Author Topic: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?  (Read 8090 times)

Billionaire Beard

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Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« on: March 21, 2014, 02:25:02 PM »
Hey guys I will be moving to the Bethesda/Washington DC area in a few months. I know this is an insanely expensive area, but I just got a job there that was paying substantially higher than anywhere else I was looking, so I had to take it. So now that I am there, I am looking for all suggestions on how to be mustachian in this area. What are the best places around the Bethesda area or DC area that will have the lowest rent/housing prices available?

I would also be interested in living with a roommate or in the multifamily house, but other than craigslist I have no idea how to go about finding one. Do you go to a realtor to find a multifamily house? Where else can I find roommates online other websites dedicated to this?

Any other suggestions would be very appreciated on how to survive mustachian style in this area. Thanks so much!!

marblejane

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2014, 02:29:44 PM »
Are you working in Bethesda or DC? Knowing the exact location would help me give you better advice. Also, are you trying to avoid a daily car commute?

THATlibartsgrad

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2014, 03:10:00 PM »
Check the Van Ness area for apartments, especially if you have a roommate-- it's accessible to Bethesda and cheaper than some other areas near there. There are rentable bikes and the Metro in that area as well. Road biking in this area personally scares me even more than driving here, which is saying something because VA/MD/DC drivers are TERRIFYING. I personally use the metro and bus for everything, which is cheaper than a car, but the best of all is living somewhere you can walk where you need to go!

As far as roommates and housemates, craigslist is a good place to start. I'd also recommend tracking down alumni from your college if you went, via facebook.  Posting on those group pages can be the best way to find someone to live with.  Social sports leagues are also a way to meet people in general-- Nakid Social Sports is about 60$ for 6 weeks of meeting to play games and party (beer included in price), which is not exactly Mustachian. BUT if you have a friend who's in the league you could crash a game or two (they often  need backup players) and see if anyone needs a roommate, since people tend to be newer to the city there.

Hope my dumping of random (hopefully not useless) advice helps. Feel free to ask other questions too; I'm still learning myself, but the plus side of that is I've royally messed up so I have experiences to go off of!

minimalist

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2014, 03:15:01 PM »
Most of my friends and I rent rooms in shared housing for less than $750 a month, all found on Craigslist "rooms/shared" section. If you're working in Bethesda, it will be most convenient to live near the Red Line. South of Bethesda is more urban/expensive and north of Bethesda is more suburban/cheaper.

Billionaire Beard

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2014, 04:26:26 PM »
Thanks, just to clarify I will specifically be in Kensington Maryland.

Also I do have a car but I have to have it, I can't just take subway or public transportation because my job requires going to numerous places every day that are not accessible by public transportation

dodojojo

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2014, 11:20:03 PM »
Bethesda is great if you're car-free.  The downtown area is just about within walking distance of everything you need and if you need to go elsewhere, there's the Metro. 

Yes, there are the $2,500-3,200 one bedroom rentals.  But there is also a good number of "lower" end apartment buildings.  Those one-bedroom apartments usually run about $1,400-1800.  If you can live with a roommate, those buildings will have 2 bedrooms for around $1,800-2,000.  I pay $1,300 for a one bedroom and have stayed around for awhile as the rent for the convenience and safety of Bethesda is worth it relative to moving elsewhere.  I figure there isn't a point of renting an apartment elsewhere within spitting distance of DC for $1,100 to save a couple of hundred but have to use the bus to get to the Metro.  Or worse, maintain a car.  And I'm not willing to move really far out for much cheaper rent. I don't think you'll be able to find a decent place anywhere near DC or Bethesda for less than $1,000 - 1,400 (unless you are willing to have roommates).

Since you have a car and if being within walking distance of a Metro station isn't a priority, you'll definitely get a lot more for your dollar.  But if you want to stay around the Bethesda area, it'll be a matter of paying $1,400 for a 900sq foot apartment with free parking rather than a 600 sq foot older apartment near Bethesda Metro.

In terms of being Mustachian--don't buy stuff and don't get caught up in the happy hour/bar scene.  I'm from Southern CA where happy hour culture is largely ignored.  First thing I noticed when I moved out to DC was how HH was a large part of work/networking culture.  And there can be a lot of networking in this town...the "special" drinks and cheap noshes can add up.  And that leads to going out to eat all the time, etc. 

Nords

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2014, 11:22:22 PM »
Quote
Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
Judging from my friends & shipmates living there... no.


Thegoblinchief

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2014, 06:21:24 AM »
Hope you like traffic!

Taming housing would be the biggest key. Drive only as much as you need to for work. If sites are close enough to bike, I'd do it just to reduce stress level. I find biking even through "dangerous" traffic way less stressful than driving, especially anywhere near DC. Never lived there, but I've been there many, many times.

Edited to add: consumerism is everywhere, but so can mustachianism. Consider it an advanced-level challenge ;)
« Last Edit: March 22, 2014, 06:22:57 AM by Thegoblinchief »

Janie

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2014, 07:14:52 AM »
Any reason you're looking to live in DC or Bethesda rather than in Kensington?

the fixer

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2014, 07:41:13 AM »
Finding a place to live that's close to a Metro station, especially out in the suburbs, is really helpful when you want to go downtown. Driving down there is insane, both because of the other drivers and the street layout if you're not familiar with it. Where you're thinking of living is on the Red Line, and during rush hours, every other train on that line only goes out as far as the Grosvenor/Strathmore station before turning around again. So if you ever think you're going to be doing a Metro commute it's much, much easier to live near Grosvenor or closer.

There are several cheap areas between Bethesda and Rockville that I used to live in. My first place after moving away from my parents was a room in a Condo in Bethesda Park. This was back in 2006, and over the next 2.5 years rent fluctuated between $575 and $675 depending on how many others were living in the condo at the time. More recently, my wife and I lived in the basement of a house in the neighborhood just north of the Strathmore. The whole basement was $1100/month.

Biking is not so scary. A general pattern I've started to notice is that in the major downtowns of cities you get drivers that are used to cyclists, but further out in the suburbs (in the DC area, basically MD and Virginia) people don't get it and the streets aren't planned for any use other than cars. The cyclists themselves also change, from commuters and hipsters downtown to Tour de France wannabes on $2000 bikes wearing the spandex/lycra outfits in the suburbs. You need to be careful out in the burbs, but it's totally doable. I've ridden my bike often in several parts of Montgomery, PG, Frederick, and Howard counties without major issues. I would just occasionally have idiot drivers yell at me to get off the road.

mm1970

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2014, 09:41:22 PM »
Quote
Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
Judging from my friends & shipmates living there... no.
I would say - depends.

My spouse and I were mustachian-like when we lived there (where we met).  I rented a room in the basement of a house that was never warmer than 55 degrees.  Brr.

But I have to admit my friends who stayed their after their mid-20's aren't mustachian.

bdc

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2014, 07:38:22 AM »
(1) Look at the Silver Spring-side of Montgomery County or the northern tip of DC (like Fort Totten)--much lower rent than Bethesda.  Be near a bus line to work.  If you live in the right place, you can stay car free or low-car, which is key; even if you need to use a car occasionally, taxi/rental will be cheaper.  Consider Capital Bikeshare, which will lower costs.

(2) Craigslist, craigslist, craigslist.  There are constantly people leaving the area, meaning there are tons of deals.

(3) Watch your time.  One of the reasons people here are spendy is we tend to work long hours (thus: restaurants, taxis, cleaning services, no Craigslist shopping).  If you avoid over-committing yourself, you can avoid spending on services and pocket your higher salary.

JPinDC

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2014, 02:56:35 PM »
It's definitely an expensive place for housing, but Kensington itself is pretty reasonable. I've seen 2 bedroom apartments at Connecticut & University Blvd. for $1,200. If you don't need to be super-close to the metro, that's about a mile from Wheaton metro, but in the same town as your work. If you want a trendier, younger area (albeit more expensive), Silver Spring is just a few stops down the red line and more affordable than neighboring Bethesda.

You said you're going to be driving around a lot; are there specific areas you'll be most days that it would be better to be closer to? Do you have to go into the office in Kensington to check in first anyways?

CU Tiger

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2014, 05:02:00 PM »
One way to be sensible about money while living down in the DC area is to take advantage of the interesting and FREE things there are to do. Museums, lectures, etc. I am in Baltimore, and whenever I see the DC City Paper and all the free lectures and classes the museums in DC put on, I have moments of envy.

BUT, and it's a big but (thanks Sir Mixx-a-Lot!) in DC you are also going to have to be careful not to get sucked into spending money you don't want to spend just to fit in with the folks who spend cash freely. We have friends who live down there, and every time we go to their house and meet their friends, people are comparing their new cars, vacations plans (summers in Reboboth, at the OBX, trips to Europe, etc.), and talking about the private schools their kids go to and their summer camp plans. They all complain about how they make less as government employees than they could in the private sector, but from their spending levels you can't see that they are suffering any!

I like living close to DC for the cultural opportunities it provides, but don't want to live any closer than we do because it is expensive and (sorry DC mustaches) a little stuck-up. When people hear that we live in Baltimore, you can see their eyes glaze over as they wander off to find someone more important to talk to. Apparently, living in Baltimore is a lot like living feral in the wilderness to those inside-the-Beltway types!

mm1970

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2014, 06:15:49 PM »
One way to be sensible about money while living down in the DC area is to take advantage of the interesting and FREE things there are to do. Museums, lectures, etc. I am in Baltimore, and whenever I see the DC City Paper and all the free lectures and classes the museums in DC put on, I have moments of envy.

BUT, and it's a big but (thanks Sir Mixx-a-Lot!) in DC you are also going to have to be careful not to get sucked into spending money you don't want to spend just to fit in with the folks who spend cash freely. We have friends who live down there, and every time we go to their house and meet their friends, people are comparing their new cars, vacations plans (summers in Reboboth, at the OBX, trips to Europe, etc.), and talking about the private schools their kids go to and their summer camp plans. They all complain about how they make less as government employees than they could in the private sector, but from their spending levels you can't see that they are suffering any!

I like living close to DC for the cultural opportunities it provides, but don't want to live any closer than we do because it is expensive and (sorry DC mustaches) a little stuck-up. When people hear that we live in Baltimore, you can see their eyes glaze over as they wander off to find someone more important to talk to. Apparently, living in Baltimore is a lot like living feral in the wilderness to those inside-the-Beltway types!
We visited friends a few years ago in DC.  We were visiting friends who were in the Navy so they move around a lot.  We'd met them in DC, and then they were BACK in DC after 15 years or so.

One of our friends never left.  Words he said to me really stuck "there are NO stay at home moms in DC, except for military spouses".

Now, I'm not a SAHM.  But that made me really sad (the friends we were visiting - she was a SAHM, but also a military spouse.)  She was very frugal which I guess could be an issue when your husband is a Captain, but maybe not so bad in the sub community?  I don't know.  I gathered that she felt a bit out of place.

I do remember DC being very type-A and hard core (I fit the mold too), but California has really helped me work on my type-A tendencies and scale them back.  DC, as far as I could tell from what my friend said, is full of hard core two-career couples.

MrsKensington

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2014, 09:43:30 PM »
Yes. You can, especially if you are flexible. Stick to the north end of Kennsington, nearer to Wheaton, Md. Look for rooms and shares or basement apartments in Kensington on Craigslist.   If you find something on the west side of Connecticut avenue, you will be on Rock Creek Park, which is a main cycling artery.  Look in places near the northern terminus of Beach Drive, or off Schuylkill for some relatively cheaper places. Or look near Forest Glen. Silver Spring is a vast region - it can be close, or it can be an hour away in rush hour.

Most parking in neighborhoods is free and unrestricted unless you are near the Metro. Be wary near the Wheaton Metro. It draws a rough crowd and petty thievery and car breakins are not uncommon.

You are competing with people at NIH and Walter Reed/Navy Med/ the medical school so it's tough.  Anything south of the Beltway will be very pricey. But you will find something good a few miles. If you are looking for nightlife, there's not much in Kensington proper, but Wheaton has some good pubs and Bethesda and DC are just a few metro stop away.

Let me know here or on PM if you have specific questions. I'll be glad to try and help. Welcome!

dcheesi

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2014, 03:43:54 AM »
Thanks, just to clarify I will specifically be in Kensington Maryland.

Also I do have a car but I have to have it, I can't just take subway or public transportation because my job requires going to numerous places every day that are not accessible by public transportation
So you took a job that involves driving around all day. In DC. 

...um, good luck with that! :-)

Seriously though, I hope you are getting reimbursed for mileage, otherwise you may find that the "substantially higher" pay isn't worth it.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2014, 03:45:53 AM by dcheesi »

HawkeyeNFO

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2014, 09:17:19 AM »
Working in Kensington?  I second the post which recommended living near Grosvenor-Strathmore on the red line.  It is an easy bike ride to Kensington for days when you don't need to drive.  It's next to the Rock Creek Trail, which you can bike to downtown DC without competing with cars and trucks.  It's also near the Bethesda Trolley Trail, which gets you most of the way to downtown Bethesda on a bike, again with no cars.  Or simply hop on the metro.  It's also right near the 270-495 junction if you really have to drive.  I lived in that area for about 6 years, and the traffic at rush hour is to be avoided, but you quickly learn the patterns and understand when you can get around easily.

warpgirl

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2014, 10:44:32 AM »
Thanks, just to clarify I will specifically be in Kensington Maryland.

Also I do have a car but I have to have it, I can't just take subway or public transportation because my job requires going to numerous places every day that are not accessible by public transportation

We'll be neighbors! My husband and I just bought a place in Wheaton (one of the few metro-accessible area left that has affordable home prices and walkable amenities like grocery stores and restaurants). Welcome!

And to answer the question: hellz yes you can be frugal in DC! Some tips from experience:

Find a room in a shared house or apartment on Craigslist. Bonus points if you can walk to a grocery store and a metro station! Seriously, try to use the car only for work and do as much as possible on your feet and bike. You should be able to find someplace nice in Wheaton or Silver Spring for less than $1000 a month, aim for $800 or less. Paradoxically, it's a lot easier to find a place if you're here and can go interview with the other roommates. Maybe come for a long weekend to look for housing? (We're actually going to turn our basement into a furnished bedroom, full bath and rec room rental- but we're aiming for renting it in early May and it sounds like you need a place faster. But if not, let me know!)

Pay attention to your food and drink bills. Know what you buy a lot of and shop around. H Mart off Georgia Ave has good prices on produce and Safeway or Giant are each better for certain items. My husband keeps all the prices for our staple foods in his head and knows that OJ is a better deal at Safeway than Giant, for example. Cultivate this talent and save money while also impressing friends and partners!

My husband also wooed me with Groupon dates, once we had been dating for about a month. Easy way to save some money and still go to nice places! Now we buy Groupons only for restaurants in our own neighborhood that we go to anyway. Avoid the trendy restaurants as much as possible if you're trying to be frugal. If you need a reservation on a Friday or Saturday night, go elsewhere. And people lurve their brunch in this town, but make it a once a month thing instead of a bottomless pit of mimosas and money every weekend.

Find the good HH deals- this will usually be beers for $3-4 and wine for maybe $4-6(?). I don't think I've seen a $2 bottle of beer in this city...

Socialize efficiently Join some kind of league to meet and make new friends (karaoke, kickball, bocce, etc) and also cultivate your roommates' networks for friends. Then you can have people over to your house/apartment instead of going out all the time to drink and socialize. Drop the league once you feel bored/don't need it to maintain the friendships anymore.

Minimize lifestyle inflation This is the biggest thing and applies to anywhere. Just don't buy shit you don't need and you're golden. A furnished rental will make this easier. It's easy to get caught up in image in DC, but just shop the sales and bargain stores like Marshall's, Ross, and TJ Maxx for professional wear. Walk to the library and get a book, or checkout the Kindle version. Bring your lunch instead of going to Subway or food trucks everyday (I've started saving a ton this way). Cultivate free time on the weekends to relax or visit friends without having to go out to eat or do something. But if you do want weekend and evening activities, take advantage of the Smithsonian museums, National Arboretum, National Zoo, Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, Jazz in the Sculpture Garden, many outdoor summer movie fests and all the other free stuff we have!

Finally...
Be wary near the Wheaton Metro. It draws a rough crowd and petty thievery and car breakins are not uncommon.

I have to politely disagree with this- I'm a young white female and never feel unsafe walking to and from the Wheaton metro. I feel a lot safer in Wheaton than I did on Capitol Hill/Eastern Market, where I just lived for 3 years.

warpgirl

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2014, 10:59:50 AM »
I like living close to DC for the cultural opportunities it provides, but don't want to live any closer than we do because it is expensive and (sorry DC mustaches) a little stuck-up. When people hear that we live in Baltimore, you can see their eyes glaze over as they wander off to find someone more important to talk to. Apparently, living in Baltimore is a lot like living feral in the wilderness to those inside-the-Beltway types!

I don't know... Maybe everyone read this article last year and now their eyes glaze over while thinking about rats! ;-)

dodojojo

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2014, 01:53:34 PM »
Rats?  Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan aren't exactly virgin ground for the rodents.  I will never forget a busy Friday night in AM teeming with people and vehicles.  In front of a Brazilian restaurant, a giant rat ambled by on the sidewalk.  I was disgusted but also fascinated by the rodent's insouciance. No one paid any attention and neither did the rat.

Ten years ago, a friend very generously put me up for a month at her Dupont Circle townhouse as I apartment-hunted.  Every evening out, I nervously steeled myself for rodent sightings.  A schoolmate stepped on one (dead) while wearing sandals ;(...dear lord.

Fletch

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2014, 04:06:59 PM »


Find the good HH deals- this will usually be beers for $3-4 and wine for maybe $4-6(?). I don't think I've seen a $2 bottle of beer in this city...


Bottom Line near farragut has $1 beer nights on Friday (4-7pm), then it goes up to $2-$2.5 for a few hours, then back down at the end of the night. It's only miller lite, but if all you want is a deal outside BYOB and can handle an eclectic crowd in a dark and sketchy basement- I've certainly enjoyed myself there.

MrsKensington

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #22 on: March 24, 2014, 08:22:04 PM »
Apologies. Allow me to clarify this. I, too, walked late at night from the Wheaton Metro with no problem, once I started parking in the open-air Wheaton mall parking lot. I should have been more specific. The Wheaton Metro parking garage is a gamble.  I, my husband, my best friend, my office manager, and the wife of a county official all had our cars broken into in that garage. My brother was mugged during rush hour one morning in the flyover bridge that connects the garage with the Metro station bus zone. I have dodged urine puddles in the garage elevators and human poo in the garage stairwell. Walking avoids all of this.

I never lived in the District so I must defer on Wheaton's relative safety. There is a police station in the Mall, which is adjacent and has a Costco.

FWIW: http://eastmoco.blogspot.com/


Quote from: MrsKensington on March 23, 2014, 09:43:30 pm
Be wary near the Wheaton Metro. It draws a rough crowd and petty thievery and car breakins are not uncommon.

I have to politely disagree with this- I'm a young white female and never feel unsafe walking to and from the Wheaton metro. I feel a lot safer in Wheaton than I did on Capitol Hill/Eastern Market, where I just lived for 3 years.

warpgirl

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Re: Can you be mustachian in MD/DC?
« Reply #23 on: March 25, 2014, 10:07:41 AM »
Apologies. Allow me to clarify this. I, too, walked late at night from the Wheaton Metro with no problem, once I started parking in the open-air Wheaton mall parking lot. I should have been more specific. The Wheaton Metro parking garage is a gamble.  I, my husband, my best friend, my office manager, and the wife of a county official all had our cars broken into in that garage. My brother was mugged during rush hour one morning in the flyover bridge that connects the garage with the Metro station bus zone. I have dodged urine puddles in the garage elevators and human poo in the garage stairwell. Walking avoids all of this.

Ah, yes. Very true MrsKensington! I've read many stories about break-ins at Metro garages, especially on the eastern ends of the lines in MD. That stinks (literally) that you have to deal with that.

Maybe I should rent out half my driveway to a commuter. I can see the Craigslist ad now: "Avoid the human poo! An easy 10 minute walk to the metro in the fresh air!" :-)