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Best Area to live in DC/Northern VA for commuting

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RLG

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I am moving to DC in the end of May. I was hoping that those of you who live in the DC or Northern VA area could suggest a couple of areas to look for a new appartment in. My biggest problem is that my FI works at Ft. Belvoir, down by Mt. Vernon. I will be working at Walter Reed and National Naval Medical Center. He currently lives in Springfield but that is way too far of a commute for me. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thank you!
RLG
 

AGBF

Super_Ideal_Rock
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RLG-

Do you want to live near your work or between where you work and where he lives? I mean, will he be moving in with you; moving to a new place of his own somewhere else; or staying where he is for now? I know where Springfield is (I used to have to drive there to take our yellow Lab to a veterinary specialist there) and it''s a hike from where I am in northern Virginia. Arlington is close to the District (which I am not) and everyone wants to live there. I can''t place Walter Reed at the moment unless I look at a map...but if I do, I''m sure I could help. But I have to know where you and your fiancé want to be in terms of proximity to each other!

AGBF
 

anyname

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Hello and welcome to the area!
I don''t know much about NoVa, but if you''re thinking about thinking about moving to MD you can look at Silver Spring. But what are you looking for in a neighborhood? Where are you moving from?

The Metro is useful to get to the Naval hospital, there''s a station across the street at NIH. However, if you''re going to Walter Reed you will need to take a bus. This link should be helpful, it''s for the DC Metro.
 

RLG

Shiny_Rock
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AGBF- We are getting married in early May, so the plan is to live together. Somewhere in the middle would probably be best. Walter Reed is in northern DC, bordering right on Silver springs MD. I appreciate any suggestions. Thank you.

Popcorn-thank you for the link. I am moving from Saint Louis. Really the only criteria is close to one of the highways so we can try to minimize the commute as much as possible.
 

lovesparklies

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Hi RLG!
So, as you may already know, while you both will work in the DC/NoVA area your jobs are actually pretty far apart. Would one of you be more willing to make a long commute? Will either of you need to be near a metro stop? Do you want to be in an area with a lot of shops and restaurants within walking distance or more of a family oriented suburb type of feel? What''s your budget like?

I would recommend Arlington as a midpoint between your jobs. That''s where I lived, though, so I''m biased.
The Clarendon and Courthouse neighborhoods in Arlington are really popular because they have a lot of restaurants and things to do but are also the most expensive. Rosslyn and Virginia Square are also in that area but Rosslyn is kind of a business district with lots of concrete and Virginia Square is more family oriented and not as trendy. South Arlington is becoming nicer these days but some areas are a little sketchy.

You could also look around Alexandria. Old Town Alexandria is my favorite part of DC/NoVA but probably not that convenient to live in. Alexandria has more townhouses and detached houses than apartment buildings but you could probably find some good apartment deals. The Metro isn''t as accessible in Alexandria as Arlington.

I''m not as familiar with the suburbs such as Springfield so if you and your FI want to live out a little further from the city hopefully some others will chime in with some advice! Good luck with your search!
 

anyname

Shiny_Rock
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hmm...I would suggest possibly looking into Vienna, Va. I ditto what lovesparklies said. Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, McClean. As far as DC goes, NW and NE both have some nice areas. But if would depend on what neighborhood you''re looking in.
 

asscherisme

Ideal_Rock
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Date: 4/6/2009 11:23:02 PM
Author: RLG
AGBF- We are getting married in early May, so the plan is to live together. Somewhere in the middle would probably be best. Walter Reed is in northern DC, bordering right on Silver springs MD. I appreciate any suggestions. Thank you.

Popcorn-thank you for the link. I am moving from Saint Louis. Really the only criteria is close to one of the highways so we can try to minimize the commute as much as possible.
Psst... Its Silver Spring, Md. I am from Bethesda, and you could always tell those who were transplants or recently moved to the area because they would say Silver Springs. Drop the last "S" and call it Silver Spring and you will sound like a native.

Sorry I can't help with the commuting issue though. Its been years since I lived there and traffic has gotten out of control and I never commuted where you need to.

Have you considered living near a metro? When I was first married, we had only one car and we lived in Gaithersburg and I took the car and commuted to Rockville and my husband took the metro into DC. I would drop him off at the metro on my way to work and in the eveing either I would pick him up or he would take the bus home. I wonder if they still have the "ride on" bus? They use to be so clean and a bargain.

Going home over the summer to visit though. I love love love the DC area. Its such a great area to live and I miss it.
 

NovemberBride

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RLG - Can you give us an idea of your budget? Not to be too personal, but housing costs can vary widely across the area. Also, are you looking to rent or buy?
 

NewEnglandLady

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This is a toughie! Sounds like ideally you''d live smack in the middle of downtown so you could each have a reverse commute in different directions. Since he works in VA and you work in MD, if you choose to drive, one of you is going to be sitting on the beltway for 1.5+ hours per day. Similarly, if you take the Metro, you are each riding to the end of the lines--you are nearly at the end of the red line and he would be at the very end of the blue line (+ a bus ride, I think).

If I were you, I would probably consider NW DC. He''d still be close to Metro Center so he could transfer and you''d be on the red line. When I lived in Chevy Chase, there was a bus that went to Silver Spring and I think it was faster than taking the train, so that''s another option.

Good luck! Despite your commutes, I think you''ll love it--I moved to DC from Missouri and really enjoyed it!
 

AGBF

Super_Ideal_Rock
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For a year and a half I drove my daughter to school in Silver Spring, Maryland while living in Great Falls, Virginia. It was a long commute, especially when I was doing the drive four times a day, rather than two! My question for you is: for how long are you two going to have to stay at these jobs? Until one of you can switch jobs, life is going to be very stressful. Are these plum jobs that are necessary not only because you need them to start out in a new geographic region but because they are exactly what you and your husband always dreamed of doing? Even if they are, is there any way for one of you to find a comparable job in another location? That would be my goal if I were in your position. The distances are, in my opinion, unmanageable.


AGBF
 

phoenixgirl

Ideal_Rock
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Mar 20, 2003
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Based on location it looks like Vienna (closer to DC), Dunn Loring, and Merrifield (closer to the Ft.) are the closest to half-way in between, but you''ll still both have commutes of 30-40 minutes. Not the end of the world, though, right?
 

palomablancabride

Rough_Rock
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Jul 1, 2008
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As other ladies have said, Arlington would probably be "best," but it is expensive (I rented in Arlington for 5 years within walking distance to a metro). You could also try Falls Church just west of Arlington.
 

Clio

Brilliant_Rock
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Jan 13, 2007
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809
As you know, in the next couple of years, Walter Reed will be merging with the Naval Hospital and everyone will be moving to Bethesda. In that situation, I think the Falls Church area would be a good bet for you. My husband works at the Naval Hospital, and for our first year in the area we lived in Falls Church. His morning commute was about 30-35 minutes, and his evening commute was about 45-60 minutes, depending on Beltway traffic. I''m not as familiar with Ft. Belvoir, but I think your FI''s commute would be similar?

You could take Metro, but it would be much longer. Metro from NOVA out to Bethesda would take forever!
 

RLG

Shiny_Rock
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Jan 22, 2007
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316

Thanks everyone for the responses. Here is the rest of the info everyone asked about. We are both going to be resident physicians (myself in OBGYN and FI in family medicine with the Army), so we will be in the DC area for at least the next 4 years. Really the most I want to spend on rent is 2500. Which just blows my mind coming from the rental prices in the midwest, but I guess that’s the price you get to pay for the privilege of living in the nations capital. Fort Belvoir does not have a metro station anywhere near it so FI will be driving regardless of where we live. As much as I would love to be able to save on gas by taking the metro, I most likely will be getting to work around 5am depending on which rotation I am on, so the metro will not leave early enough. When I was there this summer I took the metro once to walter reed and it took about an hour and then a bus ride from Silver Spring (thanks for the heads up on speaking like a local asscherisme). It sounds like the consensus is that I should look around Arlington.


Lovesparkles- Thanks for all the specific information on the arlington area. I will defeniatly check out the claredon and courthouse areas.
Novemberbride-Any other ideas based on my rental budget?
Newenglandlady- The thought of being on the beltway for multiple hours just makes angry. A more horrible piece of concrete and asphalt does not exist. Thanks for the well wishes, I appreciate it.
AGBF-We are kind of stuck working so far apart from each other. Ironically we choose DC because it was one of the few areas where there were both are specialty choices in the same area. At the time we had no idea how far apart they were.
Pheonixgirl-Thanks for the suggestions, I will check out those areas as well.
palomablancabride-another vote for arlington. It is definitely on my list.
Clio- It will be nice when the two hospitals merge. My department is not supposed to move completely until the last year of my residency. If you don’t mind my asking what area do you live in now?

Thanks again everyone.
 

NovemberBride

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
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RLG - The good news is that your $2500 should allow you to live in almost any area in the DC area. It is a little tough, since the areas you two will be working are unfortunately pretty far apart. Since there is nowhere that will be terribly convenient for you, I''d just pick an area that you''d like to live in. Can you tell us a little bit about you guys and what you like to do? For instance, Vienna is a lovely area, but it is very family oriented. There are very few places to go out or even get something to eat after about 9 pm. It is also not an area where you can really walk to things either. Falls church is very similar to Vienna. Courthouse and Clarendon are definitely the popular areas for younger couples, and for a good reason. If you didn''t need a car to get to work, you could easily live here without one. There are tons of restaurants, bars, stores, movie theaters, etc. within walking distance of most of the apartment buildings. Old Town Alexandria is also really nice, and very close to Mt. Vernon, but a little far for you maybe. I would say Bethesda is probabl the Maryland equivalent of Clarendon/Courthouse.
 

RLG

Shiny_Rock
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Jan 22, 2007
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316
Hi Novemberbride - We will have just gotten married. No kids so family oriented is not super important. FI only criteria is that it is close to the highway and has storage for his outdoor hobby gear. I on the other hand would love to live somewhere with resturants and shops. That way I can enjoy my free time without having to drive somewhere else.
 

AGBF

Super_Ideal_Rock
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If you are unable to change your jobs and are, therefore, stuck working at distant corners of the area, why not live not only in the most central, but the most congenial area? I guess in my opinion, tht would be the District itself. I think that Arlington is popular because it is close to the District...but the District is the real thing. It is actually the center of everything. It is the place you will already be and will not have to travel to when you are home if you live there. So if you are going to have the stress of commuting and the stress of high power residencies, I'd reward yourself with an apartment in a nice neighborhood somewhere in NW. A friend's son found a real neighborhood with all its own little shops near a place on the 6400 block of 31st Street.

AGBF
 

Clio

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 13, 2007
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Date: 4/7/2009 8:41:10 PM
Author: RLG

Clio- It will be nice when the two hospitals merge. My department is not supposed to move completely until the last year of my residency. If you don’t mind my asking what area do you live in now?


Thanks again everyone.
We live in Rockville, which is the next town north of Bethesda. My husband has an easy drive to the NNMC now, and I commute to downtown DC, so I take Metro. We have kids, so schools, a quiet family oriented neighborhood, and a little space to run around were what we wanted. If we didn''t have kids, we would definitely be living DC.

I like AGBF''s suggestion of looking in the District. It is probably the most central since y''all are spread so far for work. The only downside might be finding a place with parking. My sister lives in Adams Morgan and she loves it, but she finally got rid of her car because she was spending a fortune on a garage space. She wasn''t willing to play the find-a-place-on-the-street game, esp. in Adams Morgan.
 

RLG

Shiny_Rock
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Jan 22, 2007
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316
AGBF - You are probably right. If I have to commute anyways I may as well enjoy where I come home to.
 

cara

Ideal_Rock
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Mar 21, 2006
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Well the good thing about residency is that at least your morning commute will be more managable, if 5 am is your actual, consistent start time. The beltway should be tolerable at that hour! But I actually I second the district or near-in NVa recommendations (Rossalyn, etc.) You want to do what you can to put yourselves in reverse commuter roles, even though the DC area traffic has become somewhat less unidirectional with the growth of working centers in the suburbs. And you will want parking, even if you have to eat into your rent budget to rent a spot for your cars in the district. And I personally would want to have a ready supply of casual restaurants for a 2-resident family. I can''t imagine you two will be up for lots of cooking on a regular basis, whatever your usual habits are.
 

QueenB29

Shiny_Rock
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I''m mostly a lurker, but since I also live in the area, I thought I would respond.

I would definitely go for Arlington, in any of the areas mentioned: Crystal City, Clarendon/Courthouse, Ballston or Rosslyn. They all have lots of places to eat or shop and easy access to everything else in the area. My job takes me to Walter Reed frequently and getting there by car is a lot easier. Even if you were going during Metro hours, it''s a long walk from the Silver Spring station to Walter Reed, and the neighborhood isn''t the greatest the whole way. You''re probably looking at an average of 30-45 minutes driving. Which is nothing. I commute 90.


But Springfield (depending on what part) is actually pretty close to Fort Belvoir--if your FI is finding that a long drive, he''s not going to find a lot of places in Arlington much better, probably worse. Getting onto that post can be a nightmare, so I''m guessing he''s referring to the time he''s in traffic? Unfortunately, nothing is going to help that, especially as Fort Belvoir is growing.
I would suggest getting him some books on tape to listen to in the car.


Good luck with your wedding and your move. I think you''ll love it here. I always end up coming back.
 

lucyandroger

Brilliant_Rock
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Date: 4/7/2009 9:00:21 PM
Author: RLG
Hi Novemberbride - We will have just gotten married. No kids so family oriented is not super important. FI only criteria is that it is close to the highway and has storage for his outdoor hobby gear. I on the other hand would love to live somewhere with resturants and shops. That way I can enjoy my free time without having to drive somewhere else.
Hi RLG


I haven''t read everyone else''s responses carefully but I just wanted to put a plug in for the Courthouse/ Clarendon area. SO and I currently live in Courthouse and while it''s pricey, when you work long hours it''s nice to not have to travel far for a romantic dinner or trip to the movies. Plus it''s close to DC, the metro, and lots of highways (50, 66, 395, etc.) If you''re looking for a one bedroom apartment, your budget is MORE than ample. If you''re looking for a 2 bedroom, I think you could find a nice place, it just might be a bit more difficult. SO and I are currently paying a bit more than that for a 2 bedroom but we have a view of DC so there''s a premium for that.

Good luck with your search. I think you''ll really like NoVa!
 

RLG

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jan 22, 2007
Messages
316
Sorry for the late response. I spent yesterday traveling. We decided to focus mainly on arlington, so I have several appointments set up to go look.
Thank you everybody


cara,queenb29,lucyandroger- thank you again.
 

vespergirl

Ideal_Rock
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Jan 29, 2007
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5,497
When I first moved to DC, I moved to Sheffield Court apartments in the Courthouse/Clarendon section of Arlington, VA. Only 2 miles from DC, a few miles down the road from Mt. Vernon. It''s a great place for young singles or couples and takes dogs of all sizes (tough to find). It also has a pool and a gym, and a great party room. Also walking distance to the Metro, Whole Foods, and tons of bars and restaurants. I would move there again if coming to the area without kids.
 
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