Author Topic: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?  (Read 11598 times)

NumberJohnny5

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Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« on: April 30, 2016, 03:07:47 AM »
Wife is a travel nurse. Accepted a contract in Arlington, VA. It won't be a money maker, but it'll be an experience.

Rent...OUCH! Need something short-term, 2-3 months with option to extend (so, month to month, but willing to commit to 2-3 months minimum).

Three kids. We can make do with a studio (aka extended stay motel) for a bit, but not that long. Mom lives in Texas and has agreed to swap kids for a large part of the summer (so she'd have one kid while we have the other two). That will help a lot.

We bought a fifth wheel trailer last year. Two bedrooms and bathrooms. As long as there's something for the kids to do outside, it's plenty big.

Looked at Mobile Home parks. Cheapest is 40 minutes away, over $1k/mo (but that included everything), minimum six month lease. There's no lease break fee, if you move out they expect you to keep paying until the lease is up.

Could hop around and pay $55-$65 a night at different rv parks. Prefer to stay put in one area.

Looked at renting an apartment. Saw prices. Cried.

Found a marina that would probably cost ~$750/mo. We would need a boat. Have actually been wanting one for a while, particularly interested in late 70s/early 80s Trojan F36 Tri-Cabin. If I get a fully enclosed top, that should be enough room for everyone (similar to fifth wheel, it has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, small kitchen and living/dining area; topside could be used as kids play area if weather is nice and/or it has a fully enclosed canvas).

Wife has a reunion middle of June, so there's an eight day stretch we won't be there. We could tough it out for three weeks, back home for a week, and then back toward the end of June. I.e., can find a nice place straight away, or stay in motels/campgrounds (got a decent tent) for a few weeks and then find a nice place afterward. Would give us enough time to look at boats....

Any options I'm forgetting? I've researched all the traditional options and a lot of the non-traditional ones too (such as being camper hosts for the school district while school's out...did that in Anchorage, was nice).

mozar

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2016, 09:03:53 PM »
Where in Arlington? Does she need to be near a metro? If your wife can make similar money somewhere else with a lower hcol, I would take the hit for three months and then leave. Arlington is not a place to live unless you are making a lot of money.

VaCPA

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2016, 09:17:46 PM »
Yeah Arlington is probably the most expensive suburb of Washington DC. What's your max budget and what's the max commute she'll endure? You could try to rent an apt pretty far out and tough it out for a couple months if she can handle a crappy commute.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2016, 11:05:34 PM »
Where in Arlington?

The hospital.

If your wife can make similar money somewhere else with a lower hcol, I would take the hit for three months and then leave. Arlington is not a place to live unless you are making a lot of money.

I know. But we haven't been to DC, and it'd be a good experience. That said, if there's a way to pay less, I'm all ears. Don't want much more than a 30 minute commute (45 minutes would be pushing it). She works 12 hour shifts, so it makes a long day that much longer (on the flip side, she only has the commute three times a week).

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2016, 11:12:48 PM »
Yeah Arlington is probably the most expensive suburb of Washington DC. What's your max budget and what's the max commute she'll endure? You could try to rent an apt pretty far out and tough it out for a couple months if she can handle a crappy commute.

Trying to keep it under $1k/mo. Best I can find so far is an RV park that would charge about $55/day, have to find the link on that one again. Another was $1,010/mo, but for a six month contract.

Commute 45 minutes or less.

Checked with the marina, they have slips available. Would end up closer to $800/mo. Looking into that a bit more seriously now (we've considered buying a boat to live on for a while now).

Ricksun

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2016, 07:29:48 AM »
Nothing helpful to add...  following to see advise.  Good luck!!

VaCPA

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2016, 07:34:25 AM »
Yeah Arlington is probably the most expensive suburb of Washington DC. What's your max budget and what's the max commute she'll endure? You could try to rent an apt pretty far out and tough it out for a couple months if she can handle a crappy commute.

Trying to keep it under $1k/mo. Best I can find so far is an RV park that would charge about $55/day, have to find the link on that one again. Another was $1,010/mo, but for a six month contract.

Commute 45 minutes or less.

Checked with the marina, they have slips available. Would end up closer to $800/mo. Looking into that a bit more seriously now (we've considered buying a boat to live on for a while now).

45 minutes or less is actually a pretty good commute for this area. A lot of people endure commutes of up to 1.5 hours each way to keep their housing costs down. You'll pay to live that close to Arlington. The boat may be your best option if you really want to buy a boat. I can't provide any useful info on that option though.

MacGyverIt

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2016, 10:25:47 AM »
Trying to keep it under $1k/mo. Best I can find so far is an RV park that would charge about $55/day, have to find the link on that one again. Another was $1,010/mo, but for a six month contract.

Commute 45 minutes or less.

Checked with the marina, they have slips available. Would end up closer to $800/mo. Looking into that a bit more seriously now (we've considered buying a boat to live on for a while now).

Have you ever lived in a boat? I've a friend who lives in a boat with his wife and they have zero room, i can't imagine adding 3 kids to that. If you're talking about the boat ramps in DC then crime and where/when your kids can go out and play may be another issue to double check. I'm not sure how AC works but in the winter they can't get the boat above 40 degrees, if the family is not accustomed to heat and lots of humidity, that could also be a problem. (Sorry to sound so negative!)

When you say "commute 45 minutes or less" where are you getting that number? 45 minutes on Google maps can be 2+ hours (on a good weather, non-accident day) in the DC metro area.

Have you looked at short term rentals on Craigslist, Trulia, etc.? If this is for over the summer you may be able to rent an entire home short-term while Congress is out of town.

BlueHouse

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2016, 12:55:29 PM »
Arlington and Fairfax both have large immigrant communities and the both have large areas without HOAs.  Which means there are plenty of people who are used to sharing space with many people.  You could rent the basement or converted garage of a family home or perhaps you could even pay rent to park your RV in someone's driveway for a few months.  My  cousin rented a basement room from an Indian family in Arlington and ended up the best-fed teacher in the school system because the wife of the landlord insisted on giving him leftovers from their family dinners every day. 

eliza

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2016, 02:20:35 PM »
I live in Arlington and pay $537.5/month plus utilities to rent a small bedroom in a share house which is ridiculously cheap for Arlington standards.  You could maybe find a similar share house and rent two rooms in it (one for the kids, one for the adults), but it might since most share houses seem to be made up of single professionals in their 20s - 30s. 

I'm not sure which hospital your wife will be working at, but if it's metro accessible you might be able to rent in a cheaper area (Silver Spring, MD or Rockville, MD?).  It'd probably be more than a 45 minute commute though.

I also remember seeing studios in the Rosslyn, VA area going for $1,000 - $1,200 per month.  But, I'm pretty sure having five people in a studio isn't legal so YMMV on willingness of landlords to rent to you.

MishMash

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2016, 03:43:28 PM »
Yea under 1k for enough room for 5 people in Arlington just isn't going to happen. 

In regards to the boat, you need to check they allow full time residents, many of the marinas in the area don't, ours for sure didn't.  And also be aware that MANY of the cities in the area have ordinances in place about how many people can occupy a room/house so check that before you sign anything.

If you happen to be military or former military, there is a pretty sweet campground on Belvoir, and it's like 25 a night I think.  Woodbridge area is cheaper, but it won't be a fun rush hour commute, you may be able to rent a townhome in the fairfax station/Burke area for 1500 or so, again, not a fun commute. 

mozar

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2016, 03:59:55 PM »
The only place I can think of that might work that is cheap is Anacostia DC. If you're not used to seeing black people you'll be in for a shock. There is also the National Harbor in MD which is further south. That's a thirty minute drive without traffic (hah!). My dad does the commute from Anacostia to Arlington. He is also in healthcare.

VaCPA

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2016, 04:10:05 PM »
Can your wife work off hours(not 9-5), so she's not commuting during rush hour? If she's doing night shift or something that will open up options to live much farther away from Arlington. Rush hour in the DC metro area can be pretty brutal. A 45 minute commute during rush hour is much different than a 45 minute commute when traffic is light.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2016, 06:56:59 PM »
Thanks for all the ideas. Trying to go through everything while we have internet the next few days.

Hospital is Virginia Hospital Center. Shift is 7a-7:30p. She usually misses the worst of rush hour traffic.

We've lived in small places before. Boat would be about the same size as current fifth wheel camper. Two (small) bedrooms, two bathrooms, tiny kitchen/living room. Plus, their Nana plans on rotating the two oldest kids quite a bit, so much/most of the time it'll be just two kids.

Marina I'm looking at allows liveaboards, I double checked with them (costs an extra $160/mo). If I get as far as a deposit on a boat, I plan on securing the slip then.

This wouldn't be long term, three months minimum, six maximum. If we get a boat, we'll cruise south a bit, maybe to the Carolinas for a while? Want to be in Florida in time for winter, no idea if it'd be this winter or next (don't want to rush things).

Never lived on a boat. Also never lived in an RV before I converted a bus into one. Never lived in Australia before we moved there. We're adaptable. Not sinking a lot of money into a boat right away (get it? sinking? come on, that was a good one), so if it doesn't pan out, we're not hurting. Along those lines, if we can save thousands on rent by staying in a marina, that makes the boat that much cheaper. Money saved could equal money lost when selling. Anyways, it does help the numbers.

Oh, keeping it close to Arlington/DC also helps with excursions with the kids. A 30 minute trip with 2-3 kids is much more bearable than 1.5 hours. Plan on lots of sight seeing.

Guess I should post a wanted ad on Craigslist? See quite a few studios and one bedrooms (which would be plenty of space, but I'm not sure the landlord would be ok with that). Not seeing a lot of "inexpensive" houses to rent over summer break, or places to park RVs. If Congress really is out until September, such a short term rental would work (current contract goes through end of August).

Thanks again. Will try to update when I can.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2016, 04:31:23 PM »
An update.

Still looking at a boat, have to get a survey.

In the meantime we're staying in the fifth wheel. I found a place in Alexandria that had a spot for $900/mo, all utilities included. Checked it out and seemed a bit too sketchy for us (the Escalade was just icing on the cake). We try to not jump to conclusions though. Stopped at a nearby Taco Bell, wife overheard a conversation that included "I better not go to jail for this." We did not stay in the area (ok, we did overnight at a nearby Walmart).

I can get into specifics if anyone wants, but right now we're staying at a state park about 45 minutes away from Arlington for $23/night. Water and 30amp electric. 14 day stay per 28 day period. Unfortunately there's not another one as nice and economical nearby (well, not one that doesn't take reservations,they're all fully booked on weekends). Next stop will probably be at a nearby national park for $16/night with absolutely no hookups (bought a <$600 generator, cost savings should help justify purchase), it allows you to stay 14 nights per year.

So, first 4 weeks will cost $546, I calculated that as an average of $591.50/mo. Add in the generator if you want and we're at about $1,200 for month one (yes, I know about gas costs, but gen cost under $600, so...). Not too bad for a short-term two bedroom two bathroom near DC. Oh, and no issues with traffic, wife is going opposite traffic both ways (no HOV only interstates for her) and at non rush hours.

Oh, one more question. I know where the "Avoid Tolls" setting is in Google Maps. Anyone know where I can find the "Avoid Ghetto" option? Was directed through an interesting part of Baltimore.

mozar

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2016, 11:26:11 AM »
Oh geez, if you can't deal with driving through Baltimore just go back to wherever you came from.

MishMash

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #16 on: June 02, 2016, 11:34:18 AM »
Oh geez, if you can't deal with driving through Baltimore just go back to wherever you came from.

Now now, there are some really bad parts of Baltimore.  I was up consulting with the police department a few weeks ago up there.  The cops wouldn't allow me to do equipment testing (GPS) in certain neighborhoods even though there were three of them with me.  I grew up in Newark and there are parts of Baltimore even I don't like going through.  Cut the guy a break.


mozar

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2016, 02:09:45 PM »
Nah, my dad had a house for ten years in Baltimore (resevoir hill). I remember hearing gunshots at night. My dads house was burglarized 3 times and he was robbed at knife point in front of his door.
I can understand not wanting to walk around, especially at night. But not wanting to drive through? Come on now. Is the OP in a cop car? Sometimes cop cars are ambushed but even that's unusual. And cops in Baltimore aren't known for having a decent relationship with the poor citizens, so I'm not surprised they're cautious.

VaCPA

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #18 on: June 02, 2016, 02:14:37 PM »
I sensed the Baltimore comment was a little bit tongue-in-cheek. I doubt he feared for his life, but there are some super crappy sections of Baltimore(and Washington DC) that I myself have driven through and had to cross my fingers my car didn't die on me.

mm1970

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #19 on: June 02, 2016, 02:51:02 PM »
I sensed the Baltimore comment was a little bit tongue-in-cheek. I doubt he feared for his life, but there are some super crappy sections of Baltimore(and Washington DC) that I myself have driven through and had to cross my fingers my car didn't die on me.
When I was a young, small white girl living in Arlington, I went out with a friend (another small white blond girl).  We got lost.  In SW DC.  In the early 90s. 

We got pulled over by a cop.  "You girls lost?"  "YES".  "Here's how you get home...do not stop before you get on the highway".

mozar

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #20 on: June 02, 2016, 04:37:54 PM »
Quote
In the early 90s. 

Crime has fallen dramatically in the past two decades. There's also cell phones now.
http://dcist.com/2015/08/violent_crime_in_dc_has_decreased.php

Quote
I sensed the Baltimore comment was a little bit tongue-in-cheek.

I've lived in this area for most of life and I'm tired of this "joke" I can understand being scared to drive around at the height of the crack epidemic, before cellphones, but things have changed. I agree that parts of Baltimore look like they were hit by a bomb, but throwing around the word "ghetto" when it might not even be an actual ghetto, being afraid to drive (with all the improvements in car quality, car security systems, cell phones) isn't funny. Words matter and I found the comment offensive.

aspiringnomad

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #21 on: June 02, 2016, 10:29:17 PM »
I sensed the Baltimore comment was a little bit tongue-in-cheek. I doubt he feared for his life, but there are some super crappy sections of Baltimore(and Washington DC) that I myself have driven through and had to cross my fingers my car didn't die on me.
When I was a young, small white girl living in Arlington, I went out with a friend (another small white blond girl).  We got lost.  In SW DC.  In the early 90s. 

We got pulled over by a cop.  "You girls lost?"  "YES".  "Here's how you get home...do not stop before you get on the highway".

SW DC is fancy these days:

http://www.wharfdc.com/

Also, a marina option if the OP doesn't mind being a liveaboard next to a massive construction project.

BlueHouse

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Re: Inexpensive options to live near Arlington, VA?
« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2016, 02:33:02 PM »
Nah, my dad had a house for ten years in Baltimore (resevoir hill). I remember hearing gunshots at night. My dads house was burglarized 3 times and he was robbed at knife point in front of his door.
I can understand not wanting to walk around, especially at night. But not wanting to drive through? Come on now. Is the OP in a cop car? Sometimes cop cars are ambushed but even that's unusual. And cops in Baltimore aren't known for having a decent relationship with the poor citizens, so I'm not surprised they're cautious.
The dichotomy is strange.  You seem proud of having survived and thrived amidst the violence, yet are defensive when other people say it's bad.  I get that it's gotten better...but compared to the crack epidemic, that's not saying much.  And when you're not familiar with an area, it can be downright scary.  I think you may just have that protective feeling like you do with family -- YOU can knock it, but OTHERS can't.  Could that be it? 

I live in SE DC and I drove down a street a few blocks over into SW to see where a friend of mine bought a house.  As I drove down the street, looking for his house number I could see people signaling to other people down the street and as I approached those people,  they were definitely casing me.  I just prayed that the end of the street had an outlet and I didn't have to turn around and go through those few blocks again.  And this is just blocks from my house, and just blocks from our nation's capitol!