Random Reader and/or Revel

dc_neighborhood_news
Photo by PoPville flickr user jacquesofalltrades

You can talk about whatever is on your mind – quality of life issues, a beautiful tree you spotted, scuttlebutt, or any random questions/thoughts you may have. But please no personal attacks and no need to correct people’s grammar. This is a place to vent and/or celebrate things about daily life in DC.

168 Comment

  • Rave: They are actually going to build this: http://www.burnhamplace.com/index.html

    • Source?

      • Email sent to all the offices in my building at the corner of first and K NE:

        Brookfield would like to share the following link. Union Station will be undergoing a major redevelopment project starting this year.

        Property Management will be working closely with the NoMa Bid regarding pertinent information that will be shared with the tenants.

        Good things happening in our neighborhood!

        http://www.burnhamplace.com

  • Rant: When Pandora gives you some crap song (Taylor Swift, Rihanna), but your hands are full and you can’t get to your phone to skip or thumbs-down. So you have to listen to crap.

  • Rave: Finally eligible for an upgrade! Goodbye, shitty Blackberry Bold! What do folks think of the iPhone 5?

    • This is like trading in your Ford Pinto to upgrade to a Porsche 911. It feels fast, sexy, and sleek. In other words, you’ll love it.

      • Awesome, I’m so excited! I tend to hold onto phones for a long time (if you can’t tell) so I want to make sure whatever I get is something I’ll be happy with for a few years.

    • Heavy, blocky, and total theif-bait. Never hear about someone getting their Samsung snatched! (Love my Galaxy.)

      • Oh god, not the fanboy back and forth nonsense again. Look at some reviews and get whatever phone works best for your needs.

        • FWIW “for/suits my needs” is oft ridiculed as a catchphrase for those struggling to justify Android purchases in spite of Apple.

          • Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me. I have an iphone and I like it a lot. I was also considering a samsung model, and I think I would’ve been just as happy with that. I just wanted something that was a reasonable price, had a decent camera, would hold my music and fit in my pocket. When I was reading reviews and things, it was nuts how worked up people got over phone brands. I just couldn’t wrap my head around why people were so invested! It definitely got old fast.

      • My girlfriend has the Galaxy SIII so I’ve played with it a little, but I hate how big it is. I have small hands and it’s difficult to hold for a normal phone call. So I think I’ve ruled that one out.

      • I wish someone would take my crappy Samsung. No, it’s not new…but after my experience with this POS Galaxy, I’m never getting another Samsung again. grumble grumble.

        • I HATE my Galaxy S3. I think a lot of the problem is the crap TMobile puts on it that I can’t get rid of. But, if anyone wants mine I’ll gladly sell it, it’s 7 months old. I miss my HTC phones, I wish I had waited for the HTC One. I had the G1 and the G2 and I loved them both.

          • Root that mofo! Seriously, there is NO reason to put up with the junkware that comes on phones. I’m the small-handed ladyperson who has been recommending my SIII, and will freely admit that all my affection for it is post-root.
            Can’t do that on an iPhone. That’s my main beef with Apple products: not the hype, but the proprietary locked-down nature of their programming.

    • Lots of buzz about Apple’s decline and Samsung’s ascent (I am an iPhone owner, just fyi)

      • I’m leaning towards Apple because:
        1. Size is better
        2. More apps and better apps
        3. Slightly faster download speeds on the AT&T network
        4. I’m a photographer and the camera seems pretty good for situations where I don’t have my SLR on me

        But I’m open to arguments in favor of Samsung. The SIII is $100 cheaper, and it would be compatible with chargers I already have, so those are pluses.

        • I’ll weigh in for the SIII, wrt size: It is a little wider, but it is MUCH slimmer. Fits comfortably in the buttpocket of my snuggest jeans. And my little ladyhands got used to the width. I am in the habit of using a headset for calls, so that helps.

          • Thanks. I don’t care too much about slimness and would rather have something I can hold easily!

    • I just got a HTC One, love it. friends with iPhones have “screenis envy” (mine’s bigger) after years of bragging…

      The HTC one is much more solidly built than the S4 and it cost 100$+ less than the S4, but I wish the phone came in black. Afterall, it’s just a phone though, but I’m amazed that it can also be used as a TV remote.

      • I love my HTC One, as well. I like the bigger screen, the camera is better than on my previous iphone (though I’m definitely no expert on what kind of camera the iphone 5 has), and it’s slimmer. The only negative is that there’s one app I like that’s not yet available on Android (Poshmark), but I’m hoping it will be soon.

    • I recently upgraded to the iPhone 5 from a droid and I’m glad I picked the iPhone. I was REALLY hesitant since I hate the hype & people obsessed with apple products, but it is a really great phone. I was thinking of going the Samsung Galaxy route as well, but decided it was too big of a phone for me. Only annoying thing is having to buy all new chargers, oh and I miss the notification light and time stamps on text messages.

      • Thanks for the weigh-in. I’m turned off by the hype too, plus my only Apple product (one of their first iPods) was such a poorly designed piece of crap that I swore I would never buy Apple again… but times have changes and the iPhone seems like it will suit my needs the best.

    • If you decide to go Apple, if at all possible wait until Apple announces its next model – which will probably be the 5s – later this year. Even if you don’t want the top model you will pay less for the 5.

      • That’s always the case, isn’t it? But I’m so sick of this Blackberry, which I’ve had for about 4 years now… I don’t really feel like waiting.

  • Emilie504

    Rant: the term client, so ambiguous.

    Rave: Doves still chilling in my flower pot. The cat knows they are there somewhere, but can’t figure out where. She is too stupid to look up.

  • Rant: Please get off buses through the back entrance! It makes the whole process faster and easier for both who board and get off. Obviously if you’re right up front, are handicapped, or need the bus to kneel this doesn’t apply. But THAT guy who has to get off up front when he was sitting in the back drives me nuts.

    Also, if you’re adding cash to your card on the bus, can’t you
    Be courteous and be the last one on so you’re not holding a whole line up and the bus can start moving?

    • I completely agree about adding money. People have no bus ettiquete.

      • It seems to be the case on the 70 route, that if you take too long to add money, the driver will just wave you on in order to keep on schedule. At least that’s what I’m guessing to be the reason. It’s a good way to ride for free.

      • I wouldn’t just limit that statement to buses.

  • Rave: Steve Earle — who is one Washington-wired redneck, btw, hanging out with David Korn before the show, and talking about how Pat Leahy called to apologize that he couldn’t make it.

    Rant: Tired from 5:30 workouts and trying hard to stay nearly sober. A little more awake and a little less sober would have made the show even better.

    Concern: Steve Earle this week, Hayes Carll last week, listening to a lot of Robert Earl Keene and James McMurtrey lately — is it possible that I could be turning into a Texan? Jesus — I already feel the need for a loaded handgun.

    Or will my neck just turn a sort of urbane shade of red?

    • Emilie504

      lol I think we need to talk about your footwear to decide if you are turning Texan or your neck is just changing colors ;)

    • If you think Steve Earle is a redneck, you either don’t know enough about Steve Earle or you don’t know many rednecks. Or both.

      • Born in a small town in Texas (beaten up by “square-headed cowboys named Otto”), talks longingly of his (now divested) gun collection, sings about bootleggers with an accent and employs a fiddler and pedal steel guitarist. Close enough to “redneck” for rhetorical purposes, despite the sophistication of his lyrics, the leftism of his politics and his current Manhattan residence. We’re not publishing a paper in a major sociology journal here. ;)

        But I’m curious to hear your more precise definition.

        @Emmaleigh — I do have an aging pair of (black) lizard-skin boots stuck in a closet somewhere, but they’re pointy-toed rather that the round toe that Texans are reputed to prefer.

    • There are a wide array of folks who enjoy Earle/Keen/McMurtry/Carll, and certainly not just rednecks (of course, my definition of the term may be much narrower than yours). That’s just damn fine music.

      If you start listening more to Toby Keith, Montgomery Gentry, and such, then you should start to worry.

      • Agreed, damn fine music.

        Robert Earl Keene makes any roadtrip better. My exroommate and I call each other every christmas just to sing “Merry Christmas From the Family” to each other.

  • Rant: It doesn’t pay to be chivalrous… When getting on an elevator, I always let ladies on first, but 8 in line to get on pack the elevator and I miss the ride. Woe is me. Also, people who get on knowing they are going to a lower floor than me always stand in the back, making me have to move over in a crowded elevator for them to get on.

    Rant: Overtime pay delays.

    Rave: My problems are insignificant when compared to those of many others, and I know I’m very lucky in life.

    • Emilie504

      This post on another blog may help you navigate elevators and etiquette more easily: http://reggiedarling.blogspot.com/2013/04/reggies-rules-for-considerate.html

    • Chivalry and elevators are not a good mix in my experience. I prefer the “first come first served” basis in this case.

      • I can’t! It’s embedded into my DNA… I blame my dad because he used to always correct me on how to address people and be polite, even though he was one of the most impolite people I know… *sniff*

        • Ha ha. I know what you mean, I was raised the same way. But I’ve come to realize that there are times when chivalry just kind of makes things way more complicated than they need to be for no reason.

        • I tend towards traditional etiquette, but I think that “ladies first” on an elevator in a work situation might be a tad archaic. At any rate, because I’m one of the few in my building who wears a suit to work — and because I’m always walking like I’m late to a meeting — people are alarmingly apt to give me the “you first” pause when getting on or off, apparently under the mistaken impression that I’m someone “important.”

          • I wear a shirt & tie to work. I am surrounded by so many self-serving and arrogant a-holes I feel like it’s important o hang onto my sanity and be nice to people. I’m not anywhere near a power puff to people, but I always want to preserve a bit of chivalry in my life for those who deserve it. I’m just more-so a bit frustrated by how far people can stretch being rude, arrogant, and inconsiderate in life… :)

        • pablo .raw

          I was also raised in that way and I open doors, offer my seat, etc. What is confusing is to know that for some people that may be offensive and I get why. But I still do it.

          • Emilie504

            This reminds me of when I spent a year way up north in a nice midwestern town. I kept having doors slammed in my face because I was used to being in the South where people, especially men, will hold the door open for those behind them or even open the door for others and then enter. That never happened in this town unless I got to the door first. I would hold it open and people would stare at me like I had grown another head. I didn’t last long in that god forsaken place.

          • Ahhh Emmaleigh, you story makes me laugh.

            Growing up in the midwest, you did not hold the door for any female in my family simply because they are females.

            “I’ve got arms, I can get the damn door myself.”
            “I birthed 10 children, I can handle opening the damn door.”

            Now, if you did not hold the door for those in need (elderly, children, arms full etc.) then you were rude, but that applied to everyone – not “men being chivalrous”.

          • Emilie504

            I don’t think doors should be held open for just women, though that tends to be the standard for the chivalrous types. It’s just nice to hold the door for people, all people, like Irving Streete said some where else on this thread.

          • I work with a lot of older conservative men, so I’m used to being let off the elevator first and having doors held open for me. I happen to like the practice; it makes things less confusing and it’s a nice gesture. Us women make less money than our male counterparts, so the least they can do is hold open doors for us. ;)

    • I know many women who would find this kind of “chivalry” sexist.

      • Per this and jack’s legitimate “sanity” concerns, I’d suggest that letting anyone, lady or gentleman, be first in or out of the elevator without regard to sex serves the purposes of etiquette and mental health without raising hackles regarding the social and economic structures that undergirded Emily Post’s Gilded Age advice.

        In social — and especially romantic — situations, of course, old school is appropriate, as long as it does not extend to preventing the lady from picking up the gentleman’s check.

      • I’ve never heard any complaints. If they have an issue with it they can simply wait for the next elevator, but they never do.

        I don’t hold my hand out for them or anything to go first.

    • Not an elevator etiquette story but a story that happened while I was waiting for the elevator over the weekend: I was waiting for the elevator in Bethesda, blissfully alone, when a group of young-to-mid DRUNK 20′somethings wanders up. One of the guys walks to the corner, which is approx. 3 feet behind me, says, “Don’t turn around lady,” and takes a piss right on the wall. REALLY? I MEAN, REALLY? The damn bathroom is less than 10 feet away but just because you’re drunk it’s okay for you to piss on the WALL? I was too tired at the time to do anything but I should have left immediately to get the station manager.

      • Emilie504

        Who might not have done anything. I was at King St at rush hour 1 afternoon when the station manager comes running out to tell some guy not to piss on the newspaper boxes in front of the station. The guy said, “aw man, I gotta go,” as he’s pissing in full view of me & all the other commuters. The station manger just turned and went back to his booth.

  • Does anyone know of a good salon in DC to go to for a good haircut and also that does the Keratin Treatment that does not cost an arm and leg?

    • I’ve been going to Gina (the owner) at Blondie’s for years – its on 18th and T, NW. They charge about 60 dollars for a haircut, which I think is reasonable, but I can’t speak to their keratin treatment.

  • RANT: Despite a recent promotion (I’m now at $100K), I still need more money if I ever want to buy a decent apartment in DC or even a car. Even a $350K apartment seems wildly out of reach (I hate my high student loan payments). Anyone have any career advice for transitioning from a policy-making position with a financial regulator into the private sector? What are my exit options? Lobbying? I don’t even really know where to begin my search. I’m young (31), single, no kids. I like my job (lots of flexibility, amazing benefits, tons of time off), but I feel like this is the time I should be working my ass off and making as much money as I can to secure a future for myself/future family. This job would be perfect for me in 10 years, when I’m looking to slow down. Unfortunately, the pay is just too low to accomplish my medium-term goals.

    #firstworldproblems

    • I understand completely, but man, you’re opening a can of worms with those statements. Unfortunately I’m in no place to offer career advice (I’m 30, and an electrical engineer making $70k with an MS and 8 years of experience).

      • Eh, it’s not like I’m making these statements while living in Cincinnati. Then I’d be completely idiotic. DC is crazy expensive and $100K doesn’t go far in this town, especially when student loans are hitting me at $600/month.

        • Hey, I agree with you. But just yesterday someone on these forums accused me of having financial management issues because I chose to move out to the suburbs to save money for a house.

          • Well they’re the idiots, not you. If you’re saving money by moving out to the ‘burbs, I’m not sure how you can be ‘fiscally irresponsible’!

          • Because I save as much paying 2-3 times as much to rent in DC, apparently.

          • Meant to say, “couldn’t save as much”!

        • have you consolidated/refinanced them?

          • Yup, they are consolidated through the Direct Student Loan program with the federal government. They are at a stupidly low interest rate.

    • Not true. My husband and I are buying a 2br condo in a desirable building in Dupont circle on just his salary which is around yours. Just save like a crazy person for a down payment (ours will only be 10%) and you can totally do it. I find that a lot of people live a lifestyle that they think is pared down but actually isn’t. We don’t have a car, don’t take nice vacations, and my wardrobe isn’t great, but it was a priority for us to start a family and this opportunity to buy kind of fell in our lap. I’m glad we’re in a position to take it.

      • Thanks for the advice and you make very good points. I’m glad I don’t have a car! That would make it even harder to save. What’s killing me are the student loan payments and having a girlfriend who is in grad school (hence, she has very little money/is too proud to take money from her well-off parents). I think I need to readjust her expectations of how often we can go out to dinner, bars, shows, etc. It ends up with me paying for her 85% of the time. I’d probably be more of hermit and spend a lot less, if I wasn’t dating her.

        • um….yes, don’t shower her with expensive nights out at only your expense. It sets a bad path if you take your relationship further. Even if she’s on a fixed income, she should offer to chip in or think of less expensive activities for you to do together. That’s a no brainer.

        • Sounds like you need to have a talk with her about that. And maybe you should work on paying off your loans first; I’m not sure you’ll qualify for a home loan with outstanding debt.

          • If one didn’t qualify for a mortgage due to outstanding student loans, I think a huge chunk of buyers out there (esp. in DC) would have been SOL. Don’t think it’s that big of an issue.

          • Yeah, I’m sure more than 80% of DC’s professionals would never be able to buy a place.

            From what I understand, it’s all about your debt-to-income ratio. That is, your total monthly debt service can only be XX% of your monthly take-home pay in order to get a loan for $XXX,XXX.

          • It actually helps to have some outstanding debt. We didn’t have any and we had to get a non-conventional loan because the lenders didn’t trust that we could make payments.

    • Why would anybody want the headache of a car if you don’t need it? Just buy someplace small, centrally located and you’ll be living the life.

    • I hate to break it to you, but I bought my first condo at age 27 when I was a GS 9. It’s about priorities. I spent nothing on rent for a while by living with a roommate in the ‘burbs (though it was a great building with a roof top pool and 24 hr desk…sigh….so nice). I had been saving since I was born to buy a place, basically (my parents set up accounts for me, and my college cost little and grad school cost nothing).
      If you spend wisely, live well below your means for a year or two, and save save save, you can EASILY buy something. And something nice.

      • exactly.

        but dude, if you like to go out to eat a lot, take nice trips, want a car, etc. don’t apologize for it. just live that lifestyle, acknowledge that’s your choice, and don’t feel sorry for yourself.

        • +1. We own two condos (one we rent out, one we live in) and while it’s nice to have that equity, we can’t do much beyond that. No vacations ever and we have very few luxuries in life – scrimp on those nice little things it seems like most people our age have (nice TVs, nice phones, a car that isn’t 14 years old). If your young and single, save money but still live a life that you won’t be sad about in 5-10 years. I definitely wish I’d had once real vacation with my husband!

      • Well it was easy for you because you started saving for your own place since you were born. Many people don’t have a savings account set up by their parents to help pay for future expenses. Hence the need for student loans. It’s really hard trying to save up for a house when you’re trying to pay off your student loans, even if you do live frugally. Every extra penny that would normally be saved for a down payment goes to your loans instead. Depending on how much debt you have, it takes more than a year or two of living frugally to pay off student loans.

        • yes, but it’s possible to both buy something and pay off loans. My sister and her partner have HUNDREDS of thousands of dollars in student loans, but managed to buy a place where they live (brooklyn) about the same time I did.

          I also think there’s too much importance on buying a place – if you’re young and have no attachments, buying something isn’t that important. Live with a roommate and save your money. Find ways to pay off your loans. I took a second job to save more money when I knew I wanted to buy a place (and was making $32k a year). A second job you dedicate specifically to your student loans might be a good help for a year or so.

          • Depends on what the second job is. If it doesn’t pay that much the taxes will just eat it all up.

    • Thats fair. I hear where you are coming from. My wife and I are at $130k, but I think the person below is right. You can certainly pare back more if you would like. I drive a 2003 Honda Element, and she drives a 2006 Chevy Cobalt, both paid off.

      If you are truly looking to save, the car is your first spot. So many people spend SOOO much disposable income on a set of wheels. The accountant in me reminds you that depreciation, well not a cash expense, is a true cost. Buying a 30K car WILL cost you 15k in depreciation over the next 5 years. That 15K is much better off put towards savings and your future home.

      Good luck!

      • On a related note, high student loan payments sure do suck! We are down to $5,500, which will be $2,000 in about a month after we get our escrow analysis check, my umpiring check, and make another big payment. So close we can feel it! Keep making those payments, you will get there eventually!

    • …and you won’t want a job that drives you in to the ground even if the result is lots of money once you actually have a family. If your job pays you well (which yours more than does), and allows you the time off to be with a family you might have (and benefits to keep them healthy), you’ve got it made.
      Save your money, and buy a place if you want…but if $100k is difficult to live on, it seems like there’s something you aren’t telling us beyond student loans.

    • Downgrade on the living situation for a couple years. I was able to pay off more than $20,000 worth of student loans in 4 years while making no more than $33,000, (and actually a lot less for the first 2 years). I have no idea how much debt you have but an extra $70,000 of income should be able to do away with it pretty quickly if you really want to.

      • Yes, this. Housing is the thing that eats up most of one’s income in DC, so do whatever you can to bring that cost down. I posted yesterday about me and my partner living in the suburbs for a few years to save money. The two of us ended up buying a house for $750k, so my half of it is in the price range you’re looking for, and I make a lot less than you do. You don’t have to live in the suburbs, of course. You could downgrade to a room in a group house, or live in a very poor part of the city, if that’s more your style. It’s not going to be fun but it’s the fastest way to save a lot of money.

        • I’m in a 2BR share in the U Street area. I pay $1500/month, it’s a nice apartment with lots of space (though, not “luxury”). It’s actually quite underpriced, IMHO. And you’re right, this is my biggest expense.

          I think I might need to look into moving to other areas of DC. Or perhaps even take a weekend job. If I could get down to $1000/month in rent, that would make a significant difference.

          • If you move to a cheaper place, which might end up being nicer (I do miss that pool!) and take a second job you dedicate specifically to your student loans, you will have a noticable change if your accounting. Add in setting more realistic expectations for spending on your girlfriend, you’ll REALLY see it.
            If your priority is buying a place, you’ll get there. If your priority is just to pay down your loans and save some so when you finally DO want to buy, you’ll thank yourself.

          • Yes, you could definitely get some cheaper housing in other parts of DC. Also cut back on going out with your GF and choose to stay in and cook together. But also, if you feel like you could be making more money in your career field by going to the private sector then go for it. But be prepared to work long hours, high stress all the time, and little time off. The trade off is you will make more money. If that’s what you want to be doing with your life right now then do it! Everyone has different priories, just because some else chose to live frugally and was able to pay off their loans and buy a house at 24 doesn’t mean you need to do the same.

          • If you’re earning 100k a year, that’s $8333 a month. If about half goes to taxes, let’s say you have $4400 a month to spend.

            After 1500 in rent and 600 in loans, that’s $2300 for everything else: food, utilities, savings, transportation, etc. Let’s say you spend $500 on food, $200 on utilities (including phone), $450 for retirement (the max for a Roth IRA), $150 for transport. That’s still a thousand dollars a month to play around with. Even if you put half of that towards a house and the other half towards charity/fun/emergency savings, you could save $6000 a year towards a down payment. And if you got other random funds (tax refund? birthday present? eating out less? taking the bus or walking instead of the metro or taxi?) I bet you could easily get $7k a year. You only need 3.5% down for an FHA loan, so if you have decent credit you could probably buy a 1 bedroom condo anywhere in the District you wanted 2 years from now. And that’s assuming you have 0 savings already, and that your gf doesn’t start earning some money.

      • binpetworth

        This is sound advice. It really comes down to how much you’re spending on rent, which can eat up a huge portion of even a good salary. Get a roommate besides your mooching gf to help out, use the extra to pay down those loans, and you’ll be on your way.

        • Just to be clear, I don’t live with my GF and already have a roommate in my 2BR apartment. And no, she won’t be making any money anytime soon. She’ll be headed to a PhD program in a year.

    • i don’t see the problem. you’re 31 making 100k and you like your job? sounds like a dream.

      my career advice to you is to take care to appreciate the things you do have.

      • what above person said. I am 31 and make less than 1/2 that income. you are doing just fine. [why did i decide being a librarian was a good idea???]

      • When I was 31, it was 2005 and I had recently switched from a university job making $40K (with a master’s degree) to a federal government job at the GS-11 level, which was around $54K at the time. I couldn’t believe my luck at making an extra $14K a year.

        I already owned my own place — though my monthly salary was low, I had enough savings to put down a $32K down payment on a $160K condo.

        Planning ahead and figuring out what you need to do to meet your goals is a good idea, but at the same time, it’s good to take account of just how well you’re doing.

    • I think you can easily qualify. I bought a home at age 28 for 410k making 75k. Fast forward 7 years and I’m in the processing of buying a second home and my salary has doubled. You may not get the perfect location, the 2nd bathroom, etc but you can find something that you quilify for.

      • How much downpayment did you have? Even with 10% down, that’s a $2400 monthly mortgage. Which is a lot to pay on $75K salary.

        • I actually only had to pay taxes and a years worth of insurance upfront. I went through NACA program and in under 3 months I closed on a home.

          I’m surprise why majority of people don’t use these programs. If you have all your bills paid up/current– You are pretty much automatically approved, no income requirements, no credit score requirements.

          It worked for me.

          • Does NACA have maximum income requirements? I’m not far from their office on 14th Street, I should chat with them.

          • They do NOT have any income restrictions at all. Well atleast when I went through the program. Only requirements I had to meet was rental history for past 12 months, have no oustanding charged offs, and show that you can save the difference between your current rent and expected mortage for like 2 months I think to proves that you could afford the higher mortgage.

            Also you don’t pay ANY pmi on their loans. They charge you a $50 a month fee added on to your loan for 10yrs. With rates as low as they are you can get 400k home for about a 2k mortgage/tax/insurance.

          • According to the NACA website, there are some restrictions (but not on income):

            1. The max housing price for a single person is $362K.
            2. None of the occupants can own any other property at the time of purchase.
            3. You can’t rent out the property as long as your mortgage is with NACA.
            4. Participate in 5 events helping and/or promoting NACA each year.

          • Yes you are correct. When I purchased I looked for a 2-unit home that way I would qualify for more because they counted the projected rental income towards qualifying. You can always refinance your loan, which I’ve done and you are no longer bound to any of the agreements NACA put in place at time of purchase.

            This program really benefited me greatly and made purchasing a home(during height of DC market first go around) a reality and have paid off tremendously in today’s market.

          • Well thank you, was totally in the dark about NACA until today. Appreciate the head’s up.

          • Yes, thanks for the tips on NACA! Getting a 2 unit place that can produce a bit of rental income is actually ideal for me. What are the buying limits for a single person, if you decide to go with that route?

          • Yes it was ideal for me. And now the income from just one of the units covers the entire mortgage leaving the other income as pure profit.

            I think the limit for a 2-unit home maybe 464k, then goes up to 500k plus for 3-unit and 600k plus for 4-unit. Their website has this information and each city/state has different price limitations. DC has a higher amount due to the RE market.

            But again- there is NO income limit, only a limit on how much you can spend based on type of property.

            I suggest you sign up for their briefings, don’t be discourage by the audience or the process, and TRUST me it works. The program is pretty much based on YOU and wheter you follow through. There’s not extra that you will, say if you were to go through a regular lender(where you’ll need more $$$$).

          • Thanks for mentioning the NACA program! I’d never heard of it before today. I’m in the very beginning stages of thinking about buying a place and the money that I’d saved toward a downpayment had to go to medical bills. (I have insurance, but it didn’t cover some things I needed.) It was so frustrating to feel like I was back at square one, so it’s good to know there are programs like that out there.

    • If you work in policy making, you’re gonna have to develop your personal brand and impress clients/others you work around. If you make a solid name for yourself you’ll likely climb upward through them offering you jobs…

      I broke above 100 2 years ago, have a Political Science degree, but I work in IT Consulting for Gov now. most of my raises were because I accomplished things that people took notice of.. Very few people advertise for high paying jobs on regular job sites at this level outside of IT. There’s no quick way to make more money also, if anyone offers you a big salary, they’ll run out before they pay you for a full year in my experience.

      If you really want to buy a house, changing lifestyle is the first step – party much less, buy less gadgets and things you don’t need, pay off bills and credit cards ASAP. Cheers.

    • $100K is too low? That just sounds a little absurd to me considering most families survive on far less than that.

      I bought my first house at age 27 when I was single and making $45K. It was a $200K house in a rough neighborhood that I knew would appreciate. I recently sold it for net $160K profit and now own in a much nicer neighborhood (oh, and while my salary is much higher now, it’s still less than what you make).

      Oh, and on that same salary while owning a house…I also bought a car. No, not a $30K brand new one, but a like-new 4-year-old one for $13K.

      My point is, you can do it. Maybe not the exact high-end car or neighborhood you want, but it’s not as unattainable as you think.

      • I can dig it… I bought mine in 99′ and the neighborhood was bad back then too… But we’ve gotta realize that that same $200k house back then is now $450k at least, and the costs of materials, food, furnishings and gas has also skyrocketed since then too… $100k is probably closet to $50k back when we bought, especially for a single person (No homebuyer credits or tax deductions)…

      • A $350k condo is not going to be high-end or in a great neighborhood.

        • the listings on redfin.com show 428 properties with at least 1 br listed for under 350,000. many of them are in nice neighborhoods.

    • To be honest, your monthly salary will be a much bigger determinant of what you can spend on a house than the amount you can save for a down payment. I have managed to save a LOT for someone with my income, but in the end it doesn’t make much difference because salary determines the amount of mortgage I can take on. So even if I save another $50,000 for a down payment, it only increases the amount I can spend on a house by $50,000. In this real estate market, that does not change the kind of places you can consider at all.

      • And I should say that saving $50K is something that would take many years. That’s my entire annual salary!

    • Thanks for the honest discussion folks! I knew I was tempting the Anonymous commenter wrath by posting up actual numbers, but I think there’s a lot good advice in here. It also helpful/inspiring to hear what people have managed to save or buy on limited incomes. It’s frustrating that talking about finances is such a cultural taboo. How else can you calibrate your expectations and figure out what you can reasonably afford?!?!

      Hopefully this time next year I’ll have a happy update about how saved a bunch of money! ;)

    • novadancer

      Another area to look at is where you are spending your money. Consider using mint.com and set up a monthly budget. You might find you are spending alot more on the GF & eating out than you realize…

    • I also have high student loans (just over 100k), and make 90k in a fed job (GS-13). I’ve calculated that I could pay them down aggressively and have them paid off within 4-5 years. But instead, I’m planning on taking advantage of the public service loan forgiveness program (loan is forgiven if you work in public service, so a fed job would qualify). However, there are certain stipulations (you have to repay a certain percentage of the loan and can only be on certain repayment programs). Instead, I’m putting that money towards retirement or savings (undecided on a future home purchase). yes, it sucks that I’m carrying that debt, and perhaps I’m gaming the system, but financially it makes the most sense to me.

      • I’m in the SAME exact situation as you. If I stick with the Feds, I’m just hoping I can take advantage of the 10 year program before Congress nukes it. The only reason I have my (relatively) high paying job is because I took out the loans to go to grad school. Catch-22. Life is a bitch.

    • saf

      I am older than you, and have been in the job market a long time. So, let me give you some thoughts from the looking back perspective.

      If you like the job, and it pays that well, and allows you to have a life, think long and hard before you give that up. That’s hard to find. I’m looking for something like that, and have only managed to find 2 of the 3 at any one time.

      Yes, some people do well by overworking up front. I couldn’t do it.

      • Thanks for the perspective. I do have a stable job that will end up paying very well ($200K+) if I stick around for long term (20+ years). And I will never lose this job, I can stay here until I want to retire (like many individuals here). If I got a private sector offer this year for, say $150K, it would be very tempting to leave. But it’s a big risk, since my job now is recession- and sequester-proof.

      • That’s something I think about a lot. My job doesn’t pay $100k, but it’s easy and interesting and non-stressful. There are times when I wonder if I should be striving for something that pays more (especially when my girlfriend’s nephew, who is almost a decade younger than me and in a similar field, started making more straight out of college than I do currently with a higher degree). But I don’t know many people who work a normal 40-hour week doing something they like that doesn’t completely stress them out. Having free time for my hobbies and volunteer work is priceless, I enjoy being able to walk to work, and I make enough to be a homeowner and live very comfortably. I just can’t see giving up such a good situation simply because I could make more money somewhere else. The benefits of a modest job are not celebrated in an overly ambitious city like ours, and the side effects of too much ambition are often ignored or downplayed. Think realistically about what you’ll be giving up before you make a career change, and if you do, try to leave as many doors open as possible so you can come back to the old job later if you’d like.

    • My two cents:

      I’ve never made over 70k , I live in a schnazzy part of NW in a 1 bedroom, that I own. No, I didn’t buy in the 90′s, I’m 27 :) Do yourself a favor, learn the programs (NACA, HPAP, etc.) save some money, drink beer at home. If you’re making 100k and single/don’t have kids, you can totally afford to buy a place, if you’re willing to do the work!

    • To answer you’re actually question about transitioning – there have to be some former employees at your agency who have done it. Talk to them.

      Some options: lobbying, trade associations, in house jobs doing what you do (not sure if you’re an economist, accountant, or what). Look at the various consulting firms – Deloitte, PWC, etc. Think outside the box here – think of any industry that comes across your desk – almost all industries are touched by the finacial regulations and may be looking for someone who understands the financial issues. Right now if you are in compliance or could write a resume that says you know about financial regulatory compliance you could go in house anywhere you want.

      At my agency, we have a lot of contact with our regulated folks. Ask someone you know out to coffee (you buy) and ask them what their job is like and what the job market is like right now. Are there local conferences? Like we have a [Industry] Bar Association conference twice a year that covers relevant topics. Many of the non-lawyers go and will talk to other folks in industry. Start networking.

      That said, I’ll echo other commenters, I was able to buy my first condo on a GS-11 salery. It was painful for the first few years, but I did it. Now that I’m above that it is better (but, of course, I’ve moved houses too).

      Good luck no matter what you do.

      • PS – I should say that at times I’ve thought about leaving my federal job to go out and tripple my pay. But, in the end, I decided what I do is worth it. I love the mission of my agency and the people I work with and that outweights the lower pay and the fact that I work rediculous hours and almost never get to take my very generous vacation time. If I left I’d be working horrible hours, not take vacation, and have a very different mission at my job.

        You need to make the same calculation. Maybe leaving is worth it to you, maybe it isn’t. I will say that several folks at my agency have left and really love their new jobs. But several have left and regret it. They’d tell you it is much harder to get back into the federal workforce than it is to leave. Only you know what is right for you.

      • Yes, thanks for coming back to my original point. I’m not a lawyer (I’m more of a staff-level “expert”), but my job is primarily working with lawyers at my agency on developing and implementing financial regulatory policy. It seems that a law firm or an industry group would be the best fit, but I’m not sure how they would react to me not being a lawyer. That said, I’ve personally written many of the new financial rules, compliance guidance, etc. so I know exactly what regulators are thinking and where regulation is headed over the long term.

        I also really like my agency’s mission and we too work our butts off at certain times of the year (usually in the weeks preceding the issuance of a major rule or guidance). That said, I haven’t been networking AT ALL with people outside of the regulatory agencies. That’s probably my first step.

        Thanks for listing the pros & cons, these are definitely things to consider.

        • A fair number of my agency’s non-lawyer regulatory experts have gone on to jobs at companies. You’d be surprised how many companies have DC offices that do compliance or governmental affiars. Especially on the financial regs. Many also do trade associations. Even if you aren’t a lawyer, if you know the regs, you should be able to find a job doing compliance. If you can’t find something in house or at a trade, seriously look at the larger consultants. Think about firms that submit testimony in your rulemaking processes. Many will have offices in DC. They look for good analysts. Like I said before, also think about places like Deloitte and PWC because a lot of companies will have an independent auditor look at their financial compliance. Having someone with first hand knowledge of the rules would be a plus for those companies. But you might have to travel.

          Good luck.

          • Deloitte is a terrible place to work. My wife had a nervous breakdown after a few months of working for them, and she was the THIRD person to have quit the project under similar circumstances. It’s an incredibly stressful, competitive, cutthroat environment.

          • I think where in Deloitte you work. The ones that are in the public sector branch (ie gov’t contractors) seem to be less stressed out than those on the private sector side.

            PWC is a similar environment…

          • She was a government contractor. I can’t imagine how they must treat their private sector employees if it’s worse there. Even the new hire orientation was way more stressful and difficult than it needed to be.

  • epric002

    Rant: litterers, especially those who toss their chicken bones on the streets/sidewalks. i am SO freaking sick of pulling chicken bones out of my dog’s mouth on every.single.walk. it’s disgusting, and so are the litterers.
    Rave: husband comes home today from business trip :)

    • I have that same problem, both in the city and at my last residence in the suburbs (there were some fast food restaurants between my house and the park).

      I’m no dog whisperer, so I am quite proud when the other day, while my dog was trying to scarf some bread that was by the sidewalk, my stern “LEAVE IT” caused him to immediately cough it up. This took a lot of training to accomplish (and he still immediately pounces on any food that might drop in the kitchen while cooking).

      • epric002

        we’re still working on that. as a stray, methinks she developed quite an affinity for chicken bones (and apparently also has an iron gut). we can get her to drop the chicken bone and take a treat instead about 30% of the time, but she is infinitely pleased with herself when she sneaks one in, and me reaching down her throat to pull them out doesn’t seem to phase her, though i’m getting to the point where wearing latex gloves on walks sounds appealing. ugh. not to defend the nasty chicken bone tossers, but my neighborhood could certainly use more public trash cans. any idea how you request those?

        • I worked a lot on “leave it,” and offering a switch treat and 30% success might be the best we can hope for. My latest technique is to soak a cotton pad (makeup remover type thing) in bitter apple and put it in my pocket on top of the poop bag. When she grabs a bone, or other garbage, I dab some on my finger before I go excavating in her mouth. Only tried it once so far and might not have got enough – but I’ll let you know.

          I do miss getting to look at the sky, flowers & other people as I have to constantly stare at the ground for bones & garbage. And we have trash bins on EVERY corner.

  • Question: Is anyone else having issues with photos on PoP not loading? Photos from Monday are loading, but yesterday and today aren’t. Could be the work computer is just being vigilent or moody, or perhaps there is some change in how the photos are uploaded? Hope it resolves because it’s much more fun to see the pictures.

  • Rant: Spent years chasing my ‘dream job’. Got it, and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. International development isn’t about helping people at all. It’s about making money for contractors. I now understand why they call them beltway bandits. Greedy effing bastards!!!

    • Speaking as someone with 10 years in international development, I can comfortably say you’re in the wrong company. I have loved the helping people aspect of my jobs. Plus, best colleagues ever. Sure, it can get a little bureaucratic, but totally worth it for the feeling that you really are making a difference to actual humans. You just have to let go of any desire to ever make more than a subsistence wage. Get a wealthy spouse! Then get a new job .

      • Yup. 8 years in int’l development and loving it. Your problem may be the Beltway Bandits; find yourself a good non-profit and make a difference.

      • OP – Spent years working at the governemnt level, loved it, felt motivated and happy. I wanted to get closer to the projects that we implement, so went to a contractor and it’s been nothing but sucking dollars out of contracts for profits. Believe me, there is no real money to be made here, unless you’re at the top of the chain. Not climbing that rope! It’s time for a job change – it just seems that all contractors are the same. Are there really any good ones out there who want to do real development work, and not just do development work because USAID contracts are profitable?! Please…I’m open to suggestions!

        • 10 years in the NGO/international development world and I wouldn’t be anywhere else. But if it’s about being rich, this isn’t the scene for you. Try the World Bank. Lots of money and lots of travel.

          • The real money at the World Bank is in the full staff positions. But getting one of those is like finding a lottery ticket. The vast majority of employees are on limited contracts and will never land a staff position at The Bank. Living life from contract to contract is the hell that many of my friends are experiencing. It’s such a grind.

      • What’s your definition of a a subsistence wage? I’m interested in international development and am genuinely curious. I think the conversations here today show that the number is very different for different people. Are we talking 50s, 80s, 100K+? I’m honestly curious. :)

        • I make around $50k, with experience and expertise that would get me $65-70k in the right private sector job. I actually left the NGO world for a bit and went to work for a contractor. So miserable. I left after a month, and returned to the land of Ikea office furniture and sensible hours.

    • That’s really depressing. I’m in international econ and have looked at international development orgs as a potential place to go with my career. If it’s any consolation, from what I hear they aren’t all like that. I definitely have some friends who say they really truly enjoy their jobs in development and genuinely feel like they help people. But for every one of those friends, there’s at least one disillusioned, bitter friend. Good luck!!

    • Oh, I hear you on that one. I’ve been in the business for 5 years (after years in another field) and I’m pretty burned out on it. It can be very rewarding, but I’m at the point where those moments of feeling like you’re doing some good in the world aren’t frequent enough to make up for all the frustrations with decisions being based on politics, money, and red tape. And I work for a non-profit, so it’s not even as bad as it is with some of the private firms. Thing is, if I left this field I’m not sure what I’d do next…

      • To clarify, some of my frustrations are with my organization…but a lot of them are with our main client.

    • OP – I think people are missing the point. I don’t care about the money (entirely!). I left a comfortable position with USAID making $80k and took a paycut to get closer to the actual projects that we were working on via implementing partner (aka contractor). It’s been my experience that the vast majority of contractors are only concerned with the bottom line – and as a project manager, quite a bit of my job consists of pulling as many profit dollars out of said contracts as possible. It’s just been very disallusioning. I’ve been doing development work since 2004, this is my first time working for a for-profit firm. It sucks. It suck-suck-suckety-sucks! I’m looking for other opportunities, obviously, just using this forum to rant about it. I genuinely hope that the non-profit world is much different. This place makes my soul hurt!!! :(

  • Red Toque Restaurant now has very nice outdoor seating area open for business WOO HOO

    Stop by peeps, good food and good prices.

  • Rant: Tonight is supposed to be my first Nats game of the season. And now the weather looks miserable. FML. *shakes fists at the sky*

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