Friday Question of the Day

How do you chose what neighborhood to live in? I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately, wondering how people chose to live in Bloomingdale vs. Petworth or H Street, NE or Mt. Pleasant vs. Columbia Heights or Adams Morgan etc. For me, it came to down price. I was able to get a much nicer place in Petworth than in Columbia Heights where I was originally looking. What sealed the deal for me was that the neighborhood was so close to Columbia Heights, U Street and my place of work at the time. I then discovered all the great attributes of Petworth. So what are the most important issues to you when choosing a neighborhood – proximity to work, nearby friends, close to nightlife, safety, schools, rent/mortgage costs and/or quality of housing stock?

25 Comment

  • For me, proximity to metro and work were at the top of my list. After I broke that down I thought about neighborhood and housing potential. Neighborhood concerns being safety and nitelife. Housing potential concerning prospect for financial growth.

  • I have to agree – you should have “proximity to mass transit” among the choices. It was top on my list of reasons.

  • It would be nice to be able to select multiple options.

  • For me, it was the intangibles that make up the “vibe” of my neighborhood (how’s that for a non-committal answer?). Don’t get me wrong, price was certainly a limiting factor, but I knew that if I could find a place within my (pretty tiny) budget this was where I wanted to live. I’m right on the Mt. Pleasant/Adams Morgan border, with a huge window overlooking Rock Creek Park. My immediate neighborhood is very quiet, tree-lined and family-friendly, but it’s a short walk to wherever I want to go, whether it’s my gym (WSC Columbia Heights), Metro (either CH or WP), Haydee’s, Pfeiffer’s Hardware, or even the nutty Adams Morgan strip (though I’m boycotting Tryst). After a year of living too close to DCUSA for my liking, I love that my immediate neighborhood feels like a neighborhood.

  • For us it was proximity to public transportation and commercial businesses. Our lovely block, however, has just recently become a crime hot spot. Has anyone else been experiencing an increase in crime on their block? It’s very sad.

  • PS we live a stone’s throw from Looking Glass Lounge so be careful when you go there.

  • Price & Mass Transit. Very simple, very real necessities.

  • For me, I wanted to buy a rowhouse and was looking everywhere I thought I could afford one: Shaw, eastern Columbia Heights, Eckington, LeDroit, north of H Street. Also smaller houses in Takoma Park and Brightwood. In Petworth, I found what I didn’t see anywhere else: a house close to metro where I could also walk to businesses (I’m within 2 blocks of Domku, Safeway, the new Yes Organic Market, etc). Everywhere else was either outside my comfort zone for crime, or far from metro, or had no businesses anywhere nearby. I also desperately wanted a yard, and Petworth has way more green space than most of the other places I was looking.

    On the bright side, the crime situation has gotten a lot better in my immediate part of the neighborhood since I moved here, with 2 drug nuisance houses being sold or vacated on my block and the next one over. The recent crime though is very frustrating.

  • We wanted something we could afford, that was big enough for us to grow into when we have a family. Plus we wanted a walkout basement apartment because we brought my mother in to live with us. Access to metro is nice, but we both walk the four miles to downtown for work, so not a necessity. We wanted a quiet street with diverse neighbors. We love our area of “north country” because we are still in the city which makes commuting easier and we can walk to restaurants, but we can escape to our quiet area when we’re tired of city life and noise.

  • Combination of Safety and Proximity to friends, nitelife, transportation.

  • Price was a -big- factor, but proximity to the Green line was at least as important (I’m a grad student at UMD, College Park). We were between the place we settled on on New Hampshire, and a beautiful apartment twice the size up on Longfellow and 16th. In the end the 5 minute walk to the metro won us over.

    Otis Gal: Do you happen to know why half of Otis Pl was taped off Weds. night?

  • while price is certainly a factor, it’s not the only one. i voted “other” b/c what really drew me was proximity to amenities. i was looking in shaw and i ultimately decided on petworth (though my property is technically columbia heights – I consider myself a petworth resident) b/c of it’s proximity to amenities such as grocery, dry cleaners, food establishments etc… none of this exists in shaw.

  • Yeah I gotta say almost all of these factored into my decision. I think safety was near number 1, with proximity to metro/work number 2 (especially important for me, as I’m car-less), neighborhood’s character/amenities number 3 (not an option), price number 4, and nightlife number 5. I rent so quality of housing stock doesn’t really matter, and I’m not having kids anytime soon so schools don’t matter much either.

  • Yes, wednesday night three teens snatched a woman’s purse and in the process pulled her earring out of her ear. Thankfully a weapon was not used but the woman and her friend were frightened to death.

  • wile i would agree that proximity to Metro was at the top of my list, so was “walkability.” i moved from VA and the fact that i can walk out my front door on a saturday morning and walk to anywhere in the city is amazing.

  • I identified a number of “zones” where I was able to get to work in under X minutes (either by walking, metro, or metro bus). Then considered which neighborhood I would, overall, enjoy the most living in. Then I searched for something in my price range. I live in a rowhouse a little north of U street. So my rankings would be: 1. Proxmity to work/mass transit (b/c I do that everyday and didn’t want to make it work worse than it already is), 2. Proxmity to nightlife/neighborhood amenities (b/c I want to enjoy my free time), and 3. Price (b/c, obviously, gotta pay for it).

  • I bought my house based on the price, the fact that I have room to ‘grow’ in it and because of the potential development in my neighborhood, which when (I refuse to believe it’s an ‘if’!) it happens, I’m already in at the bottom.

  • I bought my house because Lil’ Gal said so. The last thing you need is a hoppin’ mad Lil’ Gal on yer case.

  • Work – husband’s office is in Petworth so it was pretty much the only neighborhood we actually considered. After that, the exact location was proximity to metro, grocery store, stuff to do….

    It just worked out that Petworth was a nice place to live and where my husband’s office was located.

  • I chose CH because at the time it was where I could afford the most house, have a reasonable commute, and be close to friends, nightlife (which really didn’t exist here at the time), and “the city.” I’d be disingenuous if I failed also to acknowledge that I assumed I was making a solid investment in a rapidly gentrifying area (this was pre-development).

    I chose to leave CH because I could afford more house, have a still reasonable commute, not be close to the noise, trash, and crime of “the city,” and (eventually) be able to send my kid to public school with a clear conscience. I’d again be disingenuous if I failed to acknowledge that I thought I was making a solid investment buying from desperate sellers in a craptastic housing market.

    So, at some point, the reality was that I had more money, was less willing to put up with sh*t, and cared more about being close to good public schools than bars. But I still cared about getting a deal. In short, I have become my father.

  • Our first choice had always been Petworth; and we put offers on multiple houses (after renting in Mt. P for 2 years), but were outbid or scared off by the results of the home inspection. We then set our sights on Trinidad, but last summer’s crime wave changed our minds. Although, I do have to admit – all the drug dealers we met were quite nice, and I mean that in all sincerity.

    We finally settled on Eckington – with a two minute walk from the Metro. There’s not much within walking distance, and the development there isn’t to my tastes (pretty standard corporate fare), but the neighbors are amazing and we have a dog park one block away. And H St. is actually a quick bike ride away; so I’m looking forward to some summer outings. And it seems like the development right at the New York Ave. stop is the only large-scale construction project around that hasn’t ground to a halt (although admittedly I haven’t been out and about too much).

    My sense is that these crime waves will continue to jump around the city as crews fight over territory and that there’s not a lot we can do about forecasting where and when it will happen.

  • close to metro

  • Markus told me to move here, so i did

  • Anon 1:55pm, loved this:

    “So, at some point, the reality was that I had more money, was less willing to put up with sh*t, and cared more about being close to good public schools than bars. But I still cared about getting a deal. In short, I have become my father.”

  • We made a crazy unreasonable list of demands (under 10 min walk to Metro, sizable yard, pre-renovation, low price, growing space for family, basement apt options) and checked out places in all the above neighborhoods. In the end, we found a place that fit the bill nearly perfectly over in Brookland, where we really only sacrificed the walkable restaurants. But you know, we still eat out (avec l’enfant terrible) more than we can rightly afford, so I guess it’s no big loss. And it seems like the schools are moving to us, so that’s working out well.

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