Relocating to DC Area

Old Mar 31st, 2003, 08:21 AM
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Relocating to DC Area

My boyfriend and I will be moving from New York (Long Island) to the DC area in the next couple of months. We are exploring Maryland (Bethesda, Silver Springs) and Virginia (Alexandria, Arlington). Unfortunately, we are not to familiar with the area so we are having a hard time deciding. Can anyone provide suugestions? We are looking for a nice/safe area, near a metro stop, close to restaurant/ bars/ shopping, easy to find parking and relatively inexpensive ($900-1000). Any information would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 08:35 AM
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Have you checked the Washington Post real estate guide? They have neighborhood profiles (www.washingtonpost.com). Also, I think the Washingtonian magazine does neighborhood info, too. www.washintonian.com
We lived in Alexandria for 8 years, and loved it. Depends on what you are looking for, though, I think Alexandria is a bit more of an older crowd (over 30), while parts of Arlington, and certainly Bethesda seem to hop a bit more. In DC proper, the hip neighborhoods seem to be capital hill, adams morgan, dupont circle. Near Alexandria is a neighborhood called Del Ray that seems to be up and coming. Where are you working? I would consider my potential commute before deciding where to live.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 09:28 AM
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I live in Baltimore but work in D.C. I take the commuter train in & then metro. door to door, my commute's about 1.5 hrs, which is about the same as some of my colleague's who live in the suburbs and drive. if you don't mind the commute, the rents in Balto. are much, much lower. If you'd like to know what neighborhoods I'd recommend, just let me know.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 09:43 AM
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Thanks for all the suggestions!
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 09:50 AM
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E
 
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I really wish I could help, b/c I know how overwhelming it can be to search for a place to live in such a far-flung metro area. However, I have to say that your criteria--safe, near metro, etc.--could be met in almost any of the DC area suburbs: Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Chevy Chase, Bethesda, and many others. Arlington alone encompases something like 4 or 5 Metro stops. My boring advice is to schedule at least a week-long trip to DC: spend the days driving all around and scoping out neighborhoods, and the nights doing whatever it is you do for fun, be it shopping, dining, club-hopping, whatever. That's what we do when we have to relocate, and it's worked well for us a strategy for identifying neighborhoods to then focus our housing search on. Best of luck! And I think you'll enjoy DC and its environs, it's a great town!
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 10:03 AM
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You'll hear arguments for and against all of the areas you've mentioned, but there's really only one thing to consider: where you will be working. DC traffic is horrendous, all of the time--weekends, late at night, whenever. About 3 weeks ago, I sat for an hour on the Beltway in Maryland on a Sunday night, on my way home from a weekend away.

You're going to have a tough time finding something under $1,000 near a metro stop. For a cheap apartment, Alexandria or Silver Spring (no "s") would be your best bet, but in Alexandria at least (I'm not all that familiar with SS), for that rent you'll be stuck in strip mall hell. Del Ray, however, is your best option in Alexandria. You might be able to find something within a reasonable walk to Braddock Road metro, and Del Ray is a great neighborhood. Old Town Alexandria is close by (but too expensive).

My personal choice would be North Arlington. A friend recently found a nice one bedroom there for about $1,100, but he's about 2 miles from the metro.

Good luck.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 10:38 AM
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Del Ray? Is that the section that runs between Mt. Vernon Avenue and Route 1? If that's the same area I'm thinking about, lots of duplexes, it was not a good area, unless they re-did it like Old Town. Of course, it's been a while since I've been back there.

Alexandria/Duke Street/Seminary Road area used to be a nice place -- with numerous garden apartment complexes. Probably a little more affordable than Bethesda/Sliver Spring area.

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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 11:33 AM
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Check out these websites:
apartments.com
aptratings.com

Alexandria is nice, and has lots of apartment complexes. 395 in Alexandria's west end has express lanes at rush hour which make the bus service very reliable and quick.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 11:53 AM
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Del Ray is up and coming, but you can't get an apt for under $1k there.

In fact, you can't get a 1 bd apartment for less than $1000 anywhere near a metro unless you live in less-than-safe area on the metro's green line. anything under $1k is a bus ride to the metro, which isn't too bad actually.

try washingtondc.craigslist.org/ for a good idea of what you should expect to pay.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 12:14 PM
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if you are NOT concerned about size, and really have the time to hood it - visit apartments you like, individually, you might (might) luck out price wise. if you can see fit to jump to 1200 you'd be better off, and have you considered actually living in town? if you work downtown, you might want to think about it!

you won't have ease of parking, but you will have tons of off-work options...
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 12:15 PM
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hoof it. I meant hoof it.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 02:27 PM
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I live in Alexandria, and yes, there are more afforadable apartments around Duke Street/Seminary Road and all that, but you really are in strip mall land.

I'd love live in Del Ray, but my husband's commute to Outer Mongolia would be impossible from there. It's a great spot. It might have a few rough edges, but it's got a lot more character (and better restaurants) Alexandria (Old Town excepted, of course).

I would have suggested living in DC, but I'm not sure their budget can handle it. You never know, though. You might find a basement apartment in the $1,000-$1,200 range.

Flygirl has an excellent point--you would give yourself a lot more options if your budget could stretch to $1,200.

In North Arlington, check out Randolph Towers. It's just 1 block from the Ballston Metro, and I've heard you can get one bedrooms there for around $1,100-$1,200 (one parking space included). A million new apartment buildings have gone up all around it with high rents, and since Randolph Towers is an older (in comparison) building, the rents are lower.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 03:07 PM
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I don't know, I live in Takoma Park so kind of know the Silver Spring area.

You don't say how old you are but I assume you want younger -- I think Arlington would be good for you. Bethesday, sure, but not at that rent. Even in Silver Spring, I don't think that's very possible for something nice except a studio. I hate to break it to you, but your desires are not possible at that price in a decent area close-in. Silver Spring is more moderate but partly because it's not really comparable to Bethesda and Arlington. Not much street life, that's the main problem and the restaurant situation is horrendous, simply awful, meaning there just aren't very many at all. I don't get it as there are so many people there but no decent restaurants.

I don't suppose it's possible but Washington Post has this really great section on Saturdays, "Apartment Living" that profiles one larger apt building each week. It's a great way to see what's out there at what price, but I don't suppose you have time to try to peruse that in a library or something.

If you can find something you like in Arlington, I'd take it -- you can always move later on after you figure the city out. I agree it really gets down to where you will be working. Trying to get from Silver Spring to Alexandria to work would be possible but no fun and vice versa.

YOu might consider Capitol Hill in the City. It's a nice residential area and has better parking than the more dense urban area, and I think you may find some cheaper rents. One nice thing (I lived there when I first moved to DC) is that traditionally a lot of apts on the Hill are rented through agencies, so it's easier for outsiders to find something. Just go to an agent and see what they have. There are also some developers that have several buildings, like Charles E Smith.

For example, I kind of liked the Car Barn on Capitol Hill (renovated historical building, great style) and they have 1 BRs about $1100 now but that's not right near a metro and in the somewhat more dicier area of Capitol Hill. I didn't want to live there alone, but you might think it acceptable, I don't know your standards. However, that's an idea about your budget -- it's too low to get everything you want.

You can find agencies fairly easy by checking the apt rentals in the Wash Post. The one I used (and liked a lot) was Helen Carey, as I recall (711 E St SE). There are only a few main ones you can figure out in the paper. they don't charge fees, the owner pays for the listing. It really speeds things up when you need to find something quickly to deal with an agent that can show and rent the place immediately. They have some good places near the metro stops (Capitol South, Union or Eastern Market).
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 05:10 PM
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You won't find more than a one bedroom for 1100 a month in Bethesda, no matter how far "north" you go. I suggest Arlington or Alexandria where there are some nice apts near cool shops and bars and not far from DC. If you live in Montgomery County MD, get ready to pay a lot of taxes.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 06:13 PM
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I made the same move to DC a few years ago. I recommend staying in a hotel in different areas for a few weekends to get the feel of an area. Definitely look at your commute but if you have experience commuting on the LI Expressway it may make you chuckle at what some think is a bad commute here. Look at Dupont, Bethesda, Adams Morgan, or Old Town Alexandria if you want a happening young community. Then look at Capitol Hill, AU Park and Cleveland Park which are farther away from recreation but close by metro. Watch the rentals on Washingtonpost.com or the DC City Paper which is like NY's Village Voice. Good luck with your move!
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Old Apr 1st, 2003, 12:59 PM
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Thanks for all the help! Just so you know, we are both in our mid-20's. We plan to drive down to DC next weekend. Can anyone suggest any good realtors? Thanks.
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Old Apr 1st, 2003, 01:13 PM
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Most of the grocery stores in the area have free booklets of rental apartments in the area, if you are just looking to rent.

If you are looking to rent a house, you can do a search on the internet and call their toll free telephone numbers to get a feel for prices in the areas you are looking.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2003, 01:07 PM
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I guess you are asking about realtors who will show and rent apartments? That's what I used when I moved to DC and it was extremely helpful because I was moving from California and had only one week to look around and rent something.

What I did and you must, is started getting familiar with the apartment ads in the Washington Post classifieds way ahead of time. I forget which is the best day -- probably Sunday. They may have these online now, not sure, if not, you must buy the paper at a good newstand and become familiar with the areas, rents and companies. If you don't, you may be wasting your time coming down here and/or get something a lot worse than you could.

I used the Post to find some apts and buildings in the district, and set up some appointments for those by phone. I used a realtor for Capitol Hill which I named (Helen Carey), and I used a different realtor for Virginia (Arlington/Old Town Alexandria). She was very very good and knew the areas and also had some good private condo rentals at decent prices. Finally, I went with Capitol Hill because I just thought I wanted to live in the city as a newcomer.

I think she may have been with a Weichert realty company in Old Town, Alexandria, but I'm not sure. I got her name just by viewing the want ads in the Post and seeing her agency with rentals in that area. That's what you should do.

My fallback was a place in the city that always has some rentals available because it's so big -- McLean Gardens. It's a really nice large complex with parks, plenty of parking, etc., and a highrise bldg versus small townhouses. The location is great in-city in Cleveland Park, but the only drawback is that it is about 4-5 blocks from a metro stop. Given all the other good things, it's not that bad, however. I think they are now about $1400-1500 for a 1 BR, however.

Grocery stores will have small free books of ads for the larger apt. buildings.

I think you might do a little more research before coming down to DC to make the best use of your time. and the weekend isn't really the best time to contact realtors or landlords, although you can probably do some driving around and seeing areas -- large apt. bldgs will have someone on duty in a rental office, no doubt.

Have you used www.apartmentshowcase.com? It's for the DC area.

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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 11:05 AM
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The Post does have its apartment ads online.
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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 01:31 PM
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My husband and I are also relocating to the DC area, and coming from CT, I thought things would be about the same. NOT SO!!! We bought a house in Fairfax county - but the prices were way higher than expected - and there are alot more people looking for housing than there is housing. I'm not sure if the apartments are the same - but in buying houses, the asking price was the starting point and people were bidding against each other..... Unfortunately, it's not the same in CT................ My sister in Maryland told me it's almost 80 down there.... I can't wait to move!!!
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