Best Place to Live in DC?
Figuring out where to live and finding the best place to live in dc for you is really confusing – especially in a place like DC where there are so many options. Do you want walkable city living or peaceful suburbs? Or how about something in between the two?
Ok, so how are we going to find your perfect neighborhood? I’ll tell you how I have been doing this with other clients and it’s worked well. Let’s pretend you are moving here.
First, I need to find out more about you. What is your lifestyle is like now? What would you like to change about how you live now? I’ve had people from New York City say that they don’t want to live in a loud bustling city anymore. I’ve also had people from New York City say that they are afraid DC won’t be city-enough for them.
Second, I will ask you about your job here and what your tolerance level is for commuting. Do you prefer to drive? Take public transportation? Walk?
Third, how much space do you need? Will a one bedroom condo work or do you need a 5 bedroom house?
Finally, are schools important?
Let’s break this down now.
You’re a city dweller and want to remain a city dweller. Condos, high rises, leaving your car parked for weeks and doing everything on foot sounds like a dream? I’ll direct you to a few areas. The most city-like feelings can be found in the neighborhoods south of Florida Avenue (which sometimes turns into U Street) in DC. Dupont Circle and Capitol Hill are quieter when compared to Chinatown which is very busy and has very much of a city-feel. Other neighborhoods for people who love the city are Logan Circle, NoMa, Navy Yard and the Wharf.
Let’s say DC isn’t your thing. You can get a good city vibe in Silver Spring, Maryland and over in Virginia the Rosslyn, Court House, Clarendon and Ballston neighborhoods are highly dense with lots of retail and restaurants you can walk to.
What if you tell me you’re not a city dweller? You want a driveway or at least to be able to park in front your house? Well this is where things get more confusing. We have everything here from townhomes which are in neighborhoods that are a little more densely populated where you can walk to some things and need to drive to others. And there are houses on half an acre with driveways and cul de sacs.
Do you like the townhome idea so you don’t have a yard to maintain but don’t have anyone living above you? You can find that mostly anywhere in the area from DC to Maryland and Virginia. In DC we call them rowhomes and they usually don’t carry an HOA fee since most were built before HOA’s were a thing. Rowhomes close to downtown are on smaller lots without yards and often without driveways or dedicated parking – Georgetown, Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, Glover Park, Shaw, Woodley Park, Cleveland Park – this is where you will find rowhomes on smaller lots. In Mount Pleasant you will find a combination of both large homes with parking and those without parking but with nice outdoor space.
As you get further north in DC, the row homes can have pretty deep lots with parking and a nice size yard as well. Neighborhoods like Petworth and Brightwood are where you will see these homes. There are also single family homes in many neighborhoods like Crestwood, 16th Street Heights, Brookland, Chevy Chase and AU Park. You will know you’re in the city but it won’t feel like it. Some of these homes even have pools.
In Maryland and Virginia the rowhome is called a townhouse and it’s usually governed by a Homeowner’s Association. As land has gotten more expensive, you see more townhomes with narrow footprints, which then means a lot of stairs. Depending on your desire for a more urban feel over true suburbs, there are lots of choices. Old Town Alexandria has its own personality entirely. It has a historic feel with waterfront access. Del Ray in Alexandria is a hip happening neighborhood popular with young professionals and families.
Arlington is a mixed bag. North Arlington is mostly single family homes of varying sizes. The lowest / most southern part of North Arlington is more dense, with single family homes, rowhomes and condos.
This is a very high-flying overview of how to start figuring out the best place to live in DC. The good news is that you get to make some choices first, and I realize you won’t know what some of your answers are until you see some places in person – which is what I do. I can craft a tour for you to take yourself or you can describe your ideal situation to me and I can provide you with suggestions of neighborhoods that we can take a look at when you’re in town.
Many of the areas I’ve mentioned I have more in depth videos on, but please reach out to me if you have any questions or want more information about a particular area.