Areas in DC that remind you of Baltimore or Philadelphia
July 25, 2018 7:59 AM   Subscribe

It's looking like I may have to move to DC from my beloved Philadelphia. Are there any areas in/around the city that remind you of Philly or Baltimore (I love Baltimore, too)? Ideally cheaper areas?

I love Philadelphia, especially West Philadelphia, and if I had the option I'd stay here forever--but the jobs I want to do are all in DC. So I am hoping there is somewhere in or around DC that has the same underdog, casual, grungy-crunchy vibe. Like, I can wear jeans and a ratty novelty t-shirt and not be completely out-of-place. The kind of place that some people might make fun of and call a shithole but is beloved to those who live there. Neighborhoody and rough around the edges. Georgetown I am not.

In addition, ideally:
  1. Cheap (it's DC, I know, but I can dream)
  2. Not crazy commute into the city (is an hour reasonable? Shorter the better, obviously)
  3. Trees? (large parts of West Philly have trees)
  4. Not suburban, or minimally so
I don't mind if it's a loud neighborhood, though preferably the noise is not coming from drunk college kids. I don't need Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. I don't need fancy. I just want Philly. I am very sad about the possibility of this move so I am hoping beyond hope that if it occurs it will be as painless as possible.
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by Rash at 8:15 AM on July 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

When I left DC for Philly at the end of 2006, I might have said Mt. Pleasant or Petworth, but I'm not sure how valid that is anymore. Politics aside, the "what do you do," "where do you work," "who do you know" vibe was pretty dominant in my neighborhood on the cusp of Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan, though I still loved Adams Morgan.
posted by Pax at 8:19 AM on July 25, 2018

Mt. Pleasant and Bloomingdale (to a lesser extent) are still the best neighborhoods in DC for this. You could also look at Park View, which has developed super nicely over the past few years (but has fewer trees).
posted by aaanastasia at 8:37 AM on July 25, 2018

Oh, also if you want to be a little further out of the city -- I have friends who have moved to Mount Rainier (Maryland, along the DC border), which is chill enough, cheaper, but I'd say has less going on.
posted by aaanastasia at 8:40 AM on July 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

Brightwood and Takoma-DC in DC Proper - bike or use buses on 16th and/or Georgia. Route 1 - Woodridge in DC Proper and Mt Rainier, Brentwood, Hyattsville in MD. Maaaayyyybe Long Branch/Flower Ave area in Silver Spring / Takoma MD.

A lot of the grungy-crunchy has been bought and renovated and furnished with the most neutral selections from Room&Board ;).

There is decent bike infrastructure and buses are under-rated. Proximity to metro is expensive.
posted by everythings_interrelated at 8:45 AM on July 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

I was in DC last summer, mostly in the Logan Circle neighborhood, and it reminded me a lot of Philly.
posted by SansPoint at 9:45 AM on July 25, 2018

How about Baltimore itself? Trains from Baltimore to DC are relatively inexpensive and can take as little as 35 minutes (although that's assuming everything goes well, which I agree is a big assumption). There are definitely affordable areas within a short walk of Penn Station in the center of Baltimore, and you love Baltimore!
posted by ubiquity at 9:51 AM on July 25, 2018 [6 favorites]

I've lived in DC (in the mid/late 90's) and Baltimore for 10 years until a year or two ago. I lived in Logan Circle way back when and would say it was a similar feeling to Philly then, but it has gentrified A LOT and is not terribly affordable. You might consider looking at NoMa/Trinidad (area near Gallaudet) to see what you think. Lots of DC proper has become really, really expensive and will be hit or miss for availability and affordable.

I would also recommend looking slightly outside the city or consider the commute from Baltimore. I had many friends who did/do that commute daily and find it fairly manageable.
posted by goggie at 10:11 AM on July 25, 2018

Yeah, honestly, this side to DC's vibe is dead or dying, and where it isn't dying yet (swaths of SE DC), it's about to be. And those areas that are still hanging on are mostly (and majorly) food deserts.

Hyattsville is actually a decent suggestion. Relatively cheap, not a crazy commute (depending on where in Hyattsville), chock-full of trees, grungy, crunchy. BUT--and it's a big but--it. is. very. very. suburban. No mistaking it.
posted by duffell at 10:13 AM on July 25, 2018

Yes, Baltimore proper is within commuting distance from DC. Especially if you live near Penn Station OR the other MARC train station stops. I think there is even one in S Bmore. Depending on where you need to work in DC, various neighborhoods in Bmore may be better for the commute depending. There are a couple of different routes so many options. I did this commute when I lived in Baltimore and it was totally doable. You would probably be happier in Bmore and commuting to DC, if you love Philly.
posted by dipolemoment at 10:30 AM on July 25, 2018

nth-ing the suggestion to commute from Baltimore if it's at all possible for where you have to end up. What you want does not exist in DC anymore, and anything remotely close to it is going to be "gone" in the next few years, barring a catastrophic economic collapse.
posted by mccxxiii at 10:41 AM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Brightwood and Takoma-DC in DC Proper

Strongly seconded. Arlandria/Del Ray if you want to check out the Virginia side.
posted by capricorn at 10:43 AM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Where are you going to have to commute to? That's the key bit of info to answer your question.
posted by mccxxiii at 12:33 PM on July 25, 2018

Response by poster: I don't know where I'll be located--just that all the jobs that I wasn't to do are in the city. I've been applying to the extremely limited selection here and remote positions, but no dice. If you want to get into progressive analytics DC (or farther) seems to be the only option.
posted by Anonymous at 1:58 PM on July 25, 2018

Mt. Pleasant, Pleasant Plains, and Brookland are the areas that remind me most of Philly. But definitely would try to commute from Baltimore if at all possible.
posted by forkisbetter at 5:01 PM on July 25, 2018

I loved LeDroit Park and the areas around Howard University. Maybe look at Petworth. I agree Bloomingdale and NoMa. Also H Street area. And maybe Takoma but not Silver Spring.
posted by kat518 at 5:49 PM on July 25, 2018

I would strongly advise not commuting from Baltimore, particularly since you specify the commute as a concern.

MARC is kind of a drag, WMATA is also kind of a drag a lot of the time, and 95 sucks. I work for Hopkins, so I know people who do it, but it's an awful lot of your life to spend in transit. It can easily take a couple hours if something goes a little wrong.

I'd be looking at Brookland or the NE Maryland suburbs - the less-rich side of Takoma Park, Silver Spring, maybe down as far as Mt. Rainier. Arlington is also potentially an option. Because of height restrictions in the actual district, there are in-the-beltway suburbs that feel more city than most of DC proper.

Mt. Pleasant is potentially still an option, as are bits of Petworth/Park View. But all that's getting really expensive. I would have said Shaw 6-7 years ago, but that shit blew up and I'm not really sure how affordable it is anymore. The twenty-somethings I know are mostly moving to Bloomingdale and Eckington, except the rich ones who can afford $3000/mo. for a studio in Dupont.

I'm a pretty big fan of my neighborhood in Takoma DC - I can bike to Dupont Circle in half an hour, but I have my own vaguely crunchy downtown right up the street.

Feel free to email me if you have any specific questions.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:07 PM on July 25, 2018

On preview, I'm curious why kat518 rules out Silver Spring - it's the fourth or fifth most diverse city in the US and has a ton of things going for it in terms of food, amenities, and general unexpected weirdness. (It's also a pretty big area, so we may be talking about very different parts of Silver Spring).
posted by aspersioncast at 6:13 PM on July 25, 2018

My sibling lives in LeDroit Park and it does remind me of West Philly a bit, for what that's worth. It's a bit smaller and fancier though.
posted by ferret branca at 7:33 PM on July 25, 2018

When I lived in DC, I had several friends who lived in “deep northeast” and seemed pretty happy with it in terms of not being super-stuffy gentrified NW DC. They all seemed to know their neighbors. I’m talking about the general area around the Arboretum. The issue is that it’s not as good for transit.

Also, all of my friends who have moved to the suburbs of DC are happier. Even if they aren’t “suburb people.” They’ve found people to be friendlier and less obsessed with what you do for a living. I think DC is just so pricey, and the city itself so small compared to the metro area, that lots of “city-type” people wind up in the inner-ring suburbs. I’m talking about places that have already been mentioned - Mt Rainier, Hyattsville, Del Ray, Takoma Park.

Also, if you’re in progressive analytics, definitely do professional “networking” stuff. I work in an adjacent field (digital for progressive orgs/campaigns) but also used to go to Analyst Institute stuff when I lived in DC and found lots of great, down to earth people. It was also more diverse than I expected (ie, not all white techbros).
posted by lunasol at 11:12 PM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I totally forgot to mention Carver Langston, DC. A lot of people don't even know this neighborhood exists. There are some fancy apartments there but it's mostly pretty chill and unpretentious.
posted by capricorn at 7:29 AM on July 31, 2018

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