Where should I live in Arlington, VA?
September 19, 2008 6:15 AM   Subscribe

Where should I live in Arlington, VA? I want to live on the orange line metro. I'm 23 and single and I want to be as close to the action as possible.

I've been trying to find a place in DC proper for the last 2 weeks to no avail. I need to sign a lease by the end of September so time is running out. I believe I'm going to fall back to Arlington (not a bad 2nd choice, though). It'll be cheaper, easier to have a car, and safer, but still close to the DC action. I will be commuting to Crystal City, VA. Should I drive or metro? My company will pay for my metro fares.

Where should I live on orange line metro?

Virginia Square?

I would like to be near a lot of bars/live music/restaurants/young people/fun, and within walking distance to a metro.

What do you all think?
posted by decrescendo to Society & Culture (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: .........or should I be living in DC? haha
posted by decrescendo at 6:27 AM on September 19, 2008

If DC is pricing you out, then you may not do much better in Rosslyn or Courthouse. Rosslyn is heavier on commercial development right by the Metro stop, so any place you found would be a real haul in the mornings. Courthouse has more residential space, but my cousin was in a situation that sounds much like your and had no hope of affording her own place (which it sounds like you want).

I lived out in Ballston for all these reasons, though admittedly that was in the late 90s. Rents have undoubtedly shot up in the intervening years, but I would bet that the relative cost of those neighborhoods and their characters remain more or less the same. Clarendon is pretty lively, but it's converted to a lot of commercial space and there are fewer apartments there than other places the last I checked. See if Glenayr Apts. are still there out near Ballston. We had problems with the resident manager, but she's surely dead by now and the apartments themselves were fine.
posted by el_lupino at 6:31 AM on September 19, 2008

Crystal City is on the Blue and Yellow lines, so Rosslyn would be the only place in Arlington to have a non-transfer Metro commute (but changing at Rosslyn is easy).

I lived in Rosslyn, Old Town, and Dupont Circle. Rosslyn was the most expensive. In Old Town and Dupont, I found my apartments in the Post classifieds--private, nonmanaged places. Dupont was my favorite for being in the middle of everything.

It's been a few years, but when I left, the H St, Chinatown area was having a lot of development (managed places). Along Mass between 12th ish and 3rd and right on H. That would make an easy Metro Commute.

Old Town, just north of Old Town and Del Ray in Alexandria would be easy, too. The scene was pretty quiet when I was there, and I'm not sure what's going on with prices, but I thought it was cute.
posted by Pax at 6:40 AM on September 19, 2008

Glenayr Apartments (1BR) are $1075/mo with all utilities included, about a 10-minute walk to the Ballston Metro. It's not nearly as trendy an area as Clarendon, but it's a nice blend of quiet and convenience.

el_lupino - was it Lois?
posted by djb at 6:42 AM on September 19, 2008

Response by poster: I think I could get my own place in VA easily. It would be more difficult to find a nice place for a decent price in DC, I'm afraid.

But I'm pretty sure I could afford to live in either area.
posted by decrescendo at 6:44 AM on September 19, 2008

Response by poster: Should I call a real estate person and tell them to find me a place in a certain area within a certain price range? Can they do that type of thing?
posted by decrescendo at 6:47 AM on September 19, 2008

What sort of budget are you looking at? Are you looking only for a 1 bedroom, or will you live in a studio?
posted by inigo2 at 6:48 AM on September 19, 2008

If you're going to be living in Arlington, the Courthouse/Clarendon area is much more hopping than Ballston. I lived in Ballston a few years ago, and found it to be comparatively dead. Parts of DC vs. Arlington are very very different, too, in regards to "action" - even if they both have proximity to bars/live music/restaurants/fun. Arlington is much more Generic Transitioning-to-Adult, while U St is hipstery and Adams Morgan is a little clubbier. Arlington allows you easy access for the rest of NoVa, though, while DC makes you fight through 20 minutes of lights before you can get out of the city. It really depends on what you're looking for!

My generic recommendation is the Courthouse stop - rent is a lot less than DC, you've got a decent amount of lot of stuff around you, your car won't be an issue, and DC is only just beyond Rosslyn.
posted by soma lkzx at 6:50 AM on September 19, 2008

Given your criteria (23, single and ready to mingle), I'd say go for Clarendon. If you can walk to the Clarendon Ballroom and Mr. Days from your apartment, you'll be close to all the "action" you can handle.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:54 AM on September 19, 2008

Response by poster: haha some of these posts are making me think of looking in DC again

I can pay up to about 2300 for rent I think.
posted by decrescendo at 7:05 AM on September 19, 2008

Clarendon and Court House are, IMO, more fun than Rosslyn; the latter has a lot of offices and can get a little empty and gloomy in the evenings. There are quite a few restaurants but it doesn't have the nightlife that you'll get a little further down the street.

But if you can get a nicer apartment in Rosslyn, I'd do that — it's a trivial Metro ride anyway, and a cramped or overpriced apartment will get old fast. So while I'd vote for Clarendon over Rosslyn if all else was equal, there's a limit to how much extra I'd be willing to pay.

I used to live in Crystal City and go up to Clarendon / Court House / Ballston regularly; the only drag about that location was that it required a change of trains in Rosslyn.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:26 AM on September 19, 2008

I'm kind of surprised that you can't find an apartment in D.C. for $2300 a month. When I moved to DC from across the country, I polled friends to find a nice area, then just took the plunge by renting in one of the huge complexes in Cleveland Park sight-unseen. A studio around those parts should run you about $1200-$1400 per month.

Are you set against living in a big managed apartment complex? I've never found it particularly difficult to find a place in one of those, even from across the country. I think I used apartments.com to narrow down the places that looked okay, then called the provided numbers to check out what their available move-in dates were.
posted by iminurmefi at 7:27 AM on September 19, 2008

Don't be afraid to learn the bus routes. At rush hour the trains are all going to be totally packed so you'll get more breathing room. Depending on where you wind up you might also find a more direct route than changing at Rosslyn and you almost certainly won't need to walk as far.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 7:32 AM on September 19, 2008

Response by poster: The only problem is I start full-time work in DC Oct 1. That's an hour and 45 min commute from where I live now and I'd rather not do that for a long time. I can end my lease where I currently live on Oct 31 and if I sign a lease in DC before I start work in DC Oct 1. I can live there to commute and gradually move my stuff during the month of October.

Time is an issue. I wish it wasn't, but this job change has happened very very quickly and I've burned the last 2 weeks looking for a 3-person place in DC and found nothing.
posted by decrescendo at 7:35 AM on September 19, 2008

Live on the yellow line in VA!

It is much much less crowded as far as commuting into the city is concerned, it is on the same line as where you work, and I cannot overstate the value of cutting out transfers as they are incredibly aggravating due to the number of stupids on the metro. The orange line itself is a hellish nightmare most days during rush hour, and even though you can afford it there is very little to recommend about the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor in my opinion anymore. The Yellow line also has the advantage of mostly servicing cheaper neighborhoods, and if you want something fancyish and trendy it goes right through Old Town and Huntington which are both pretty nice, and right on the river. Also the yellow line goes right through the most interesting parts of DC, you can get to Chinatown, U St., Columbia Heights and Petworth all without changing trains.

Also more home for your money, and more car friendly (please dont drive in DC).

In DC I reccomend Petworth and Brentwood, you can afford Tenleytown and Connecticutt Ave also, which might be better if you are a female, still I am going to push for the yellow line in VA.
posted by BobbyDigital at 7:42 AM on September 19, 2008

I posted on the wrong thread. Please see my post in to a previous thread here.
posted by nemoorange at 8:09 AM on September 19, 2008

Hey decrescendo,

I lived in Arlington/DC for 3 years. 80% of my friends still live in Arlington and DC. We are all under 28.

If your looking for fun, single, and easing into urban culture (which means having a car and driving it a couple times a week) I will nth living in Clarendon and Courthouse. It's mostly fratastic, but there are so many attractive (beating anything in DC) girls at the bars in Arlington, and you can take a $15 cab into the hot spots in DC.

I really would never live ever on the Yellow or Blue line until I'm married and have children.

Also, although most of Clarendon is condos, folks are renting these out as apartments.

And if you really want to make new friends, use craigslist and find a open room in a shared apartment. (even in DC). Unfortunately its alot like rushing a fraternity, in that they interview you, see if you can pay and bring something to the table, so you need to be normal (or at least say normal things), and be cool.
posted by sandmanwv at 8:24 AM on September 19, 2008

Response by poster: Yeah I think I'm going to settle on Arlington. No DC. Not yet. I can still bounce from Arlington to DC by cab or car all the time anyway. It's close enough that I'm still going to be able to experience all the hot spots in DC.
posted by decrescendo at 9:20 AM on September 19, 2008

decrescendo: since you brought it up first, I'll say the snarky answer I wouldn't have otherwise posted: The action in Arlington is in Adams-Morgan.

You can totally commute to Crystal City via metro from the city. If time is pressing, I second the "find a shared room that lets you rent monthly for a little while" advice. There's lots of cool young people in DC who are coming and going, and I knew a ton of people who lived in shared places short-term.

It is indescribably worth it to be able to walk out your door and be in the city, when you are a young person. You're 23! You're single! Why would you want to settle for Arlington: Land of the Starter Townhome? The Land That Cool Forgot? Don't do it!

Ok, it's not that bad. But I truly do strongly recommend trying to live in the city if you even think you might want to. It's worth it.
posted by rusty at 10:20 AM on September 19, 2008

I've been living in Arlington in between Courthouse and Clarendon for the past two years and love it. There is a good variety in restaurants, live music, and easy metro access to DC.

The only drawback that I've found is that once you get into DC, the cabbies don't want to drive you back to Arlington when the bars are closing and get a huge attitude if they have to drive further than Rosslyn into VA.
posted by JennyJupiter at 1:35 PM on September 19, 2008

Also I share a 2 bedroom for $1500, so you should be able to find something very nice that fits into your budget!
posted by JennyJupiter at 1:36 PM on September 19, 2008

Why not live in Crystal City? My sweetie and I rent an entire house in CC and pay less than $2300 a month. It's not a hopping place, though there's a nice places to eat and drink in easy walking distance. When you want to go out and raise hell you can metro where you're going.

I have lived close to work and close to fun and what I discovered is that the time I spent getting to fun I begrudged a lot less than the time I spent getting to work.

Housingmaps.com does a nice job of visually showing the craigslist ads. There's a lot of CC stuff under 2k/mo.
posted by phearlez at 1:42 PM on September 19, 2008

I just moved from Clarendon last year--definitely the best neighborhood in Arlington, and right on the Orange. You've got Murky Coffee, the Galaxy Hut, Clarendon Market Commons, Whole Foods, Mr. Day's, and a whole bunch of other stuff nearby. Ballston is too commercial and not neighborhoody enough.

I lived last at Sheffield Court. Price were reasonable, they have a gym and a pool, and the rents were actually going _down_ when we moved out (last April).
posted by timoni at 3:18 PM on September 19, 2008

el_lupino - was it Lois?

Oh, great hordes of seven-toed cas, she's not dead, is she? We left Glenayr under what might be called a "soft" eviction when I had both a girlfriend (later to be my wife) and cats there. I probably could have fought for the cats, I probably could have fought for the girlfriend, but I wasn't going to make it with both. The last encounter I had with Lois was in the frantic rush to move stuff out of our place, incuding a studio piano.* We were rolling it down N. 4th Rd. as she drove away and glowered at us as though we were insane. No love lost between me and her, or actually, anyone I ever kne who met her and her.

* - How do you get a piano up to a second-story walk-up? Easy. You fill four starving graduate studets with Salvadoran food and they'll do anything you tell them. Getting the piano down is easy.
posted by el_lupino at 5:59 PM on September 19, 2008

My username contains a clue: The coolest place around here to live is on the orange line in DC. I work in VA and the commute is lovely and easy (I metro but the drive would be simple and against the flow of traffic).

I pay 1400 for a huge sexy 1 bedroom, but I'm really paying for having an actual neighborhood full of unique people and places. Many of the kids I know who live in VA get sick of the strip malls and whitehats pretty quickly, but to each his own--Arlington is ok in the area right around the metro stations, though nightlife-wise I only go to Galaxy Hut. Good luck!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:49 AM on September 22, 2008

The only drawback that I've found is that once you get into DC, the cabbies don't want to drive you back to Arlington when the bars are closing and get a huge attitude if they have to drive further than Rosslyn into VA.

Just wanted to drop in to suggest a solution to this: put Arlington Red Top (or the NoVA cab company of your choice, but I like ART because they are non-sleazy, take plastic, and have a slick GPS-based realtime dispatch system, so they can tell you pretty exactly how long your wait will be) in your cellphone, and call when you're ordering your last-call drink or thereabouts.

This is what I typically do when I'm staying out past the Metro Bewitching Hour, and most of the time I'm in the cab and heading home before I'd have even made it to the front of the line for a DC cab.

The Arlington/Alexandria cabs aren't allowed to cruise around and pick up fares from the street in DC (at least this is my understanding), or wait in the taxi stands, but they will come in and get you if you call. I've never had them balk at it, and maybe I've been lucky but they've always been very prompt.

Also I used to only take VA cabs because I thought the DC zone system was shady as hell, but they've given that up so it's a wash.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:55 AM on September 30, 2008

The Arlington/Alexandria cabs aren't allowed to cruise around and pick up fares from the street in DC (at least this is my understanding), or wait in the taxi stands, but they will come in and get you if you call.

This is true. Pretty sure it's b/c if you call, they'll send over one of their cabbies that has the DC cab license (which most VA cabs don't).
posted by inigo2 at 7:52 AM on September 30, 2008

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