Author Topic: Moving to DC area  (Read 3006 times)

JC1983

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Moving to DC area
« on: February 25, 2015, 11:23:50 PM »
Mustachians, I am moving to Washington DC this summer for work. I have a lovely job making roughly 90k plus benefits. I also have zero debt and a nice start on a 401(k) and some index funds. I understand that DC is a very expensive area so the question I have for the forum is where should I live in order to optimize my commuting and frugal lifestyle? I am also debating about whether to purchase a house/apartment or to rent with some roommates.  What do you all think?

mc6

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Re: Moving to DC area
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2015, 05:21:44 AM »
I would recommend a roommate setup near work if possible.  Getting affordable housing near your employer sometimes isn't easy here.  Wait to familiarize yourself with the region before buying, if buying is feasible or desirable for you.  There are lots of cool free fun things to do here, hope you like it!
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Jacana

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Re: Moving to DC area
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2015, 06:16:50 AM »
Definitely rent at first. With a roommate if possible. And as for where to live, that depends entirely on where your job will be.

mlejw6

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Re: Moving to DC area
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2015, 07:59:16 AM »
Where is your job?  If it is in DC, I recommend living in a Maryland suburb. Housing in MD is generally cheaper, and, unlike the northern Virginia area, you don't have to worry about crossing the Potomac to get to work. DC itself can be nice, but expensive. If you can find a decent place with roommates within walking distance to work, that would also be good. Here, the shorter your commute, the happier you will be. With 90k, you should be able to afford a decent place wherever you want to be.

It also depends what kind of neighborhood you want. Do you want hip urban? Or classic old town? Or close to nature? Will you be bringing a car?

I also recommend renting before you buy, so you can get to know the area better.
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Lucas

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Re: Moving to DC area
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2015, 10:46:29 AM »
Agree that it all depends on where you work.  Figure out your max desired commute time (in traffic) and figure out what commute options you have and go from there for distance from work. 

I live in Northern VA, but my work is only 4 miles from my house so it is ideal for biking or a short (lazy) drive. 

I will add the point that while MD rents are lower, MD taxes are higher then VA, so you might want to run those numbers as well before deciding where to live. 

If you are single, getting one or more roommates is really the only way to try to keep expenses low here. 


Ocinfo

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Re: Moving to DC area
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2015, 09:25:09 AM »
I was in a very similar position 5 years ago, at 24, having been offered a job in northern VA for $80k + benefits. Find a room to rent on Craigslist, either close to your work, in DC, or Old Town Alexandria, or somewhere else that has a walkable vibe. It's riduculously common to have professionals renting a room in the DC area. The first place I rented had a mid-40s recent divorcee engineer and commander in the Navy, mid-20s history grad working crap jobs and a recent immigrant working to establish himself. If your work is near a metro then live near a metro stop. The metro is largely useless outside of the downtown core on the weekends because of constant rebuilding delays so if you don't use it for work it's not really woth the extra cost to live near one. My now wife and I live in the West End of DC (between Georgetown, Dupont, and Foggy Bottom) and previously lived in Columbia heights. We've been far happier living in the city than living in NOVA because driving is optional. $90k goes quick here but it's plenty if you can keep the housing costs within reason.

HawkeyeNFO

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Re: Moving to DC area
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2015, 09:24:57 AM »
Tell us where in DC you'll be commuting to, and you'll get better advice. 

Megma

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Re: Moving to DC area
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2015, 12:52:13 PM »
Agreed there is no point to this unless we know where you're going to work. A ballpark budget of what you want to spend/month on housing will also help. Just bc you make 90k doesn't mean you're going to want to pay 2k/month for rent.

Where are you moving from? If someone is mugged a block away are you going to freak out? If so you will be living in a higher cost area (where that will still happen, just less often). There is a balance in DC between cost/safety/nice-ness of apt. For example, I bought a full renovated condo that was gated in a totally shit neighborhood, that was the trade off to get it to a cost I could afford (still a LOT/SQFT). The neighborhood did improve and property value went up also.

You mention buying, as others have said you need to live there renting first, maybe consider a sub-lease or group house where you have more flexibility to leave after a little while and finding a place. Also, have you looked at DC RE prices at all? A one bedroom condo can EASILY run over 200k. If you can afford a 2 bedroom something, you could potentially cover fair amount of a mortgage/subsidize your own housing because rent is also really high.
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PencilThinStache

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Re: Moving to DC area
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2015, 02:44:05 PM »
DC has several programs to get people buying houses. It's more common here than elsewhere to purchase a home w/less than 20% down. I was able to through the VA, but assuming that's not an option for you, there are other programs even for folks at your income level which provide incentive to buy. While I don't have any personal experience with it, I've heard fairly positive things about DC Opens Doors, a program to help first-time buyers.

If you are looking to buy, I would look:
-Across the river in Anacostia: High crime, but HUGE upside potential due to long term public-private investment ventures in infrastructure and mixed use development.
-SW Waterfront: This neighborhood is a little rough in some areas, and probably will be for a while, but there are some decent homes in the somewhat reasonable $400-500k range (I realize how ridiculous that sounds, but you have to live here to understand. A lot has already changed w/the project to improve the waterfront and revitalize some area parks.
-Northeast DC; in the Trinidad, Atlas, NoMa, Union Market area: You're a couple years late on this if you're looking for a steal, but if you want an area that's already hip and still on the front end of a tidal wave of investment, this is the place. Whole Foods, REI, artisanal shops, luxury condos, and an absolutely massive northward expansion of Union Station are going to change this neighborhood and (hopefully) make its local homeowners big bucks. If it isn't obvious, this is where I chose to buy.
-NW and Capitol Hill (both Southeast and Northeast) are just overpriced if you ask me, unless you had gotten in several years ago.
-Georgetown. No.

If you can deal with little space, I would vote DC. You'll pay more, but the city is very easy to get around by bike - so easy, in fact, that many go completely carless here. Good luck and PM me if you have any questions! I've been here for nearly 4 years and spent about a year of that looking for a home to purchase.

aspiringnomad

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Re: Moving to DC area
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2015, 10:45:26 PM »
DC has several programs to get people buying houses. It's more common here than elsewhere to purchase a home w/less than 20% down. I was able to through the VA, but assuming that's not an option for you, there are other programs even for folks at your income level which provide incentive to buy. While I don't have any personal experience with it, I've heard fairly positive things about DC Opens Doors, a program to help first-time buyers.

If you are looking to buy, I would look:
-Across the river in Anacostia: High crime, but HUGE upside potential due to long term public-private investment ventures in infrastructure and mixed use development.
-SW Waterfront: This neighborhood is a little rough in some areas, and probably will be for a while, but there are some decent homes in the somewhat reasonable $400-500k range (I realize how ridiculous that sounds, but you have to live here to understand. A lot has already changed w/the project to improve the waterfront and revitalize some area parks.
-Northeast DC; in the Trinidad, Atlas, NoMa, Union Market area: You're a couple years late on this if you're looking for a steal, but if you want an area that's already hip and still on the front end of a tidal wave of investment, this is the place. Whole Foods, REI, artisanal shops, luxury condos, and an absolutely massive northward expansion of Union Station are going to change this neighborhood and (hopefully) make its local homeowners big bucks. If it isn't obvious, this is where I chose to buy.
-NW and Capitol Hill (both Southeast and Northeast) are just overpriced if you ask me, unless you had gotten in several years ago.
-Georgetown. No.

If you can deal with little space, I would vote DC. You'll pay more, but the city is very easy to get around by bike - so easy, in fact, that many go completely carless here. Good luck and PM me if you have any questions! I've been here for nearly 4 years and spent about a year of that looking for a home to purchase.

I agree with this except I'm less bullish on most of the neighborhoods east of the river - except for maybe historic Anacostia, it's at least 10-15 years away from being somewhere I'd want to live (and I lived in Columbia Heights before all the development moved in) and much more bullish on the SW Waterfront with the Wharf and soccer stadium coming soon.

Having said that, more important when you first move here is proximity to work and other amenities you might use daily. Try to avoid relying on Metro if you can. If you work in DC and are okay trading off space, the answer is almost certainly to live in the city. With the prevalence of Uber, bikeshare, and car2go, owning a car is completely optional here - meaning, if you buy one and don't have a job in the far flung burbs, then you really can't call yourself mustachian. Good luck!

hdatontodo

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Re: Moving to DC area
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2015, 07:56:23 AM »
Avoid the right side of this map (PG County)

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mozar

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Re: Moving to DC area
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2015, 11:24:05 AM »
I heartily disagree. I live in pg county in greenbelt, and it's a lovely walkable town, 2 miles from the metro. In fact I am looking to rent a room for 550. Though I may be too far from DC for the OP. There is also mt rainier, hyattsville arts district and college park. All walkable safe towns near metro stops.
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