Friday Question of the Day

The last profile of a Petworthian really got me thinking about the different neighborhoods in DC. It seems that people who move to Petworth often consider moving to Shaw, Bloomingdale, Brookland, Eckington, H Street, NE and Columbia Heights. I feel a strong solidarity with these neighborhoods and you’ll notice that we all link to each other’s blogs. When I was looking to buy a house I really only looked in Petworth and Columbia Heights, I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t even heard of Shaw then. Now I happen to have a bunch of friends who live in these other neighborhoods and we often joke with each other about who lives in the best neighborhood (of course I always win). At any rate what I’d like to know is how do people chose one neighborhood over the other? It obviously isn’t the school districts and the quality of life seems to be quite similar. I know that I am grateful that I “stumbled” upon Petworth. But now that the word is out about all these great neighborhoods how does one chose? Is it just based on the physical house/condo/apt. alone? Tell me, how did you decide to buy/rent in Petworth or one of the other neighborhoods listed?

27 Comment

  • I bought a few months ago and looked at Shaw, Petworth, Columbia Heights, H Street and Takoma Park (DC and Maryland sides).

    I ruled out Shaw because the houses were too small for the money. I ruled out H Street because the houses were too expensive for the area, too much hope for the neighborhood and not enough real reason for it in my book. I ruled out Takoma park because I couldn’t really afford it, although I loved it. So, I centered my search on CH and Petworth.

    I liked CH better because it seemed more alive, more to do, more eateries and bars and shops and what not, but still a neighborhood with old houses with big yards and lots of friendly neighbors and families.

    I liked Petworth a lot, it’s quieter and more peaceful than CH, and If I had found a house I really liked there I would have bought it, but I found a good deal in CH and it’s been wonderful so far.

    But to me, really, Petworth and CH are basically the same extended neighborhood anyway, they are only a five minute walk from eachother.

  • I bought almost 3 years ago -location to downtown, size of house for the money, close to metro, great parking, and a backyard!

  • I rent, and I looked at Shaw, Petworth and Columbia Heights. I ruled out Shaw because what I could afford wasn’t all that close to a metro but very close to lots of public housing. I ruled out CH because the rents were higher than PW. Finally I liked my house in PW and it is right across the street from the metro. But I have a couple of Friday questions to throw back at you as a new resident.

    When you see drug dealing activity, do you call the cops or do you mind your own business? There was definitely drug dealing going on in the alley on 8th between Quincy and Rock Creek Church. The cops came for several hours a few Fridays ago, and traffic stopped. Now it is starting to pick back up. When I go out on my back porch, I try not to look at them and think their biz is their biz, just don’t bother me. But I am not happy about it. Irritatingly enough, I got chastised by a resident in my old building in Penn Quarter (where a jr. 1 bedroom runs 2K without parking) when I mentioned that I ignore it. I thought easy for you to say, you have a doorman!

    Second question is about the rats. Is there anything you can do? I was sitting on my front porch early one evening and the bushes in front were shaking violently in what was apparently a rat fight. They are pretty much everywhere. I pick up all the trash on my block almost every day, sometimes it has to be done 2x a day, which really, really pisses me off. My dog is part some kind of terrier, so I think she helps but I am not sure they are all that afraid of her. Can I complain? Lay traps and then pay someone else to remove them (I refuse to touch)? I realize some rat activity comes with living in the city, but this many is just gross and making it hard to sit on my porches unless I take my contacts out and put earplugs in.

    Finally, does anyone know of a really good vet in the area? I’ve been using Capitol Hill Vet which is wonderful, but thought there may be something equally wonderful close to home.

    Thanks for all of your help!

  • Hi Kelly,

    Let me take first crack. Yes call the police but call 311 for non emergencies and you can anonymously put in a tip about the dealing.

    About the rats, I know there is a rat abatement program so call the city and request traps at 727-1000.

    CityPaws is a great vet located on 14th St. near U. not too far from Petworth. Phone # 465-6429

    Good luck to you.

  • We are actually moving to Petworth in a couple of weeks. We currently live in Bloomingdale. My husband and I thought about staying in Bloomingdale, but rents keep increasing and there are very few services in the community to justify such high rents. Before moving to DC, we lived in West Philadelphia and miss it everyday. When we found Petworth, it reminded us of West Philly…similar housing stock, more people out and about and fun (and useful) independent businesses. We look forward to moving to Petworth and my husband will be teaching the AP english at Calvin Cooliage…so we’ll really get a chance to know the community.

  • Vet info for Kelly.

    Washington Rescue League, located right on North Capitol, a block north from New Hampshire and North Capitol intersection.

    This facility is nonprofit organization, and they treatment is good. I take my dog to them.

  • Re: the vet — it’s out of the way, but we are VERY happy with Union Veterinary Clinic, which is over by Union Station.

  • I’m looking to buy right now, and I’ve shopped in all the areas you mentioned. I kind of fell in love with CH and PW right away, because it seemed like there was a true sense of hope and improvement in the area. You could see old eyesores shutting down, new interesting things coming in, road improvement, etc. There was a greater sense of pride of ownership, I saw less trash in the streets and obvious community activism.

    I agree with everything that dcdirewolf said about Shaw and H Street. And to add my two cents, I’ve explored Eckington, Brookland, Bloomington, and Brentwood, and none offer amenities that are worth the cost. Lousy grocery stores, no restaurants, etc.

    Currently, I’m just holding out for the right house to pop up in CH or Petworth. Fingers crossed that I’ll be dining as a local at Red Rocks by the end of the year…

  • Thanks for all the info. I will be going to the WARL soon to get another dog so it will be a good opportunity to check them out.

    And lest I sound too negative, I really like it here so far. My neighbors are super friendly, I think only 1 bad house causes the alley activity. I think it is neat how people are so forwardly friendly when you walk by. I love Temperance Hall, El Limeno, Domku less, and have even gotten friendly with the ladies at Kilroy cleaners and the Post Office. But I do live on a major intersection which means lots of street traffic that may not represent many residents, and for whatever reason, trash cans are apparently for decorative purposes only.

  • I bought in Shaw about 7 months ago. Its true what dcdirewolf said about cost and size but that is also the trade off for the convenience of living closer to downtown, which was one of my main search requirements. The area is still a little rough around the edges(N.Cap and P) but I am very optimistic about the development that is happening and planned.
    1 vote for Shaw!

  • I looked at Shaw, H St, SW, Columbia Heights, and Petwoth. For me, the right house was the ultimate deciding factor. But, other things that lead me to choose CH were: big back yard, proximity to metro, city’s commitment to the neighbourhood, and ongoing development.

  • We use CityPaws for our cat and I love them. The front desk is usually a bit scattered and disorganized, but Dr. Bowman is awesome and really great with our very-grumpy-when-at-the-vet cat.

    On topic, we moved to Petworth because we had friends living here. we used to live in Mount Pleasant (10+ years ago, before we moved away from DC) and I still love the houses there, but it’s gotten stupidly expensive.

  • Price & Public Transport were two big issues when selecting a home.

  • To be honest, we thought CH and petworth was too far north. (A lot of our friends from VA still think it is way far north – I can make it to downtown in 15 Min on the metro! beat that) The wife & I picked the house first (wood floors, banister is hand carved – really cool) metro and block (quincy st – east of NH). We purchased two + years ago. It was really the neighbors on Quincy St that made our decision. We have grow to love the area we call Petworth. The houses remind me of all the brownstones I could not afford in NYC.

    BTY – POP – I was assuming you are from Manhattan judging by your pictures from the previous posts.

  • Yep, my roots are in NY. I lived briefly in Brooklyn as a child then on to Long Island and now my folks live in Manhattan. You’ll notice I get made fun of for rooting for the Yanks from time to time. But now I try and support the Nationals.

    Back on point I, too, am a huge fan of the relatively big backyards we have in Petworth.

  • I grew up on long guyland as well.

    I used to be a Yankees fan when Don Mattingly played first base, but I am now a Nat’s fan. I also agree about the backyards in petworth

  • We looked in Columbia Heights and H Street NE before buying in Columbia Heights. We really liked both areas because of the variety of people, accessibility to downtown, and cool bars and restaurants. We bought in Columbia Heights because everything we saw around H Street was overpriced.

  • We were originally looking the hardest at Columbia Heights, with a smattering of Petworth, Eckington, and Brookland places as well.

    It’s pretty dumb, but I originally wanted to move to CH to be w/in walking distance of Wonderland (before it got all popular and unbearable)…we were priced out of that neighborhood and ended up rolling through the PW. Our house was considerably cheaper than other options we could afford, but all of the original architectural features in what is now our house sealed the deal for us. Plus, the backyard is great and the street is wide and friendly looking.

    We think we really lucked out with our house, fixer-upper-ness or not.

  • We bought in Shaw because of its proximity to downtown, 14th and U Streets, the metro, and the evident–and imminent–revitalization of ongoing. It seems that just about every week something new and exciting comes to our attention. We also were attracted to the housing stock–I guess our 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath home isn’t huge, but at 2,000 square feet it’s not small, and the front and back yards are just large enough to provide fun chores but not overwhelming to be never-ending projects.

    Anyway, I’m obviously pro-Shaw, but definitely think you’re right in that all of the neighborhoods cited have a commonality in terms of people, challenges, benefits, renewal, community, etc.

    ps – CityPaws on 14th is awesome.

  • I looked in Shaw, Columbia Heights, Takoma Park, and Capitol Hill, plus 2BR condos in Adams Morgan. In Shaw I could only afford tiny houses without much of a yard – I think it’s a great area but the right place never came up. Petworth really appealed to me because people were very friendly, the houses had big yards, and it was the only neighborhood where where I could find a house close to the metro where I could also walk to bars and restaurants. You definitely get a lot more for your money here and I love it.

  • Question for the bunch – a bit off topic…we are considering replacing our old pine floors with brand new hardwood…our house has been renovated but the original banisters, floor, and door remain which I think give it character – BUT the you can see into the basement through the gap in the floors and they’re really in bad condition (and from professional analysis would take a ton of $$ to restore)…what do you think? New floors?

  • If anyone has had new floors put into their house and would like to send a photo I’d be glad to post it for anon’s consideration.

  • The reason you can see in the basement is because these old houses don’t have subfloors, the pine was laid directly on the floor joists — so this shouldn’t be a reason for replacing.

    And putting in a new subfloor is expensive. An alternative would be to lay your new floors over your old which limits the direction you can place your new flooring.

    Community forklift (in Maryland) sells salvaged pine floor boards, so your floor refinisher could just replace the damaged boards and not the whole thing. The old floors really give these houses character!

  • We looked at Shaw, CH, and Petworth, but for us, the ‘Heights won out: I lived at 14th and Monroe back in the scarier days of the ’80s, but even then, the neighborhood left a really favorable impression on me.

    I’m not even sure what the heck my area is called now: East Columbia Heights, probably (georgia/irving-ish). It’s a nice middle ground between Petworth, CH, Howard, all that. And there’s new (local, indie) progress all the time, such as the coffee place at Sherman/Harvard.

    Still need to get up to Domku!

  • 6 long years ago when we moved here, it was based upon the future city plans for the columbia heights/petworth area. The amount of house – 4 finished floors with no real need for renovations, off street parking and a backyard large enough for a patio was all it took. Back then the house was in the low 300s, now I see the same houses selling for 2x that amount! Throw in the arrival of restaurants and bars that we can walk to and pending new developement on Georgia and it becomes clear that Petworth is/was a steal. I tell any and all of my friends who are house shopping that they should give Petworth a good long look! 3 or 4 years from now we will be complaining about traffic and the long waits at Temperance!!

  • We bought our house almost a decade ago. We didn’t care if the neighbors were friendly or not, whether there were restaurants we liked, decent grocery stores or even a bank. Our tastes were Cleveland Park but not our budget. And we needed a house. We paid less than $100,000 for our Petworth rowhouse. Recently, the one next door just sold for 4 times that, as is, even with a gaping hold in one of the bedroom’s ceilings. We have been blessed in Petworth.

  • We looked at CH, Le Droit, & Bloomingdale and picked Bloomingdale. Architecturally, I really do like bay-front rowhouses and really don’t like boxy front-porch “dayhouse” rowhouses. This was in 2003 and most of the nice bay-fronts in CH were moving out of our price-range. Also, we really wanted 4 full floors in order to rent the basement as a separate apt. and still have plenty of good living space.

    I realize gentrification is a loaded word, but I’ll go there anyway. Bloomingdale isn’t gentrifying as fast as would be desirable: still too much crime and too few (decent) retail options. The opening of the NY Ave. metro added convenience, but there’s still a long way to go. Hopefully the surge of daytime federal workers at the ATF bldg. will pump up demand. Progress is glacial.

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