Dear PoP – How’s the Quality of life in Brightwood?

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“Dear PoP,

I’m a long-time Arlingtonian who’s got a contract on a house in Brightwood. I assume some of your readers live in that neighborhood, and I’d love to see some discussion of their likes/dislikes, and general quality-of-life issues. Are there any community groups that should I look into joining in order to have some say in the improvement of the neighborhood’s quality of life?”

You can find some info from the Brightwood Community Association here. There was also a bit of discussion about Brightwood back in August here when we discussed a GDoN. Any readers who live in Brightwood want to weigh in here?

36 Comment

  • I don’t live in Brightwood, but ill give my general impressions anyway. I think it is a good place to live if you aren’t looking for it to gentrify overnight. It will be a long time before the area maintains some good restaurants and stores. right now you have mcdonalds, the macombo lounge, and a liquor store. It has a lot of intangibles, though. Affordable housing with convenient access to other neighborhoods with a lot of dining and shopping options. You will have less noise than neighborhoods further south, and you are closer to downtown than silver spring, with lower housing costs.

  • why did you choose brightwood over arlington?
    do you think that the quality of life needs improving in brightwood?
    not that i don’t admire the drive to make your world better, but why would you be so quick to jump in to have a say how to change things when you don’t yet know what its like to live there?

    • Why not? While you may the type who likes to sit back and watch the world go by, and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a fact that some people like to be involved in their communities.

  • You have to agree with RD…

    Since you lived in Arlington, VA, it is safe to say (write) you will be disappointed in City living (exspecially in the Brightwood neighborhood.) No metro station, no restaurants, city services on the decline, etc. Sorry to write it. You can lower your expectations.

  • Why did you choose the Brightwood neighborhood without checking it out first and why do you want to join a community group before you’ve even lived here to see what’s it’s like? If you’re just coming in as an investor that wants to flip the house than please stay in Arlington. We’ve had enough of those.

  • Seems a bit late to be asking these questions….

  • I live in Brightwood (well actually Manor Park) and love it. I’ve been here for a bit over a year and a half. I was also coming from a neighborhood with a heck of a lot more going on (Cambridge, MA) so it was a bit of a transition. The Brightwood/Manor Park neighborhoods are pretty sleepy once you get away from Georgia Ave (and you should get away from Georgia Ave). However, I’m loving it. Neighbors are great, everyone knows each other. I usually feel very safe walking around, having the swimming pool and tennis courts at the Takoma rec center is great and there are a few places to eat (Peaches Kitchen, julie’s epanadas, brightwood bistro). That said it is sleepy and you will have to leave the neighborhood to get most things. Transportation is easy though. Driving anywhere is simple and the 62/63 bus lines run through manor park between petworth and takoma and the bus lines on georgia and 16th are great. Find myself spending a lot of time in Takoma, both the DC and maryland side. 3 grocery stores within 10 minutes (safeway on piney branch, whole foods and giant in silver spring). It’s an older community and probably won’t change that much. However I have noticed that most of the houses for sale are being bought by younger couples buying their first house who want to stay in the city but want more house for their money. All in all I love it, but you should know what you’re getting into. It will never be a hot neighborhood. And I’m ok with that.

  • This is typical DC, where almost everyone (who are probably mostly from elsewhere themselves) jumps on this person because they’re from Arlington, instead of actually answering the question. You all must be proud of yourselves and you make our city look so friendly.

  • 8 responses, and only two actually answer the poster’s question. Snark-tastic!

    • meh. i asked sincere questions.
      the answers could have directed the information about community groups i would suggest.

  • The responses are especially funny because many neighborhoods in Arlington are far more urban than Brightwood, which is quite suburban in character once you get away from Georgia Ave.

  • I live about two blocks from Brightwood and I have to say it is okay, but not amazing. You are far from a metro, but close to major bus lines. There is little shopping (grocery or retail) to speak of. The area is nice and quiet, I just think a car is a must.

  • Welcome to the neighborhood! My husband and I bought a house in Brightwood about 3 years ago after living in a condo in Dupont Circle for 5 years. Overall, we really like living in Brightwood. Things we like: our really friendly neighbors, pretty decent transportation (especially since they put in the S9 bus), no problems with parking, not much crime, easy access to Safeway & Takoma farmers market, and I love the Takoma library. Things we miss from Dupont Circle: restaurants and bars, being able to walk to work. We tend to do most of our shopping and eating out in Silver Spring, which is an easy drive. I’d be happy to answer any other questions you have.

  • check out brightwood living’s blog as well…

    it’s great

  • I think that the somewhat sleepy, suburban-style living is what makes Brightwood attractive, though I don’t live there. You can have a house with a yard, and parking, yet you’re still very convenient to the rest of DC. Between access to Columbia Heights and Silver Spring, it is very convenient. Seems like pretty good living, whenever I visit.

  • I live in Brightwood (between 16th and Georgia) and we bought last summer. My husband and I also moved up from a Logan circle condo and it was basically because we didn’t want to leave the city but wanted a free standing house with a yard and a garage (that didn’t cost a million dollars). Call us crazy. Obviously we have sacrificed being able to walk to bars, restaurants, and metro (though it is walkable from our house, its just a longer trek). What we get in return besides having a single family detached home with a yard and 4 floors? Amazing neighbors who all participate in a block club, nights so quiet you can hear crickets, tons of street parking (though you’ll most likely have a garage/driveway) and a great quality of life while still living in DC. I have no problem or concerns walking my dogs in the very early AM or even at night.
    I will second the comment that it is mostly an older neighborhood who have lived there for a very long time. We are by far the youngest and the last neighbor to move in before us on our street was 11 years ago. I’ve been keeping tabs on houses for sale in the neighborhood and it appears that most houses are selling to younger couples.

    There is the Georgia Ave makeover that who knows will ever happen (near Military/Missouri). The Safeway is decent. Brightwood bistro is good but very slow service. Its about equal distant to Silver Spring and Chevy Chase shopping area, with a car lots of dining/shopping options.

    Its also closer to 495 so that makes life better too especially if you’re traveling to NY, etc.

    What part of Brightwood are you moving too. Much like DC a block can make a substantial difference on QofLife.

  • And, I’ll second Eric in Ledroit’s comments, its a great blog I just wish she would post more often. (Are you listening Brightwoodliving??)

  • As someone who’s been looking at the Brightwood neighborhood as a possibility of buying within the next year, this post is timed perfectly. Thanks for all the good information so far!

  • no, i’m not the type to sit back. i’m pretty involved and have been for a long time.
    i was simply asking your thoughts.

  • I lived in the apt building on Longfellow nxt to the Auto-zone for 2 years until last summer. Overall I was pretty happy. If you smile and talk to people in that neighborhood, they’ll do the same. It’s a nice area to walk the dog or walk yourself. Definitely check out the Emory Rec center, the park right next to it and the fort stanton park. I had zero problems with crime in the two yrs I was there.

  • Thanks for the compliments on my blog! I hear you, and will definetly post more often now that the holidays are over.

  • Welcome to Brightwood.

    I live with my wife and four kids in the 16th street area of Brightwood. We moved to be closer to work (we lived in Bmore county before). What we like most is the mix of city and nature that you can’t get everywhere. From my end Takoma Metro is to long to be a practical walk (22minutes) but I make it from time to time. We are right next to Rock Creek Park so we enjoy the view every day and ride bikes or walk there when we can.

    What is nice are the buses down 16th, 14th and Georgia that I use to get to work when I don’t bike in. You will use a car more than in Dupont, Columbia heights or parts of Arlington but when you do things are very convinient compared to a real suburb.
    I can be to Safeway in 2 minutes, one school is 3 minutes,
    the other is 10 minutes (tenleytown area),
    church is 3 minutes,
    if we must, silver spring is bikeable and 5 minutes by car.
    CH is 11 minutes by car or 15 by bus
    Friendship Heights is 8 minutes by car.

    Really its a nice mix of city and suburbs, deer eat my plants and the bus is 100 feet away.

    Most of all the neighboors are really nice people and a big reason I won’t leave. I could have chosen to live anywhere in DC/Bethesda/Arlington but chose Brightwood

    Hope you like it to

  • Look, fellas, I’m truly sorry if I’ve ruffled any feathers. I was just trying to be constructive and helpful. Anyway, welcome to the neighborhood, new neighbor, and I hope you feel at home. I’m a native Northern Virginian myself, born ‘n raised in Fairfax City.

  • I live east of Brightwood (just north of Fort Totten metro), I think people call our neighborhood South Manor Park… anyhoo, love it! Cute stand alone houses, big yards, GREAT neighbors, quiet streets, and public transportation (bus and rail) from Ft Totten are fantastic. There are no good restaurant options that are nearby but there are significant development plans in the works that will hopefully bring in soemthing good.

  • Thanks to PoP for posting my e-mail, and thanks to all of you who’ve responded with helpful info!

    The move to Brightwood from Arlington is mostly about space in terms of bang-for-your-buck…I have a tiny condo about a 20 minute walk from the Ballston Metro. The house in Brightwood is affordable to me (while a house its size in Arlington is not).

    I’m an avid cyclist and get most places by bike. I’m not concerned about living near bars/restaurants (though the Georgia Ave. Great Streets initiative will be awesome if it ever truly happens), and I have no burning desire to try to turn Brightwood into Columbia Heights (which won’t happen anyway, since it’s not Right On Top of a Metro).

    My concerns are that the house I’m looking at is just a block and a half off of Georgia (near where Georgia and Missouri intersect), to the east side going toward Takoma. I’m a single woman with a dog to walk, and I’d prefer not to get hassled. I’d love to hear from residents about their experiences on/near GA Ave. (though I feel like many of you will tell me to stay away from it, as hcfoo22 said above).

  • Brightwood is on the verge. The Curtis Chevrolet complex will go high-density condo on the next market upturn. It just missed being developed during the Bubble, but it was a little late. Combine that density with the long range plans for Walter Reed, and all of a sudden you have a huge influx of residents, density, disposable income, and reason for restaurants and bars to discover Brightwood. It will happen; maybe 10 years.

    Brightwood is strategically located for getting across town via Military Road, which is a huge plus. You could probably drive to Comet Ping Pong or Politics and Prose as fast as it takes a Buckingham Arlingtonian to drive to Lost Dog.

  • OQA – Welcome to the neighborhood. From the sounds of it you will be fine where you are looking. If your dog is decent sized, I doubt you will be hassled while walking it…they are sort of hassle repellent. Since you don’t have expectations of instant gratification with respect to shopping, transity, drinking establishments, you are perfect for the neighborhood. Wander around, meet your neighborrs and enjoy!

    • Thanks for the welcome!

      The dog is just medium-sized, so not exactly ferocious-looking (unfortunately!).

  • @Original Question-Asker, now your inquiry makes more sense. I have lived in Brightwood a little over 16 years and fortunately it has remained a quiet neighboorhood off the radar. I actually rarely have to venture onto Georgia Avenue except to hit the MickeyD’s up past Walter Reed or go to the CVS and the Safeway at Piney Branch. I hear about crimes from neighbors, the mailman, the gas station attendent, etc. but have not been affected by it so far. Neighbors are friendly and will look out for you. Just don’t go walking mindlessly around with your headphones in your ear and don’t leave the windows to your house open or stuff in your car that someone can see. That is just an invitation for trouble. There are plenty of places for your dog to run around. Try the Emery park/recreation complex at Madison & Georgia and there’s also the Takoma Rec Center at 300 Van Buren Street. There an olympic size swimming pool at Takoma. I don’t know if Emery has one. Silver Spring is just 15 minutes away if you want a sit down restaurant or catch a movie or buy stuff. The Takoma Farmer’s Market at Carroll & Laurel avenues every sun from 10-2 is wonderful but dogs are not allowed for health reasons. I hope this was helpful.

  • I ditto what everyone says about Brightwood (and ditto it for Petworth). Neighbors are (generally) great and it’s quiet.

    The biggest downside is that if your transition to the “wonderful life” also includes kids in the next few years DCPS and charter schools just aren’t up for the task. Like most people we bought here because we wanted a house in the city and don’t have millions of dollars. And while I have no trouble with my kid growing up on our street we cannot possibly afford private school in DC and the schools here are, frankly, worse than you can imagine. Sadly, we’ll have to move in the next few years.

  • Welcome to the neighborhood! I’m a single woman in her 20s who moved to the neighborhood almost 4 years ago (near the 14th and Colorado bus waiting area), and have to say that I really like it. I ventured over to Georgia Ave a few times when I first moved here, trying to patronize some of the nicer shops there (the old pink wings place, the ice cream store), but have to say that I got so many stares and comments from men loitering around that I stopped. There are a few great restaurants on Georgia (Moroni Bros and Fusion!) and I think you’d be fine biking there, but I wouldn’t walk it. West of Georgia to Rock Creek is lovely and completely different, and the bus system is super convenient. I come home at all hours for work and have never had a problem.

  • We live over near 1st and Longfellow. I take the bus to 16th street and walk Kennedy or Longfellow to 1st. I don’t get hassled but I wouldn’t feel comfortable walking after dark (i.e. I metro in the winter). We do love the neighborhoody-ness of it all and the quiet calm at night.

  • @Annony
    Take a closer look. Not all DC schools are the same and Charters offer some options. I have kids at a charter and a DCPS (both elementary). Its not perfect but we are doing well so far. Also, compare to where you might move in the county. If you can’t afford private school from Petworth/brightwood area or a home in boundary for a good DC public school you might have trouble with a house in the parts of Montgomery with the best schools.

  • Lee: Appriciate what you are saying, but comperable neighborhoods in Montgomery County completely blow DCPS and charters out of the water. Charters simply aren’t performing much better than DCPS schools. The numbers just don’t lie. Frankly, you can’t take a population that is 85-90% disadvangaged and, simply because you herd them into a different school, expect different results. I am a grauduate of an urban school district and I am (painfully) aware of the failings that effect me to this day. Maybe at some point a critical mass of middle-class families will move back to DC and that will positively effect the schools system, but until then I’m not experimenting with my children. You may have a different perspective, but unless you somehow rig a place at the Oyster School, or west of the park, I don’t think there is any way a person can be straight-faced about calling DCPS or charters comperable to Montgomery County (or just about anywhere else).

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