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Apartment/House Hunting in DC Area


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So, I'm currently looking for some new digs around here, and I've run into a couple problems. One is that I've come to realize that I'm not all that familiar with some of the neighborhood labels that are commonly used in/around DC. I lived in the city as a kid, but spent my teenage years in the Virginia 'burbs and my college years in Boston. Some of my old instant reactions to certain regions of the city don't necessarily apply anymore - a lot has changed in parts of SE, for example. And I'm not even aware of some of the names I see on Craigslist. Like Bloomingdale. When the hell did people start referring to that as a location? I've never heard anyone say they were from Bloomingdale, or that they spent their Friday night in Bloomingdale. Yet it's got a Wikipedia page that's at least three pages long. I have no idea what it's like to live there, like I do with Foggy Bottom (GW students everywhere), or Dupont (fabulouuuus), or Anacostia (run away).

My other main struggle is knowing where I can get the most bang for my buck. I've heard that there are spots in NE that are rapidly becoming great places to live while still remaining relatively cheap, but I don't know specifically where those spots are. I've also heard that there are a few pockets in Arlington and Clarendon that are Metro-accessible but not prohibitively pricey. Stuff like that is always good to know.

Beyond that, I'd be interested in hearing just about any available advice that would relate to my search. Because knowledge is power and all that.


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I'm not sure about DC, never lived there..but the cost of living in Arlington is ridiculous, no matter where you look, especially in clarendon. It has built up big time in the past 10 years..its pretty much yuppie central now too. I remember when there was basically a sears, and a metro stop there, and a few stores/shops, that was it...now there are numerous apartment buildings and parking garages surrounding where sears is, or used to be, not sure if its there any longer with all the growth. Its very nice, but not sure you'll get the best bang for your buck there. Arlington as a whole is not cheap to live in anymore, i grew up there and could not afford a house when I started looking to move.

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I've lived in Sringfield, Clarendon, Capitol Hill, and now Van Ness. Aside from Springfield, they all have their own advantages and drawbacks. (I wouldn't ever live in Springfield again - just stayed there for a while when I first moved to the area)

In Clarendon I paid 850/month to share a large 2 bedroom in a 3 unit building around .5-1 mile from the Clarendon metro. The price for that unit has since gone up by 100-200/person if that's any indicator of how quickly things change. There are tons of group houses in that area though. Just be willing to walk a mile or so to the metro (which is really not bad) and you can find some gems.

In Capitol Hill I paid just over 1000/month to share a slightly smaller 2 bedroom apt in a 2 unit rowhouse. We had a small back yard which was nice. I think I was .5-1 mile away from Eastern Market.

I'm now sharing a 1 bedroom basement apt in Van Ness, 2 blocks from the metro. Obviously the price is not comparable since it's a 1 bedroom. And it's a sublet.

I personally really liked Capital Hill. There's enough to do with Eastern Market and Barracks Row and all the bars/restaurants, and it was perfect for stumbling home from DC United games at RFK. There's also a great variety of people in the area - young, old, married, single, kids, rich, poor, etc. And the acceptable living area is expanding by the minute. (For example, H St has quickly become a hot spot for going out) If you look around Potomac Ave and even Stadium Armory, you can find some really nice deals (or at least you could this time last year). The only downside to Cap Hill is that it's a bit of a trek to Dupont, Adam's Morgan, etc. But you don't seem like much of a Dupont kind of guy anyway ;)

I also know several people who live in NE - around U St or Columbia Heights. Again, there are sketchy areas but it's changed a lot IMO and is becoming really popular.

I'll try to add more later.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Good tips so far. Ren, I found a listing near Capitol Hill and Eastern Market that looks like it could be a real good find, hopefully I'll like what I see when I go to the open house.

Bumping for potential suggestions from anyone else.

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If you want some place that is up and coming, look at the area around Nats Stadium...not too far of a walk to Capitol Hill either, and all of the apartments are brand new.

and ACW is right, I stay in Ballston during the summers...its where the young people are...lots of nightlife...fun times at the Clarendon Ballroom, Spyder Kellys, etc.

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