Author Topic: Building a Mustachian Life in DC  (Read 18673 times)

eliza

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Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« on: November 05, 2014, 08:24:43 PM »
I've learned so much from the folks on the forum and I'm hoping that you all might have some more great ideas for me. 

I've accepted a new position that requires me to move to DC.  It's more interesting work and my salary is being adjusted for cost of living.   I'll be moving in January, but will be in temp housing until approximately March, so I'm still in the very early stages of research and planning.

I'm essentially starting from scratch since I've been living as a nomad for the past five years in jobs that required essentially constant travel.  I have no current permanent residence, no furniture, no household goods.  My work travel is going to be drastically reduced, so I'm going to need some sort of more permanent living situation.  I'm trying to figure out how to build a mustachian lifestyle in a very high COL area that I know nothing about.

Step one seems to be figuring out a reasonably-priced housing solution.  My needs:
  • Studio or Private Bedroom in Shared Apartment/House
  • Access to Public Transit
  • Reasonable Commute to Foggy Bottom Area
  • "Walkable" Neighborhood (no car and no interest in getting one)
  • Safe Neighborhood
 
Any thoughts on where to look / which neighborhoods to target?  Craigslist has been overwhelming and most of the options seem ludicrously expensive.   I was hoping to keep housing costs under $1,000 per month but I'm not sure if that is feasible.

And more broadly, does anyone have any advice for living frugally in DC? 

dodojojo

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2014, 09:48:38 PM »
  • Reasonable Commute to Foggy Bottom Area
    "Walkable" Neighborhood (no car and no interest in getting one)
    Safe Neighborhood

Impossible to get those things for under $1,000 if you want your own place.  A little less difficult if you're willing to have roommates but still not easy.  Foggy Bottom Metro has 3 train lines which makes the area very accessible from Northern Virginia.  Unfortunately, NOVA is pretty darn expensive, especially if you want a safe and easy walk to a metro station.  A decade ago I paid about $1200 for a furnished one bedroom apartment in Rosslyn.  A couple of years after I left, the going rate was over $1,400. It was in an old garden condo building.  If you want to be in a nice and accessible area--for a reasonable price, you'll have to opt for an old no frills building.  There are 2 bedroom/1 bathroom apartments in downtown Bethesda (walk score over 90, truly no car needed, very safe) in old zero amenities apartment buildings for $1,700-1,850.  That would keep you under $1,000 for rent.

Mesa

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2014, 10:56:46 PM »
Check out Alexandria in the Carlyle/Old Town area.  It's lovely, safe, and a number of modern buildings near the King Street metro offer studio apartments.  They're pricey but less than comparable units in the District.  The area is very walkable.  My husband and I got rid of our cars when we moved here three years ago, and we haven't missed them.

retired?

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2014, 11:01:33 PM »
Parts of Arlington (south) are cheaper, but for the obvious reasons.  You can still be near a metro line. 

For within DC, I'd look into basement apartments, i.e. in townhomes.  Owner lives above, you have separate entrance to basement....can still be expensive.  As other poster suggested, having a roommate may be your best bet.

Bethesda is very nice.  Lots of options with the metro system, but as you go farther out (to lower your cost) rents will be relatively higher for places that are walking distance to the metro.

I had a friend who paid <1k a few years ago up on Wisconsin Ave.....older building, not a high rise, perhaps 3-4 stories.  Near Fannie Mae.  Good luck.  Nice city if you are in close and don't need to drive.

eliza

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2014, 06:02:26 AM »
Thanks for all of the advice!   

I'm totally OK with having roommates, but I don't want to share a bedroom.  I was surprised at the number of Craiglist adverts that were for shared rooms.  I don't need anything in the way of amenities - small and old is fine for me.

I especially appreciate advice on areas outside of the District to look at.  I had heard of Arlington and realized that it was close, but it would never have occurred to me to look at Bethesda as a viable option.  I think I'll be spending much of my time the first month exploring the areas around various metro stops.


zweipersona

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2014, 06:11:12 AM »
Like everyone else has said, to keep your rent at a minimum, you'll have roommates.  There's a lot of younger folks living together both within and just without the boundaries of DC, you do need to put in a bit of legwork to find those ads though - or perhaps it'd be an idea to post one yourself?

I'd also suggest compromising the 'walkable' neighborhood to 'bike-able'.  You'll be able to widen your search that way, and all you'd need is a bike to get to your location.

Would the commuter trains be an option for you, or do you want to get into DC on the weekends as well?  If you just want to get to DC for work (Monday through friday) the commuter trains do a fantastic job of that, and you'd be able to cut your housing cost significantly living near, say, a VRE station, compared to most metro stations.

Siobhan

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2014, 06:21:13 AM »
If you do bike, invest in a great bike lock, there is a massive problem currently in DC with bike theft.  Between us and friends we've lost close to a dozen bikes in the past year, one of ours got stolen off a friends third floor balcony, which outside of climbing the tree, we have no idea how they got it.  Keeping rent within the district at under 1k/month isn't going to be possible, you'll have to look further out on the metro lines, and expect roommates.  In all honesty it's been cheaper to buy a townhome out here along the metro lines and rent out rooms in recent years then it is to actually pay rent.  My friend in Foggy Bottom is currently paying 3k a month on a 2 bedroom apartment plus utilities whereas we bought a townhome in Fairfax (3 bed rented out 2 for a while) and the rents covered our 15 year mortgage.

Siobhan

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2014, 06:22:39 AM »
One question I DO have for fellow DC mustaches, outside of the museums, what Mustachian things are there to do in winter in the DC area?  We are still fairly new to the area, and work so dang much, that we haven't had a lot of time to explore.

eliza

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2014, 06:22:56 AM »
Like everyone else has said, to keep your rent at a minimum, you'll have roommates.  There's a lot of younger folks living together both within and just without the boundaries of DC, you do need to put in a bit of legwork to find those ads though - or perhaps it'd be an idea to post one yourself?

I'd also suggest compromising the 'walkable' neighborhood to 'bike-able'.  You'll be able to widen your search that way, and all you'd need is a bike to get to your location.

Would the commuter trains be an option for you, or do you want to get into DC on the weekends as well?  If you just want to get to DC for work (Monday through friday) the commuter trains do a fantastic job of that, and you'd be able to cut your housing cost significantly living near, say, a VRE station, compared to most metro stations.

I'll look into the VRE.  Ideally, I would like something that I could get into the city on weekends too, but I'm obviously going to have to figure out what I am willing to compromise on.

I'm hoping that my stint in DC will last approximately 3ish years and that I'll be ready to RE or at least semi-RE at that time, so I want to make sure I'm not compromising my long-term savings goals for the sake of having some short-term fun. 

Siobhan

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2014, 06:37:45 AM »
You can live out in Burke, walking distance to the VRE, for pretty cheap.  It can be a pain in the winter to take the VRE to the metro and into the city though.  Are you working in DC proper or in one of the suburbs?  Also, if you are still negotiating with the company, ask if they will kick in a monthly metro stipend.  A lot of companies out here will chip in 100 or 150 a month to help cover commuting costs.

jka468

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2014, 07:56:41 AM »
Live in Arlington and bike to the DC neighborhood, it's actually really simple. You'll easily be able to find a bedroom for $1000/month in Arlington.

DCSimple

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2014, 07:58:27 AM »
Longtime reader, first time poster, just for this.

I live in DC and believe it's very possible to live a mustachian live. A couple points:

1. Serioulsy consider living in the city. Yes, your rent will be higher, but so many other costs will be lower. You can easily eliminate all tranporation costs by biking or walking to your job. In DC it very easy to own no car and spend little to nothing on transit if you bike/walk. You've eliminated the second largest expenditure category for most households.

2. Regarding safety, consider that cities tend to look more dangerous than they are because of their density. Most crime maps don't adjust for density so if you compare a low-density and a high-density area the low-density area may look artificially safer than it is. I believe www.walkscore.com has started adjusting for density to make the comparison easier.

3. For lower cost neighborhoods, look north of Petworth in the Brightwood/Manor Park area or near Fort Totten metro. If you're working in Foggy Bottom, consider areas along 16th street south of silver spring as there is great bus access there. I'm very confident that you can find a private room in these areas within your budget. Just keep in mind that places tend to rent quickly, so you'll want to wait till you're here and get a feel for areas, before you're actually visiting places and ready to sign a lease.

4. A note on transit--don't limit your search to metro stations, as it will drive up your costs. Look at bus routes, which cost half as much as the subway and can often be just as fast. Or ditch transit altogether and bike/walk for even more savings.

5. In terms of activities, DC is tremendous. Museums are free, good public libraries, lots of wonderful neighborhoods to explore. The neighborhoods listed above are also a close bike ride to Rock Creek park where you can jog, picnic, and look at beautiful trees.

Hope this helps and welcome to the area!


eae550

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2014, 08:30:35 AM »
Former DC realtor here: In your situation i would highly recommend a small room in a shared house/apartment in DuPont or Kalorama (walking distance to foggy bottom) if you find the older buildings without amenities or a larger house with several roommates you can do this for $1000-$1200 and have zero transportation costs (the time and cost of living in fairfax and doing VRE + metro are not worth it). Or go to Glover Park (full of young people, easy access to grocery store, CVS, etc..) and take the bus to foggy bottom. Bus or walking is so much more convenient and cheap than trying to do a long metro commute every day, especially since apartments within a 5-10 minute walk of the metro in the suburbs are marked up. DC is a great place to be young and broke, you definitely don't need a car, there are plenty of cheap(ish) rooms in shared houses, and if you go to events for work, panels, receptions, etc... you can pretty much eat 1/2 your meals for free. Never buy a car, bring your lunch, tolerate roommates, and switch jobs every few years for a big raise and you'll be good!

eliza

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2014, 08:38:43 AM »
Thanks to everyone - I am constantly amazed by the wealth of knowledge on this board.  A special thanks to @DCSimple for coming out of lurkdom to add some expert advice.

To answer a few questions that have been asked:
  • I will be working in the city near Foggy Bottom/Farragut West metro stations
  • There is a transportation subsidy at work.  I don't have all the details yet, but I believe  it provides 100% of public transportation commuting costs up to $100 per month.
  • I hate to admit this, but I've never ridden a bike as an adult.  **Sigh**  I think it's time for me to learn.  Good for the wallet and my health.  I was thinknig of joining Capital Bikeshare as a way to test the waters.

Everyone always talks about the metro as if it is the be-all and end-all of public transit in DC.  I'll definitely need to look more into the bus routes that are available. 

Based on my preliminary research I am really excited about all of the free entertainment on offer in DC.  Daily free shows/concerts at the Kennedy Center?  Lectures, tours, movie screenings at the museums and some government agencies?  Sounds like I could keep busy constantly without draining my wallet.

eliza

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2014, 08:45:23 AM »
Former DC realtor here: In your situation i would highly recommend a small room in a shared house/apartment in DuPont or Kalorama (walking distance to foggy bottom) if you find the older buildings without amenities or a larger house with several roommates you can do this for $1000-$1200 and have zero transportation costs (the time and cost of living in fairfax and doing VRE + metro are not worth it). Or go to Glover Park (full of young people, easy access to grocery store, CVS, etc..) and take the bus to foggy bottom. Bus or walking is so much more convenient and cheap than trying to do a long metro commute every day, especially since apartments within a 5-10 minute walk of the metro in the suburbs are marked up. DC is a great place to be young and broke, you definitely don't need a car, there are plenty of cheap(ish) rooms in shared houses, and if you go to events for work, panels, receptions, etc... you can pretty much eat 1/2 your meals for free. Never buy a car, bring your lunch, tolerate roommates, and switch jobs every few years for a big raise and you'll be good!

Thank you for your insight.  I'm pretty opposed to a long commute, but am willing to consider all options.  I especially appreciate the recommendations for specific neighborhoods (Glover Park, Dupont, Kalorama) -- it gives me a little more confidence on where to start my search.

Josiecat

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2014, 04:57:28 PM »
It's a lovely area with TONS of things to do. 

ArtieStrongestInTheWorld

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2014, 06:16:38 PM »
One question I DO have for fellow DC mustaches, outside of the museums, what Mustachian things are there to do in winter in the DC area?  We are still fairly new to the area, and work so dang much, that we haven't had a lot of time to explore.

Ice skating in the sculpture garden or Georgetown waterfront for a nominal fee
Christmas lights at the zoo for free
$2 movie nights at Arlington Drafthouse
Walk/window shop in Georgetown
Wheaton Regional Park has a nice carousel and train you can ride for a nominal fee
Duckpin bowling (with the little pins and balls - offered at several places in Maryland)
Minigolf at H Street Country Club for a few dollars (cool DC inspired course)
« Last Edit: November 06, 2014, 06:18:33 PM by ArtieStrongestInTheWorld »

dodojojo

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2014, 06:29:41 PM »
There are tons of festivals--after awhile, you actually kinda tune it out.  There is usually some type of event or fair that closes down a few streets or a corner of a neighborhood.  Check out the Washington Post's events calendar.

OzzieandHarriet

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #18 on: November 07, 2014, 07:09:53 AM »
Someone suggested Burke -- yikes. That's the other end of the world, totally car oriented. Without a car, once you're home, you're stuck there. Arlington and Alexandria (parts thereof) would be better but still might be a hassle without a car, depending on what you want to do. Virginia in general is very car dependent -- and I would not want to be waiting for the bus/Metro at midnight trying to get home.

If I were young, single, and didn't need a big place my first choice would be along the Connecticut Avenue and Wisconsin Avenue corridors (Cleveland Park, Tenleytown, Friendship Heights, Cathedral area, Glover Park, UDC -- lots of older small apartments there walking distance to almost everything). Other options are 16th Street (though if you're taking the bus, the traffic is horrendous and slow), and close-in Bethesda -- inside the Beltway. Also 14th and U area -- very happening place, more diverse than the others. Also Foggy Bottom itself -- lots of GWU students around there.

You might be able to find a furnished sublet in one of these places so you could try it out without making a big commitment.

dodojojo

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #19 on: November 07, 2014, 07:55:03 AM »
Ozzie, I agree.  I understand that some of the places further out in Virginia and Maryland have great pros but personally if I'm going to be car-free (and I have been for 10 years), I want to live in a neighborhood where I can truly do everything I need and want.  And if I can't do what I need or want in my neighborhood then I want to be able to easily get to another neighborhood or area to run an errand, do something, see my dentist, meet up with friends, etc.  Would I want to commute in from Burke on a Sunday to catch the annual free Hong Kong film festival at the Freer?

There are places in the city or within the belt with affordable housing (with roommates in eliza's situation).  As she has stipulated that she wants safe, walkable and convenient to Foggy Bottom, I'd personally recommend paying a little extra for a location closer to or in the city. 

I'm also Metro-centric.  Yes, living close to a station does jack up the rent but again, there are some older buildings that can be very affordable in a roommate situation.  Trains run far more frequently and consistently than buses.  A very good friend lived in Glover Park where buses run often on Wisconsin but even then there were some quirks and hassles.  A great area to live for sure.  But she was paying more for her studio than I do for a one bedroom in Bethesda.  When she would visit me, she had to take the bus to Tenley Town or Friendship Heights and then switch to the Metro in order to get to downtown Bethesda.  Why?  Because the Wisconsin buses terminate at Friendships Heights which is at the border of DC/Maryland--it's not exactly the hinterlands.  I don't want to bore with many more examples, but basically I really value being close to a Metro stop and being able to take the train, walk home and be done with it.

JPinDC

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #20 on: November 07, 2014, 08:28:34 AM »
There's also a Google group with many DC members (some of whom aren't super active on the forum) and we meet up with regularity. You can find it here: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/dc-mustachians

Since you have a few months before you have to make a housing decision, I would suggest taking some time to explore neighborhoods, talk to people who live there, and talk to people you work with to see where they live and how they feel about their commute. When I first moved here (a little over 3 years ago), I joined some social sports leagues, which are big in DC among the late-20s/early-30s crowd and are a great way of meeting new people.

One question I DO have for fellow DC mustaches, outside of the museums, what Mustachian things are there to do in winter in the DC area?  We are still fairly new to the area, and work so dang much, that we haven't had a lot of time to explore.

I live in Bethesda, and there are always free events popping up on the Bethesda Row and Bethesda Urban Partnership Facebook pages. See if your neighborhood has a listserv of anything similar. E Street Cinema offers free movies with regularity, I've found free events on meetup or WaPo Going Out Guide and http://www.activelifedc.com/ posts free fitness events.

mozar

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #21 on: November 07, 2014, 09:02:17 PM »
Rich people in Virginia and Montgomery County Maryland are always trying to get people to move there. Don't listen to them, you can pay the same rent in DC. I'm surprised no one has mentioned SouthWest, near the Waterfront metro. Lot's of cool stuff going on with the Fisherman's Wharf, plays, happy hours, walkable, bikeable (and a 3 mile bike ride to foggy bottom),  and a little bit cheaper than foggy bottom. If you must live in VA the most walkable places are Clarendon and Rosslyn but they are about the same price as Foggy Bottom. Also surprised I haven't seen Shaw or U-Street mentioned. What you want is going to be expensive no matter what.

BlueHouse

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #22 on: November 08, 2014, 07:51:33 AM »
Some great advice here for you.  I would add that you should look at the blogs for individual neighborhoods - as there is more of a sense of community and while I would never find a renter on CraigsList, I would take one that is sourced through my neighborhood ListServ.   I live in an awesome row house in an awesome walkable neighborhood and many people in my neighborhood rent out their 4th floor (with outdoor terrace) for about $1000/month.  Unfortunately, most look for the 4-day renters (commuters who stay Monday -Thursday).   They get full run of the house and have a private sitting room, bedroom, bathroom, and terrace to themselves.  I'm sure there are similar offers all throughout the city, but you've got to look beyond CL.

Here's a list of neighborhood blogs.  If I knew more about what your likes/dislikes are, then I could strike half of these off the list in 30 seconds. 
http://dcblogs.com/?p=1661

And a map of DC neighborhoods. 
http://dc.urbanturf.com/neighborhoods/
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/93/DC_neighborhoods_map.png
everyone has strong opinions on which neighborhood is best.  Don't take one person's word for it.  Ask a lot of people. 

Bikeshare - Yes do it!  I pay $75/year and hop on and off anytime I want for free.  It's a fantastic program and I love not having the hassle of maintenance or worrying about thieves.  I wish I could take it to work, but there are no bikeshare stations near my work so I had to buy my own bike for longer rides.  So much cheaper than Metro and faster and easier for short hops around town.  Believe me, if I could get back on a bike after so many years, so can you.  I'm a horrible rider, but I light myself up like a christmas tree and hope no one hits me. 

Here's a list of free things happening in my neighborhood (Capitol Hill and Navy Yard/Capitol Riverfront), just posted today.
Nov 6 - Jan 19 ó Magna Carta at Library of Congress Jefferson bldg
Nov 7 - Jan 7 ó Mon-Fri 9am - 4pm;  Monica Youngling Art Exhibit @ prudential penFed Realty Cap Hill.  216 7th St. SE. 
Nov 7  5:30-7:30 - opening reception for Monica Youngling Exhibit @ prudential penFed Realty Cap Hill.  216 7th St. SE. 
Nov 8 - 16:  Fotoweek DC.  http://dc.about.com/od/specialevents/a/PhotoWeek.htm   http://www.fotodc.org
Nov 9 Veterans 10K & Tidal Basin Walk  8am.
Tues Nov 11 (Veterans Day) ó Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the Wall  .  wreath laying at WWII memorial = 9am; observance at the wall 1pm
Nov 11ĖFeb 26  Decoding the Renaissance: 500 Years of Codes and Ciphers, @ Folger Shakespeare Library
Nov 13 7pm - National Archives:  White House secretaries Forum on Communication
Mon Nov 17  :  Overbeck Lecture:  @ Naval Hall Lodge 330 Pennsylvania Avenue
Thurs Nov 27 (Thanksgiving)
Thanksgiving - Turkey trot 5K walk/run  @ 13st & Penn  @ 9AM
Thurs Nov 27 - Jan 4 10am-5pm:  Seasons Greenings at the Botanic Garden.  (tues and thurs open until 8pm)
Friday Nov 28:  5-7pm  National Harbor Xmas tree lighting & fireworks.  also ornament making  workshop
Friday Nov 28 - Jan 1:  Zoolights
Friday Nov 28 - Tues Dec 23 10th Annual Downtown Holiday Market is located on the F Street sidewalk in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery between 7th & 9th Streets, NW
Sat Nov 29 - Small Business Saturday. - Labyrinth 9am-7pm  Battle of the cookie & Free game nights every week
Sat Nov 29 - 5:30-6pm - Cap Hill Xmas Tree Lighting.  Penn & 8th SE.
Mon Dec 1 5pm - Star Lights Capitol Hill 201 4th St. SE.  National Capital Bank parking lot behind the church.  caroling, hot chocolate cider and the lighting of the xmas star. 
Dec 3 6pm:  Union Station Norwegian Embassy Tree Lighting.
Dec 4 5pm - US Capitol Xmas Tree Lighting
Dec 4 5pm - National (White House) Xmas Tree Lighting   (opens to public after 8pm).  Nightly after that. 
Dec 5 6:30-9:  Torpedo Factory - late studio hours & Alexandria Choral society
Sat Dec 6 6pm-8pm  ó Parade of Lights @ SW Waterfront@water Street Park
Sat Dec 6 parade 11AM - 1pm:  Scottish Xmas Walk Parade and concert;  massed band concert 1pm .  Old Town.  Scottishchristmaswalk.com
Dec 6-7:  10am-530pm:  American Indian Native Art Market @ Natl museum for american indian
Dec 12-14:  Parcel Market @ Canal Park

Fee free to PM me if you want more specific info.   





mm1970

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #23 on: November 08, 2014, 06:31:07 PM »
  • Reasonable Commute to Foggy Bottom Area
    "Walkable" Neighborhood (no car and no interest in getting one)
    Safe Neighborhood

Impossible to get those things for under $1,000 if you want your own place.  A little less difficult if you're willing to have roommates but still not easy.  Foggy Bottom Metro has 3 train lines which makes the area very accessible from Northern Virginia.  Unfortunately, NOVA is pretty darn expensive, especially if you want a safe and easy walk to a metro station.  A decade ago I paid about $1200 for a furnished one bedroom apartment in Rosslyn.  A couple of years after I left, the going rate was over $1,400. It was in an old garden condo building.  If you want to be in a nice and accessible area--for a reasonable price, you'll have to opt for an old no frills building.  There are 2 bedroom/1 bathroom apartments in downtown Bethesda (walk score over 90, truly no car needed, very safe) in old zero amenities apartment buildings for $1,700-1,850.  That would keep you under $1,000 for rent.

Back in 1997 I was paying $813/month for a studio in Pentagon City.  I looked them up this week and they are going for $1200 to $1400.  Short walk to Metro.  Safe hood, at least back then.  But you'd have to share an apartment to get under $1000.

I also lived in shared housing in Ballston area (house and apartments), walkable, don't  need a car, but not cheap there either.

I enjoyed being in Arlington, wouldn't have wanted to be further out (young and single).  I'd live further out now, but I'm in my 40's with two kids.

I played a lot of volleyball while I lived there - leagues at my gym and at other sports places - indoor and outdoor.  I also went to grad school at night.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2014, 06:38:21 PM by mm1970 »

Janie

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #24 on: November 08, 2014, 07:38:21 PM »
You might want to check out the Washington Area Bicycling Association, especially their Women and Bicycles group. http://www.waba.org/programs/women-bicycles/
https://www.facebook.com/wabadc

aspiringnomad

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #25 on: November 08, 2014, 08:12:24 PM »
Since you seem amenable to it, I would strongly suggest starting out in a group house in the city. You will probably meet many interesting people, and being in the city means you will have much easier access to jobs, social, and cultural options without even considering owning a car (it's a burden here and bikeshare/car2go have you well covered). I've been here 10+ years through 3 different jobs and a couple chances to move to another city for a job. I started out in a group house in a part of the city that had lots of group houses at the time that have since become condos. Right now the more affordable/plentiful options for group houses are in Bloomingdale, Petworth, and Park View (among others) though you can still find some gems in Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, and Mount Pleasant. As others have said, bike to work. Biking around here is relatively easy compared to most North American cities and your commute to FB won't be any longer than 25 minutes from any of those neighborhoods mostly via bike lanes.

I like it here so much I'll probably stay for a few years post-FIRE despite the high COL. Hope you enjoy it too.

Fatmouse

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #26 on: November 08, 2014, 08:29:58 PM »
Thanks to everyone - I am constantly amazed by the wealth of knowledge on this board.  A special thanks to @DCSimple for coming out of lurkdom to add some expert advice.

To answer a few questions that have been asked:
  • I will be working in the city near Foggy Bottom/Farragut West metro stations
  • There is a transportation subsidy at work.  I don't have all the details yet, but I believe  it provides 100% of public transportation commuting costs up to $100 per month.
  • I hate to admit this, but I've never ridden a bike as an adult.  **Sigh**  I think it's time for me to learn.  Good for the wallet and my health.  I was thinknig of joining Capital Bikeshare as a way to test the waters.

Everyone always talks about the metro as if it is the be-all and end-all of public transit in DC.  I'll definitely need to look more into the bus routes that are available. 

Based on my preliminary research I am really excited about all of the free entertainment on offer in DC.  Daily free shows/concerts at the Kennedy Center?  Lectures, tours, movie screenings at the museums and some government agencies?  Sounds like I could keep busy constantly without draining my wallet.

I live in DC, and I agree with lots of the advice here.  I would especially second Kalorama, Glover Park, and farther north along Wisconsin Ave. by the Cathedral.  These neighborhoods are great, extremely safe, and a mix of age groups.  (Some areas of DC seem very youthful to me, and walkable amenities are more fun than practical.). They have great bus access.  Van Ness is one of the less expensive NW Red Line areas in DC, if you want Metro, and may also be worth looking in to.

And a bit of advice on the Bike Share bikes.  Those bikes are seriously heavy and they only have three gears.  I hope you are either in great shape, or you can avoid going uphill on your first test ride!  (Been there, it was rough, lol).

Fatmouse

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #27 on: November 08, 2014, 08:34:06 PM »
One more thing!  The Circulator bus routes are great, I would check out a map of those routes to help you figure out easy ways to get around.

And to the extent you may rely on Metro on weekends, there is A LOT of weekend track work that can throw a serious wrench in those plans.

mozar

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #28 on: November 09, 2014, 06:58:42 PM »
When you are looking at neighborhoods, look into where the grocery stores are. Some neighborhoods have all the restaurants you could ask for, but if you have to walk more than a few blocks to a grocery store, it may not be worth it. Taking the bus to the grocery store is a huge pain. Especially if you have to transfer.

hdatontodo

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #29 on: November 09, 2014, 07:35:32 PM »
There is an apt bldg across from the Nat'l Cathedral. When my friend was there years back, you could walk to some nice restaurants and a Giant grocery store. Parking is problematic.

eliza

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #30 on: November 09, 2014, 07:48:32 PM »
I want to thank everyone who has replied thus far!  I am still working through everything, but I greatly appreciate all of the advice.   A lot of things for me to look into.  I will keep this thread updated as I move forward...maybe I'll even end up with a journal.   

One of things I'm struggling with is my family and friend's ideas of where I should live/what my lifestyle should be like based on my where my career is now.   I'm lucky enough to be making good money (more money than young me could have imagined).   I'm struggling with how to explain that I'm totally down with roommates because it allows me to allocate my money to more important things (retirement and travel), even though I could afford a swanky apartment to myself.  I'm almost feeling guilty, because my move to DC is a promotion.  Everyone see,s to think that I am super ambitious and will continue to climb the ladder....but I just want to work a few more years to secure eventual retirement and then bow out. 

Siobhan

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #31 on: November 10, 2014, 06:13:17 AM »
We routinely have the same issue with our friends and family, especially my mother.  No one understands why two people, both earning six figure salaries, want to like in a tiny place (and we are outside of the metro belt since neither of our jobs are in the city) for cheap.   Everyone seems to think we should either live in the city and commute out to Sterling (where my job is) or we should have spent 3/4 of a mill or more on a dated house.  Nope, not for us, I don't want that much of our net worth tied up in a house.  We've lost some friends over the years but I don't really consider them the type of friends we want...they don't get why going on 6 vacations a year and dropping a couple hundred dollars a weekend at a bar and another 50-100 for a crappy tapas meal doesn't appeal to us on a consistent basis. 




Cherry Lane

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #32 on: November 10, 2014, 01:22:50 PM »
Another advantage of choosing a shared house over a studio:  you won't have to buy as much stuff!  Just a bed and a dresser for your room.  Your future housemates probably already have living room and kitchen stuff.

HappyHoya

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #33 on: November 10, 2014, 01:32:26 PM »
Rent here is expensive, but you can save money in a lot of other ways. I'd encourage you to look outside the Foggy Bottom area, because there are plenty of other places that don't have rent driven up by GW undergrads (one of the most expensive schools in the country and lots of parents willing to shell out too much money for sub-par apartments has messed up that neighborhood, IMO).

DC has some great Freecycle groups and clothing swaps. Search online (Yahoo Groups) and start participating ASAP. There are so, so many goods circulating that you can be pick and still buy almost nothing, if you can be patient. I've given away and received very nice goods this way, including new area rugs, very good quality used furniture, All Clad cookware, etc.

Also, remember that there is lots of free stuff to do in DC. If you can't control your rent, at least offset it with the other perks of living in the area.

Most importantly, welcome!

mozar

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #34 on: November 10, 2014, 07:52:18 PM »
Maybe don't explain? You are a grown up, you don't have to explain your life to anyone.

Fatmouse

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #35 on: November 11, 2014, 07:03:18 AM »
Maybe don't explain? You are a grown up, you don't have to explain your life to anyone.

This is my general approach, but it has its downsides.  For most contexts it is fine.   But for close friends and family, it just sends the vibe that money is a forbidden topic.  They may conclude we (my husband and I) are in some kind of trouble and worry!  My friends may think I don't trust them so we must not actually be all that close.  Awkward!

For these nearest and dearest, when they offer advice about vacations or furniture or whatever expensive thing they think we're deprived of, I try to just state the goal.  These days it is "We're saving for a down payment on a bigger home" or "We're trying to max out our 401ks."  Something reasonably specific.  I think this approach helps folks feel included, without it being too much information or spurring any deeper discussion of life philosophies (which, even with close family and friends, can end badly, lol).

Ambition89

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #36 on: November 11, 2014, 08:00:46 AM »
I live in Reston with three other guys about a mile from the new silver line metro stop. There are a lot of things to do in the area. Almost all of the museums are free (only one that comes to mind that doesn't is the Spy Museum). Since DC is expensive for pretty much every (safe) neighborhood, I would probably recommend living close to work to save time. Commuting can be rough some times in DC.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2014, 08:04:22 AM by Ambition89 »

chasesfish

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #37 on: November 11, 2014, 11:12:04 AM »
I don't know DC that well other than many friends that moved up there after college, but you'll want to increase your budget for a studio/1br.  I also agree with the poster that said go ahead and pay more to live in DC near your office.

eliza

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #38 on: November 11, 2014, 06:09:08 PM »
Thanks to all.  I appreciate the face-punches as well.   I need to put on my big girl panties and not care what others think.  (Easier said than done sometimes). 

I'm definitely reevaluating numbers and deciding what I'm comfortable with.  I'm still hoping that with sharing an apartment I can get housing in under $1,000 per month.  I'm lucky that there is room for my budget to increase if I can't find anything in that range once I've started looking at places.   I feel for those who don't have a choice. 

Also, I just realized that I paid $950/month for a big fancy studio in Chicago when I got my first post-college job making less than half of what I make now.   It was over 40% of my take home income!  Glad I'm not being that stupidly face-punchable any more.

HattyT

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #39 on: November 12, 2014, 04:16:36 PM »
In MMMís post of 11/11/2014
he says "Choosing a place to live is...about putting you in the center of where you want your life to be. ...Location is everything, even if it means downsizing or renting instead of buying. Living in the right place gives you back time, energy, and friends."
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/11/11/are-you-giving-the-shaft-to-your-future-self/

Your work is close to many major bus lines.  I love the DC buses, so much cheaper, more reliable , with friendlier more helpful people than Metro.   Try to live somewhere where you can take one direct bus and donít have to transfer.

The 16X goes into Arlington where there is affordable housing and great walk scores, look for South Arlington, along Columbia Pike.  The 30 series bus line goes up Wisconsin to Friendship Heights and down through SE DC on Pennsylvania Ave.  The further into SE you go, the darker the skin color of more of the residents  (sometimes thatís unsafe, sometimes not).  The 42 bus goes into Mount Pleasant neighborhood.  The 80 and X2 bus along the H Street corridor may get you to affordable and/or roomateable housing options. 

Check out www.wmata.com to match the neighborhood with bus routes that service Foggy Bottom/ Farragut West.

coffeefueled

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #40 on: November 13, 2014, 09:57:10 AM »
+1 for Columbia Pike and South Arlington
It has some great bike trails. The Arlington Cinema and Draft House shows great second run movies for $2.

I admit I'm not a fan of living downtown. I like being in South Arlington where costs are lower, but I still have access to everything in DC with a short bus or metro ride (usually from pentagon city). That said I know people who love the bar restaurant scene in DC and who would die before they'd live in Virginia. Those people aren't usually very mustachian however.

I think with your budget a group house is the way to go. It's possible to find places in Clarendon/Ballston (very walkable/tons to do/and usually approved of by the "have to live in dc" set) that are in your price range if you look at a room in nearby houses rather than the highrise buildings.

*No offense meant to those that love living in DC

oldtoyota

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #41 on: November 13, 2014, 10:10:44 AM »

Everyone always talks about the metro as if it is the be-all and end-all of public transit in DC.  I'll definitely need to look more into the bus routes that are available. 


They must not be from DC then. LOL.

aspiringnomad

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #42 on: November 13, 2014, 11:40:23 AM »
Do your best to avoid having to rely on either Metro or car. To me, that leaves mostly city options because the close-in suburbs like Clarendon/Ballston are just as expensive as most city neighborhoods and less bikeable and with fewer bus options. If you're okay with a more transitional neighborhood you can find a room in a group house easily for $800-1,000. You're in the rental market at a good time seasonally (not competing with interns) and in terms of the business cycle (there's a glut of brand new apartments in the area).

bdc

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #43 on: November 18, 2014, 10:13:46 PM »
I second the group house suggestion if you enjoy meeting people. It's a great base to start a social life in a new city. When comparing costs, include utilities and commuting (weekends too!) and a DC group house will crush a suburban apartment. Consider Glover Park, Woodley Park, and West End neighborhoods.

frompa

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #44 on: November 19, 2014, 10:53:26 AM »
I don't know if anyone else has suggested this, but DC has a pretty good hostel downtown (at something like 11th and K or L streets) where you can stay cheap while looking around in person.  I agree with those who say, live in the City.  It's possible to find cheap housing in town, especially if you don't mind sharing space with others.  And then you'll have the benefit of avoiding a time- or $-sucking commute. Living in DC will also give you access to a wide range of social activities, without having to worry about when the last bus runs.  Good luck.

pagoconcheques

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #45 on: December 07, 2014, 02:20:18 PM »
Top state income tax rate in VA is 5.75% vs. 8.95% in DC.  Depending on your income you may need to do the math and factor that in while considering the costs of rent and transportation. 

aspiringnomad

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #46 on: December 07, 2014, 04:47:40 PM »
Top state income tax rate in VA is 5.75% vs. 8.95% in DC.  Depending on your income you may need to do the math and factor that in while considering the costs of rent and transportation.

That top rate in DC applies to income over $350k. If you own your home and a car, the District has the lowest tax burden for every strata of income up to $150,000/year in the metropolitan region for the typical family. That accounts for variations by county in Maryland and Virginia. See table 2 on page 12: http://cfo.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/ocfo/publication/attachments/2013%20DC%20Metro%20Study%20FINAL.pdf

In any case, the differences are so small that it's usually silly to use taxes as a factor in deciding where to live. The length/costs of your commute and quality of life will quickly overwhelm any difference in tax burden across DC/VA/MD.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2014, 04:50:17 PM by dcmustachio »

MB1443

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #47 on: December 07, 2014, 05:33:33 PM »
You don't need to explain why you're doing what you're doing.  My husband and I purchased a 750k house in DC and most people would probably purchase a 1.5 mm house at our income level.  I simply don't care what they think.  I do tell my parents but they are frugal themselves and get it. 

I personally would prefer a studio over having roommates but that's just me. 

BetsyS

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #48 on: December 07, 2014, 08:21:06 PM »
first, welcome to dc!

just to point out one of the themes here - there are a LOT of different kinds of housing options in the DC area, and lots of ways/places to be mustachian. Much more variety than a lot of other places i've lived (colorado, boston, UK, etc). Do you want to live with others? Or do you want to be able to walk to work? Is transport time important to you? How about a good pub or bar on the corner, or a library? Places to go running outside? places where your new friends are going to come to you to do things, or you are going to travel elsewhere for entertainment? do you want a new building (points towards some parts of NOVA) or old building (16th st area, glover park)? there are so many amenities in DC and so many different housing types, you've actually got a ton of options.

One place no one else has mentioned - Anacostia. especially historic anacostia. Some parts are really not safe, but others are the new bloomingdale. And you can get way more space/nice stuff than anywhere else within a comparable area for way less money.

Imustacheyouaquestion

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Re: Building a Mustachian Life in DC
« Reply #49 on: December 08, 2014, 12:36:05 PM »
What do you consider a reasonable commute? 20 minute bike ride? Is 45 minutes on the Metro acceptable if you can read a book or listen to a podcast? Or do you want to walk to work?

« Last Edit: April 09, 2016, 07:57:30 PM by Imustacheyouaquestion »