Advice on living in DC?

A little of this, and a lot of that...
stromthurmond
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Advice on living in DC?

Postby stromthurmond » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:18 pm

Hello. I used to be on the Scooterbbs with the handle Strom Thurmond. I'm about to move to DC for a job, and I know absolutely nothing about it. Anything you can tell me about living and working in DC would be greatly appreciated. I've been there all of once. I was thinking about living in Fredericksburg. I know it's a long commute on the MARC train to Union Station. Is it crazy to expect the train to run on time and not end up getting me fired for being chronically late? If there's somewhere else you would recommend living, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I'm looking for somewhere that has a small town feel and isn't real expensive. I know that's easier said than done in DC.
I've got a rear wheel drive car. I'm from Florida, so I've never given this any thought, but I take it that's just not really going to work in the snow?
Thanks in advance!

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spoffy
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Re: Advice on living in DC?

Postby spoffy » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:02 pm

Heya Strom, I remember you from way back in those BBS days! Welcome to WMASA.

Personally I'd rather live in DC than depend on a commuter train. Not sure what you consider expensive/how local rates compare with what you had in FL, but there are plenty of areas with trees and nice neighborhoods. I live in the Takoma Park, MD area, which has a smalltown feel to it and is on the Metro's red line. Others'll prolly recommend areas of DC/Arlington/College Park/etc, so you may want to block out a weekend to visit and try to get a feel for the area before you commit to a lengthy commute.

And don't worry too much about your rearwheel drive car: we only get a handful of snowstorms every year, and you're pretty much screwed no matter what kinda drive you have since 87% of the people here have no idea how to drive in snow anyway.
mille posti

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imjuanpablo
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Re: Advice on living in DC?

Postby imjuanpablo » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:50 pm

I remember you from the BBS as well....

I'm sure your rent dollar will go farther in Frederick MD (which I think you meant, not Fredricksburg VA), but I think the commute would eventually drive you nuts......at least I know it would do that to me. The trains run pretty well (both the MARC and VRE)......at least that's what I've heard from people that commute from down there to VA/DC. I personally would want to live closer.....for more options to do things when you want. That being said, I'm from NYC, so nothing is as good as NYC entertainment.

There are a few people on here that live in Frederick, I"m sure they can chime in, but everyone I know that has been/lived there really likes it.......I've only passed through, and not spent much time there yet.

I guess it all depends on what you want......and as spoffy suggested, come and visit and we'll show you around if you give us advanced notice. Feel free to email/message/post any questions you like.
John F.

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Serendipity
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Re: Advice on living in DC?

Postby Serendipity » Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:03 pm

Likewise, welcome! what type of housing are you looking for? I also think silver spring is a pretty good deal - you can metro or scoot to work and there are both houses and apartments. You may also want to look in the hood - h street is walking distance to union station, but a little dodgy. Out of the city, also Hyattsville, MD is cheaper than silver spring and a quick commute to Union station either scooter or Marc train and you can find small 20's era houses and a small main street on Rhode Island ave that has little shops, bars and restaurants. Also people like College park and parts of Greenbelt, but that will be on the green line, so a longer commute.
~Jennifer

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12CI
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Re: Advice on living in DC?

Postby 12CI » Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:15 pm

random thoughts:

how long do you expect to live here? take a short-to-mid-term lease, and explore the area before you decide on something long term. many parts of the area, even as remote as Fredericksburg or Frederick are less "small town" than commuter bedroom developments, with no real community (other than their HOA's).

inside the Beltway, housing is cheaper on the east side of town. outside the Beltway, its hit-or-miss.

VA wil honor your FL ccw; DC and MD will not.

you're likely to need an allergist after you arrive. no one ever moves to DC for their health.
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Zeets
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Re: Advice on living in DC?

Postby Zeets » Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:39 pm

I moved down this way about 2 years ago from another area of Md. I first rented a room in Kensington before I started my meandering around Montgomery County. I can say first hand, that the closer you live to work, the better. The commutes around here can be horrendous. I've had to travel the 270 corridor every day for a year and realized the only way to not fight 45 min of traffic for my 9 mile commute was to either: leave at 6:30 or ride my motorcycle. If you're working in the city, I'd suggest getting as close as possible, motorcycling or metro.
I live in Chevy Chase now, but have lived in Kensington, Gaithersburg and Bethesda since moving down here. Bethesda was my favorite, but I have my best deal for rent in Chevy Chase. (I live at the northern end of CC, which is considerably cheaper than being on the DC border)
I know everyone has their opinion, but get close, pay the extra rent and enjoy!

The DC metro area is great other than traffic, this place rocks.

And don't worry about snow in the winter, everytime it snows, everyone closes up and goes drinking.
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normratscoots
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Re: Advice on living in DC?

Postby normratscoots » Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:26 am

I live in College Park and chose it particularly for the small-town feel, relative affordability and proximity to a large swath of federally subsidized open space that is the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. Folks have tossed out a lot of good ideas so I won't rehash, but will add that finding a place within walking or bicycling distance of metro is a good idea, as is seeing if your work will subsidize your transit. Some bus rides aren't so bad, but I lack the patience for the bus system. And yeah, snow is seldom an issue.
Its a long walk through the city in the rain, its a long walk from train to train.

stromthurmond
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Re: Advice on living in DC?

Postby stromthurmond » Wed Aug 08, 2012 7:28 am

Thanks. I will never get close to the rent I had in Florida,
which was $675 for a large one bedroom in a nice neighborhood. 

Where do you look for apartments in the DC area? My experience in Florida is that Craigslist is now the source of the worst deals and scam artists, so that's why I ask.
I'm trying to find 800sq feet, a parking space, within walking distance of the metro or train (and my employer does reimburse for public transit). I would prefer an older building and a small town kind of feel, but I realize that might be unrealistic.

I will try to figure out when I can come up there and look around. Thank you for all your help. It is really appreciated! 

epsato
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Re: Advice on living in DC?

Postby epsato » Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:15 am

The best place to look for apartment ads is in the washington city paper.

Their online ads go up on tuesdays at about 6 PM, and usually by the time the print edition's out on Thursday, the best apartments have already been rented out.

Finding a good spot for a decent price is tough in the metro area. While it's possible to find inexpensive housing, keep in mind that the commute will add to the cost in gas/stress.

Also, get ready for sticker shock in terms of living costs. Rents are high here.

Fredericksburg, VA's a bit out of the way, as is Frederick if you've got a gig in the city itself.

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Zeets
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Re: Advice on living in DC?

Postby Zeets » Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:22 am

I used Craigslist to find my last four places, basically, on CL if it looks to good to be true, it is. If you see 750 sq ft with a garage in Bethesda for $800 a month, its a scam. If you want to live in a good neighborhood, and have a decent place, be prepared to spend $1300-$2000 per month. There are neighborhoods in DC that are more "budget friendly" (H st., parts of Columbia heights, etc.) but you'll not want to leave anything out, or anything of value in your car. If there are bars on the windows on the third floor, you'll probably want to avoid it. There are people on here that are way more familiar with the good/bad areas than I am, I can help you out with lower Montgomery County, but I've thus far avoided living in DC. (Didn't want to go through the hassle of re-inspecting/ registering my car.)
Oh, and since you're in Florida, I'd try to find a friend or relative that'll let you move all your vehicle registrations to their address in Florida. First, you'll avoid all the damn speed camera tickets, and second the cost of inspecting/registering/title transfer, etc can be really out of hand here. My newest motorcycle cost me $486 to register, my buddy in Virginia just spent close to $700 for his bike. Plus you'll want to avoid our DMVs, they're horrendous.
I think there are places in my complex in Chevy Chase that are available. They have one assigned parking space and the one bedroom units have a really nice fenced in patio, plus its pet friendly. We're about 3/4 mile to the nearest metro, but there is a shuttle that runs every morning and afternoon. Also, if you're going to Foggy Bottom area, it's my understanding that it's only about a 20min drive in the morning. You'd basically be doubling your current rent.

Happy Hunting!
Zayretow

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74' Yamaha RD350 (pinger)
2008 Suzuki DRZ-400SM (thumper)

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Susan
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Re: Advice on living in DC?

Postby Susan » Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:57 am

Hi - same Susan from the old bbs here. Welcome.

I'll stay out of the in the city / out in the suburbs debate except to say that it's worth thinking very seriously about how much you value the time you will spend commuting. People who live around here can spend a LOT of time getting to and from work. Do not underestimate the density of the local sprawl.

And if you think you might take advantage of any of the nice things that DC has to offer (museums, restaurants, music) on the weekends, know that Metro can be hellishly unreliable on weekends - mostly track work, but service is disrupted on one line or another pretty much every weekend.

I am not necessarily knocking the suburbs - I was pretty happy with where I lived when I was in Arlington. But if I was moving from out of town and was going to work downtown, I'd seriously consider trying to live within walking / bicycling distance to work. Could be worth a few hours of your day....every single work day.

Zeets wrote:Oh, and since you're in Florida, I'd try to find a friend or relative that'll let you move all your vehicle registrations to their address in Florida. First, you'll avoid all the damn speed camera tickets, and second the cost of inspecting/registering/title transfer, etc can be really out of hand here. My newest motorcycle cost me $486 to register, my buddy in Virginia just spent close to $700 for his bike. Plus you'll want to avoid our DMVs, they're horrendous.


Just as an FYI, that doesn't fly in DC. A car with out of state tags, even with a "guest" parking pass, can (and will) be ticketed for failure to obtain DC tags. Maybe it's cool in VA or MD?
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Serendipity
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Re: Advice on living in DC?

Postby Serendipity » Wed Aug 08, 2012 3:39 pm

If you can deal with the whole roommate thing, you might get a lot more bang for your buck. Its worth considering as the people I know who share - pay anything from $500 in a dump of a house to $900 -1200 for sharing a nicer house or a 1/2 of a 2 bedroom condo.

Another option is to rent the basement apartment of a townhouse. I see a lot of those in columbia heights or mount pleasant (where I live) $1000-1300, about 800sf, have walk out patio to the backyard and tend to come with a parking space.

A lot of people who live in the city don't have cars, which helps offset the higher rent prices. Commuting, even on the train for long distances can get very expensive.
~Jennifer

hurleybt
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Re: Advice on living in DC?

Postby hurleybt » Wed Aug 08, 2012 4:22 pm

I've got a friend with a sunny second floor room for rent <$1000, two short blocks south of Georgia Ave Petworth Metro Station. Across the street from restaurants and bars: Looking Glass Lounge, DC Reynolds, Banana Bar. Off street parking available. She can rent short term if you want to get a feel for the area. Message me with your email addy and I can put you in touch with her.

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spoffy
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Re: Advice on living in DC?

Postby spoffy » Wed Aug 08, 2012 5:01 pm

if you can give any details about the part of town you'll be working in, that may spark some suggestions.

you working on the national mall (lots of metro lines running through) or one of the non-downtown areas (served by fewer metro lines)?
mille posti

stromthurmond
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Re: Advice on living in DC?

Postby stromthurmond » Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:47 am

Thanks. I will be working a half mile from Union Station.
I probably should mention I have a cat. Alot of the ads seem to say no pets. I can see this is going to be a challenge!


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