10 Best Neighborhoods in Washington DC Part 2
What are the best neighborhoods to live in, in DC? The answer isn’t straightforward. Washington DC and close-in suburbs like Bethesda and Arlington have a variety of residents at different stages of life. Those with young children attending schools seeking a different lifestyle than a recent college-graduate, or downsizing empty-nesters, will value different things about a neighborhood. The transient nature of some segments of the population means the city is always changing. Navigating what neighborhood is best for your situation will depend on many factors, but here is a list of the 10 best neighborhoods not to miss in the Nation’s Capital!
What are the Best Neighborhoods in the Washington DC Area?
What makes a neighborhood one of the best places to live in DC depends on a lot of factors. Location, real estate prices, convenience, availability of public transportation and if there are little ones – schools.
The 10 Best place to Live in Washington DC:
- Glover Park
- American University (AU Park)
- Capitol Hill
- Southwest Waterfront
- Logan Circle / Shaw
- Clarendon / Ballston
- Adams Morgan
- City of Alexandria
Shifting gears, this is the second half of the list, and part 2 of the videos, will cover neighborhoods that are great for those looking for a taste of city life.
6. Southwest Waterfront
If you want to be at the center of all the action and nightlife, the Southwest Waterfront is the place to be. Recently redeveloped by local Developer PN Hoffman, the District of Columbia government set a plan in motion to develop the valuable real estate that, for many decades, was plagued by crime and run down buildings.
Bordered by the Washington Channel and Potomac River on the west, 695 to the north, South Capitol Street to the east and Fort McNair on the south, the Southwest Waterfront is a small neighborhood with a big city vibe.
If there’s any part of DC that doesn’t sleep, it’s the southwest waterfront. The strip along Maine Avenue to the riverfront is packed with restaurants and entertainment and live music venues that draw people in from not just the area but the world. All eyes have been on this part of DC for many years and there are lots of investors worldwide who have purchased second or third homes here in the brand new condo buildings. The waterfront is adjacent to Navy Yard, where you can see a Washington Nationals game, and there are also water taxis that shuttle across the Anacostia River to Old Town Alexandria, National Harbor or up to Georgetown.
Real Estate here isn’t cheap. There are some 1960’s high rise buildings which are not directly on the waterfront and are priced in the $300,000’s and up. Once apartments and converted to condos, monthly fees in these buildings is often steep. There is often a 24/7 front desk and many amenities which need to be funded. The new condos are selling for anywhere between $1000 – $1400 per square foot. This means a 2 bedroom 2 bath condo of 1200 square feet will be in the mid $1M’s. High prices for many in DC but for those coming from other economies, the prices are not a deterrent.
7. Logan Circle / Shaw
This is cheating right here but I’m combining two neighborhoods into one. They most definitely are two different neighborhoods but as development moved east from Logan toward Shaw, the boundary between them has been consistently blurred for the past 15 years.
Generally anything east of 15th Street, south of U Street and north of M St and west of…well…this is why Shaw is being included. Back in the days when Logan Circle was the hot new neighborhood, Anything west of 10th could be called Logan Circle. But then Shaw grew up like that “little” brother who is now 6 inches taller than you and has its own right to a place on the list. Shaw shares the same southernmost boundary with Logan Circle – M Street. Anything from 11th Street and east, to New Jersey Ave is in the Shaw neighborhood as well.
You’ll feel like one of the fabulous people, who got in on a good secret before the cat was let out of the bag. Until the weekend comes and the entire metro area descends on 14th Street, when you’ll realize this isn’t a secret at all. But you can sell your car because you can walk everywhere from here. Downtown DC is just a few blocks away, and you’re surrounded by so much fabulousness in the way of restaurants, stores – tons of big names that moved from Georgetown are now on 14th Street – and nightlife that you may never need anything again. If you’re hurting for some culture, it’s a straight shot down to the national mall to be a tourist for a day and hit the Smithsonian museums. Shaw is home to many culinary hot spots that draw people in from all over the metro area.
The early 1900 time period of development in Logan Circle is evident in the streets filled with grand victorians. There are also lots of lofts that were converted from other uses such as auto garages. Home types are similar over in Shaw, as are prices. These rowhomes are going to cost well into the $1M’s, many with rentable basements that can supplement the mortgage payment. Condos are also plentiful and often on the newer side, with one bedrooms in the $400’s and going up from there.
8. Clarendon / Ballston
Ok ok, I’ll stop doing this two-neighborhoods-in-one thing. Clarendon and Ballston are both in North Arlington but are two neighborhoods that attract a post-college crowd.
Wilson Boulevard starts in Rosslyn and runs one way to the west. Clarendon Boulevard is parallel to Wilson and runs east. Follow Wilson out 2 metro stops and you’ll be in Clarendon, just after the Court House stop. Ballston is 2 stops past Clarendon, with Virginia Square separating the two areas.
There’s a different vibe in Virginia neighborhoods that can be really appealing to people who do not want to live in a highly dense city. There’s a lot of green space, parks, and trails that it feels a bit more laid back. Clarendon has a “main drag” along Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards with tons of restaurants, retail and grocery stores. Ballston was formerly a quieter area but it’s going through a massive redevelopment. There are so many new, highly rated restaurants and so much development happening that it’s becoming a destination.
One bedroom condos will run between $400,000 and $500,000. Townhomes in Clarendon are typically going to be over $1M, and you can even get single family homes but they will be well into the $1M’s if not in the $2-3M range. Ballston prices on some of the existing homes are still in the mid to high 6 figures.
9. Adams Morgan
It’s just so hard when neighborhood lines bleed together, but I concede, these really are two different neighborhoods.
Adams Morgan’s main strip is 18th Street, north of Florida Ave / U Street (they become the same street at the intersection with 18th Street. The neighborhood is just a few blocks in either direction from U Street, going over to Connecticut Avenue on the west and 16th Street on the east. It stretches up to Columbia Road. Adams Morgan is at the base of Rock Creek Park and steps to the Zoo, and just west of Columbia Heights.
Where can you hear a lion roar from outside a loud bar? No, it’s not a joke, it’s Adams Morgan! The Smithsonian National Zoo is just to the north and while you may not hear the lions roaring when you’re partying in one of the many late night establishments, you can hear them when all is silent in the middle of the night. When you’re hungry, 18th Street is just out your door and you have a huge selection of eateries and adult beverage establishments to satisfy your inner partier.
It’s called charm. The century-old apartments and condos have original hardwood floors that you know have seen some stuff in their lifetime. It’s worth it as the value holds here and stands the test of time. Condos can be found in the $300’s in no-frills, walk-up buildings without amenities. There are 2 bedroom condos that will set you back $700,000 to $1M, and there are a few single family homes left that are into the $2M’s. These are few and far between as many homes have been converted to condos.
10. City of Alexandria
There are a bunch of neighborhoods that comprise the City of Alexandria, but the areas with retail, restaurants and nightlife are more on the eastern side of the city, in the Del Ray and Old Town areas.
Alexandria is located west of the Potomac River, inside the beltway with 495 the southern boundary, 395 is the western boundary and Four Mile Run is the northern boundary. There are a few metros that service Alexandria – Van Dorn St Metro in West End, then Eisenhower, King Street or Braddock Rd.
Alexandria isn’t just Old Town. There are actually several neighborhoods that make up Alexandria City.
Green space, community gardens, shops, restaurants, nightlife, the activity is near the waterfront which can’t be beat for an evening out. Alexandria carries a charm that appeals to many just moving to the area.
There are some newer condos that have popped up in places in Old Town that have been mostly repurposed through conversions of other buildings. Condos can be found in $200’s, but the newer condos go from $400,000 up into the millions. It’s all about a water view here.
Rowhome prices are typically $1M and up.
In Del Rey the house prices have risen steeply in the past few years. Being walkable to the main strip, Mount Vernon Ave, where the restaurants and shops are is key. Small 500 sf condos exist here in the $200’s, but most prices for condos in Del Ray go well into the $600’s and $700’s. There are attached/row houses in the $600’s – $700’s. Single Family Houses will set you back $800K and up.
Potomac Yard is newish area with most homes being built post 2000. This is the most northern part of Alexandria, and feels more like Arlington / Crystal City than Alexandria. Newer townhouses here are in the $800,000 range and up, condos $400K. As Amazon finishes building their headquarters, this is a neighborhood to consider.
Superlatives – Honorable Mention
Silver Spring – Redux!
I know, it made it on Part 1 of the Top 10 List. But for all the reasons it was a best all around neighborhood it’s also great for young professionals too!
- “Washington DC housing market” & link to the “Washington DC housing market” article when live.