I'm kind of scared to move to a new city?
I've just been offered a job in Washington D.C.. I graduated from college in May, and I've wanted nothing more than to move out of my parents' house since then. I am excited, but I'm also very intimidated because I now have less than two weeks to find an apartment in D.C., and I have no idea which areas are good and bad. I also am not able to spend over 1,000 a month on rent, so I would very much like to have a roommate to cut down costs, but I don't know where to find a good one quickly.
I guess I'm mainly just intimidated because it is a new city to me. I was born in Manhattan and have spent most of my life just outside of New York in New Jersey (I even went to college in Jersey), so I'm used to urban living. I know New York like the back of my hand, and I think I'm scared of D.C. because even though it isn't nearly as big, I don't know it at all and don't know anyone there. I'm worried I'll find an apartment in a bad area and not even know it.
I suppose I'm just ranting now though... anybody ever been in a similar situation and have some advice?
Asked By: Kassie - 9/23/2012
I would say go for it! I grew up just outside Washington so of course I'm biased, but I love it there. It is of course much smaller than New York City, so learning your way around the city should be easy. There are a lot of universities in the area and the city does attract a lot of recent college grads/younger people too, so this makes it fairly vibrant with a lot of great neighborhoods. It's got a lot going for it too with all of the monuments, memorials, the Smithsonian museums, parks along the Potomac River (especially the cherry blossoms), and all kinds of other stuff.
The only downsides are:
-It IS expensive, but if you're coming from the NYC area, it isn't terrible. Plus there are plenty of other younger people living in the area, so finding a roommate won't be too difficult - people move to DC for jobs and/or internships all the time and need housing. You could check Craigslist, or ask around for people you might know or friends of friends who might need to share an apartment in the area. Plus you'll probably meet people there, so even if you get stuck in a less-than-ideal situation for the first few months, you can always change.
-Also, public transportation isn't quite as extensive as NYC - BUT, it is pretty good for a city its size. There are many areas you could live in where you wouldn't need a car. I have many friends who live in DC without a car, or couples who share a single car. As long as your job is Metro accessible, you can get there easily and to a lot of other places via public transportation. And there are many Zipcar locations nearby as well so that might be an option.
The final downside is, the bagels, pizza, and delis aren't quite the same as NYC. There are decent restaurants and it's improving, but not quite the same.
Areas I would consider looking into for housing are:
-Most of the neighborhoods in Northwest DC. Basically, take a look at a map of the Metro and look at the Red Line. Any of the stops between Friendship Heights and Dupont Circle are good neighborhoods (Van Ness, Cleveland Park, Tenleytown, etc.) are all good. Dupont is a cool area with more trendy restaurants and stuff but might be a bit more expensive, as will Friendship Heights - but any of the areas in between are nice, safe, and close to the Metro. If you have a car, it will be more difficult to find parking in these neighborhoods, though, and you'll likely end up with a smaller apartment for the amount you're paying.
-Silver Spring is actually where I'd consider first. It's in Maryland, but literally right on the line. It's also got a Metro station, lots of good restaurants, bars, a movie theater, music venue, supermarkets, banks, cleaners, and all kinds of other businesses right in downtown Silver Spring within walking distance. If you work downtown, you could still manage without a car as it's a very short trip, but if you do have a car, it's easier to find parking and it's got very good highway access as well.
-Alexandria or Arlington, Virginia - for many of the same reasons as Silver Spring.
Some of the suburbs that are slightly farther out but still on the Metro are Bethesda (probably a bit more pricy), Rockville (not a bad area but less character), and Falls Church or even Vienna in Virginia - I don't know these areas as well and while they're not bad, probably more suburban and less character.
I'd avoid Southeast DC and most areas of Northeast too. They're becoming better but unless you live on Capital Hill (which borders some sketchy areas and is also becoming pricy), you could end up in some less than desirable neighborhoods.
Answered By: Mike R - 9/25/2012