DC firm - where to live?

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DC firm - where to live?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:23 pm

I'm an incoming associate at a DC firm, and I'd like to find a place that's somewhat affordable. I've heard that DC rent is outrageous (as is income tax), but wanted to know:

1) What's the difference in average rent and income tax from DC to VA (places on the orange/blue line)?

2) What are good neighborhoods/apartment complexes to look into?

3) Also, for those working those crazy hours, did you think paying more for a shorter commute was worth it?

Thank you.

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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:41 pm

I've lived in DC for a few years after graduating from law school and I've considered moving to VA a few times. The difference in income tax is there but it's pretty small--it's really not a big enough consideration to think about at the forefront. If you want to live in one of the more urban parts of NOVA, like Old Town Alexandria, Rosslyn, Clarendon, or Balston or thereabouts, you will see that prices for apartments are pretty much identical to nice areas in DC. If you want to live in the more suburban or further out parts of VA, than prices drop dramatically but you will be pretty dependent on your car or on the kind of hellish public transit/carpool commute that it unfortunately normal for the DC area. One really underrated place to look is Crystal City, where you can generally find nice buildings with large and well-maintained apartments for significantly less than similar ones in DC or the more upscale parts of NOVA. Having said that, prices for apartments in DC, while very expensive by national standards, are much better than Manhattan or SF, and you will see that your salary takes you further here. There are definitely good deals to be found, especially if you look for an apartment in December-January when they are desperate for tenants. The very popular Logan Circle area surprisingly still has good 1-bedroom apartments to be found in the $2000ish /month range. Also, there is a big (but shrinking) disconnect between the rental and property market here. If you are planning to stay in DC for at least 5 years, I would suggest buying property since you can get a nice condo for around 400-500k and be making monthly payments smaller than your rent would be.

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jessuf
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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby jessuf » Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:50 pm

I don't know what your starting salary is, but for my salary, the difference in take-home pay between DC and VA is negligible.

For housing, it really depends on your preferences. In the area, you can find urban, suburban, farm, house, midrise, etc.

I recommend Eastern Market in DC. This neighborhood encompasses the Eastern Market and Capitol South metro stops. It is mostly row houses and smaller apartment buildings. The market itself is super nice on weekends - great food, good farmers' market stuff, good art and random flea market things. Good brunch places nearby. A variety of places to grab food and various bars but no clubs and therefore doesn't have the noise and vomit of some other areas like U St.

If you prefer a midrise with amenities, I recommend Penn Quarter. This stretches along the various downtown stops on the orange/blue/silver. Definitely more expensive, but you could save on gym costs and transportation time. Pretty safe. Everything is new. Some of the best restaurants in DC. However, very expensive, even for a studio.

If you prefer midrise with amenities but don't want to pay as much, check out Pentagon City or Crystal City in VA. I find Arlington in general to be a lot more boring than DC, but it's only a few metro stops away. Alexandria by the King St/Old Town stop might be nice. I know 0 things about the housing situation there, but King Street has nice shops and restaurants. If you decide on VA, DON'T live past Ballston or King St stops. You will hate the commute so much.

Also, it's not too hard to live off of another metro route like red. Transferring doesn't take too much time, especially during rush hour. Dupont Circle is nice, albeit pretty expensive.

Places I don't recommend: Foggy Bottom - overloaded with undergrads and not much to do anyway; Georgetown - traffic is insane and no metro stop; SW Waterfront - needs to be built up more, really dead at night; NoMa - cheaper but pretty much nothing to do around here and also some really sketchy parts; Chinatown - pretty centrally located and has various midrises but I never feel safe around there late at night and the crowds during the day annoy me; U St/Adams Morgan - too many drunk people, too much noise; Woodley Park/Cleveland Park/etc. - cute areas, cheaper housing, but kind of boring and the commute will get long.

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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby Desert Fox » Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:01 pm

I figured, between my wife and me, the difference in tax is about 500 a month. I'd imagine it's closer to 300 for a single bro. Arlington housing isn't really cheaper near the metro than DC.

The cool parts of DC are better than Arlington, but Arlington is way better than a lot of DC. Pentagon/Crystal city is really cheap for the living arrangements, but it's pretty boring. Also blue line sucks for commuting now.

I think you have to consider where your firm is located. If it's close to Chinatown, I'd probably just live there. If it's closer to downtown, lorgan circle is decent. If it's Federal Triangle, sucks 2bu.
Last edited by Desert Fox on Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby FSK » Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:05 pm

I think Woodley park/Cleveland park are both great and I live near one, because I love how cute & small they are. Being right next to the zoo is a huge plus for me (one of my favorite places in the city to blow off steam).

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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:09 pm

OP here - thanks! This is extremely helpful.

A few more details: My salary will be 160k, if that helps with income tax calculations. Also, I won't have a car.

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Desert Fox
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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby Desert Fox » Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here - thanks! This is extremely helpful.

A few more details: My salary will be 160k, if that helps with income tax calculations. Also, I won't have a car.


Metro only costs like 100 bucks a month from Crystal City to downtown. And if you are working late, you can cop a cab for free. Also, if you are working downtown, you'll likely need to metro anyway.

Use a tax calc. to see what the difference is. Paycheckcity I think is how i calced mine.

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Georgiana
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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby Georgiana » Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:13 pm

Desert Fox wrote:I figured, between my wife and me, the difference in tax is about 500 a month. I'd imagine it's closer to 300 for a single bro. Arlington housing isn't really cheaper near the metro than DC.

The cool parts of DC are better than Arlington, but Arlington is way better than a lot of DC. Pentagon/Crystal city is really cheap for the living arrangements, but it's pretty boring. Also blue line sucks for commuting now.

I think you have to consider where your firm is located. If it's close to Chinatown, I'd probably just live there. If it's closer to downtown, lorgan circle is decent. If it's Federal Triangle, sucks 2bu.

Second the tax different for married couple living in VA. I'm near King Street and love it, but we drive to work. We rented on Mass Ave for a year (1br was about $2200 I think), moved to a fairly crappy brownstone near King Street for $2300 (2br, den, basement), eventually bought a condo in old town for under $500k.

Orange/Yellow commute is much better than Blue, the Blue line gets screwed all.the.time. If you're young/single you'd probably like Clarendon, its much too student/intern-centric for my liking.

As far as DC goes, I really like the Capitol Hill/Eastern Market locations (the only place in DC we really considered buying). I also like Woodley Park but am not a fan of the red line, especially on weekends.

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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby run26.2 » Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:22 pm

Young singles tend to live in DC in the hipper parts. Logan Circle, DuPont, Eastern Market, etc. Married folks tend to head toward the burbs, e.g., Arlington, Alexandria, Springfield, Silver Spring, etc.

I live about 10 mins from the Orange in NoVa and commute in on that every day. Total commute is about 35 mins, including walking on both ends. I usually read a book on the Metro, so I enjoy my commute. Unless I leave at about 8 or later, the trains run consistently and seem less delayed. If you live closer in than West Falls Church, you can ride either Orange or Silver, meaning your wait time is less and/or the train is less crowded. I like NoVa because you generally get a larger or nicer space for your money, there are more parks, trails, etc. But you give up something in terms of nightlife and restaurants. You will most likely need a car if you go to a suburb, unless you enjoy riding the bus or biking everywhere, including to get groceries.

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AreJay711
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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby AreJay711 » Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:32 pm

I live off H Street for $800 a month. If you are trying to save money, it can be done. I have to ride the bus or (when they get it built) the street car thing to Union Station to get places though.

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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby Desert Fox » Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:59 pm

AreJay711 wrote:I live off H Street for $800 a month. If you are trying to save money, it can be done. I have to ride the bus or (when they get it built) the street car thing to Union Station to get places though.



I don't believe you unless you mean this H street https://www.google.com/maps/place/H+Str ... 1e3178ed41

Damn that is cheap.

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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:11 pm

OP here - yes, AreJay711, teach me your ways. How the heck did you find that? Craigslist? Is it a basement studio? I'm so confused.

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chuckbass
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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby chuckbass » Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:22 pm

Dupont>>>

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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby kcdc1 » Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:39 pm

I live near Old Town Alexandria. It's nice and the commute on the yellow line is decent. I'd recommend it if you're married but it's not ideal for singles. It's a cute restaurant/shopping district, but you'll have an easier time meeting people in the city. Also, your friends will want you to come into DC to hang out, and if you're like me, a 20-minute train ride can be a deal-breaker for social events.

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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby vandalvideo » Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:49 pm

As someone who commutes in the greater DC metro area, I would recommend trying to go to Reston. The rent is cheaper and the silver line makes commuting from there more feasible. Its almost half the rent as trying to live in Arlington or Alexandria. Commuting time is longer, but worth it. I live in a townhouse with roomates, and pay only 450 in rent. (And I may or may not be looking to sublet.)
Last edited by vandalvideo on Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby jessuf » Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:05 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:I live off H Street for $800 a month. If you are trying to save money, it can be done. I have to ride the bus or (when they get it built) the street car thing to Union Station to get places though.



I don't believe you unless you mean this H street https://www.google.com/maps/place/H+Str ... 1e3178ed41

Damn that is cheap.

Lol

I imagine he's somewhere in the scary parts around H St like by Benning

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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 01, 2014 11:03 pm

Not OP.

Does anyone have thoughts on the rent v. buy dilemma? I'm sure I'll stay for at least 4 years and would prefer to remain in the city when/if I were to lateral, so I feel like I'd be better served putting $2k/month towards a mortgage on a ~$400k apartment/condo than dumping as much or more into rent.

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vandalvideo
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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby vandalvideo » Mon Dec 01, 2014 11:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Not OP.

Does anyone have thoughts on the rent v. buy dilemma? I'm sure I'll stay for at least 4 years and would prefer to remain in the city when/if I were to lateral, so I feel like I'd be better served putting $2k/month towards a mortgage on a ~$400k apartment/condo than dumping as much or more into rent.

HOA/CONDO fees are a bit absurd in the area. As long as you're ok with paying upwards of 500-600 on a Condo fee in addition to a 1.5K a month mortgage and whatever loan servicing you have, then by all means. I'd elect for one of the up and coming areas to increase return on investment though. Maybe South Arlington or....Anacostia.......

run26.2
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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby run26.2 » Tue Dec 02, 2014 9:47 am

Actually, HOA fees are often even more than 600/mo. even for the lower priced units. The HOAs really are absurd in DC. You might look into the waterfront area. Also, you might be able to find a cheaper T/H or condo in Annandale, Falls Church, or Springfield in the range you're looking at. The HOAs are not nearly as bad out there.

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Bildungsroman
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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby Bildungsroman » Tue Dec 02, 2014 10:00 am

Living on H Street sounds like a great way to hate your neighborhood and get murdered.

jimmythecatdied6
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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby jimmythecatdied6 » Tue Dec 02, 2014 10:01 am

Good info here... thanks for sharing, folks.

Unrelated question, but will I even have enough time outside of work to enjoy where I live? I am thinking my home will more or less be the place that I sleep, and given that, it might make sense to just say fuck it and get some roommates to keep costs low.

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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby seizmaar » Tue Dec 02, 2014 10:04 am

jimmythecatdied6 wrote:Good info here... thanks for sharing, folks.

Unrelated question, but will I even have enough time outside of work to enjoy where I live? I am thinking my home will more or less be the place that I sleep, and given that, it might make sense to just say fuck it and get some roommates to keep costs low.


bro if you pay 2/3 of rent i will clean the house i'm gonna be a poor as fuck DOJ kid

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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 02, 2014 11:16 pm

Jessuf wrote:Places I don't recommend: Foggy Bottom - overloaded with undergrads and not much to do anyway; Georgetown - traffic is insane and no metro stop; SW Waterfront - needs to be built up more, really dead at night; NoMa - cheaper but pretty much nothing to do around here and also some really sketchy parts; Chinatown - pretty centrally located and has various midrises but I never feel safe around there late at night and the crowds during the day annoy me; U St/Adams Morgan - too many drunk people, too much noise; Woodley Park/Cleveland Park/etc. - cute areas, cheaper housing, but kind of boring and the commute will get long.


Wait, in what world does Woodley Park / Cleveland Park have a long commute to the downtown (i.e., Metro Center) firms? I live in Woodley Park and work by Metro Center, and it's a 15 minute commute from my apartment door to my desk chair.

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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby FSK » Tue Dec 02, 2014 11:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Jessuf wrote:Places I don't recommend: Foggy Bottom - overloaded with undergrads and not much to do anyway; Georgetown - traffic is insane and no metro stop; SW Waterfront - needs to be built up more, really dead at night; NoMa - cheaper but pretty much nothing to do around here and also some really sketchy parts; Chinatown - pretty centrally located and has various midrises but I never feel safe around there late at night and the crowds during the day annoy me; U St/Adams Morgan - too many drunk people, too much noise; Woodley Park/Cleveland Park/etc. - cute areas, cheaper housing, but kind of boring and the commute will get long.


Wait, in what world does Woodley Park / Cleveland Park have a long commute to the downtown (i.e., Metro Center) firms? I live in Woodley Park and work by Metro Center, and it's a 15 minute commute from my apartment door to my desk chair.


Woodley park is also close to Vace, the best pizza in the city.

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Re: DC firm - where to live?

Postby threecharacters » Wed Dec 03, 2014 1:33 am

I live by Union Station and love it. I've also lived in South Arlington (S. Glebe and Pentagon City) where the rent was a couple hundred cheaper. The commute from S. Arlington is not bad at all. Especially if you're working downtown (Chinatown/Metro Center). There will be folks who will give you a lot of shit for living in VA, but honestly, in the 5 years that I lived in VA, I went out in DC all the time and saved a lot of money. It's the DC snobs who can't fathom crossing the Potomac who are the real asshats.

But, if you want to live in DC proper, I really like my place by H St. NE. And yes, the Streetcar will be functional soon(ish). I really like the neighborhood and it's a cheap Uber/cab ride to most spots. The red line can really blow sometimes, but so can other metro lines. It might be helpful to know where you're going to be working. I'd say try to find a place that is on the same metro line. It can make a difference.

Anywho, best of luck to you. Feel free to message me if want more info about specific neighborhoods. I've been here 6 years and feel like I have a good handle on the city.




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