Friday Question of the Day – For You Personally, Overall, Is DC a Better Place Today than it was Five Years Ago? Ten Years Ago?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Nathan Stewart

We talk about a lot of good stuff that goes on in DC and we talk about a lot of bad stuff that goes on DC. We all have different perspectives on what “better” means so the more you can explain in the comments the better. Since we’re hot in the political season, I’ll be interested to see these poll results turn out:

242 Comment

  • Much better than ten years ago, but only marginally better than five years ago. Of course it’s a mixed bag depending on your perspective and neighborhood – for example, the arts scene is probably worse due to rising rents while crime has ticked up in certain neighborhoods the past couple years.

    • I think this is the key. No question for me that DC is waaay better now than it was ten years ago. And no question that it is better now than it was five years ago. But the rate at which things are getting better has slowed – at least for the substantive stuff. If you are talking commercial and residential real estate values, restaurants and bars, things continue to get better at a fast rate. But if you are talking crime, the education system, not so much. If you are talking the criminal justice system, not at all. The same issues and frustrations that were here when I moved to DC 16 years ago are still here now.

  • My perspectives (and neighborhoods of residence and frequent) have changed so much in the past ten years, and I’m so much more aware of of things now. I don’t feel like understood enough about the city even five years ago to properly compare. And that’s as a lifelong resident inside the beltway.

  • I definitely love the city overall much more with an even better restaurant scene, discovering parts of the city that I never knew about and meeting some of the nicest people.
    With that said, we recently moved from Columbia Heights to Petworth and for the 8yrs we lived in CH, I felt like it got better and then declined over the final couple years. Really happy to have left.

    • I moved into DC in 2000, and lived in Woodley Park, Adams Morgan, and Columbia Heights until June 2015 (in CH for the last 10 years). For me, DC was best 5 years ago. Columbia Heights was still blossoming, my kid was young enough that any number of charter and DCPS schools worked, we had plenty of room, etc. But I agree that Columbia Heights declined over the last 2 years, and my tolerance for the annoyances of living in the city started to outweigh my love of the benefits. I miss plenty of things – being able to walk to work chief among them. I think if I lived in Shaw, or AU Park, or Cleveland Park, or Trinidad, or the Hill, for the past 10 years, I’d have a completely different perspective (which was the point of the post, I think – this is entirely dependent on your particular situation, stage of life, and neighborhood). .

      • “and my tolerance for the annoyances of living in the city started to outweigh my love of the benefits.”
        This so captures how I’m starting to feel. I’ve lived in DC for 14 years, my entire young adult life. I 100% think the city as a whole has improved in the last 5-10 years. However, now that I’m entering my mid-30s I’m just getting tired of the crime, having to be constantly vigilant, and most of all the annoyance of having neighbors right next to you 24/7. I love my house, the amenities of my neighborhood, and the convenience of being able to walk to accomplish all of my errands or go out to dinner, but with the advent of Uber and Instacart, not living right next to a grocery store or a bar isn’t going to be as much of a problem as it used to be. I think I’m ready for more space and a total change of pace, though I intend to keep my house as an investment property.

        • To be fair, you don’t really need to leave the city to achieve this. There are quite a few neighborhoods (e.g., Glover Park) that offer peace and quiet, and even charm, and have converged in price (at least for rentals) with some of the trendier but less stable neighborhoods. There’s nothing wrong with moving out of the city, but if you like the convenience of being close to friends and jobs, you don’t necessarily have to just to avoid the annoyances you listed.

          • This person doesn’t want neighbors living close by – that means that they want not just a detached home, but one on a large lot. You don’t get this in DC unless you spend many millions. Glover Park is row houses – they have this already. To the suburbs they want to go. Let ’em, don’t try to convince them to stay. More room for people who prefer cities.

          • I already love the house we have and I can’t imagine being able to afford anything larger/nicer in DC. It would be impossible. We already have three bedrooms plus a separate one bedroom apartment that brings in rental income. We do not plan to sell when we leave. Also, we would leave the area entirely- seriously considering the Pacific Northwest or the Southwest- DC suburbs would not be a change of pace!

          • Don’t give a damn if they stay or go, just pointing out the alternative when for some reason it boils down to a binary decision between suburban exodus or urban coping. Luckily in DC, there’s a solid middle ground.

      • “my kid was young enough that any number of charter and DCPS schools worked” – I couldn’t agree with you more on this statement. I feel like the elementary school system in DC is really great, but after that, you are playing educational roulette. I sat on a Community Cabinet last year for a new DCPS school, and the superintendent came to one meeting; he basically stated that middle schools in DC are failing our kids; that kids enter at or above grade level and leave below, so far below in some cases that they are essentially on the slow march towards not graduating. I really, really hope this changes soon, but the combination of DCPS spending far too long not investing in schools and people jumping ship to the ‘burbs or private school doesn’t give me a lot of hope.

        • justinbc

          Is the problem the teachers or the students?

          • The problem is poverty and all the baggage associated with it (violent surroundings, PTSD, poor mental health treatment, lack of nutrition, lack of good sleep, low self esteem, etc…)

          • Why doesn’t poverty and associated baggage affect elementary kids? (not snarky…I really don’t know)

          • For us, the mix of both. As Anonymous said, the poverty and baggage associated with it create so many issues. As for the school/teachers, the focus is getting those students up to par, and potentially ready for college. But, there were so many of them, with so many challenges, that the kids that were average, or above average, were left to coast on their own. That’s great (or fine, I guess) if you have a brilliant, self-motivated kid. But I have a smart, above average kid with a strong streak of lazy and some attention issues. She got good grades, was with about 3 other kids at the top of her class, but her issues were never addressed. As she got older, that would have been more and more a problem. She’s now in a class of 30 (!) students, and still getting more individualized attention.

          • @navyyard kids that age dont make decisions for themselves are still very reliant on parents for transportation etc. Once kids get into middle school and begin travelling alone, peer pressure and the lack of good parenting kicks in.

          • “Why doesn’t poverty and associated baggage affect elementary kids?”
            Well, that’s the thing – the elementary schools really were not a viable option 15 years ago except for the usual ones WoTP. Huge strides have been made at the elementary level across the city. But I think that’s because poor kids in elementary school are still just innocent kids and primarily influenced by their parents. Once kids hit middle and HS ages, their peers become more important influences than their parents, especially if the parents are working long hours in an urban area and unable to watch their kids like hawks. That’s when the dividends of wealth and poverty really start to diverge outcomes for children.

          • @navyyard – the curriculum in PS, PK, and K is not very academic, and heavily focused on socialization, creativity, etc. (and that’s a good thing). As kids get older, and the curriculum gets more rigorous, the issues that affect kids become more pronounced, and it becomes more and more difficult to deal with those issues in the classroom. Kids fall farther and farther behind, become more disruptive, etc.

          • I think that it’s a few things:
            One, the students/families: Middle school everywhere is a hard. It’s the transition zone from childhood to mini-adulthood, and it seems like adolescence is getting shorter and shorter these days. Middle schoolers are hormonal beasts that need direction but at the same time need independence. It’s a struggle to strike a balance between the two. I think that some families do not support their kids enough because the idea is, ok, you’re in middle school now, I don’t have to worry about getting you to/from school, you’re on your own for homework, etc. You also have a significant number of parents who’s own education is surpassed easily by the time their kids reach middle school, so they can no longer help with school work.
            Two – teachers: The retention of Middle School teachers is a struggle all over; it’s not an easy set of years to teach. But I think in DC, where a lot of teachers are here for Teach for American and programs like that, they do their years and GTFO. Burn out is very real in any city school.
            Third – and perhaps the biggest issue – the System: DCPS simply has not invested in Middle Schools and High Schools. It’s just not a priority. In the last several years the priority has been Elementary Schools, with the hopes that the successes and gains will continue as the kids rise in grades. However, what this leaves out are the kids in between. Had we stayed in DC, I would have felt confident that by the time by middle and youngest kids were ready for MS that their feeder school would be ready for them. But for the oldest and his peers? Screwed. The new Ward 4 middle school won’t be open to the ‘community/comprehensive’ kids for another two years, and DCPS has made it very clear who their priority was in re-opening that school, and it is not the low-SES kids.

          • Not a parent, but I’d guess that — in addition to factors that others have mentioned, like the curriculum becoming more academic in the higher grades — part of it would be a result of gaps between higher-SES kids and lower-SES kids becoming more pronounced as the kids get older and advance academically.

          • houseintherear

            Trying to be eloquent… in elementary school, teachers often have to act as parental figures. Many children have a rough home life or are neglected, but they at least get attention and focus on their well-being from their teacher at school. Students in middle school have many teachers, who simply cannot provide the same parental figure kind of thing for the kids, and also due to age are more apt to pull away from any concerned/helpful adults.

            DCPS finally upped teacher salaries a few years ago, which is a great start. But I can tell you that I teach in Mont Co and a couple of years ago I was aiming to move into DCPS to be close to home… they would only start be at level 9 of the pay scale (where I’m on level 14 in Mo Co), which was like a 15k difference. They are not creating incentive for experienced, highly qualified teachers to come to DC. Big time lost opportunity, as I see it.

          • @naveyyard There are a lot of parents who keep their children in public school for pre K, K, and elementary school and then pull them out for middle and high school. Therefore in elementary school their is a mix of kids from poor backgrounds and privileged ones. They interact and learn from each other. The kids in poverty benefit from having the well off kids in their class room in several ways. 1) Parents of the will off kids have high expectations from the teacher, the teacher complies it benefits the whole class. 2) Parents of the poor well off kids have high expectations for them. They teach their children learning is important and fun. These kids bring that attitude to class it rubs off on their peers and every one benefits. 3) Lastly, when middle income and high income parents have kids at the local schools they stay involved and it benefits the school community as a whole. When their kids leave these communities to go to private middle / high schools the parents attention and their resources are not directed at the local school.

            This is only a small reason why DC schools suffer and the students in them. The whole issue is very complex but this is a small but important part. Kids react to their environments and the demographics of DC elementary schools vs middle schools are very different.

      • same. 10 years ago I was a long way away from caring about schools. Now (thanks to the wonders of older child adoption) we’re thinking about middle and high school and it’s freaking me out.

        crime doesn’t seem that different to me, personally, though it has obviously ebbed and flowed over the past decade. I don’t feel any safer or less safe.

        I have more money than I used to, which is fun but maybe not as much fun as I expected ;)? I take taxis and ubers more. I like going to Nats games and don’t always get the $5 seats. I own a home. But it seems that even as I got richer, other people got richer faster. I don’t understand how people afford to go out to all the fancy bars and restaurants, and don’t find myself going to nice places that often. I don’t have a lot of fashion sense and can’t imagine spending $150 for a pair of pants, so I just keep going to dress barn and nordstrom rack but never love the way I look. And while I love my house there are imperfect things about it and I don’t see how we could move to something better still in the District.

        I think the District is more prejudiced than it was 5 or 10 years ago. I think *I* am more prejudiced than I was 5 or 10 years ago. And I don’t like that. There are too many people in Logan Circle or Friendship Heights who have never been to Anacostia or Congress Heights or Kenilworth and would never go, and vice versa.

        It’s cool that we have a Costco now, though. And I like all the bike lanes, and Union Market (though I liked it the old way, too), and free outdoor movies, and Yards Park, and the BID in my neighborhood that picks up trash, and all the new grocery stories and refurbished libraries (even though I went to the old ones all the time, too).

        So I think DC might be at about its peak for me, and that’s probably more because I’ve changed than because of any changes to the city.

    • Too much low-income housing buildings in a small area. Formula for trouble and trash. Sorry, calling it the way it is.

  • justinbc

    Next year will be 10 years for me. It was already a great city when I came here in 2007, but it is unequivocally better now by almost every standard I could think of to measure it by for categories that impact my life. That being said, we still don’t have proper Congressional representation, or budget autonomy. After watching DC government bungle project after project though I’m no longer of the opinion that the latter is all that necessary though. We also continually elect terrible mayors…I thought that might change the last cycle, holding out hope for the next.

  • I recently moved to DC – but I have grown up in the DMV area born and raised. I think the term “better” needs to be defined and/or broken down in categories. There are things that are “better” now (more youth and music programs ), however for the most part DC has gotten worse, sorry to be honest and harsh, but its the truth. From the horrific rent prices, property prices.. to the gentrification of the city – it is horrid. You’re seeing a bunch of privileged yuppie kids think that they can do whatever they want because they aren’t in Ohio anymore (nothing against Ohio sorry). Yes, this is happening in a lot of major cities – but just in DC its gotten worse. There used to be a community here, really – this is no longer.

    • “You’re seeing a bunch of privileged yuppie kids think that they can do whatever they want because they aren’t in Ohio anymore (nothing against Ohio sorry).”I LITERALLY JUST LAUGHED OUT LOUD!!!!! LOL!!! Yesterday while chatting with my concierge, a new neighbor came up to us asking for advice on where her friends should park their cars. She said and i quote “We are from a very small town in Ohio and they’re super nervous and scared to come to DC” lol Also, I meet tons of ppl who have moved here from Ohio (some of my closest friends, so I get why you chose there as your example lmao)

      • I am laughing so hard right now. Just last night I was out to dinner with friends and we were all eyerolling about the youths in our office who are shocked, just shocked! that they haven’t been promoted nine months out of college. Someone goes, “Well, this city can be rough, they’ll all move back to Ohio soon enough.”

        • That’s hilarious!!! Its gotten to a point where I am familiar with certain neighborhoods in both the Cleveland and Cincinnati suburbs. I know like 5 ppl that live in DC that all went to the same high school in Ohio and no, they didn’t plan to move here together. To me, being from the DC metro area and living here all my life, that seems like a crazy coincidence. But I guess its not. Go Buckeyes, Bengals and Bearcats! lol

      • Yeah a ton of Ohioans move here (me included!) – no one wants to be in Ohio haha!

        • You all are leaving Ohio to the Republicans. That’s a bad idea.

        • Count me as part of the Ohio invaders. Been in DC 6 years now. As I always tell people, “Ohio is a great place to be from.” No desire to go back.

          As to the change issue, it is incredible to see the change I’ve witnessed in DC over 6 years. Coming from Ohio, this much barely happens in a lifetime there.

      • After living in a Cincinnati suburb for a couple of years, it’s no surprise at all that any Ohioan with ambition would want to get the f-out. There’s nothing to do over there but watch college football. Old cities like Dayton, Youngstown, and Akron are dying, and the suburbs are painfully boring. No wonder why there’s a mass migration to DC.

    • “From the horrific rent prices, property prices.. to the gentrification of the city – it is horrid. You’re seeing a bunch of privileged yuppie kids think that they can do whatever they want”
      This pretty much proves the point I was making above – that there are an infinite number of opinions all based on personal experiences. For me, the notion that the young gentrifiers are the cause of problems in DC is laughable – they’re not the ones mugging people, stealing packages, hassling people walking down the street, or running the dysfunctional city government and schools. But, I bought a condo in 2004, and am advanced enough in my career that I could live comfortable. A 20 something in his or her first job has a completely different set of concerns, and someone born in poverty in Ward 8 has a whole other (and much more serious) set of issues.

      • You said it better than I could have. I absolutely agree. When I was a 20-something in my first job I lived in Shaw- right across from where Nellies is now (it didn’t exist then). Some college friends and I rented a four bedroom house for $2400 (insane right?). I totally understand it was much easier back then to afford things, but on the flip side, there was far more crime and far less amenities available. As an example, back then I used to drive to Virginia to go grocery shopping because the closest grocery store was horrible and had awful long lines that took forever. Things have vastly improved since those days.

      • I agree with you dcd in that everyone will have their own experiences and set of issues – this question will have different answers for everyone. That being said, I don’t agree with you that young gentrifiers are laughable – they may not be stealing packages, but they are stealing cultures and communities – which is just as dangerous if not more.

        • So your solution to the dangerous community theft problem would be no new residents allowed? For all neighborhoods or just some?

          • houseintherear

            I believe it’s about acknowledgement, and empathy, and being realistic about what is happening. What’s good about much of the gentrification in DC is that many new residents, to Bloomingdale for example, set out to become a part of the existing community and not to change it and kick people out. I remember being vilified here last year for mentioning “Say hello to your neighbors” in regards to crime, but that’s one small example of/metaphor for a precedent that should be set by new people in a community. Unfortunately, “young yuppies from Ohio,” like most young people of any race/culture, are not mindful enough yet to set the right tone when joining a new neighborhood. And it feels like the neighborhood is being stolen right from under the feet of the people who have historically lived there.

          • justinbc

            Saying hello to your neighbors is certainly a good way to let them know you’re there, and for the old porch sitters to know who you are (in the event someone else is trying to get into your front door), but by no means should it be a requirement for ensuring safety in your neighborhood. More often than not the wealthiest people work the most hours, aren’t around to chat with old heads, and in the spare time they have they spend it out somewhere else. They shouldn’t be punished for not saying hello. And that’s even going off the false assumption that those committing the crimes give two $#!%s about how connected those people are to their neighbors. The guys going around stealing packages off porches do not know Bryce from LaShawn.

          • houseintherear

            It’s a systematic, multifaceted issue, Justin. Good heavens I certainly wasn’t saying that saying hi will ensure no crime…. OY, you seem to be deliberately short-sighted, so just nevermind.

        • justinbc

          If by “stealing” you mean paying for homes, then yes, totally as bad…

        • This really strikes the wrong chord with me. I’ve lived in the city proper for 8 years but was also born and raised in the DMV. And I guess I qualify as a young gentrifier, though I’ve moved into the neighborhood in which my father and grandfather were both raised. Who are you to decide what the “culture and community” of this city is and should be? Two other points: (1) young gentrifiers are not “stealing” anything; they are paying a lot of money to legally buy/rent a residence. And (2) “just as dangerous if not more” – come on. If you’ve ever known anyone who was a victim of a violent crime, you couldn’t write that with a straight face.

        • The “stealing cultures and communities” comment is way over the top. This type of thinking is exactly the same as the anti-immigration rhetoric. “Don’t let people in because they are different than me.” I can just see a Donald Trump like figure say, “Make Columbia Heights Great Again!” I for one like the mix of backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures. No cultures are being stolen — different cultures are being incorporated into the community. IMO — this makes the communities better!

        • This really strikes the wrong chord with me. I’ve lived in the city proper for 8 years but was also born and raised in the DC suburbs. And I guess I qualify as a young gentrifier, though I’ve moved into the neighborhood in which my father and grandfather were both raised. Who are you to decide what the “culture and community” of this city is and should be? Two other points: (1) young gentrifiers are not “stealing” anything; they are paying a lot of money to legally buy/rent a residence. And (2) “just as dangerous if not more” – come on. If you’ve ever known anyone who was a victim of a violent crime, you couldn’t write that with a straight face. I’m not saying gentrification doesn’t bring its own problems to this city, but saying it’s worse than violent crime makes it near impossible to take your point of view seriously and engage in a dialogue about how best to address those problems.

        • houseintherear

          I’m with you, Effie. There’s a strong correlation between gentrification and rising crime, and much of that is that the original residents are threatened and lash out. Hell, take the white guy in Cap Hill slashing the Latina nanny’s tires and all that nonsense earlier this year! It’s just easy for many people not in the situation of watching “young yuppies from Ohio” come and take over a neighborhood to pretend the correlation doesn’t exist, which is short-sighted and a huge problem in this country.

          • Rising crime since when? The 90s? The early 2000s? Because pretty sure crime has gone significantly down since gentrification, even though it might seem like a “surge” at times. And sure, muggings and property crime will rise in certain neighborhoods as people with higher income move in among people with lower income, but that does not mean crime has risen overall since ten years ago. That is just flat out incorrect.

          • “There’s a strong correlation between gentrification and rising crime”

            Care to back that up with evidence?

          • houseintherear

            ugh. forget it. PoPville makes me incredibly sad sometimes.

          • justinbc

            “There’s a strong correlation between gentrification and rising crime, and much of that is that the original residents are threatened and lash out. ”
            There might be a correlation between crime against the gentrifiers, who weren’t there before, but overall crime goes drastically down as the people who are/were committing it are bought out of the neighborhood (or rather the grandmas house they lingered in are bought out).

          • There’s certainly a correlation between gentrifiers moving into a neighborhood and rising _awareness_ of crime in that neighborhood.

          • PoPville makes you sad because you make outrageous claims and then are asked for evidence of said outrageous claims? And this makes YOU sad??

          • “There’s a strong correlation between gentrification and rising crime, and much of that is that the original residents are threatened and lash out.”

            Notwithstanding the people who insist otherwise, crime has not risen in Petworth, Park View, Columbia Heights, or any other gentrifying/pretty much gentrified neighborhood. Maybe there is more awareness of/reporting of crime in these areas now that the powers that be are paying more attention to them because they are gentrifying/becoming gentrified. Maybe the new people who have moved to these areas have found levels of crime to be higher than they assumed them to be. But the crime situation in these areas is not getting worse, at least not compared to the height of DC’s bad days.
            And I have a problem with explaining the crime that exists in these areas as the product of “original residents” lashing out. These acts aren’t protests against gentrification. When I talk to the older residents of my neighborhood about the people who are causing problems, they turn out to be the same people (or the descendants thereof) who have always caused problems in the neighborhood. It’s not like the drug and stash houses are popping up in response to the new condos that just went on sale down the block. The problem houses have been problem houses for a long time.
            The sections of Chicago that are experiencing record homicides year after year are not the parts of Chicago that are gentrifying. The criminals there are not lashing out at newcomers. They are killing people who have lived in these communities their whole lives

            . . . So, no.

      • I disagree that people who complain about higher rent prices are all just yuppies who can’t get what they want. 5 years ago I rented a group house for 2,700 total. Today I need something similar to raise a family in. Its just not available. When I moved here it was possible to see a future here raising kids, its affordable now. At least for those of us working in non-profit. Its just a fact.

        • un-affordable*

        • Where was the group house you rented? How many bedrooms? Also, I disagree that you “need something similar to raise a family in.” Want? Sure. But plenty of people raise families in condos.

          • Condo would be fine but their is not must of anything on the market for under 3,00 for families looking for a 2-3 bedroom. Especially when you are looking to be close to a good local school.

            AS for my old house, the row house was in Colombia heights and had 3 large bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. I saw it was bough and sold last year on redfin. It was up on creigs list afterwards for 5,000 a month. Not sure what they ended up getting for it.

    • [sorry – AM stream of consciousness] Maybe you’re just not part of the community… While i’m from a nice, small town in Ohio (no offense taken), I find better and more eager communities here than I have seen in many of the large cities I’ve lived in… granted their living and constantly evolving, but you have a built in freshman year (transient city). SO many people are moving into and out of our city that you would be very hard pressed not to find some cool people who want to grow and explore with you. Maybe you just have to grow with us. Well I’ve only been here 5 years, but it seems like SO much has changed (improved) in that time. I can’t speak to schools, or even really the crime rate, because I’m learning more about this city every day. I’m also a fan of development and understand that not all development will be the best development, and there are always growing pains and stretch marks… and I think rising rents and gentrification are problems that need to be dealt with, but also that they’re near inevitable in places people want to be.

    • As someone who was also raised in the DC area (suburbs), I disagree. Yes rent and property is expensive, but that’s happening all over the world because people want to live in these cities. Growing up though we didn’t go to DC much, there really wasn’t a reason to. But over the past 5 years I have taken my dad to Nats games, both my parents to restaurants in Petworth, Columbia Heights, and Navy Yard. Also, before we moved we had a close group where everyone lived in Park View or Columbia Heights. We were also close with our neighbors.

      • justinbc

        Rent and property prices are high, yes, but survey after survey annually shows usually around 5 of the top 10 earning counties in the entire nation are in this area. There’s no shortage of people who make a $#!%-ton of money in this area.

    • justinbc

      There is still a community here, you just might not be part of it.

    • Ha! I also grew up in the area, and I didn’t understand why people always said “no one is from DC” – until I started working in DC and all of my colleagues were from – you guessed it – OHIO! My college and then DC roommate was from Ohio, and then she moved back…to Ohio.

      • I guess I’m a different generation but when I was young it seemed *everybody* coming to DC was fleeing PA.

      • Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania are way over-represented in DC. It’s crazy how many people I met from those states. Also not surprising that the smartest GTFO of those states after decades of decay.

        • justinbc

          IIRC 4 or 5 of the 10 worst cities in the country for bed bugs were in Ohio. So if your building winds up having to be treated, chances are you can blame someone from Ohio.

    • This could be the most salty comment ive seen in a while. by “privileged yuppie kids” do you mean the hill staffers who make $28K/year and live in a row house with 6 other hill staffers and whose paychecks are already spent on rent and student loans before they ever hit the checking account? Or the ones that put off working for “daddy’s company” only to sacrifice and work at the non-profits or TFA and put up with god knows how much bullS**t on a daily basis? Put down your rose colored glasses and go back to yelling at clouds.

      • It takes real privilege to be able to take those jobs for the “greater good”. Mommy and Daddy’s money often fill the gap in wages. They can afford to live and eat and entertain themselves in this town because of privilege. They aren’t sitting in their bedroom eating ramen noodles. You seem to have the glasses on.

        • justinbc

          You’re naive if you think that the majority of educated 20somethings struggling in this city, just like those who don’t go to college, have mommy and daddy covering them. Those people certainly exist, but too many of them are sold the dream of success via the ladder that few have a realistic chance of climbing.

          • I’m not naive, I work with them. Hill Staffers and the other “privileged yuppies” we are referring to DO have mommy and daddy covering them, at least for some years, then they either go back home or start making money. How do you think those same broke yuppies afford the nightlife AND rent AND food. Not all of us are pulling facts out of our arses, some of us actually know. It is factually true, look it up.

          • justinbc

            Like I said, those people do exist, but they don’t compromise the majority of people working on the Hill. As for how people afford it, many don’t. Why do you think credit card debt is such a problem in this country? People live beyond their means pretty commonly now.

        • @caphillnative Please do not make generalizations like that. I took my first job in DC making under 40K with a student loan bill of 800 a month to do a job I felt made a difference. I did not eat ramen but a sure as hell packed PBandJ to work everyday. I think you are the one with glasses on. Almost everyone I knew when I first arrived to DC spent their entire 20’s (and some into their 30s) in a group houses. Now that I am in my 30’s most of my friends are living with their significant other in tiny 1 or 2 bedroom apartments and collectively still paying upwards of 40% of their income on rent. Yes most people who work in the public sector and the non-profit world do make sacrifices to work those meaningful jobs. They are eating ramen!

          • justinbc

            The Atlantic had a great, thorough piece “The Plight of the Overworked Nonprofit Employee” that I highly encourage anyone in the field to read, and share with others so they understand how crappy it can be.

          • How old are you? What year was this? I am talking about 20 somethings from the past five years and present.
            “40% of young adults between the ages of 25 and 32 who don’t live at home still receive some sort of financial help from their parents.”
            Does the study referenced have on glasses as well?

          • @caphillnative read the methodology of the study backing your article, as the definition of “financial assistance” is so broad as to include being include in a family mobile phone plan. Is that financial assistance? Yes, yes it is, and it saved me about $50 a month while I worked on Capitol Hill. Is it significant? No, nowhere near as significant as the financial assistance I gave myself through my second job as a bartender. Next time you sit down in a restaurant, take some time to talk to the service staff — you’ll hear some interesting stories about their day jobs in non-profits and Capitol Hill.

          • I am 29 and I have been in DC since I was 21. I have never met anyone whose parents paid their rent for them and I have a really large network of friends. Once when I was 23 my mom bought me a flight home for x-mas because I was broke. And my dad paid for some of the expenses I took one when I was in my sisters wedding when I was 25. But thats it. I know far more people who took on second jobs then who have consistent support from their parents after college.

          • @caroline and @NotGrinchandNotScrooge who mentioned WHAT was being paid by parents? Second jobbers does not mean lack of parental support. Parents are helping with student loans, phone payments, one off emergencies (that would cripple others). It seems that those disagreeing are actually those I’m referring to. You belittle the help not thinking of the difference it would make to those without. Parent’s paying a phone bill while others have unreliable service that gets cut on and off is a handicap today. Having health insurance because your parent’s kept you on yours, being able to afford the apartment because your parent’s helped with the downpayment, paying for that emergency unexpected bill allowed you to make rent the next month!
            Why can’t people see beyond their own eyeballs and imagine a life without that safety net? It would be impossible to take the risks needed to access these jobs without it. And the reality is a lot (most?) of the “yuppies” have that.

        • @caphillnative Yes, a phone bill and a plane ticket home once a year qualify as financial assistance, certainly, but your original comment (as well as original post it was in response to) seems to indicate that younger non-profit and Hill employees are only able to make it in DC because of assistance from their parents rather than because many of them are working multiple jobs.

          Side note: “Having health insurance because your parent’s kept you on yours [until the age of 26, you seem to imply]” wasn’t possible when I first moved to DC, but it now is thanks to legislation I had the privilege of working on as a Hill staffer for 50+hours/week thanks to the 15 hours of bartending that subsidized the job I loved.

          Please have the lenses in your glasses checked, as your prescription seems to be a bit out of date.

      • Entry level tech job is like 50/60k. One can definitely afford to a at least rent in DC with that wage.

        • Not if they are paying the equivalent of rent in student loans.

          • +1000 – my husband’s and my monthly student loan payments cost $250 more a month than our rent does. If we didn’t have those we could start saving to buy a place, but considering our student loan payments would be more than a mortgage for the condo we rent, it’s impossible.

          • Yup.

        • Yes, if you want to live in a crappy 325 square foot studio and not afford tv or save any money for that matter.

          If you make 50k a year, you get what…1300 every two weeks? If that? Let’s say you do. The average 1 br apartment anywhere is over 1500 a month. So let’s just say it is $1500. So already you are down to 1100 per month from the get go (2600-1500 for rent). Then let’s say you have to pay $500 per month on student loans. Down to $600 now. Phone bill is nearly $100. Food and drinks and bills probably an additional 300 per month….at least. Now down to $200 of income to use a month for whatever you want. So yes….you can definitely “afford” to rent in DC on a 50k job. But you definitely can’t afford much else if you plan on living a life that doesn’t include being a hermit.

          • +1000 to this. Student loan payments can make a huge difference in how much financial cushion you have each month, particularly if you’re earning in the 50/60K range.

          • It’s called roommates! You can’t factor in “affordability” without some sacrifices, which includes roommates.

          • Formerly ParkViewRes – Right now, a 2 BR will probably set you back around 2800 total. At least. Maybe a bit less if you get an old 2br and only 1 bathroom. So maybe that will save you an additional 100-200 dollars. Yes that is nice, but you are still living paycheck to paycheck.
            I guess if you are OK living with more than 1 person you can start making a dent. But the fact is, those places are now way more few and far between since the new cool/hip thing to do is to blow up row houses and turn them into numerous 1-2br condos.

          • I know someone who rents a super nice 2 bedroom loft a nice neighborhood for $2800 so there are certainly nice places out there.
            2 bedroom in Eckington for $2175
            2 bedroom in Edgewood for $1780
            2 bedroom in Columbia Heights for $1850

            And that was just a quick look.

          • Ok maybe you are right lol

          • maxwell smart

            Yep – when I first moved to DC, I was at a job that payed just under $50k, which was a huge blow considering I had a graduate degree and 5 years of experience, but when you’ve been unemployed living at home, you take the first offer you get. And I had/have about $650/month loan payment.

            I didn’t know anyone in DC so I had no connections to find a roommate, so to make ends meet in the 1 bedroom I found at the top end of what I could pay at the time, I worked 2 jobs. 9-5 job in my career and then an evening retail job 3 nights a week + Sunday. It was horrible and probably shaped my feelings towards DC for a while. With errands, etc. I had maybe 1 night a week to do anything social, which had to be severely budgeted.

            DC is a rough city on an extremely tight budget since most of the crowd here is making money hand over fist OR is being heavily bankrolled by family money. I was lucky to find a small group of friends that needed to be as fiscally conservative as I did, but I definitely lost acquaintances who failed to understand I could not afford to eat and drink my way through the city on a nightly basis.

          • Rents vary significantly according to how new (or how renovated) the building is and the location of the unit.
            Last I heard, it cost around $2800 to rent a 2BD/2BA unit in the Swift — an almost brand-new building that’s almost on top of the Georgia Ave.-Petworth Metro. So it should certainly be possible to find a 2BD/2BA — or 2BD/1BA — at a lower price in a building that’s older/less renovated and/or less convenient to Metrorail.

          • Basically, I agree with Formerly ParkViewRes’s questioning of Bryan’s numbers.

          • I agree that as a practical matter, student loan payments dramatically impact the amount many people can afford to spend on all other living expenses. That said, that doesn’t really support the notion that housing prices are out of control. I’m not suggesting that they’re not out of control, just that “I have very high non-housing expenses, which mean I can’t spend as much as I’d like to on housing – man, housing prices are crazy!” isn’t really a valid point.

        • SouthwestDC

          My first job (back in 2005) paid around $50k, which was enough for an apartment with a roommate in Alexandria. But my undergraduate degree only cost $8000, so my only loan was a $184/month car payment. Kids these days have a lot harder.

          • You just contradicted your statement above! They do have it harder EXCEPT those who have assistance from their parents AND MOST do. The poor non-profit worker or Hill staffer who is completely relying on their own income is rare in this city because it is almost an impossible task!

          • SouthwestDC

            I agree with you. I can’t imagine how I could afford to live here on my starting salary if I was paying today’s rents AND had student loans to pay. Where did I contradict myself?

          • There was a “caroline” above, admittedly you could be a different Caroline. If so, my apologies lol.

          • @caphillnative… Do you have some evidence that most nonprofit or Hill staff rely on their parents financially? I’ve worked in nonprofit for 7+ years here and I don’t know of a single person whose parents subsidize their income. And I’m kind of nosy and like to talk about these kinds of things.
            My husband and I have been somewhat lucky – buying after the bubble before things started to skyrocket (which I can attest is true, because the condo I bought 3.5 years ago has increased in value by 20% since then while my sister in the midwest ((not Ohio)) basically just sold for even in a very similar time range), liking to cook at home a lot, etc. – but also frugal by socializing at the many free museums and parks here rather than always eating/drinking out. He’s a teacher, so neither of us are raking in the dough per se, though we are still DINKs. And while we’ve had some challenges, we are pretty fortunate too.

          • @capitalhill native Do you have some database that you can site? As someone who pays my own student loans back has been financially independent since I was 18 I really find it offensive that you think almost everyone under the age of 25 is still being supported by their parents. You keep referencing that you work with “these people”. I really want to know exactly how many people you work with and of those how many people’s financial situation you are are aware of intimately.

          • See article reference above, and this more recent one, below that says “half of millennials from the age of 21 to 29 receive financial support from relatives”
            I guess my Google is the only that works today. Popville loves anecdotal evidence to refute statistical. It is privilege to demand a group be judge by individual outliers while generalizing others (re: youth and crime, locals, blacks, etc).

          • HaileUnlikely

            facts please – “many” and “most” do not imply “all.” If caphillnative’s assertions are true (I don’t know enough to comment on whether they are), you should take pride in your status as an exception, i.e., in your accomplishing something that is very very hard and that most of your peers are not doing.

          • Caphillnative – you sure are salty about people in their 20s that are lucky enough to have some sort of financial assistance from their parents. Why is it any of your business anyway? I am not a parent, but I can only guess that any parent would want to put their kids in a better position in life than they had. Isn’t that kind of the goal, anyway? If that means some financial assistance while making a crappy salary right out of college, so be it. Hopefully these kids are grateful for what they’re being given, but I don’t see why it’s any of your concern how people are getting along up here in the “big city” as long as the rent and taxes are paid.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I don’t see any animus from caphillnative toward those who are receiving help from their parents or from their parents who are helping them, he is simply pointing out that as things are today, it is really f*cking difficult for a young person to gain their footing in DC without help. Do you disagree with that?

          • @DupontDC Salty? I don’t think any of my comments have been salty. I was originally making a point towards someone who are likening young professionals to martyrs for their great sacrifice to work on the Hill and in non-profits.
            There is a reason those young professionals are overwhelmingly the demographic they are. There is a reason that those young professionals are able to entertain themselves and live in the “happening areas” of this expensive city. I was just shining a light on the reality of the situation.
            Let’s not assume my background, socio-economic status, or what I would feel a need to be salty about. Feel free to ask tho 🙂

          • I’ve never known any Hill staffers (except maybe for some of the people in my office in a previous job who were low-level political appointees). Perhaps as a result, I would not be surprised me if many were receiving significant financial help from their parents.
            None of the nonprofit workers I’ve known over the years were receiving financial help from their parents… or if they were, it wasn’t enough to be obvious. They were living in group houses, studio apartments in then-iffy neighborhoods, small shared apartments in slightly iffy neighborhoods, etc., etc.
            However, perhaps the dynamics have changed and rents have now outpaced nonprofit salaries to the point where entry-level nonprofit workers/Hill staffers can no longer make it in D.C. without significant financial help from their parents.

          • I really do think everyone who disagrees is being incredibly narrow about what I mean by help. I don’t mean literally paying a rent check every month. I mean covering things that actually make a HUGE difference when you don’t have people covering these things. Plane tickets home, a deposit on an apartment, medical bills (which are usually sent home because you are on their health insurance), student loans (including the ones parent’s take out parallel to their children), a credit card paid by parents (I got a new job mom, “oh put some new clothes for work on the credit card honey”) etc. These are significant factors that allow a certain amount of risk taking and freedoms without falling on one’s face or placing themselves further into debt.
            I have successfully linked one article above but another by Bloomberg has been stuck in moderation for quite sometime. It is statistically true and you can do your own Google’s on the matter.

          • Oops, I didn’t explain properly above. I meant that the only Hill staffers I’ve ever known would’ve been co-workers at a former job who were low-level political appointees — not Hill staffers — at the time I worked with them, but who had _previously_ been Hill staffers.

    • Eh, the “Ohio invaders” have always been here, though. The difference is they used to cluster more in the burbs (cough cough Clarendon) and now they’re living in the city more. I first moved here in 1998, left in 2008 because I was convinced it would never be a “real city,” and moved back in 2014. I’ve been delighted with the changes in DC while I was away – so much more to do in terms of arts and entertainment, and many neighborhoods were completely transformed (for better or worse but I think mostly better) while I was gone (Shaw, Bloomingdale, Logan Circle, Columbia Heights (although that might be a net loss), and several others. I get just as annoyed with clueless overprivileged millennials as anyone, but overall DC is just a more vibrant and safer city than it was in 2008, in my opinion. Crime is still a big problem but it was when I left as well.

  • I have lived in Petworth and Colombia Heights for 8 years now. I use to love it but over the past year or so I have begun to feel more and more unsafe. Almost every week there is some sort of altercation outside the Georgia ave metro on my way home from work. Also the city has become much much more unaffordable. If you had asked me 2,3,5 years ago if I would ever leave the district I would have said hell no. Now with all the crime in my favorite neighborhoods and the spike in rental and house prices I expect ill be heading over the river in 2-3 years 🙁 I really wish I felt otherwise.

  • I’ve lived in the DC area since the 80s. The DC of my childhood was definitely not a safe place at all. In my teens, I volunteered for a summer in DC and it was a very different place already; however, it was not uncommon for me to see someone smoking crack in a doorway that had become their home even then. The DC that I moved to has made major strides to improve since then. I think as a whole, things are better, but on the micro level, it seems like things are getting worse. It seems like (and I do not have the data to support this, then again, MPD probably doesn’t have it either…) little petty crimes against individuals, things like the slushy throw, phone snatchings, harassment, has gone up.
    I think the major issue here though is perception. Safety is in very large part a personal perception. I think those of us who have been in DC/immediate DC area for a long time will naturally perceive DC as safer now than it was before. I think this is the same in other similar cities.

  • I always compare it to the 80s. It is way better than when the days of crack turned it into a real mess. Other than way more apartment buildings and tons of kids living here now, I haven’t noticed that much of a difference in the city now vs. 5 or 10 years ago.

    • I am with you. I have lived on the Hill since 1994 and overall in that time period things have gotten way better. By a HUGE margin. But it is hard for me to see the difference between 10 years ago and 5 years ago. I feel way safer in 2016 than I did in 1996 but not any more/less than I did in 2006 or 2011. I will say that a lot of the small things that seem to about as part of the “old” DC and the “new” DC seem to be more visible than they were because of gentrification but frankly, it is also because it is much, much easier to share stories and experience via blogs and Twitter not just with people in the neighborhood but with other in the city. I do think living in the city has become harder for a lot of people and not all of that is crime related. So many people white and black can’t afford to live her at all much less live in a “good” neighborhood because of the rents and sale prices.

      • justinbc

        I think the overwhelming number of city blogs, FB sharing, etc, has certainly contributed to people’s perception that crime is worse (comparatively) now than before. Prior to someone being in touch that way they might hear about something casually from a neighbor if it happened the night before, but you certainly weren’t aware of random shootings and muggings all across town, unless you were hyper vigilant or had lots of spare time.

        • I think this is true, too. I get the MPD alerts for my district, and every morning when I get a bunch of emails about all the muggings/carjackings/shootings/stabbings that happened overnight, I consider opting out of them because it freaks me out. I certainly walk alone at night much less frequently now than I did before.

  • Ally

    For me, a personal gauge of how the city is would be to ask, “Can I live here happily and safely at every stage of my life?” I moved here in 1998. I loved the city then. I love it now. But, now that I have a 1 1/2 year old, I have new requirements. I feel comfortable sending my kiddo to elementary school here. I feel very uncomfortable (in my neighborhood of Hill East) at the prospect of sending him to middle or high school with how things are right now. Usually, you pick schools based on what courses they offer; I’m now reduced to trying to find one where my kid will be semi-safe. I love this city. I love my kid more, though. I hope the schools improve in the next 10 years or we’ll be making the sad migration elsewhere like most other city parents in this situation.

    • A lot of parents that are able to do so resort to private school. I am a native and my mom somehow sacrificed to send me to private school at Elem, Middle and HS. Times are different now as tuition has increased 500% so that does make it harder to do these days.

    • justinbc

      As someone without kids or knowledge of school systems, do they release safety ratings for schools? How does a parent gauge the potential safety otherwise?

      • no, they release suspension rates, but that doesn’t have much correlation. some schools are quick to kick out kids for minor infractions (like dress code violations) but others will let a kid come back after he punches another classmate in the face.

        so much can change from year to year along with the mix of kids in the class, the teacher, and the principal.

        • justinbc

          Then I guess that still makes me wonder how parents evaluate whether a school is safe or not…?

          • That depends on the parent. I’d say visit the school. You can get a feel for the culture and safety that way.

            Practically, many people look at racial breakdowns and decide that a school that’s 99% minorities is not safe. You can tell what I think of that.

          • justinbc

            That would have been my assumption, but without ever having gone through it wasn’t sure if there were other measurable metrics parents used.

          • Ally

            For me, it’s that I live two blocks from the middle and high schools where my kid would be attending. I regularly see children fighting one another down the street (I’ve had the call the cops to save some poor kid getting the crud kicked out of him, multiple times). For Eastern High School, there have been multiple shootings following football games. I see the litter (minor, granted, but it speaks to a lack of boundaries in general) appear in front of my house as soon as school gets out. I see that from the middle and high school aged children in my neighborhood. Daily. I do not see it (thankfully) from the nearby elementary school. So, for me, I’ll feel safe to send him to those schools when I don’t fear for my safety when passing by the kids from those schools on the street a block or two away. I’m sure a good 80-90% of them are wonderful kids. But the 10% are really, really bad and commit some seriously violent crime in the neighborhood.

      • Never seen something like that, but I am curious how that’d be done – measuring incidents just on school grounds or a larger look at the student body? I ask because my husband is a teacher and just this week there were 2 separate fights different students at his school were involved in, but both were about 6 blocks away from the school itself. One of the fights was instigated by a former student as well.
        It seems as though if schools do or began preparing such a report, it’d be in their interest to report only those incidents that happen on school grounds. There’s an argument to be made that that’s fair, because how can they be held responsible for things that happen elsewhere after school hours, after all, right. But from a parent’s perspective, the broader look at the student body “incident rate” (for lack of a better term) seems like it may be more valuable in determining where/whether to send your kids to a school.
        It’s tough, there are a lot of complex factors here and not many easy solutions.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Two places could be equally safe or unsafe generally but be experienced very differently by one individual person. I realize this will sound horrible, but here goes: if a white kid or a kid of any race from a non-poor family were to send their 9th grader to my neighborhood school, it would be the first white kid and probably the first non-poor kid of any race to step foot in that school in over a decade. I’m not looking for an all-wealthy, all-white school, but if I were a parent, I would not be ready to have my kid be the first non-poor kid or the first white kid in a large school in a long time if not ever.

        • Ally

          Agreed. Being a minority (even if you’re in a majority elsewhere) can be tough for kids. Especially given all of the (somewhat justified) anger over gentrification.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I don’t even mean minority. When I use “first” and “only,” I mean them quite literally.
            And it’s not just the demographics. There was a series of articles about my neighborhood high school in the Washington Post in or about 2007; it was one of the most depressing thing’s I’ve ever read, featuring, among other things, an account of a teacher (an African American man) being beaten unconscious by a student during class, and after he returned to school with one of his eyes all stitched up, other students would threaten to “black the other one [eye].”

  • I live in Mt Pleasant, and while the uncertainties of metro & traffic from one day to the next make commuting a bit more exciting, I am incredibly grateful to live somewhere with lots of transit options, lots of things to walk to, and lots of families with kids so close by. We were super lucky to be buying in 2009, though, and I have no idea if we would have been able to end up where we are if we were looking earlier or later.

    • Are you north or south of Irving? When we moved, we really wanted to live in Mt. Pleasant. I have said this before, but Hobart is one of my favorite streets anywhere, for a whole variety of reasons. But, when we looked at school boundaries, we realized that Hobart is the one little slice of MtP that does not feed to Deal/Wilson. Since one of the points of moving was to get away from the uncertainty of the charter lottery for middle and high school, we discarded Hobart as an option. We’d have been fine with the rest of MtP, but ultimately decided on Bethesda for a variety of other reasons.

      • We are north of Irving, but East of Mt P st–which has also historically been cut out of feeding to Deal/Wilson. Bancroft is a feeder school, however, and they new school boundaries also now include the entirety of Mt Pleasant in the Deal/Wilson catchment area. That said, it sounds like both schools are horribly overcrowded, so I’m a bit worried about what the educational experience will be down the road. I’m hopeful that MacFarland and Roosevelt (at least the immersion portion of them) become viable options. Fortunately, we have 6-7 years to see how they–and the rest of the school system–evolve.

        • oops–*the” new school boundaries, not they.

        • They are both horribly overcrowded. Deal has close to 1200 students in 3 grades, and it’s only getting bigger (unless they either eliminate OOB feeder rights, or reshuffle boundaries again). But, there are so many different opportunities for kids there – it’s truly amazing.

        • If it makes you feel any better, I have incredibly high hopes for MacFarland. I think that MacFarland is under excellent leadership with Mark Sanders as AP and eventual Principal. I think that as an educator, a DC Resident, a DCPS parent, he is truly invested and committed to the long-haul vision of that school and well aware of the ups-and-downs that he will face. I think that Roosevelt has a good future ahead, and I particularly like that Principal James is so invested in the community kids. I think that with those two at the helm of these schools (which are very much inter-twined), that they will be great schools. My only problem with MacFarland is the staggered entry of only dual-language kids for the next few years. Also, I will correct you – these will not be immersion programs at all. They are dual language, and students will only receive 2-3 classes taught in Spanish (IIRC, two main subject areas, and if they choose and it is available, an elective). Dual language programs really do shift after elementary school in the DCPS model, and I think parents who want that for their kids really should be aware of that and manage expectations.

          • That’s good to hear–and thank you for clarifying the spanish component. That said, I assume it’s a better continuation of Spanish-language learning than my kids would get from continuing on to Deal/Wilson.

          • Oh, completely better!!
            I am not a huge fan of Deal/Wilson; they are not the schools they are cracked up to be and seem to benefit from the idea that everything WOTP is greener. I also think there are major downsides to such over crowded schools. But one thing is for sure, people will still be snapping up English basements to get an in-bounds address for either of those schools.

  • Meh, this is too tied in with people’s personal baggage. Are you a winner or loser from gentrification? Did you buy at the height of the bubble or were lucky enough to buy in 2010-2012 after it popped? If you were a victim of crime last year, it may seem worse….in spite of crime generally trending way down from 10 years ago. If you’ve had a few rough years due to medical, family, or job issues, your outlook just may be overall negative. And frankly if you’re poor and pushed out by gentrification – however people on PoPville tend to be on the other side of that equation – then DC blows.

  • Terrible question–mixing time frames and then a gemish of answers. all kindof meaningless.

  • maxwell smart

    Moved to DC a little over 5 years ago and about to move away in a couple of weeks – mostly for work related reasons (better opportunities elsewhere). I personally hated DC for the first year I lived here – it was a huge change from living out west (not city size related, I lived in LA for many years). It took a while to grow on me. There’s things I like – it’s a beautiful city, tons of green space, good quality of life… but there are plenty of things that have annoyed me from day 1 – in general, the prevailing self-important, elitist attitude. The city has gotten more cosmopolitan – much better food/restaurant scene than 5 years ago. Traffic/metro has gotten considerably worse. Still hate the humidity. It’s been a good run while it lasted – never really intended this be the last & final point to settle down. Maybe our paths will cross again.

  • Better in every way

  • 10 years ago: I was broke, living in a basement apt off of H St, and working 2 jobs.
    5 years ago: I had critically ill infants who had spent 3 straight months in the hospital and then were in the hospital multiple times a week for the following 12 months.
    Today: I own a home (Deanwood area), have a good job, 3 healthy kids, and have a strong relationship with the folks in my community.

    100% better in every way.

  • When I bought my house in Shaw my dad (a 45+ year resident of the area) gifted me with a framed map from the Washington Post archives of the open air drug maps in the city in 1990, one of the biggest markers being on my block, in front of my house.

    This city is nothing if not complicated, but I don’t know how such improvements over the crack epidemic only ~25 years ago can be a reality and people are complaining that the city is so much worse because of entitled 20 somethings with their parents’ money. Who, by the way, will leave soon enough when they all have kids, and a new crop of entitled youths will replace them. That’s living in a city, that’s not a reflection on DC.

  • I’ve lived in DC since 1977. I do occasionally get nostalgic over the “old” DC. You could afford to live pretty much anywhere, the mix of people was a lot more interesting — you really had to be cool or weird or adventurous to live downtown, but you didn’t have to be affluent — there were more and better dive bars, and there was a real sense of discovery. And even though I was never really a part of it, the fact that it was a “black” city definitely added a little funk.

    But, sitting here in my million-dollar house (how the fuck the THAT happen? — I couldn’t afford to live in my neighborhood if I bought today), watching the school system claw its way from abysmal to mediocre, hitting the farmers markets and swell restaurants, going to shows at Verizon, I have to admit it’s a better place to live.

    Not as exciting, not as neighborly, doesn’t feed my self-image as a rebel the way it used to, but dramtically better in almost every way.

    • “But, sitting here in my million-dollar house (how the fuck the THAT happen?)”
      Yeah. I vary between “how the fuck did that happen?!?”, and “THIS is what a million dollar house looks like? Where’s my 3 car garage, butler’s accommodations, dumb waiter, and tennis court?”

      • Yeah. I vary between “how the fuck did that happen?!?”, and “THIS is what a million dollar house looks like? Where’s my 3 car garage, butler’s accommodations, dumb waiter, and tennis court?”

        That’s called Warrenton, VA.

      • justinbc

        The house we almost bought in Logan Circle had a dumb waiter (because the kitchens were originally in the basement and dining rooms on the main level), and I still regret not buying that place.

      • SouthwestDC

        Haha, same here. And I only bought five years ago!

    • I hear you. I bought my house on the Hill near Lincoln Park at the end of 199 for $136,000 and needless to say it is likely about $600,000. That isn’t really a humble brag so much as a WTF? I love my house but in no way would I pay that for it.

      • justinbc

        If you’re near Lincoln Park, especially if you’re going westward, it’s almost certainly worth more than that even.

        • I remember seeing a shell near Lincoln Park that was listed for just below $600k in 2010. I thought it was a good deal for someone willing to take on a big project (not me) and a ton of people seemed interested in it! I agree that ET’s house is probably worth a lot more.

          • justinbc

            Our house near Lincoln Park was purchased by the previous owner for appx $90K in 1997, and then sold to us for just over $700K in 2013. Current Zillow / Redfin estimates put it just shy of $900K (I realize these are not always perfect, but they’re rarely far off either), and those are based solely on size, neighborhood, comps, etc, not even factoring in the huge amount of work we’ve done. We’ve had offers close to $950K but don’t want to move. Unless ET is far East of Lincoln Park I would highly shocked if he / she wasn’t approaching a million by now.

          • Ally

            I almost bought that shell of a house (it was the one that didn’t have a back to it, right?)! It was at the top of our budget and needed major reno, but I know exactly the house you mean. Whoever bought it did a great job of fixing it up. We bought for about 50k less about 4 blocks east.

    • Moved here in 2004, and maybe it was just my youth, but there was definitely a bit of what you described still going on. Feel like people who moved here in the past 5 years might have missed out on that entirely, even though the city has offers ever more amenities. You captured how I feel about the changes perfectly, except unfortunately, I don’t have the million dollar house.

  • From a personal standpoint, definitely yes things have improved. And for the most part, I think the city has as well. However in the last year or so, there are a couple areas that have become very uncomfortable. The area around the CH metro, for instance, is unbearable at this point. Almost every time I’m over there, the volume of people clearly high AF stumbling around, yelling, etc. is scary. I’ve had/witnessed a couple close calls there – nearly mugged, severe street harassment, etc. – so I know I’m probably very sensitive to it. But I stopped eating at those restaurants, shopping at those stores, or taking the metro to/from there unless I’m with my husband (who’s a fairly big guy) or have strength in numbers. It’s weird, because even the kiddy-corner (Cava, D’Vines, etc.) isn’t as bad, in my experience. Hope that metro gets that entrance back up soon.

  • I moved here in 2003 to start college and have been here since with the exception of a one year stint overseas. In short, I’m ready to leave.

    I agree with the people saying that from 10 years ago, yes improvement, but not quite as much from 5 years ago.

    I would cite:
    1) the high cost of housing continuing to grow
    2) the total breakdown of Metro (I actually remember automatic train control!)
    3) the total lack of a plan for improving transportation in the entire region/the near impossibility of getting around easily at certain times of day
    4) the insane free-for-all that our roads have become/the lack of enforcement of any sort of traffic laws by police
    5) the crime situation, in particular violent crime which seems to have spiked in the past year
    6) local government which can maddening to deal with (although it probably has improved in the past five years, but many parts of it are still impossible)
    7) what feels likes growing inequality and segregration

  • 10 years ago I had just moved to DC, to come to grad school. I lived in a group house in Mt. Pleasant and paid $425 for my room. I was able to live off savings and work-study money (less than $10K a year – don’t remember exactly how much but not a lot), walking everywhere, and cooking most meals from past-its-prime produce and sale items from the bodegas. I studied a lot and hung out at the Raven and with friends at their group houses. I was having a blast.

    5 years ago I was living with my then-boyfriend (now husband) in Shaw (he’d bought the tiny row house in 2009), freelancing and looking for a job. The neighborhood was starting to get some amenities, but there wasn’t really anywhere to sit down for a meal yet, and there was no grocery store that we liked to shop at (I don’t remember if the old Giant was still open, but it always took ages to get out of there and the selection was terrible). It was a hustle finding a job, but I found an interesting one that I could walk to in 20 minutes. We weren’t spending a lot of money. Everything around us was under development, with a huge apartment building coming up, along with many other projects. Our street was blocked off for six months, and construction went on through the night and the weekends. I didn’t sleep well for about two years. It really sucked, but we comforted ourselves by saying that buying the house had been a really good investment.

    Today is still a mixed bag. We are living in the same tiny place which has indeed increased significantly in value, and we have a baby. Our place is getting too small for us; our kid is literally bouncing off the walls. We don’t have room for a dishwasher or a bathtub, which has been tough with a baby. I’d love a parking spot too. I have a better and higher paying job that I can walk to in 25 minutes, and my husband can bike to work in 7 minutes. We like Shaw, but we can’t see how we could afford a bigger place in the neighborhood, and have been quoted some really ridiculously high prices to pop up and dig out our basement, so we are a little paralyzed for now.

    Food choices here have DEFINITELY gotten better in DC over the last decade, but there are so many pretentious, not-worth-it places, and we can’t afford to eat at all the fancy restaurants that have sprung up around us. It’s not like we have the time, the energy, or the money to pay the babysitter either, so there’s that.

    Our day care is very close by and affordable for DC – that is, only $20K a year. Our neighborhood school is supposed to be pretty good, but our son’s not guaranteed a spot there til kindergarten, so we may need to find somewhere else for pre-K. And middle school? I don’t even want to think about it. We’ll probably do charter or maybe even private though I have no idea how we’ll swing that financially, especially if we have a second kid. High school, we are hoping he and any future kid can get into one of the selective programs.

    I’m still sort of enjoying DC because it’s so wonderfully diverse with so many cultural activities, and once our kid is older there’ll be a lot more activities we can take part in. I have an interesting and flexible job, we can walk/metro/bus most places we want to go, and we have a really fantastic community of friends, many of whom have kids. But I’m getting tired of the crime. I was at the scene of the shooting at the Shaw Metro last summer, when I was 8 months pregnant. That was scary. I feel bad for the mentally ill homeless folks living on our street, but less so when they poop on my doorstep and tell me they’re going to kill my son. And I’m coming to hate the clueless entitled hipsters. Yes, maybe I was one of them 10 years ago… But I wasn’t spending the kind of money I see people spending now. How are 25-year-olds getting this kind of money to spend on rent, eating out, etc.? I fully acknowledge that I am a gentrifier myself, but I might be ready to not be one any more…

    All of this is to say, DC was great for me 10 years ago; though things are still pretty good on the whole, I’ve gotten pretty tired of the lack of space, the noise, the constant construction, the crime, the hipsters, and the uncertainty about the educational system.

    • I will say though that in general – despite highly publicized random awful murders – Shaw feels safer than it did 5 years ago, because there are a lot more people around, night and day. When I used to see people walking around with their smart phones out, I’d ask them if they needed directions somewhere, because I thought that nobody who lived here could be so stupid as to hold a several-hundred-dollar piece of equipment out essentially for the taking. But now I have my phone out all the time too; during the day, at least – still wouldn’t do it at night. I still don’t leave anything in my car (nothing – not even a sweatshirt in the back seat) or have any packages delivered to my door, though, and I doubt I ever will!

  • For me personally: Better now than 10 years ago. Some improvement since 5 years ago (e.g., restaurants, etc. coming to northern Park View and southern Petworth, but the amount of litter on my block seeming to be unchanged).
    Rents and house prices have shot up in a way that I suppose benefits me personally (or would, if I sold) but that I think is bad for many people. I think it’s now harder for entry-level and early-career folks to find housing they can afford now than it used to be.
    I like that so many parts of D.C. have improved safety-wise. I now live around the corner from the only location in D.C. where anyone ever attempted to squeegee my car (circa the early 2000s) — 15 years ago, I definitely would not have anticipated that someday I’d live in Park View.
    I’m a little troubled that so many of the new restaurants, bars, etc. in D.C. are so high-end — it would be nice if the recent-ish arrivals had more of a range. When I came to this area, 14th Street was a place where you walked hurriedly past vacant storefronts and closed used-car lots as you went from your car to the Black Cat and hoped you wouldn’t get mugged. Even in the mid- to late 2000s, I found it a little disturbing that so many places on 14th Street had already gone from being empty or extreme-low-end joints to being boutique-y, very-high-end joints.
    I’m glad to see that so much of D.C.’s beautiful historic architecture — like in Bloomingdale and Columbia Heights — is finally getting cleaned up and restored. I am really saddened that pop-ups, which were almost unknown until 2011ish, have become a trend. I feel like developers have gotten a stranglehold on the market for houses in D.C., at least in “up and coming” neighborhoods, and are using that power over supply to create artificially high prices that — unbelievably — some buyers are actually willing to pay.

    • I forgot to mention the new Petworth Safeway — that is a humongous improvement for the neighborhood.

    • justinbc

      Agreed on the lack of range in prices, it’s come to the point where I’m happy just to see good mid-range places open (EatBar, All Purpose, etc), and have all but given up on good, new low-end places opening.

    • I also messed up parentheses — I was citing “not much change in amount of litter” as a frustration, not an improvement.

  • HaileUnlikely

    For me personally, I would say slightly better. I was able to buy a foreclosed house at a [relatively] good price a few years ago, and thus my housing expenses are quite low by local standards (less than many people pay to rent studios). However, my social circle consists predominantly of people in their thirties who have chosen careers that don’t pay much and have very grim prospects for ever being able to buy a home here. As my friends are reaching the age where a lot of them are getting married and looking to put down roots, a lot of them are leaving for places like Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and other cities where the cost of living isn’t so crazy high. And it’s not just a matter of finding more friends – yeah, I can do that, but more and more of the kinds of people I generally identify with are leaving, and at this point ones that haven’t already put down roots here aren’t coming either.

  • I’ve lived in the city for fifteen years, most of it happily. Over the past two years, I have become increasingly troubled about crime, and have begun to feel my own personal safety at risk. I am tired of:

    —experiencing frequent slurs regarding my race (white) and sexual orientation (gay)
    —hearing about harassment and assaults experienced by friends who are gay or Jewish
    —not being able to have a package delivered to my house because of the likelihood that it will be stolen
    —violent youth assaults on the streets and Metro being dismissed as “kids being kids”
    —a local leadership at the ANC and Council levels that is nonchalant about crime.

    I’m done living in DC, and have purchased a home in the suburbs. I’ve tolerated the potholes, corruption, failing schools, and poor city services in the hope that things will improve over time. The crime, however, has been my tipping point.

  • DC is without question better today than it was 10 or 5 years ago. I came to DC about 11 years ago for college, and I remember the times when I felt unsafe going into certain neighborhoods that I will regularly go out to today to visit the trendy restaurants. Food options have definitely blossomed. It’s not about trying to “catch up” to NYC so much anymore but DC is establishing a food culture of its own.

    Regarding rent and property prices, I think things have risen as much as any big, metropolitan city. If you compare DC to NYC or SF in terms of property prices, DC is still relatively affordable. High rent is simply the price you pay to live in a bustling city in the US that affords you a mix of excellent job opportunities, new restaurants, culture, museums, music, major national sports teams, etc. Oh and by the way, the President lives here.

    All cities have their own problems, but I’m happy to call DC my home.

    • maxwell smart

      ….DC to NYC or SF in terms of property prices. Those are 3 VERY different cities with their own issues and industries that I think it’s really unfair to lump together. San Francisco housing is skyrocketing – it’s the most expensive market in the country facing heavy backlash and difficulty increasing ANY housing stock and being slowly over-run by the tech industry. NYC has a significantly higher population than DC. I think apartment rents have seen a huge increase in DC in the last 5 years, to the point where the rents here are the same if not more than NYC.

      • Agreed on SF and NYC being entities unto themselves and not really appropriate for comparison.

        • justinbc

          Actually SF is a fantastic corollary because it has similar antiquated housing restrictions like DC’s Height Act and multiple historic preservation boards like DC has that prevent expansion of currently existing neighborhoods. The tech industry salaries are what’s causing the actual prices themselves to be higher, but it’s the laws that are keeping the housing stock similarly low and inflating demand.

          • Funny how the skyscrapers in NYC make the housing there so cheap because of abundant supply.
            Oh wait…

          • SF makes DC look like a libertarian’s wet dream when it comes to building and construction. Ditto with some DC suburbs compared to the Silicon Valley and other areas around SF.

            And to “***”, I recommend you google “Average DC rent”. It has actually been pretty flat for one bedroom apartments the last few years. Rents are no more expensive now in some areas like Cleveland Park, Columbia Heights, and Adams Morgan than they were a few years ago (while yes, Shaw and some other areas are definitely more expensive).

          • justinbc

            What’s true for one city doesn’t have to be true for another, and yet you can still draw parallels. There are significantly more people living and working in NYC / Manhattan, so yes, the prices will be higher. And there’s a significantly larger sector of people who want to maintain a residence there, even if they don’t live there, compared to DC (although that sector is growing here too).

        • Is it really that different?

          What makes a city more attractive than another?

          Job opportunities & high paying jobs
          Safe communities
          New restaurants and bars
          Culture (Museums, Opera, Symphony)
          Sports (MLB, NFL, NHL, MLS…)
          THINGS going on!

          There are only a handful of cities that are rich in these things: NY, SF, DC being among the top. I’m glad I can live in DC that has all of the above, earn the same salary as those in NY for instance, and live more cheaply. That’s all I’m saying.

          • maxwell smart

            there are actually a LOT of cities that would fit that bill. LA, Seattle, etc. And personally, I find DC to be about on par with cost of living in NYC these days. Apartments are as expensive within the same commuting radius. Grocery and dining costs are equally expensive to NYC. Transit is actually more expensive. I have to explain this to people who don’t live here all the time – DC isn’t the bargain it seems from the outside.

  • I could write an essay about my answer (can’t really say its too much of a mix) but I’ve lived in the DMV area for almost 13 years and my has it changed!

    For the better – more development, booming restaurant scene (we shall see how long some survive), extension of metro stations and new lines, more neighborhood-serving retail (a grocery store every 5 blocks), growth in non-government businesses (WeWork, 1776, etc.), new music venues (R&R Hotel, UHall, rebirth of the Lincoln Theater), destination spaces/places (Yards Park, Union Market, The Wharff).

    For the worse – High rent prices, high home prices, declining education, increasing crime, generic ‘hipster’ nightlife, decreasing diversity (see high rent/home prices), over-building residential, substitution of unique, funky “old DC” for new generic ‘insert buzzword’ themed/named places in DC The ____ Lofts (there’s at least one in every neighborhood), Union Market, The Wharff.

    • I should include the re-birth of the Howard Theater! I toured the building 10 years ago and lawd it was disgusting.

      I should also mention I have met many wonderful people here over the past 13 years, but because of the cost of living many have left.

  • I’ve lived here for 23 years. The city is good and getting better. The city government has improved markedly (time travel with me to sit in the DMV in the 90s). Some of the schools have improved.

    ps: Regarding education, I don’t want to tell you folks about the good middle schools, because I don’t want y’all taking seats from my friends’ kids. Ha-ha. My kid is in an awesome one now. Keep looking. Someone might give up the goods. Ha.

    • Agreed. Reputations from those who haven’t been involved are about 5-10 years out of date. Sometimes 20+ for older people living the ‘burbs.

    • Oh, there are a handful of charter middle schools that are pretty good, but they’re incredibly difficult to get into. And then you still have to worry about high school. As for DCPS, if you’ve found a middle school option other than Deal that you’re happy with, that’s terrific. I didn’t. And even if I did, we’d have either had to move, or again, play roulette to try to get in OOB.
      The point is not that there are no good educational options in DC for middle and high school. It’s that there are far too few seats available, and there’s no certainty in getting into them. At some point, certainty in the path forward becomes very attractive.

      • Agreed. It’s not that there aren’t options. Giving up ‘the goods’ here, but I would have been perfectly happy to send my kids to Latin, and his personal preference was Howard, and West EC would have been a decent option but guess what, all those ECs are going away. But again, those schools are/were gambles. His feeder school was CHEC, a school that is defacto bilingual and huge. The oldest speaks no Spanish whatsoever, and I was encouraged by CHEC staff to look elsewhere for him specifically because of this. His by-right school would have been Whittier EC. Nothing against Whittier, but I have a lot against ECs as I feel they do not adequately prepare students for high school. So then your options become roll the dice and hope for the right outcome in the lottery, move, or stay put and hope your kid doesn’t fall in with the wrong crowd and that your parenting will be able to overcome peer pressure and an incompetent education system. I’m glad it worked out for you, AnonDad, and for others like you, but I hope you also realize this isn’t the case everywhere for everyone.

    • I have a charter at the top of my list for middle school. Its pretty popular so I know I need a plan B or C else I may go private

      • I think a Plan B and C is very important in this case. I’m not sure how old your kiddo is, but keep in mind some of the charters begin admitting in 5th grade versus 6th. After researching the options, it was pretty clear that the only choice was to move. The district we moved into will be worth all the difficulties in the long run as the high school is the best in the county we live in. All this without the worry of playing lottery, a huge house with a yard on a cul-de-sac where my kids can play outside… I’ll take that over Wilson any day. I know the ‘burbs aren’t for everyone, but I completely understand why people make the move.

    • And also, Alan, if you think that any parent with kids approaching middle school doesn’t know about the quality charter schools out there, you’re kidding yourself. But hey, you go right on thinking you are the one in on the secret.

  • I moved to the DMV in 08. Lived in Arlington from Jan 08-June 13. Worked by Union Station the entire time. Lived in CoHi since June 13. Since 2008, all the areas I have frequented (especially by Union Station) have gotten a million times better. My boss in 2009 was mugged by kids a block from our office. And there were always a ton of homeless on each of the corners. Whenever I had friends coming to visit and I had to get them from US late at night I would make sure to warn them to stay in a lit area and do not go out until I arrived. That is no longer the case.

    In the 3 years I have lived on Girard, I feel like it is safer now. But I am not too sure. More pop up places being built and still able to walk every where. But I do feel like walking around at night now is more dangerous than it was in 13 but that could be more indicative of me getting older and wiser and just simply no longer being stupid enough to walk the streets alone late at night. That said, I do feel the city is overall far safer. But waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too expensive.

  • Moved to DC 8 years ago after living in a third world country so it was awesome. I had roads, power, stuff to do. Crime did not bother me. If i had been able to survive in the backwater country I was leaving, DC was a piece of cake.
    Loved it for 6 years, really loved it. I was living in a group house in north CH. There were junkies and prostitutes but it really felt stuff was improving with new restaurants and shops.
    Over the last 2 years, I moved east to park view and even though the general area is good with the DC Reynolds strip and Lion’s (<3), it just feels that improvements has ground to a stop. Whether or not it is a perception, I dont feel as safe as before and everything looks dirtier and grimier. I am walking the dogs at night because the gf doesn't feel safe at all.
    So yeah, it got better, it is still better but it's sort of going back down imho

  • Worse. New condos. Lousy infrastructure (terrible roads, more cars and people), 75 year old water pipes. Gap has widened between the haves and the have nots. City Council and city government agencies corrupt. Black Democrats are running this town into the ground. Doesn’t deserve statehood until an ethics panel cleans this town up!

  • I’ve lived here for 6 years but grew up in the area. Hell yes, better than 10 years ago, but 5? Not sure. I’m apprehensive for the future. The lack of new, affordable housing is a huge concern for me. All the new construction is marketed as “luxury.” Both I and my SO can afford to live with multiple roommates, but it would be so hard for us to find a one bedroom that we could afford to rent together. Forget a 2 bedroom and space for kids. I feel like the middle class is getting squeezed out of the city.

  • SouthwestDC

    It’s better for me personally. My house has accrued $275k in value, my neighborhood keeps getting more amenities and less crime, Uber makes it cheaper and easier to get places, and life is just more enjoyable in general. But I also see how it’s become unaffordable for those that don’t already own property, and that bothers me.

  • One thing I do miss– the gay community used to be a lot more tight-knit. Used to be that everyone went out to the same handful of places. Now that the city has become more gay friendly there’s no need for gay neighborhoods and gay bars so they’re dying out. It’s a good thing overall but I liked going to Phase One, or Chaos on a Wednesday night, and having it be wall-to-wall with lesbians, many of whom I knew.

  • Property values are up, kids are wiping their own butts, more cool places opening around Upshur Street, Slim’s Diner (kid friendly hurrah!) – so yes, for me it is better. Still a lot of people texting while driving, I hear the job & housing market is tough, Trump WTF? I am from the Bay Area and I appreciate the diversity and incredible cultural opportunities this city has to offer. Wish we had 14000 ft mountains and the beach were 2 hours closer but hey. The Bay is pretty cool.

  • It’d be nice if clueless millenials and others who have had nothing to do with DCPS could stop crapping on the whole system. Sure, there are lots of challenges in the system and some serious issues stemming from systemic poverty. But there’s also a place for middle class families to make a way. Who knows – you might even befriend some of your poorer neighbors?

    • Are millennials talking about DCPS? This is an honest question, because I haven’t noticed this. (The people I do notice talking about school systems actually have kids in them…)

      • It’s the people who spout off “… and a failing school system…” as a complaint about DC when they know nothing of it.
        Parents with kids in the system usually have a more nuanced understand of what works and what doesn’t. There are plenty of schools that aren’t “failing”.

        • True but as someone with children just about to hit school age those schools are hard to get into . Those of us that did not buy before the DC property boob find it difficult to get into neighborhoods where the good schools are. This is part of the discussion of what works and what does not work. My old roommate bought a 4 bedroom house in in a desirable neighborhood for 600,000. about 4 years ago. She loves her local schools. Now a 2 bedroom condo costs more then 600,00 in that same neighborhood.

          For those of US with children under 3 and who are trying to find a place to buy and stay in the city the reality is a bit different then it was even just 4 or 5 years ago.

          Everyone has a different perspective on the situation based on unique circumstances. I think its unfair to call out anyone and say they know nothing. Two experiences can both be equally real and true and just different which leads to different opinions.

          • When they bought their house were the schools as established? Or were they still seen as transitional? You can still buy a 4BR townhouse for $600,000 in a transitional neighborhood like Petworth or Brookland. I think it’s a similar situation but in a different area.

          • Anon Dad- as someone who is looking for homes and condos I am not sure you can get one in petworth or brooklyn at least in the metro accessible areas for 600,000 . I live in petworth now and would love to stay at a home buyer. Most people I know moving to these neighborhoods right now are putting down about 700,000 and are making offers that wave inspections because the market is so competitive at that price. For inlaw reasons I need 3 bedrooms so my experience is based on that. Maybe for a small family a 2 bedroom in petworth can be found for 600,000.

          • The amazingly remodeled ones are a good bit higher, as are the large SFHs. But I’ve seen smaller townhouses (generally 3-4BR) in OK condition. Maybe I’m a couple of years out of date on that?
            I’m guessing that’s comparable to the type of condition you’d have to look at to get a 4 BR in a desirable (AU Park?) neighborhood even 4 years ago, which also would have been very rare.

          • HaileUnlikely

            To further illustrate what families are up against here, Carol and AnonDad are throwing around the number $600K as if it represents some marker of affordability for a normal family. When I bought my house for under $300K in 2012, it was near the top of what I could afford. It has appreciated some, but not enough that the money I’d make by selling it would enable me to afford to move to any neighborhood with schools that are actually better, or even just have more hint of promise despite not presently being better, anywhere in the DC metro area.

          • Thank you for this point, Haile! This was certainly the case for me. I would never have been able to own a home in DC on my own and for me rent was out of reach. Not everyone in DC was a DINK before they had kids.

          • +1 to HaileUnlikely’s “To further illustrate what families are up against here, Carol and AnonDad are throwing around the number $600K as if it represents some marker of affordability for a normal family.”
            Sure, some couples can afford that… but there are a hell of a lot of couples in D.C. who can’t. And that’s well-educated couples, not lower-SES (socioeconomic status) couples.

          • 600K is my max with a 2 parent household. I cannot imagine what it would be like for a single mom or dad or even a family with only 1 working parent.

            While the down payment is hard to get for most parents ,whats even scarier is rental prices are typically more expensive then mortgages. While I am sad I probably cannot afford to live in DC for much longer with kids I am grateful I have options.

        • Yes the market is a lot different then it was 4 years ago! I regret not buying then but I was not ready. I am actively looking in petworth (as well as V/A) for a 3 bedroom and its very challenging. I have no desire for a recently flipped house but when you are going above to the top of your budget for the down payment a fixer upper is not in the cards either. I do not yet feel safe with young kids to move out to Anocostia ( I work there so I am not clueless). Their are some neighborhoods that have okay school but no metro access which means another family car and another expense. The buses are great in this city but not reliable enough to avoid the fine of not getting to daycare by 6pm.

          At HaileUnlikely I am shocked these are the numbers I am throwing around as well. This makes me at least a lot less willing to want to gamble with the outcome of public schools and in the end I am not sure it will be feasible financially. I love Dc so much but across the river has some of the best public schools in the country and home prices that are affordable. For me though its sad not to really be able to raise my family in the city I love and have lived in for the past 8.5 year.s

          • “At HaileUnlikely I am shocked these are the numbers I am throwing around as well. This makes me at least a lot less willing to want to gamble with the outcome of public schools and in the end I am not sure it will be feasible financially.”
            This is an excellent point that really bears on people’s decisions. Moving into a school district with attractive feeder rights in DC is generally an expensive proposition. Making that financial commitment so that your kids can attend a school you *think* will turn out to be good is a gamble many (including me) are not willing to make. And candidly, I put every DCPS middle and high school, including Deal and Wilson, in that category.
            Now, if we lived in a Deal or Wilson feeder district (or maybe some others), we wouldn’t necessarily have moved – we’d likely have given it a shot. But that wasn’t the case, and our IB options or other guaranteed options, like Anonamom’s, were not acceptable. Paying close to a million dollars for a house and then having to move or pay for private in a few years was not an option. And again, I wanted more certainty than the Latin, or DCI, or other charter lotteries would provide.

          • That’s a good point. I don’t think I could afford my house now, or perhaps even a neighborhood that I’d be comfortable with. And I’m not even on the ritzy side of town.
            It’s definitely a tough place for renters or those looking to buy at the wrong time in the market cycles.

    • I know this is sort of going back to discussions regarding generations, but I am technically a millenial. There are millennial parents in the city, quite a few of us actually.

    • Millennials range in age according to the definition of Millennials from 18-34. Millennials are parents.

      • Hah, so I’m a millennial too. Just more informed about the schools than a 24 year old with no kids. I stand by my comment about clueless millenials. Clued-in ones are fine in my book.

    • Don’t you know? If your children don’t go to Janney, Deal and Wilson, they’re destined to fail! DCPS sends elite teachers to those schools and backfills every other incompetents.

    • Anon Dad- as someone who is looking for homes and condos I am not sure you can get one in petworth or brooklyn at least in the metro accessible areas for 600,000 . I live in petworth now and would love to stay at a home buyer. Most people I know moving to these neighborhoods right now are putting down about 700,000 and are making offers that wave inspections because the market is so competitive at that price. For inlaw reasons I need 3 bedrooms so my experience is based on that. Maybe for a small family a 2 bedroom in petworth can be found for 600,000.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I am not a parent yet but am at the stage of thinking about it (and I’m too old to be a millennial). My neighborhood DCPS elementary school is fine (not one that people clamor to get into, but fine), but at present, the prospects for high school are really, really grim, and don’t yet really show any signs of improving. I hope that schools like Coolidge, Roosevelt, Bell et al will improve significantly over the next several years, but I haven’t seen much yet that gives me a whole lot of hope. Several parents who have or had kids in DCPS elementary schools have commented on this up above.

      • There are application high school options like Banneker, School Without Walls, and Ellington. I’m more concerned about middle school.

        • HaileUnlikely

          Yes there are. My understanding, which admittedly might be wrong, is that they are *very* highly selective and difficult to get into, though. It’s not as if all DC parents can simply count on sending their kid to Banneker, Schools Without Walls, or Ellington.

        • Middle school is more of a concern, but I don’t view the application schools like Walls and Banneker any differently than charters – excellent options, but with no guarantee of getting in, you could find yourself scrambling at a critical educational juncture. Ellington is so specialized that it isn’t even a consideration – no idea, in the 4th grade, if it would even be an option for my kid.

      • I went out of boundary for HS but have friends who stayed on the neighborhood school track and are doing as well or better than I am. Test scores are generally correlated to family education and income. Poor people often don’t have the ability or time to give their children experiences, guidance and help. West of the Park schools. Rich people, “good” schools. Shepherd. Rich neighborhood, highly scored school. West/Marie Reed. Lower incomes decent, not great [testing] schools, on down the line, of course with outliers. Nothing new, been that way for decades. That’s why I’m torn about charters. It takes the poorer but still motivated families and their funding out of the public arena for a school with usually only marginally better scores and leaves awesome kids without the same support system to flounder. If people keep moving into neighborhoods seeking alternative schooling, the schools will never improve. At one point Garrison Elementary had 97% reduced and free lunch. It’s surrounded by million dollar homes.

        • It’s schools like Marie Reed, West, Powell, Cleveland, Seaton, etc. that seem viable with “affordable” housing options. Sure, it’d be nice to buy in AU Park, but I don’t even think about that.
          Granted, it’d be hard to afford a 3 bedroom townhouse as a single parent. But I’ve seen 2 bedroom apartments (older 6 unit or so buildings) for $300s in my $800K+ neighborhood.

          • EXACTLY!!! People don’t seem to understand that. I did not go to Janney or Mann or Murch or Deal and by the time I got to Walls, I was in no less educated than my peers. The one or two people who had any advantage I noted came from Washington International. I’d expect perfection for $250,000!

  • I like to boil down my thoughts about DC into two words: “Thanks Obama!”

    When I first came to DC in 2006, I lived in NW and was told by person after person to not go east of 14th Street. ..and they were right. Crackheads, prostitutes, boarded up storefronts and abandoned buildings galore. Since Obama was inaugurated, a lot of things have changed, particularly since it brought a lot of people to DC who would not have thought about coming here before. His Presidency brought a new “coolness” to DC that I hadn’t seen (in white people at least) before.

    However, we all know the result of this influx of people from, dare I say Ohio, is in fact. Real estate and rental prices have skyrocketed and new trendy shops and eateries are all over the city. Is it “Better” than it was 10 years ago? No, because those eateries were just farther west than they are currently and one could actually afford a 1-bedroom apartment in the city on a non-profit salary.

    Additionally, a report from the DC Fiscal Policy Institute has come out recently suggesting that more DC families are living in poverty than before the Great Recession, which poses a threat to the social fabric of our city. Inequality is immense and nothing going to fix it anytime soon either.

    • This post is naive on at least two counts: 1) Obama has very little to do with DC’s resurgence. If you want to thank one person, maybe thank Tony Williams, but there are larger forces at play discussed elsewhere here. Whole Foods opened east of 16th a full 8 years before his first term started and 6 years before your arrival; and 2) Irrespective of the merits of that particular report, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute *always* issues reports that conclude some variation of “additional spending social services needed.” That’s their cottage industry.

      • Should have said just off 14th, not east of 16th, in reference to your comment about crackheads, prostitutes, and boarded up storefronts everywhere in 2006.

      • Agreed — I think highly of Obama, but I don’t think the change in D.C. in the past 10 years has much to do with his presidency. (Though the momentum/enthusiasm certainly didn’t hurt.)

      • Agreed – I moved east of 14th in 2004, and I’m about as far from an urban pioneer as you can find.

  • It’s better for me, but largely due to money. We make significantly more than we did when we first moved into the city and have benefited enormously from gentrification. Our children go to a great charter close to our house. Beyond that, we can afford private. We don’t ride Metro and have very easy commutes. So yes, it’s better for us, but largely because we have the means to insulate ourselves from a lot of what makes this city suck.

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