“Where in this city can I, my kid, and dog live for $2500/month that I can be reasonably sure we won’t be jolted out of sleep by gunfire –or is that a pipe dream?”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Miki J.

“Dear PoPville,

I’ve lived on the 5000 block of 8th St NE (near South Dakota, not far from Fort Totten) for 2.5 years. The first two years were very quiet, but recently there’s been something going on near 8th and Emerson. After a 5 pm assault/ armed robbery and then some nighttime gunfire a few months ago, I was told that the people responsible had been arrested and the issues should stop. Then, on Friday night, I was awakened by several bursts of gunfire again. I called 911, cops canvassed and found nothing.

I’ve lived and worked and volunteered in DC since 1993, much of it in neighborhoods on or just beyond the edge of gentrification. I’ve coped with the attendant crime by not walking around after dark, being nice to my neighbors, and hanging out on my porch a lot so people know me. I’ve had bikes stolen, and cars, and two burglaries. I’ve called 911 dozens and dozens of times.

But I moved to this sleepy neighborhood to get away from that, and plus I have a kid now. I don’t even know what I want to ask your readers except — how can I find out what’s going on in my neighborhood? How can I determine how worried I should be? Where in this city can I, my kid, and dog live for $2500/month that I can be reasonably sure we won’t be jolted out of sleep by gunfire –or is that a pipe dream? (She’s in a charter school, thank God. I know we can’t afford to live near a good school.)

I want to stay here; all my people are here, I have a great job, and I love DC. It’s the only place I’ve ever wanted to live, but damn. I’m willing to take proper city person precautions, but this latest bout of shooting has me wondering if there’s a place here for me and my kid any more. Thanks.”

99 Comment

  • 2500 to live by ft totten?? Wow

    We just had a featured place in truxton circle for under 2k & I’ve seen more under 2500.

    Getting away from metro would really reduce your costs. Truxton is a quiet area still under 15 mins walking from 3 lines. I never heard gun shots in the time I lived there.

    Winter is a great time to find deals. Check property manager sites.

  • PG county ?

  • Brightwood is more than affordable compared to many other neighborhoods. Not sure if your $2500 is for a house or apartment but the most expensive apartment in the neighborhood is a 3BR for 2K and that is the upper upper end.

    • +1, although knowing where her kid’s charter is might be useful

    • Totally agree, and love Brightwood, but we’ve had our share of gunfire and shadiness in the past year. ..

      • That’s been almost entirely limited to Brightwood Park, hasn’t it? If she heads north, there are big apt complexes up on 14th before you get to Walter Reed (near the park) that she could definitely get into for less than $2500/month, where everyone has dogs and there’s no Kennedy & Georgia-esque gunfight soundtrack at night.

        • HaileUnlikely

          I live very close to there. It is relatively safe, but so is where the OP lives now. Statistically, where the OP lives now is actually safer than this area. If problems continue for a substantial length of time in the OP’s neighborhood (and no I don’t know what I mean by “substantial”), this might be a worthy consideration, but at present, moving from the 5000 block of 8th St NE to the ~6000-6800 blocks of 14th St NW to improve safety would be at best a lateral and quite possibly a mistake.

  • This sounds silly but — have you checked Glover Park? You might have to have a little luck to find a (presumably) two bedroom apartment. But it’s safe and a nice community. I really enjoyed the time I spent there, and my rent was surprisingly low for such a nice area because of the lack of a metro stop (but lots of buses!).

    • Yes, this. I know several families who rent in Glover Park.

    • anonymouse_dianne

      Yes, my sister bought here and it is quite affordable. She works downtown and takes the Circulator.

    • Kukki Bakemono

      +1 I was going to suggest Glover Park, as well. I’ve been regularly scouring craigslist and see affordable (for DC) apartments for rent there all the time.

    • Yes, GP is very affordable for renters. Further up the street is this from PoP today;
      http://www.popville.com/2016/03/todays-rental-is-a-renovated-flat-in-mclean-gardens/

      • Glover Park is an excellent neighborhood for kids and dogs 🙂 I rented there for about a year and a half and my roommate and I each paid around $875 for a lovely two bedroom apartment in a 4-unit building. I’m not sure what the buyers market is like but it’s definitely worth checking out. I never felt unsafe and I definitely did not have to worry about gunshots. Unfortunately literally one day before I moved away my car window got smashed, as did about 5 other cars on my street, but that was a very rare thing to happen there.

  • Are you looking for more than 2brs? There are many options in the most expensive neighborhoods under $2500. DC is expensive for sure but $2500 is hardly a small budget.

    • +1
      I don’t understand this post. You can rent a 2 bedroom apartment in most neighborhoods for $2500 or less. You can’t rent a house in Dupont for $2500. Suck it up and accept multifamily housing if you want to live in a safe part of the city!

      • Maybe they’re not checking Craigslist? Those luxury apartment buildings are often over $2500 for a 2+ bedroom. I don’t know that the OP ever said they were looking for a house…

      • The OP followed up with a post saying that $2500 is her(?) monthly mortgage payment.

  • If you have worked in DC since 1993 you should know which neighborhoods are safer than others. And really, $2500/month is quite a good budget if you’re in the market for a 2 bedroom and don’t mind not being super close to a metro. Look at apartments on 16th St, Mount Pleasant and north. Heck, I even dispute your assertion that you can’t live near a good school on that budget; pretty sure you can find something west of the park further away from the red line for that much.

  • There are still 2brs to rent for $2500 in Mount Pleasant.

  • justinbc

    I’ve lived in Capitol Hill for 3 years and I’ve never heard a gunshot while at home. It’s entirely possible, and likely, that one has been fired within hearing distance, but I’ve certainly not heard one. And you can definitely find a place in Capitol Hill for that budget.

    • I’ve lived in the hill for 8 years and every summer like clockwork gunshots, armed robberies, car break ins, muggings. It used to only happen after dark but now it’s in broad daylight. Not sure exactly where on the hill you live as the hill has expanded but as a single mother I wouldn’t sell it as a super safe haven for kids and families. I worry all the time.

      • … how far East are you? This seems really over-the-top for what most would actually consider the Hill.

        • Yeah that depends totally on what part of the Hill you are…I’m Navy yard/Cap South area and the most excitement I saw last year was a bro passed out on the curb/into the street at 3 am

      • justinbc

        I did not say that crime doesn’t occur in Capitol Hill, just that I’ve never heard a gunshot (the OP said “where can I live and not be jolted out of sleep by gunfire”). I’m well aware that Capitol Hill is the largest residential neighborhood in DC so experiences can vary a good bit, and I live within the historic district, if that helps.

        • I doubt seriously that the OP would be looking to trade the other crime on Capitol Hill for the relative lack of gunfire. Been near Eastern market for 16 years, been mugged twice, assaulted in broad daylight and had my house broken into.

    • We lived on the Hill in the Historic District from 2007 until spring of 2015. All of the gunfire we heard or witnessed seemed to be concentrated around the Potomac Gardens complex. We witnessed one drive by shooting where an SUV sped west-bound on I St. SE shooting into Potomac Gardens. Another time my wife was caught in the cross fire between two parties, one shooting from inside Potomac Gardens out and the other shooting in the opposite direction. This doesn’t really count but our living room window had a hole shot through it from a pellet or BB.

  • Might be able to find a 2br in a building up on Mass. You could also get a nice 1br in chinatown and get a temporary wall to turn the living room into a small kids room/windowless live space.
    .
    It sounds like you are more interested in row houses or detached homes. That is going to be a stretch on your budget. You should consider living smaller in a nicer/safer area.

  • I don’t know about the dog, but there are apartments in HillEast, or even closer to the Capitol, that are $2500 or less. That’s a fairly healthy rental budget.

    • I haven’t been to Hill East since I moved from there about 6 years ago but I definitely would not want to raise a kid there. Maybe it’s changed in that time but the amount of street harassment just about every day there makes me never want to go back.

      • I’m raising a kid here (NE side), so are two-thirds of my neighbors.

      • There are at least 16 kids on my block in Hill East, near Congressional Cemetery. Ages ranging from newborn to 17. Everyone seems happy, I hear the kids in their yards playing with each other all the time.

      • This comment makes no sense. I’m raising two kids right off 19th St, and there are kids and babies up and down the block. Definitely feel safe here, including at night.

        • HaileUnlikely

          [begin sarcasm] Different people perceive their surroundings differently and have different levels of comfort? No f*cking way. One of you must be wrong. [end sarcasm]

  • Agreed with the Mt. P comments. Definitely spots for rent in my building that take pets. I’m assuming OP wants a house with a yard maybe?

  • HaileUnlikely

    I’m not clear on whether $2500 is intended to represent housing costs or total income. This will obviously make a material difference.

  • anonymouse_dianne

    I think the trick is to save enough for a down payment and buy. I live in a prime location and my mortgage is less than that.

  • I live on the NW side of Fort Totten for several years and have never had any issue with crime or gunshots. I am sure you could rent for $2500, or buy something and have a mortgage payment that would be that or less.

  • Have you looked into buying? If you + kid + dog would be happy in a 2-bedroom condo, I think you’d find options that you’d be able to comfortably afford with a $2500/mo budget. Before I actually sat down to meet with a mortgage broker I had the impression that buying would be much more expensive — both in terms of monthly cost and initial downpayment/closing costs — than it actually was. And the benefits of ownership generally are greater if you think you’ll be in the place for 5+ years, which it sounds like in your situation might be a good bet.

  • We are at 12th NE and South Dakota and consider it very quiet and safe. Maybe moving a bit farther away from Fort Totten would help?

    • I’m at 8th NE and SD. That’s where the shots were. I thought it was quiet and safe too before this.

      • HaileUnlikely

        I realize that the following is not comforting right now. If I were in your situation, I can understand why you would want to move. However, if I lived where you live and wanted to move to reduce my exposure to violent crime, I’m not sure moving would make a lot of sense. Statistically the incidence of violent crime where you live is much lower than it is in the vast majority of neighborhoods in the entire city, and while what is going on right now definitely sucks, it appears, at least at present, to be an aberration. There are places in the city that have deeply-entrenched issues that contribute to ongoing patterns of violence that are unlikely to subside anytime soon. I haven’t encountered any information that suggests that your neighborhood is such a place. Basically, I don’t think you’d be much less likely to encounter violent crime anywhere else where you could buy a house today and plausibly have a mortgage payment of $2500/month or less without running a substantial risk of things calming down in the place that you moved away from and flaring up in the place that you moved to. I love my neighborhood–Takoma, generally regard it as safe, and there are houses that you could afford in my part of the neighborhood, but seriously, I would not recommend moving from where you live to where I live in the interest of seeking improved safety.
        .
        That said, if you are determined to move somewhere that is unambiguously safer and stay in DC, renting in an older building west of the park is probably the way to go. I don’t think there any other sure-fire “now THIS is definitely safer” options for owning a single family home in that price range.

      • Hey Neighbor! I live 1 block up 8th street from you and heard the same gunshots. They are the first I’ve heard in the 2 years I’ve lived there and hope it was an isolated incident. I think this kind of off-hand incidents occur in the safest metro accessible neighborhoods in DC from time to time. Remain vigilant but I wouldn’t let this one unfortunate incident ruin your opinion of what I consider a great neighborhood. By crime statistics alone, we live in one of the safer neighborhoods in DC (minus the occaasional theft from car/ stolen bike). And assuming you own your house, there aren’t many other metro accessible places that you can get a decent size house for under $400k.

      • Given that you own I definitely would not recommend selling just because of these few incidents. After the nearby developments are done (by Ft Totten particularly) you will hopefully get a lot more for your house than you would right now and I don’t think there’s anywhere safer you could buy in DC for what you pay now (assuming you want to continue to own a house).

        • +1. I originally thought she was talking about rent when I suggested Glover Park. I see OP since clarified.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Still might be a good option though. Rent out own house for now, rent apartment in Glover Park. If current neighborhood improves, move back to own house.

    • I had a house near 18th & South Dakota. The main reason I sold was random gunshots and muggings happening at any time of the day. I no longer was comfortable walking my dogs or walking to the metro. So I doubt the crime is localized to that one block near 8th.

  • Well. POP’s “Today’s Rental” is for a 2BR Apt. in McLean Gardens – which is a super nice community, for $2,400. Don’t know if that unit accepts pets or not but worth a look.

    • I have a feeling he posted that on purpose for the OP. I know a couple of families with kids who live in that community, and it seems great. Their units feel more homelike than condo like.

    • Had some friends who used to live there. Felt homey.

      • I really like the McLean Gardens condos, but I can’t rent a place with carpeting. If I bought there, I’d replace with hardwood.

  • Look at the older buildings west of Rock Creek, a lot of big ones around Tunlaw. You can actually buy in those really cheap too. Almost none of them have W/d in the units though but they are in very safe areas, have pools, door men etc. You wont find anything affordable in new construction buildings. but you need to be west of the park if you want safe AND good schools.

  • Agree- I’m near 14th & SD and have had no issues for the past 15 yrs.

  • A lot of people are suggesting rentals, but the OP has now indicated they own in Fort Totten. I would say it’s somewhat difficult, but not impossible to find a house/rowhome in safe neighborhood where your mortgage would be ~$2500. Would you consider a condo? I would say Navy Yard, but I know it has become incredibly expensive over the past few years.

    • Yup. If safety is primary, then look into condos in safer neighborhoods. You can get 2bd or 1bd+ den in that price range.

    • Unfortunately I think the OP’s original question was more about what to do given the recent problems in their neighborhood, and the question about safer places to live was secondary, but since others are chiming in I will too: I agree that it is difficult to find an affordable 2BR to buy in a safer neighborhood of DC (I looked myself and I gave up, I’m buying a 1BR instead) but if you have patience there are occasionally lower-priced units that pop up for sale in neighborhoods like Glover Park, Brightwood, etc. Redfin’s website allows you to set search criteria like size, price, etc. and view previous year’s sales – that might be a good way to start gauging which areas and buildings are in your price range. The DC crime map is also a nice tool to look up crime stats near a location.

    • It really depends on how much of a downpayment she’ll have. I’m looking at rowhouses and some large condos in various parts of the city near metro and looking to stay under that for my monthly mortgage. But I’ll have a lot to put down because I put down over 20% on my current condo and it has appreciated a lot.

  • I would say that you might have luck in some of the upper northwest neighborhoods, farther away from the metro. I never take the metro, I commute by bus and actually prefer it.

    Shepherd Park is actually what first came to mind when I read this post, or Takoma. Only thing is Takoma is close to Brightwood which has been having its fair share of gun violence lately.

    +1 for Mount Pleasant, plus I’d also look at 16th Street Heights.

    On the other side of the park there’s Barnaby Woods which is on the border of Maryland which might have a few options.

    Also +1 for Hill East, and I’ve seen lots of families on H Street NE, I think you might have some luck there. Hope this helps!

  • I just bought a house in either (depending on which map you look at) Takoma or Lamond Riggs for under $350k- In a year I haven’t seen or heard any crime at all, and the crime map shows pretty sparse property crimes- it’s within walking distance to metro and some cute shopping/eating/drinking areas.

  • If you can afford $2500 a month surely you can buy any number of 2 bedroom places in very safe WOTP parts of DC where the schools are “good.” $2500/month is a lot, especially since it sounds like you’re a current homeowner and you may stand to come away from your current home with some profit which can help reduce the % of your next home that is borrowed.

    I recently helped a friend find a 2 bedroom place for him, his wife and his kid in a decent school and a reasonably safe neighborhood where the max he could afford in monthly rent was $1100. The answer was Hyattsville btw. I’m not saying this to make you feel guilty for your frustration, just to offer some perspective that you’re probably in a position to be choosy about your neighborhood more than 60-70% of your neighbors thanks to your income level.

  • Even to buy: Mount Pleasant. Also, Glover Park and Cathedral Heights. All of these areas would require a condo, though. But they also all have great schools options (I recognize that Bancroft in Mt Pleasant isn’t the greatest, but it’s overall fine. Plus you mention that your child is in a charter school now, and MtP is served by Deal and Wilson for middle/high school) Takoma DC is an option–and you might be able to afford a house, though the schools (for post-charter if you are looking for options for middle/high) are iff-ier. Though you seem set on DC–understandable if your child is happy at the charter–just across the Maryland line you can probably still find at least a condo in Takoma Park or close-in Silver Spring and maybe a house.

  • HaileUnlikely

    Final comment from me on this: OP, I hope and expect that you will be doing your research before you up and sell your house and move to somewhere else that somebody here suggested. The vast majority of places suggested in the comments above have significantly higher incidence of violent crime than where you live right now.

    • +1 If the crime had been ongoing the whole time the OP had lived there, moving would be one thing… but it really does sound like an aberration.

  • What does “All my people are here.” mean? Who exactly are your people and where is “here?”

    • Taking a leap here but here probably means dc proper. My people: Friend and/or family; maybe a babysitter

  • Can the OP just simply post real details? That would save us all from lots of wasted time in speculation. Are you looking to buy or rent? $2500 is a healthy budget for either, anywhere in the city. Do you really need 2 bedrooms? (I grew up in a one-bedroom with 2 parents and 3 kids, so I know that is possible.)

  • Have you considered Brookland near Catholic U? There are several houses for rent in your price range.

  • HaileUnlikely

    One serious option might be to rent out the home that you own and rent an apartment in a safer neighborhood for a few years. I don’t love this option either, as I don’t feel like I’m cut out to be a landlord, but it would be a reasonable way to experience improved safety without inviting the possibility of permanently leaving a neighborhood that will soon resume being quiet and peaceful and buying in a neighborhood that does not work out to be what you hoped for and expected.

  • Brightwood, Takoma, Glover Park…All good options.

    Ft. Totten tends to be more transitional. In five years it may be fine, but right now it can be hit and miss depending on the year.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Agree but just yesterday: “Shooting on 800 block of Tuckerman St. NW/500/600 block of Somerset Pl at 2:15pm Tuesday.

      A resident writes to MPD4D:

      “It seems that there were at least 8 shots fired, so I am surprised to hear that nothing was found, no damage/no shell casings. Did shot spotter detect anything?”

      MPD responded:

      “No Shot Spotter detection, however, shell casings were recovered.”

    • HaileUnlikely

      I’d say the same about Brightwood and Takoma, which for the record are the only places I have ever lived in my 12 years in DC (just under 10 years a block north of 14th & Missouri, now just east of Georgia in the part where the streets are named for flowers). The place where the OP lives right now consistently has a lower incidence of violent crime than most of Takoma and most of Brightwood.

    • Just to be clear, OP lives in Michigan Park (or North Michigan Park). Not sure how that neighborhood ranks in terms of safety or transitional status, but I know that Fort Totten, the neighborhood, is definitely safe.

      • HaileUnlikely

        The following does not refute your statement that “Fort Totten, the neighborhood, is definitely safe,” as “definitely safe” has no meaning, however, it is worth noting that the incidence of violent crime in the past year within 1500 feet of where the OP lives is a lot lower than the incidence of violent crime within 1500 feet of 5000 Fort Totten Drive NE (my attempt at guesstimating the center of Fort Totten the neighborhood). Thus, safe as you may feel there, somebody who is looking to move from somewhere that is objectively safer due to safety concerns might disagree with your assessment.

        • Yes, good point. I should have qualified: “Fort Totten is definitely safe(r than many of these other neighborhoods that have been mentioned so far)”

          That said, I am not sure where you are getting your statistics (or rather your allusions to statistics), but i actually do think they are helpful… however they would be more helpful if they came with citations, please. Thanks!

          • HaileUnlikely

            crimemap dot dc dot gov. You can search for certain types of reported crimes within 500, 100, or 1500 feet of an address for any period of time you want (but you can’t go back more than a few years because they only have location data on police reports going back to 2012 or so).
            .
            One shortcoming worth acknowledging: they do not display things like citizen reports of shots fired, only crimes for which a police report was filed, they usually don’t file a report for “sound of gunshots,” and when they do, it is lumped in with property crimes unless the report reflects that a specific person was shot at.

          • HaileUnlikely

            And yes, Fort Totten is considerably safer than many of the places mentioned so far. The incidence of violent crime around where the OP lives presently is a lot lower than in most of the city; they seem to be going through a rough patch the last couple of weeks though.

  • Riggs Park is completely quiet and affordable. Plus home prices are beginning to zoom upwards due to all the changes happening.

  • echoing the others who say you should rent out or sell your place and rent west of the park. with your budget, you could easily have a 2br that allows pets. The Kenmore at Connecticut and Legation is a good place to start. There are also plenty of places near the Van Ness metro.

    I live in a neighborhood with crappy schools, occasional gunfire, and a lot of cool bars and restaurants. We’re expecting a kid this year and fully expect to rent our place out and move up to the Hardy or Deal boundaries in a few years. Either that or sell and move to Montgomery County (the areas near the Forest Glen and White Flint metros are pretty doable, and there are some shockingly inexpensive condos in-bounds for Bethesda Chevy Chase high school). If avoiding violent crime is your major housing objective (and I think it’s a very reasonable objective!) then you might want to consider the same. Luckily for both you and I, we have the resources to do that. I feel bad for the people who don’t, but I am not sure that my living in their neighborhood does them any good.

    Now if what you want is a safe affordable place near your kid’s charter school, good luck with that.

  • Buy a liveaboard boat at Gangplank in SWDC. Kid and dog friendly, transit accessible, supportive and diverse neighbors, and essentially a gated community. With the first part of the Wharf development delivering next year, a great investment.

    • This is a really fascinating idea that I’d never have considered. Do you do this? What can you tell us about that?

  • You are in one of the safer neighborhoods already. Low foot traffic so it’s less likely for the everyday shooting, stabbing, loitering etc. Shepherd Park area with access to Deale etc is another nice area to look into.

  • Petworth? Oh wait, isn’t that a big reason PoP left?

  • Hi OP,

    There’s a 2BR, 1.5 bath basement apartment up for rent at Upshur and 8th NW in Petworth for $1850. It has a full wrap-around fenced in yard for the dog and plenty of space for an adult and a child. I’ve lived in that area for 3 years and haven’t personally witnessed or even heard any crime, though I can’t say that it doesn’t happen.

    Upshur street is getting a lot of new cool businesses fast, so it’s a good place to be! The only downside to this place is that it’s a basement unit and you’re living below a group house full of very friendly but sometimes a little loud mid-20 somethings.

    Listing below. I believe there’s an open house coming up this weekend.

    http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/4127-8th-St-NW-2-Washington-DC-20011/2099176909_zpid/?view=public

    -Upshur resident

  • Looking at the comments, readers are missing the point of this article. Crime is rampant in D.C. It is embarrassing, let alone terrifying.

    Instead of offerring recommendations for the OP to move locations, would can we do to make the areas where crime has blossomed more safe? Where are those suggestions? Sorry but I echo the frustration is not feeling safe in this city. Anywhere.

  • How about Forest Hills? If you don’t mind living in a condo or apartment, they have a few 2 bedrooms on Connecticut Ave in that price range. It’s in the Murch school district, right next to the Metro. The condos and apartment buildings on the stretch of Connecticut tend to be bigger and cheaper than a lot of the newer ones downtown. Plus, there’s the Forest Hills Playground – awesome for the preschool crowd, politics and prose, some restaurants, and the Wilson pool is nearby.

  • Southwest DC, plain and simple.

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