Moving to the Washington DC area
November 20, 2013 7:32 PM   Subscribe

I recently started a new job, and for the time being I'll be working remotely in NE PA. Eventually though I'll need to move down here. I've been doing some research and well there's a lot of information to digest.

Work is located 2 blocks from Faragut North metro station.

Where should I live? North of the city in the Maryland (Rockville, Point of Rocks area) or maybe in the VA suburbs, Rosslyn and that area? I'll have a car, but driving in the city and parking is not on my list of things I find fun, so the train is a better option I'd guess. Price, let's say 1500-1800/month, one bedroom. I'm not averse to driving a bit to the station, and I don't mind having to drive to places because I'm not living in the middle of town either.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (18 answers total)
Do you have any desires for the area you want to live in? Amenities? Lifestyle? Neighborhood vibe?
posted by atomicstone at 7:35 PM on November 20, 2013

Response by poster: I have no real 'must-haves'. A drive to the closest metro/marc station of say at most 20-30 minutes? A detached house would be ideal but I'm also realistic.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 7:41 PM on November 20, 2013

I appreciate that you are willing to live far, but, wow, I do not recommend needing to take MARC before getting onto Metro to get to Farragut North. That sounds....horrible.
posted by atomicstone at 7:44 PM on November 20, 2013

How long do you want your total commute to be? Because you could very easily be 30 minutes from a MARC station and spend 3-4 hours a day commuting.

Do you care at all about the safety of the neighborhood? Crime rates vary wildly in different parts of the region. Do you want secured parking for your car? Does it matter to you how far you'd have to walk/metro/bus/drive to get to restaurants, the grocery store, the library, a park, or shopping? Does it matter to you whether you live anywhere near where your coworkers or other friends are likely to live, or are you willing to live in a place where a lot of people you meet in your life in the city won't be willing or able to visit you at your home? Do you care if your neighborhood is noisy or silent or crowded or deserted or any other aspects of what the neighborhood is like? Do you care about the quality of the living space (that is, do you prefer a super-crappy, run-down house over a nicer apartment)?

If you are literally willing to live anywhere as long as it's within 30 minutes of public transportation, and the only thing you want is a detached house of any size, location, or quality for $1800 a month, you can probably do that somewhere in the area. But I suspect that when you actually think about it, there are other things you care about at least a little bit. And given the size of the metro area you're talking about and the fact that you seem to have some time to think it over and look around a bit, I'd give some more thought to what you actually want your life to look like when you get here and how your living situation is going to make your life better or worse.
posted by decathecting at 8:31 PM on November 20, 2013

Hi there! I grew up in NE PA (shout out Wilkes-Barre), went to college, and then moved to DC to go to law school at GW. I lived in DC for 9 years and Arlington VA for 8, and my advice to you would probably be to get a 1 year lease, pack light for now, and live as close to your job as is feasible in the beginning. Move into and live in an area for a while first, before you commit to a place long term, so that by living there you can figure out what conveniences and luxuries are really important to you. Then after your first year's lease is up move to the place you've decided really fits into your lifestyle the best. If it were me, I would try to live in Cleveland Park, Woodley Park, or DuPont Circle -- all on the Red Line -- for that first year. You would not have a detached house and frankly might only be able to pull an efficiency for that amount of money in someplace like DuPont, especially if your apartment needs to also come with a parking space for your car. But you could scout things out and figure out what you might really like.

Alternatively, out here in Virginia, for a slightly longer Metro ride, you could live in Courthouse, Clarendon, or Ballston, which all have stores and restaurants and some nightlife filled with single people, if that's something you're looking for. It's not the Red Line, it's the Orange, but the great thing about working so close to Farragut North is that it's also only a block or so from Farragut West on the Orange line, so you could just get off at Farragut West instead and walk an extra block. Apartments in those VA spots should be more affordable than, e.g., Dupont Circle.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy your DC-area adventure! Come to some meet-ups! :)
posted by onlyconnect at 9:50 PM on November 20, 2013

Parking at a DC metro station costs $3.50-$5.00/day. Cost of a metro ride from one of the outlying areas that has a parking garage can cost up to $5.75 each way during rush hour.

That said, plenty of less hip parts of Arlington are realistic on your budget and come with parking and accessibility to the metro.
posted by deanc at 11:52 PM on November 20, 2013

Ballston and Virginia Square have a lot of small detached houses and duplexes/townhouses within about a mile of the stations.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 3:45 AM on November 21, 2013

Best answer: As someone who moved in to DC in September from Pittsburgh, a few things caught me by surprise.

The drivers. Holy piss, the drivers here. People either go 20 above the speed limit or just below, regardless of lane, and only the fast ones change lanes. There is also a contigent of people who slow down for gentle curves on the goddamn interstate. Rubbernecking is as bad as anywhere else. This leads to some truly horrendous and without-reason standing waves of traffic... on the reverse commute that I planned out. If I had to do that for more than 50m each way, each day, I'd be in a ward. I usually pass by two to three miles of stop and go traffic moving southbound while I'm motoring up northwards.

On public transit: its a 35 minute commute for me (~25 miles) to get to work in Gaithersburg from Vienna at the best of times and it takes a smidge over a gallon of gas in the Mini. At the best of times for the metro, crossing from the DC system to the Maryland system? 2 hours, 15 minutes and a half mile walk at the end and would run me over $5 each way. I chose to live in the Vienna area to hang out with friends, so I'm sorta OK with this now, though I plan on moving as close to work as possible sometime this coming year.

I don't know what rents are like in the Faragut area and its surroundings, but $1800 for a detached residence in Vienna would be waaaay below market rates. PadMapper will probably give you a good idea of what you could expect to rent and for how much in addition to being fun to use.
posted by Slackermagee at 5:37 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you're positive you're going to be doing this by Metro, I'd look around Gaithersburg, MD. Possibly Rockville, but your price range is going to be tricky in Rockville these days.

You want to be on the Red Line because otherwise you're going to have to change trains to get to Farragut North, and that's going to be a pain. Other end of the Red Line is the Wheaton area, which might work for you, but it's a little more sketchy over there. Also, the western limb of the Red Line parallels I-270, so if you're there, you've got better access to the road network for things other than going to work.

Gaithersburg will mean you'll make your way to the Shady Grove Metro Station - along with about half the population of northern Montgomery County. As the endpoint of the Red Line, Shady Grove is the destination for many, many people's first commute. (Sort of like Hobbits, around here we have first commute and second commute.) The upshot is that you really need to get there early if you want to park.

For your price range, maybe a condo in Montgomery Village? Short drive to Shady Grove. At least they have serious parking there, unlike many stations farther down the line. Just stay off 355 during rush hour. Or pretty much ever.

Can't say I envy you, but good luck and happy house hunting!
posted by Naberius at 6:43 AM on November 21, 2013

Seriously, seriously avoid driving into the city. I have a reverse commute and at 8am traffic is basically at a standstill for MILES on 395 going into DC from Virginia. I imagine that it is the same on the other roads heading into the city from Virgina and Maryland. I would probably go nuts after a week of that, but obviously YMMV.

I would also avoid living off the red line even though Farragut North is on it. The red line is notoriously bad (I once spent 70 minutes on it to go 6 stops and I use it very infrequently and I know people frequently have issues like that with it). Farragut West is very close to Farragut North, so I'd look for something off the blue or the orange. I can't speak to the Virginia suburbs off blue/orange because I don't live there, but right now I live in Capitol Hill near the Eastern Market metro (Capitol South would also work) and it's pretty nice and maybe a possibility for you? You won't get a detached house for $1800 (my one bedroom apartment is $1700 (though it is large and includes a semi-private patio and guaranteed parking space)), but your commute will be a breeze and I find Capitol Hill to be pretty quiet and residential. There's not a ton of stuff going on there, but most of the time that's not an issue for me and it sounds like you're less interested in that.

You'll definitely get more for your money if you head farther out into Virginia or Maryland, but your commute will become longer (and sometimes much longer). It just kind of depends on what's important to you.

But, seriously, don't drive into DC every day. That's got to take years off of people's lives.
posted by vakker at 6:47 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I used to work at McPherson Square in DC... just one stop up the Orange line from Farragut West. We live in Springfield, so my 35-ish minute commute was a walk to the bus stop right down the street - which was an express bus to Pentagon Station - then hop on the Orange line to McPherson. Basically painless.

Springfield isn't exactly a hip neighborhood, but it's all 50s - 90s detached homes. We're getting a new (heavily renovated) mall and a Wegmans grocery store, so suffice it to say Springfield is going through the transition and slow gentrification that other areas like Tysons, Clarendon, etc have enjoyed over the years. We find it to be a nice blend of better housing mortgage rates while still having access to transportation and shopping, gyms, nature trails, etc.
posted by matty at 9:26 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The area around the Van Ness and Friendship Heights metro stops along Connecticut Avenue has a lot of larger apartment buildings. The neighborhood is on the quiet residential side, but generally pretty good deals on apartments. Most of the options in this area are from large corporate owned buildings, so rather than checking Craigslist you may actually want to call or stop by to ask about availability. In my experience they tended not to post openings online.

The red line tends to have the most issues of any of the metro lines, but when it's working well it should take 20-ish minutes to commute.

Earlier this year someone put out a cool rent map of DC showing the distributions of rents.
posted by forkisbetter at 9:45 AM on November 21, 2013

Oh yeah, there are also several bus lines that run down Connecticut Ave. from Chevy Chase (L1, L2, L4) that go right downtown to Farragut Square, but they tend to be fairly slow.
posted by forkisbetter at 9:47 AM on November 21, 2013

Best answer: I wouldn't worry as much about being on the red line because if you're near Farragut North, you can take the orange or blue line to Farragut West and walk to your destination.

That said, here's an apartment for rent in your budget a few blocks from the red line. I have never rented from that company but it seems like they frequently have apartments for rent at what I would consider reasonable rates (they also rent parking spaces). It's a nice neighborhood, super safe, leafy, cute. It's not a cool-urban-hip place to live but it might be a good place to go coming from NE PA to ease you into DC life. The L1/L2/L4 buses will go right by this place when Metro freaks out.

Speaking of which, did anyone yet mention that the red line is a CF? Because the red line is a CF. In fairness, more people ride the red line than any other line but it is not unusual for something to happen on the red line and chaos ensues. So having a plan B, like a bus route, is a good option. But worst case scenario, you could take a cab to work from Cleveland Park to Farragut North. It wouldn't be a short cheap trip but it's reasonable. The reason more people ride the red line than any other line is because it goes through some pretty nice areas.
posted by kat518 at 10:12 AM on November 21, 2013

$1,800 will get you a townhouse five minutes from where the Wiehle Avenue station on the upcoming Silver Line will be opening around February. The commute time from Wiehle Avenue to Metro Center is projected to be about 40 minutes, so slightly less if you go to Farragut West or a nearby station to catch a bus.

If you like to run or bike, the trail network and green space in Reston can't be beat.
posted by itstheclamsname at 12:17 PM on November 21, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers guys. Since I'm only going to be in DC once a week for the first months of my employment it'll take me a bit to get a feel for everything. (Meetups are a possibility)
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 2:59 PM on November 21, 2013

Response by poster: Oh and to answer a few questions, I would like to avoid the sketchy parts of the area, but I'm not really sure where those are ( except for Anacostia, SE?) I grew up in the country, so driving to go get groceries or whatever is not a big deal for me. I currently live in a area that has a Walmart and that's pretty much it ( Carbon County PA if ya know the area ).
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 3:02 PM on November 21, 2013

We lived in Rockville in the apartments in the Fallsgrove neighborhood. We moved away in 2007- I think our rent for a 1-bedroom was around $1450 then. Good access to Shady Grove metro. I think the commute to Farragut North was about 1/2 hour (after driving 5 minutes to the metro).
Best of luck! DC is a fun city- huge sticker shock at first, but so much to do and see.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:21 PM on November 21, 2013

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