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I'm going to be moving to D.C. with a newborn and almost 2 year old. I am interested in finding a neighborhood where I don't have to get in the car to go to a good grocery store (like berkeley bowl), the Y (like berkeley Y), parks (like totland), outdoor places to walk (like lake merritt). I am also interested in finding a great dual-immersion (spanish/english) pre-school and/or elementary school. I have read the archives and am interested in getting any updated suggestions. We currently live near lake merritt and would love to find a quieter neighborhood like rockridge... thanks, amie
There are very few locations that meet all of your criteria and are that are affordable, especially in the city itself. The city has some great neighborhoods, but they can be exorbitant. I think a great compromise is Arlington, VA. It's a diverse suburban city, with a strong Hispanic presence there. I am not sure about school immersion programs, but it's worth checking out.
The Clarendon/Court House neighborhood in Arlington is subway accessible, has a walking/shopping district, great restaurants, a Whole Foods (sorry, no Berkeley Bowl), and lots of biking/walking trails. There a many condos, townhouses and some smaller single family homes that are still affordable (at least this was the case when I lived there four years ago).
Other places to investigate, but that are a bit edgier include: Takoma Park (The Berkeley of D.C. in MD) Columbia Heights & Capitol Hill in the city. These places are less gentrified, but people who live there love it and hope others won't encroach and ruin it for them. I can't comment on the schools, but D.C. public schools don't have a stellar reputation.
Some other great neighborhoods, but are significantly more expensive & a bit more Botox-y: Bethesda,MD, Kalorama, Dupont Circle, Georgetown, Mclean, VA.
I would also suggest avoiding the farther outlying suburbs. The traffic is worse than the Bay Area, and gets increasingly more horrific the farther outside of the Beltway that one travels.
Good luck, and enjoy D.C. in the springtime! es
Possible drawbacks to Glover Park: the row houses are small, so many families move to the suburbs not long after their second children are born. They're also no bargain (currently listing at $700,000) though that's a more general DC problem. We have no easy metro stop, but the D2 busline goes right through Glover Park to Dupont Circle (a 15-20 minute trip), and another goes to Union Station.
DC as a whole has its troubles, too. Local income tax is much higher than DC or Maryland, and yet many residents don't feel comfortable sending children to public school past elementary school. General advice we've heard: ''Stay in the city as long as possible!'' (The assumption, of course, is that most people will head to the suburbs eventually.)
Do check out DC Urban Moms (http://www.dcurbanmom.com/faq.html), the closest thing to the BPN. still enjoying the city
My partner and I are considering relocating our family to the Washington D.C. area in about a year. We'd like to move to a neighborhood or surrounding community that has excellent public schools and a progressive social/political climate (e.g. one with other lesbian-headed families). We'll probably be able to buy a house in the $400,000 - $700,000 range. Any thoughts you have would be much appreciated!
We are currently considering a move from Berkeley to the DC area for job opportunities and to be closer to family on the east coast. I am pretty unfamiliar with the area and would love any input on DC or the close suburbs of VA or MD. I have seen the postings on the archive site but many are dated and I know how much things have changed out here the past few years! I am hoping for insight and advice into where to live, what the neighborhoods and communities are like, what we need to think about school-wise (we still have a few years before that is an issue). Should we rent initially (and where?) while we look? Are housing prices as crazy as here? Are there funky suburban communities outside the district? Are there good schools inside the district? Are we crazy to contemplate leaving the bay area?!? I'd love to hear from both bay area transplants living in the DC area as well as DC transplants living out here! Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks :) nervous about leaving the bay area
The Montgomery County public schools are excellent. I went all through public schools, grad high school in 1990. A few months back US News had a ''best high schools'' issue, and many of the DC area high schools were included (Walter Johnson, Richard Montgomery and one or two others were the ones included. I went to WJ.)
The DC area has a lot of cultural activities as well. The Smithsonian museums are free admission, there are several other great art galleries (Phillips etc.) that are private. The Washingtonpost.com is a great resource - I still read it every day. They used to have a section called something like ''you haven't lived here until you've...'' which listed a lot of neat insider activities.
As for neighborhoods in DC:
Dupont Circle - the ''gay'' neighborhood and filled with lots of young 20 somethings (of all persuasions).
Then the further north you go up Connecticut Ave, the ''older'' the neighborhood gets.
Woodley Park & Cleveland Park - young married couples (I really liked these areas) with wonderful old homes. Beautiful tree- lined streets.
Friendship Heights - Same as above but with married with young kids
As for Maryland neighborhoods: Tacoma Park (actually, the only town that the boundaries are in 3 counties, Montgomery, Prince Georges & DC) is a funky area. A lot of Oakland reminds me of it. Bethesda & Rockville are big - Rockville more chain-store, strip mall. Bethesda is trying to have the neighborhood feel - you can still walk around to all the different stores etc. But Bethesda has grown by leaps and bounds since I moved away. Potomac is ritzy, Kensington quiet and some areas are historic (I grew up there.). The northern reaches of Montgomery County (Gaithersburg and north) I don't know much about - but they have grown a lot since I left. Those areas are VERY suburban.
The traffic from MD into DC (and VA) has gotten horrendous but the public transportation is great. The metro is clean and really reaches all sections of DC and the suburbs. DC has a good bus system as well.
All in all, it's a great area: more affordable, fantastic schools (in Mont Co.) and good cultural activities. My life, family and friends are here now, but I do miss the DC area a lot. A DC transplant (and slightly homesick)
I lived in DC for 8 years before moving to the Bay Area and still have many friends there. I think it's a good move. Hard to believe, but compared to the Bay Area, DC seems cheap housing- wise. I think the DC area is a great place to raise kids, at the very least, for the free museums. Kids have access to things that just don't exist west of the Rockies. And, it's diverse, educated...all those things Bay Area fanatics like to boast as unique to this area. I only lived in DC proper but while there dwelled in NE near Catholic University (cheap rent but not so great a neighborhood crime-wise...although, quite beautiful in spite of that), rented an apartment in Dupont Circle (fun if you're single...too pricey if you're with family), rented a house in Tenleytown (GREAT neighorhood but pricey to buy in...but on a BART line, good schools), lived in Adams Morgan and Mt Pleasant before I moved in 1996. Now, that was a while ago but as I said, I visit quite often and my friends are still around the area.
For funky neighborhoods in DC, Adams Morgan and Mt. Pleasant are very cool neighborhoods, and somewhat cheaper than the rest of DC. There's also a lot of gentrification in the DC neighborhoods near the Maryland border. However, all my friends had kids and skipped town for the greener, funky pastures of Arlington. I gasp in jealousy at the price of housing (that they complain as so high). Arlington has developed into the 30-something paradise for former hipsters now breeding. And, the schools are supposed to be decent but since I left DC a single no kids person, I don't know much about that. I do know that all my girlfriends in DC were able to quit their jobs to raise their kids while none of my girlfriends (as well as myself) in the Bay Area have been able to do so.
I also have friends who live in Silver Spring which is also a nice area, but not as funky as Arlington. For Maryland funky, Takoma Park is pretty cool, but some parts might not be too safe so you should look carefully.
Renting to start out would be a good idea. There are even houses for rent in Arlington for reasonable rates that might give you a better idea of where you want to go. It can take you a while to get aclimated to the area. Personally, if you can do it, I'd opt for living in the District. It's a beautiful city and the metro (subway and buses) make it easy to not have to rely on a car. Plus, with children, the zoo is free and always a nice thing to do with kids. I loved being to go to the zoo any time I needed to relax.
Good luck. The one thing I don't miss are cold winters. But, contrary to most people, I miss hot summers (as long as I have air conditioning).
1/ As with many urban areas, the public schools aren't great. There are a few decent elementary and middle schools (?) in upper NW, but the high schools are pretty bleak. Woodrow Wilson HS has AP classes and I've heard (from my young cousin who graduated last year) that the AP teachers are very good. It is possible to get an inter-district transfer, the way it is here. Private schools are plentiful. Montgomery County (Maryland) and Fairfax County (Virginia) both have better public school systems.
2/ Housing prices are comprable to the Bay Area, but you get a lot more for your money. We looked at few 3-4 bedroom places, w/ basement, attic and yard, in nice neighborhoods that were going for about $500,000!! My understanding is that there isn't radical overbidding, but things do go fast.
3/ One area in DC that I was intrigued with was Glover Park, north of Georgetown off of Wisconsin Ave. It's a pretty hip, urban area, within walking distance to shops, etc. The houses -- attached row houses -- were ''affordable'' and the public elementary school (Stoddard, I think) had decent scores. Seemed like there were lots of young families living there.
4/ I was also interested in Takoma Park, Maryland, which is just outside the DC line. It's very funky, and about as close as you'll come to finding Berkeley in DC. (I do believe it's a nuclear-free zone!) It has a nice little ''downtown'', weekend farmer's market, etc. and is easly accessable to DC via the metro. You should definitely check it out! I believe that there are cool little enclaves scattered around Arlington, VA that may be worth checking out too.
5/ Finally, in talking to my friends there, I got the impression that DC is on the way back up!! Lots of renovation/recontruction happening downtown, lots of people wanting to move back in to town (hence the housing scramble).
Good luck to you!! DC on my mind
If you're looking for a neighborhood that's similar to Berkeley/Oakland - about the closest you will come is Takoma Park.
You might want to rent before you buy...just so you can get a good sense of what neighborhood makes the most sense for you in terms of your commute, schools, etc.
If you'd like to talk about this further, send me an email with your phone number and I'll give you a call. Also, I have friends with a house in a great neighborhood walking distance from a great school in Arlington. It's a 3 bedroom house with great kid space. They're moving to NY for work and want to keep their home in VA - and will be renting it this June. LEt me know if you're interested and I''ll hook you up.
Housing is expensive (you may save a couple of bucks on your mortgatge each month over what you would pay in the bay Area, but I doubt it)and very tough to get into if you want to live in the District (taxes in the District are about the same as the Bay Area). I lived in Cleveland Park while I was there -- two blocks walk to Metro, the shops, the zoo, access to Rock Creek Park etc. Single family homes there start in the high $700s. A good family neighborhood in the District is Chevy Chase DC (not to be confused with Chevy Chase MD). My sister is raising her three wee ones there. She has put them all in the neighborhood Catholic school ($5,000/year - most private shcools start at about $12,000/year), but there are very good public elementary schools in the neighborhood, too. Homes start in the $600,000 range. Capitol Hill is a fun neighborhood, too, but homes are generally cozy row houses and start in the $600,000s.
I don't know much about the MD neighborhoods. I lived in Virginia for a year. It has changed a lot, for the better (there are plenty of places to eat, shop, etc now). I would suggest looking near the Clarendon Metro in the Lyon Park or Lyon Village neighborhoods. Though, homes there start in the $800's. You may want to look as far out as Ballston, but you won't find housing much cheaper there. the farther out you go down route 66, the cheaper it will be. Ditto for 395.
I would suggest living along a subway line and I would suggest living as close to DC as possible. Traffic is insane. People actually commute into DC from West Virginia. DC Fan
Advice About Relocating to Washington, D.C. with 3 YO: I'm moving back to Washington, DC with my three year old and plan to live within the district. I'm interested in any thoughts that people have about good neighborhoods (I'm thinking about Woodley Park and Capitol Hill), good pre-schools in those neighborhoods, or anything else that people might want to point out to someone in my situation (besides asking me why on earth I would leave Berkeley). By the way, I have already looked at the parents' network archives on this subject. Thanks! noah
I always tell people that living in the District is the only way to live there: the suburban sprawl in Washington beats any I've seen anywhere. (True even for close in suburbs like Bethesda and Arlington. The school districts are county-wide, and the counties offer incredibly rich recreational programs, so, if you live in Montgomery or Fairfax counties, your childrens' schools, soccer leagues, ballet classes, etc. will most likely be VERY far from your home.)
Here's what I came to love about the district: it's a capital city, so very international, even for those of us whose lives were completely unrelated to any government function. We met, through our childrens' public school, people from all over the world. Also, people overall seemed very informed: we had great political discussions (and met Republicans, for diversity). There was a strong sense of traditional civic responsibility, so there were baby sitting coops and block clean-ups, etc. I missed that there seemed to be relatively few artists and (non jounalist) writers. But then, I met people who served in the military or who worked for NGO's in Bangladesh or whose parents and grandparents had worked for the federal government (at the lowest levels) but who considered that work a privilege and responsibility.
There was LOTS to do for a family with young children. We went to the museums almost weekly. They are free so you can go for an hour, then leave without feeling guilty. There are lots of great historic activities: period farms a favorite of my kids, many re-enactments (so we could direct the boys' great interest in weapons to the Civil War), and US history sites. The zoo was nearby (also free), and I spent many, many afternoons there with my toddler.
What else? People dress up more. My boys had jackets and ties and white button down shirts and loafers (really) which they never wore again once we moved back here. We left our car unlocked and kids seemed to move around the neighborhood (and, as they got older, the city) pretty freely. There was only one neighborhood in Washingon that I wouldn't go to: otherwise, we explored widely and safely and our experiences were rich.
Love Berkeley, but fond of DC
I lived in Washington DC for nine years, and after having been away for the past 5 years I too am (happily) moving back this summer!
Like you, I've have a little guy and am trying to figure out where in the district to live. I'm looking at neighborhoods west of the park primarily because of the public schools -- Woodley Park, Cleveland Park, Tenley Town, Glover Park (someplace near public transport or a major artery into town). I'm also considering my old haunts -- Mt. Pleasant, Adam's Morgan, or Dupont. While the schools there aren't great, I've just learned from a friend in DC that there is a whole new crop of charter/magnet schools around, so maybe location isn't an issue. I have friends who live on Capitol Hill (near the station) and love it! They're squashed in a two bedroom rowhouse but can't bring themselves to leave their funky neighborhood and great school.
The only recommendation I have for pre-school is a wonderful little one in an old row house in Adam's Morgan called ''Amazing Life Games''.
Be sure to get on the on-line parents network (similar to this one) for all the happenings. I'm sorry that I don't have the address, but I'm sure you can find it. It's called either ''DCurbanmoms'' or just ''urbanmoms'' or something close.
It sounds like you've lived there before, so you know all about the city and really, how great it is -- diverse, lots going on, etc. You probably also know about the crime, but frankly, it's not much different than any other major urban setting. Between the two of us, my husband or I have been mugged all over the world, including good ol' Berkeley!
All the best to you!! Chirstine
We are a family considering a move to the Washington DC area. We would really appreciate any ideas about 1) affordable places to live within a reasonable commuting distance of College Park, MD, and with good public schools and lively community and cultural offerings; 2) places with excellent public schools; 3) coop or developmental preschools in the College Park, Takoma Park, Greenbelt,Silver Springs or other nearby area. Also, are there towns north of DC in or towards Howard County that have cultural offerings where we might get a big backyard and a decent sized house? And does anyone have specific knowledge of the Takoma Park public elementary schools? Many thanks!
There are many truly wonderful communities in Howard county. Columbia is one, In fact when I first moved to the DC area I was told that Columbia was planned specifically to promote cultural diversity. (I dont have any info on that thought-- its just something I was told) BTW I always check Realtor.com to get an idea of the real estate market in that and other areas. I could really go on, because I do love that area tremendously... the people, the weather ( not to much snow!!!) the diversity, etc. etc. Missing DC
Any information on moving to Washington D.C. with a 3 year old would be very appreciated. I'm hoping for things along the lines of pre-schools, internet groups like this one...or anything else that would help make the transition easier. Thanks. Kean
My family is moving to Washington DC in a few months and I am seeking information about parent resources (we have an infant), family-friendly neighborhoods in NW DC or Maryland suburbs, tips on finding and renting a house (any realtor suggestions?), and any other info anyone might have that could help us with this transition. Thanks! Amy
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