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Old 06-08-2009, 02:34 PM
 
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I've been offerred a job in Silver Spring. The job is actually located very close walking distance to the Silver Spring Metro station in the area of Colesville Rd and East-West Hwy.

We plan to rent initially, in part because we want to delay selling our house for about a year or maybe a bit more. So we'll have time to get to know the area and will worry about where to buy later.

In the meantime, my main question is: Are there any areas other than Bethesda and Chevy Chase that are relatively close to that location where the neighborhoods and schools are good? I hate commuting and would like to live as close as possible; unfortunately people are depicting the school situation in areas like Silver Spring as undesirable. (Takoma Park actually sounded kind of cool but again, I'm hearing the same cautionary tales about the schools and crime of "transitional neighborhoods"). Bethesda sounds like the best nearby area in terms of schools, but it doesn't appear to be a very likely place for us to settle unless we ultimately are willing to live in a small condo.

So I'm wondering what other options are available? What would the drive be like from my job location as one heads up I-270? Places like Rockville? Gaithersberg? Germantown? What are those places like in terms of quality of life, schools, etc?

Basically, our ideal situation long-term would be a small place (could be a townhouse) that's in a safe area, and as "close in" to my job as possible. If driving to work, I would like to limit it to 30 minutes or less. I realize that's a challenge in this area...just wondering what options I might have.
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Old 06-08-2009, 03:00 PM
 
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My opinion (and just my opinion)...stay in Silver Spring or Bethesda. It's expensive, but it's a nice area with good schools.

We made the mistake of moving to Germantown. Luckily, like you we rented for a year to learn the area. We move in about two weeks. And it can't come soon enough. We're moving to Northern Virginia simply because I just can't stomach the idea of staying in Maryland. But that's only because we've had such a bad experience here in Germantown. We have friends who live in Silver Spring and love it. And we have friends who live in Rockville and love it. I don't know anyone with kids who actually likes Germantown. Crime is out of control. Just read the police blotter. The schools are really bad. My daughter had an ok experience at Seneca Valley High School depsite it's reputation. But the elementary school my son attended (Water's Landing) was so bad that I pulled him out in the middle of the year to homeschool him. And I am defintely NOT the homeschooling type.

I almost feel an obligation to warn people about Germantown. It's been a horrible year for us. We've lived all over this country and overseas. There have always been places that I liked more than others, but there is usually something good I can say about everywhere we've lived. Except here. I cannot think of one good thing to say about Germantown. It's been that bad.
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Old 06-08-2009, 03:28 PM
 
703 posts, read 2,808,932 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mississippimagnolia View Post
My opinion (and just my opinion)...stay in Silver Spring or Bethesda. It's expensive, but it's a nice area with good schools.

We made the mistake of moving to Germantown. Luckily, like you we rented for a year to learn the area. We move in about two weeks. And it can't come soon enough. We're moving to Northern Virginia simply because I just can't stomach the idea of staying in Maryland. But that's only because we've had such a bad experience here in Germantown. We have friends who live in Silver Spring and love it. And we have friends who live in Rockville and love it. I don't know anyone with kids who actually likes Germantown. Crime is out of control. Just read the police blotter. The schools are really bad. My daughter had an ok experience at Seneca Valley High School depsite it's reputation. But the elementary school my son attended (Water's Landing) was so bad that I pulled him out in the middle of the year to homeschool him. And I am defintely NOT the homeschooling type.

I almost feel an obligation to warn people about Germantown. It's been a horrible year for us. We've lived all over this country and overseas. There have always been places that I liked more than others, but there is usually something good I can say about everywhere we've lived. Except here. I cannot think of one good thing to say about Germantown. It's been that bad.
That's probably because you're living in the wrong parts of Germantown. The area south of Clopper Road in the Kingsview Village area and along the Germantown/Gaithersburg border is a much much nicer area to live. Lots of those real nice houses and McMansions along Richter Farm Road and as well as Rt 118 Germantown Road (south of Rt117 Clopper Road again). This area feeds into the Northwest High School cluster, which is better than Seneca Valley. Quiet, safe, etc. You simply chose poorly when you were looking at apartments.
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Old 06-08-2009, 05:21 PM
 
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Default Rock Creek Forest / Rosemary Hills

Based off your previous posts, I recommend you look into the Rock Creek Forest / Rosemary Hills neighborhoods. Both areas border the Chevy Chase and Silver Spring zip codes, however, they both feed into the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School cluster - which I believe is nationally ranked in the top one hundred high schools. These are older and more established neighborhoods - smaller homes and smaller lot sizes - but are much more affordable than homes closer to Downtown Bethesda and West Bethesda. Contacting a good realtor with specific instructions that emphasize which school districts you are looking into will help you find a home in this school cluster and under a half a million dollars - especially possible in today's market and your home preference. These neighborhoods will put you very close to work and all the amenities of downtown Bethesda, Silver Spring and Washington, DC - with the safety and good schools included. This part of the county is often overlooked because of the age of the neighborhood and the perceived notion that you will be priced out due to the school district. It is possible to live in these neighborhoods for under a half a million in today's market.

Other recommendations would be to expand your search a few miles northwest to the Kensington and North Bethesda/Rockville area. Focus on the neighhorhoods that feed into the Richard Montgomery and Walter Johnson High School clusters - basically most of these areas. Typically, the neighborhoods tend to be much more affluent west of Rock Creek Park and Rockville Pike (MD 355). However, you can find many more older houses and townhomes for under half a million in this area that feed into excellent schools. The compromise is the age and size of the homes - typically older exteriors with renovated interiors. An area that comes to mind is the College Gardens area in Rockville. Your commute will double compared to living in Rosemary Hills, but still should be manageable and around 30-40 minutes. Anywhere north of this part of Rockville will extend your commute - especially with an accident or poor weather conditions.

Another option includes Howard County - but I am not familiar with that area and will let other posters comment. Distance wise it is further than Rockville - but the actual travel time and congestion might be less. Good luck.
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Old 06-08-2009, 05:44 PM
 
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Quote:
You simply chose poorly when you were looking at apartments.
Nope. We're not in an apartment. We are in what looks like a really nice subdivision.

I have a good friend who teaches at Northwest. They moved so that her kids could go to Seneca. She won't let her kids go anywhere near Northwest.

I've talked to plenty of people from Maryland since we've lived here. All have told me that Germantown used to be very nice, but has gone down hill very quickly. The huge influx of section 8 renters is part of the problem along with the easy access to the metro via the transfer station plus the social services building right in the middle of town. It's a great place for those with less income to live.

I could never say that all of Maryland is horrible. Like I said, I've heard great things about Bethesda and Silver Spring. But all you have to do is walk around Germantown to get a feel for the community.
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Old 06-08-2009, 06:12 PM
 
Location: Bethesda, MD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mississippimagnolia View Post

I almost feel an obligation to warn people about Germantown. It's been a horrible year for us. We've lived all over this country and overseas. There have always been places that I liked more than others, but there is usually something good I can say about everywhere we've lived. Except here. I cannot think of one good thing to say about Germantown. It's been that bad.
Germantown has perhaps the lowest median income and median housing in MoCo, so it's going to have more issues than Rockville or Bethesda. Perhaps you should have done your research better to understand this. Additionally, the housing developments and retail centers have the same density of small city with a diverse population.

I won't lie and say all of Germantown is nice, but I work there and have several co-workers who reside in Germantown who love it. Just like every town there are good and bad areas; surely someone as yourself who has lived around the world who have realized that you can't discount an entire based on a small section where you live.
On the NOVA forum, people have bashed Herndon or Springfield, but that does not mean that all of these places are bad.

Last edited by TrippingJay; 06-08-2009 at 06:28 PM..
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Old 06-08-2009, 06:40 PM
 
Location: SE Florida
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My 3 brothers live in the DC areas. Each one loves where they live.

One lives in Sterling VA and they loved to see their new townhome rise. That was 10 years ago and they still love it.

My other single brother lives in a very nice condo in Centreville VA. He is a mortgage broker and his condo is very, very nice. I also like the Centreville area.

The other lives in Bathesda MD. A smaller home of the three but the most expensive. Over 1.5 million... It's just the area I guess and it would be OK for me but the home is a 3/2 and smaller than I now have in Florida.
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Old 06-08-2009, 08:50 PM
 
1,183 posts, read 2,723,412 times
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surely someone as yourself who has lived around the world who have realized that you can't discount an entire based on a small section where you live.
That's exactly what I mean. I have never lived anywhere that I honestly could not find anything to like about...until Germantown. We have friends who lived over on the Boyds side...kind of near the big indoor pool. I made the comment to her that maybe we would have been happier living over on that side. She laughed and told me that they would leave today if they could sell their home. I've heard over and over again that Germantown was at one time a great place.

It has nothing do with with diversity. It has everything to do with crime. It was only a couple of months ago that a body was found on the side of the road. I heard gunshots after only being here for a few weeks. There was a gun found at Northwest high school last month. And cars are broken into all the time all over Germantown. The priest was murdered several years ago in the church! That's just awful! Had I know any of that when we moved here, we would have looked elsewhere. We were the victims of a friend who desperately wanted to rent his house. He knew we were moving to the area and I guess we were too trusting.

I understand that many people have a higher tolerance than I do for stuff like that. That's why I was careful to emphasis that my feelings about Germantown are simply my opinions. The reality is that I'm just used to being a little more sheltered from that type of thing. Quite honestly, I want to live in an area where home prices keep a lot of that type of stuff out of the community...thus our move to Burke, Virginia. I've lived there before...twice. The community is clean...very safe...and the schools are some of the best in the country. That's not unique to NOVA. I'm sure Bethesda and Silver Spring are just as nice. Germantown simply cannot compete with that.
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Old 06-08-2009, 09:01 PM
 
55 posts, read 363,067 times
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Mississippimagnolia -- Interestingly enough, a couple of people recommended Germantown to me. My concern was that it seemed further out than I would have preferred. I haven't talked to either at length, but neither of them mentioned issues with bad schools or dangerous areas. If it's a bit of a haul AND lacks the benefits one might get in a nice suburban area, I'm not sure what the point would be of living there...

MDWanderlust -- Thanks and I will check out those areas. The Rock Creek Forest/Rosemary Hills neighborhoods sound like possibilities since we only need a small place, even when we buy.

What is Rockville like, anyway?

I also know someone who commutes from the location I mentioned in Silver Spring to Arlington (going through DC). He swears his commute is no more than 30 minutes. Does this sound likely?
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Old 06-08-2009, 09:04 PM
 
Location: Bethesda, MD
658 posts, read 1,704,157 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mississippimagnolia View Post
That's exactly what I mean. I have never lived anywhere that I honestly could not find anything to like about...until Germantown. We have friends who lived over on the Boyds side...kind of near the big indoor pool. I made the comment to her that maybe we would have been happier living over on that side. She laughed and told me that they would leave today if they could sell their home. I've heard over and over again that Germantown was at one time a great place.

It has nothing do with with diversity. It has everything to do with crime. It was only a couple of months ago that a body was found on the side of the road. I heard gunshots after only being here for a few weeks. There was a gun found at Northwest high school last month. And cars are broken into all the time all over Germantown. The priest was murdered several years ago in the church! That's just awful! Had I know any of that when we moved here, we would have looked elsewhere. We were the victims of a friend who desperately wanted to rent his house. He knew we were moving to the area and I guess we were too trusting.

I understand that many people have a higher tolerance than I do for stuff like that. That's why I was careful to emphasis that my feelings about Germantown are simply my opinions. The reality is that I'm just used to being a little more sheltered from that type of thing. Quite honestly, I want to live in an area where home prices keep a lot of that type of stuff out of the community...thus our move to Burke, Virginia. I've lived there before...twice. The community is clean...very safe...and the schools are some of the best in the country. That's not unique to NOVA. I'm sure Bethesda and Silver Spring are just as nice. Germantown simply cannot compete with that.
Fair enough, but just so you know Burke is a much more higher income area than Germantown with less diverse demographics; but yes I can easily see why you would choose it.

Although, just an FYI my SO lives in Annandale/Burke area in an very nice community and yet both of our cars have been broken into; his convertible was sliced open and someone took the sunglasses out of my visor. So just goes to show you that car break-ins can happen just about anywhere.
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