Elementary School, which is considered a pretty good school -- something that cannot be said for the middle or high schools here (although the private schools are considered excellent). If you go further South to Waldorf (or north to Gaithersburg as suggested by another poster), you will find a higher chance of finding schools at the Elementary/Middle/High school levels that are good to great. But the problem is that there will always be a tradeoff (i.e. new constructions in Gaithersburg will wipe out your budget; Waldorf is an insane rush hour commute up the 210 highway).

Or...you could always live on the Virginia side in Fairfax county, where there is a large abundance of great schools and it is a fairly quick commute to DC. The tradeoff here is you'll be paying well over 1M for a new construction SFH of quality.
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Old 04-07-2013, 06:11 AM
 
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Yeah, the reason new construction is temping is that I never considered it because I assumed that it was out of reach. I am perfectly happy with an older home that needs some TLC if it means that we can live less than an hour away and send our children to quality schools. New construction is not on the priority list or even the wish list at this point.

It's tough because where we live now, I have a 12 minute commute and the school system is one of the best in the state.
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Old 04-07-2013, 06:39 AM
 
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To answer your question about who runs the schools. Maryland schools are run by the counties (Baltimore City is independent from and equal to the 23 counties). If you are commuting to the city itself and can use the Metro or MARC (commuter rail) I would do it. It is the only way you will have a reasonable commute into the city. For example When I worked downtown for a little over a year I drove about 10 minutes to meet a commuter bus (greyhound type) in Frederick which took me to Shady Grove Metro which I took to Gallery place where i walked 3 blocks to the office. It was actually one of the better commutes I have had in my 20+ years commuting in the DC area. The time on the commuter bus and Metro I used for reading or relaxing. I currently commute into the Shady Grove area but because of location I drive the whole way in. I almost miss the Bus ride in.
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Old 04-07-2013, 07:17 AM
 
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Yeah, that's why I like the idea of using the metro - at least the time isn't entirely lost. If the commute is long I would strongly prefer to use the metro. But it isn't make it or break it if we find something affordable with good schools that is reasonably close.

I think I need to find a list of all of the local towns and make a checklist to see if they have metro access and decent schools and go from there.
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