Give Advice To a Single Woman Moving to DC From Michigan

A reader is moving to DC soon and is looking for a safe place to live for maximum $1500 a month. She will need to get to the Union Station Metro. So what’s your advice? Is it worth it to live in our neighborhoods on the Green Line or is that too much of a pain in the ass to get to Union Station? Would you recommend someone moving here from out of town look into smaller buildings or homes or would it better and feel safer in a big apartment building? She’s been looking at CityPaper, the Post, and Craig’s List, anywhere else she should look?

25 Comment

  • The green to red commute isn’t that bad if you transfer at Totten. China town is becoming crowded. Ft. Totten — outside of extreme weather — can be nice.

  • Fort Totten Metro Station has access to Red, Green, and Yellow — Red will bring you directly to Union Station. There are apartments there starting at 1100 up to 1800 or so. I am considering moving there and I live with some friends in the area currently.

    1100 a month is a decent value for a 1 bedroom in the area. But if you are cool with living with others there are houses in the area that rent pretty cheap and could make your rent ~800 a month with other roommates

  • I guess it depends on how “in the middle of it” you want to be…personally, I like being close to everything but not necessarily right up in it. I’m in Brookland, which I love and works for my style. You can get a lot for your money in Brookland, and there are lots of smaller apartment buildings and basements for rent. It’s not Super Trendy, but it’s quiet and safe and you’re very close to just about everything. I’m a $15 cab ride from everything in the city, or I hop on metro. Ten minutes to Union Station. If I don’t feel like traveling, there’s plenty of places to grab a bite and beer on 12th St. NE.

  • Well, I love our neighborhood, but there are probably more convenient and safe options. I lived in nice old building at Connecticut and Nebraska for a year in a huge one bedroom apartment with a screened-in porch for $1450 including all utilities except electricity. If you don’t need to live in a completely modern building with a fancy kitchen there are decent deals all around the city in good neighborhoods. The neighborhood there wasn’t exciting but very convenient for bus, metro and even walking to some places.

  • i’d live on the hill.

  • Check out for great apartment options throught NW and SW DC!

  • Definintely live in a big apartment building. As much as it sucks to not have a yard, you really aren’t safe in a house.

    I used to live in a quiet DC neighborhood, in a rowhouse that had heavy bars all the windows and doors, deadbolts that we always kept locked, a tall fence around the backyard, and an alarm system. Yet someone still broke in. After that happened, we felt totally vulnerable– the crackheads started hanging out in our yard and were always lurking around. One of them flashed a gun at us when we went back to get what remained of our belongings. Of course the police are completely useless when it comes to things like this.

    It’s good that you have $1500 a month to work with. You can definitely get something that’s safe and in a decent neighborhood for that price, especially if you’re willing to live in a studio or with a roommate.

  • I’d probably live in Mt. Pleasant, Adams Morgan, or Woodley Park, with the intent on using the Woodley Metro.

  • C, Where did you live?

  • If the budget is firm, I’d say look for some of the English basement/in-law units in homes in Capitol Hill. These private homeowners have the most flexibility as landlords and, in my experience, will work with you on rent if you’re a desirable tenant (good rental history, reliable income, plan to stay more than the length of a Hill internship and/or school semester). Craigslist is probably the best bet for these. But the Green Line neighborhoods aren’t bad, either. Columbia Heights to Union Station is probably 25 minutes total commute during peak hours when trains run frequently. I spend that much time on my short, door-to-door bus ride 2 miles down 14th Street every day.

  • Cleveland Park, more specifically, the Quebec House Apartments. You’re only one block to the red line and the rent is about 1500 a month. That includes an unreserved parking spot, ALL utilities, and a 24 hour Concierge. The building is fine and it has free gym as well. The neighborhood is also great. It has already arrived and it isn’t in transition.

  • Woodey and/or Cleveland Park… Maybe Capitol Hill.

  • I’d second the suggestions from something along Conn Ave from Dupont metro up thru Van Ness metro. A single person can definitely find a safe place to live by themself right on the red line for 1500 or less. Whether it’s an efficiency or a 1-bedroom will depend.

  • Ooo! Where in Michigan? That’s my homestate…
    That being said, I think she would like Dupont (some good studios for that price) up to Cleveland Park. If, of course, she wants to be in the “middle” of it all.
    I think that for her first year in DC, at least, a larger building would feel more comfortable, and there are definitely some good ones in those areas. Plus, it would be a very easy commute, and those central locations would be good for her to get a feel for the city, before deciding to move elsewhere.
    If looking at large buildings, the best bet is to just walk around and go in a few (if possible) or call directly. Craigslist/etc. wouldn’t have those listed.

  • For $1500 your choice is probably a nice 1BR in an established neighborhood or maybe 2BR in a more transitional area. I’ve had less problems w/ crime in Petworth than anywhere else I’ve lived in DC (I’ve had car break-ins in Dupont Circle, Mt. Pleasant, and Adams Morgan). But if you are new to city life and will be living alone, you’ll probably be happiest in a very walkable neighborhood. I think Petworth is a great place to buy your first home, but maybe not the best to rent your first apartment. The Lanier Heights section of Adams Morgan (north of Columbia Rd, south of Mt. Pleasant) has a lot of well priced apartments in great 1920s buildings. Harvard Hall, Harvard Village, Chalfonte, many more I can’t remember…

  • Thank you for all this advice! I live in Lansing, Michigan presently. You have given me lots of ideas to think about. I’ll be visiting DC in April so I will walk some of these areas and look around. I like the idea of a safe, older place in a walkable neighborhood – I’ll have to think about a home vs an apartment building. I’m looking forward to more responses. Thanks again.

  • i would suggest to live on the red line….capitol hill,tenleytown, cleveland park, woodley park. if her max is 1500, she can find something decent in those areas.

  • i’m 5 minutes from union station, right near the old children’s museum (two houses away, actually).

    there’s a whole house on parker street that is renting for $1,700 a month. two bedrooms, very nice street, and with really cool/funky professionals living there.

    oh, and a back yard you could use for parking if you wanted to.

    if anyone is interested i’ll get details. it was built in 1890, fwiw, and is a hop away from all the cool h street stuff, and the new harris teeter that will be opening in the next year and a half in NoMa.

    it’s been on the market for over a month, so bartering $1500 might just work. TRUST ME, you don’t want to jump around stations in DC, especially during tourist season. as we all know it totally sucks.

  • Try Silver Spring! I lived there and worked at Union Station for a few years and the commute was 35 minutes door to door. It’s quite nice there.

  • @ poo poo

    I’m looking for a place near H, and from your description, I am very interested

  • I currently live at the Paramount (829 Quincy) which is by the Petworth metro. It’s an easy commute to Union Station either via Ft. Totten or Gallery Place

  • Heck no to Petworth. Are you trying to scare this person back to Midwest? Stay in the nicer parts of DC, specifically the NW part of the Redline. Cleveland Park is excellent. It’s bustling and has a movie theater, cafes, grocery stores, post office, library, shopping, and it is near the bars and clubs in Adams Morgan. Plus the zoo is nearby.

  • check the Hill listings from Yarmouth rentals. I’ve been living in SE on the Hill in a split-level basement for 5+ years now (W/D, dishwasher, working fireplace, a REAL one bedroom), not even 10 min walk to potomac ave/new harris teeters (whenever that finally opens) and I can walk to work down the Hill in 35 mins. Easy walk to eastern market, plenty of street parking. since i got in when the area was still a bit iffy, i’m still only paying $900/mo +electric even with yearly rent increases. i doubt you would find something that price in the sweet spots on the hill anymore, but for $1500 you’ll definintely find a good listing if you sign up for their daily emails and they have rentals on the other side of the Hill in NE, near union station/NY Ave/etc. they’ve been nice landlords, a little mom & pop sometimes when there’s been a big issue and it can take them awhile, but basically they leave me alone and fix things quickly when i ask. its no granite countertop/stainless steel luxury type apt, but it is pretty spacious for what it is and safe. i’ve gone the craigslist route too over the years but that never seemed to work out & was a huge waste of my time.

  • Definintely live in a big apartment building. As much as it sucks to not have a yard, you really aren’t safe in a house.

    Who’s to say you’ll be safer in an apartment complex? Nothing’s guaranteed.

    I wouldn’t write off living in a basement apartment because of one bad incident. I’ve lived in basement apartments throughout the past few years, and loved them. They tend to have more deals than an apartment complex has: your own security alarm (or at least one in the house), wireless and cable included, all utilities included, and so forth.

    The only thing you can do is have good street smarts, lock your doors and windows, and be careful. Even if you’re the safest person on the planet there’s no guarantee that some dumb idiot won’t break in. But you can’t sit and worry about the “what ifs.” You’ve gotta live in the present.

  • I really like the idea of the emails from Yarmouth. I have signed up for those. Now, I am just waiting for my new place of employment to give me a contract to sign and I’ll have lots of ideas, thanks to all of you, for where to live. Thanks all – I appreciate it!

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