Dear PoP – Million Dollar Question Edition

by Prince Of Petworth January 22, 2009 at 11:45 pm 125 Comments

IMG_7356, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

“The reason I’m searching your site is that I am desperate to find a neighborhood in DC that I can afford and one in which I’m not afraid to raise my kids. (2 1/2 and 4 1/2) I am an unabashed urbanite and well used to live in urban areas, but having children has made me a bit more concerned about where I live. My husband and I have both lived in DC (in neighborhoods that are no longer affordable) when we were single, and we recently bought a house near Baltimore. But the commute is killing us, and I am just so unhappy having the girls in pre-school so far away from where I work.

Can you offer me any advice on where in DC we could buy a house/rowhouse for under $400 that is in decent shape and safe enough to raise a family? Is Petworth a good choice for such a move?

I am hoping you will tell me it is as I’ve been looking through the listings and found a number of places that don’t look too run-down in Petworth for the price we need. But can you tell me about the community vibe? Any good playgrounds locally?”

Well, this is a super tough question for two reasons. First I am biased as I am a huge fan of Petworth and will instantly rave about it. Although, second, I don’t have any children.

But I’ll take a crack at it. As we’ve discussed many times DC Public Schools are for the most part a bit problematic. For sure there are some good ones particularly for younger children but I’ve heard choosing a high school can be a very difficult choice. But recently there have been some very good public charter school options. But since you didn’t ask specifically about schools I’ll focus on community a bit.

Let me say that in the almost six years (admittedly not a long time) I’ve lived in Petworth I’ve noticed tons of children. There are children from long term residents and children from new comers as well. Petworth has a very good playground on Taylor Street near 7th.

I honestly do think Petworth is a great choice because there is a strong community here. But it will still take an effort to become part of the community. Often you have to make the first move and introduce yourself around the neighborhood. But having said that, in my 11 years in DC I have never been more welcomed than when I moved to Petworth. Like all of DC’s neighborhoods crime does exist in Petworth but like any good urbanite if you use common sense and good judgment it most likely will not affect you. Again, over the nearly six years that I’ve lived here none of my neighbors have encountered any problems (and I talk with tons of neighbors).

Another positive attribute about Petworth is that it is very convenient to get downtown by metro or bus. Plus you are fairly close to Rock Creek Park as well.

As is no secret I’m a huge fan of many of DC’s neighborhoods. Of course the under $400k limit for a home will limit your search. I’m not sure how much the homes cost but if you are able to put in some sweat equity I’ve also become a big fan of the Bloomingdale neighborhood. At the moment there isn’t as much development (restaurants/bars/etc) in Bloomingdale, though they have one of the best coffee shops in the city. But the homes and streets in Bloomingdale are among the most beautiful I’ve seen. Of course crime exists there as well but again crime, sadly, exists all over the city.

So let’s also make this the Friday Question of the Day – if you were looking to buy a house in DC for under $400k – what neighborhood would you choose to raise children?


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