Anyone live near Washington, DC?

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by kellia, Sep 4, 2008.

  1. kellia

    kellia DIS Veteran

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    It was suggested that dh apply for a position in Wash. DC. I am scared to death about what the cost of living would be out east, we currently are in Michigan. His salary would double, but I have no idea what houses, taxes, utilities, insurance, food, etc. would cost there. I have been shocked on some of these posts by how much others in the U.S. pay for things!

    Also, he would be able to work at home quite a bit, so we could live farther away than if he had a daily commute. Any suggestions on where to look for houses?? MD or VA? I know that they have trains into the city, but have no clue where they start from or how long it would take. We currently live in a smaller town in just a regular 1960's ranch, wouldn't need much more as long as it was in a good area with good schools. Any help??

    I also would have to get a new job, are those areas that are hiring? In Michigan the economy is horrible, but I am not sure which other areas of the US are doing better.

    Any advice at all would be appreciated! :goodvibes We don't know the area at all, so don't even know where to begin. The thought of how much we are going to have to pay just to sell our house here sends me into a panic, I am worried about what we'd get into out there!
     
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  3. melcan

    melcan Mouseketeer

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    I can tell you, Northern Virginia is a VERY expensive place to live. Google a cost of living calculator on the web, you can type in your salary for where you live and it will tell you how much you need to make in the other city.

    I live in Southwestern Virginia, my house in Northern Virginia would be about 200% more. The farther you get out from the D.C. area the more affordable (if you can call it that) it gets.
     
  4. tinytink

    tinytink DIS Veteran

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    I live in Northern VA (Fairfax County-www.fairfaxcounty.gov)about 12 miles away from DC and right now our housing market has cooled down and you should be able to find a decent home for a really good value right now. We use Metro as our train system and we also have Marc and VRE(virginia rail express). If your husband could carpool he could use the HOV(high occupancy vehicles) which on some roads are 2 or 3 persons to a vehicle.
    Other neighboring counties are:
    Arlington: http://www.co.arlington.va.us/ (very close to DC but more expensive to live in I grew up in this county and I love it)
    Loudoun: http://www.loudoun.gov/ (majorly boomed in the past few years, much longer commute to DC)
    Town of Herndon: http://www.herndon-va.gov/ (again much longer communte to DC but again close to the Loudoun Co which has expanded in housing, retail, and businesses)
    Fauquier Co: http://www.co.fauquier.va.us/ (again further away but commutable)

    each of those website could give you an idea of VA's taxes. I am not that familiar with MD so maybe someone else can help you with that state.

    Good Luck
     
  5. fireworks fan

    fireworks fan Mouseketeer

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    Hi-

    I moved from Arlington, Va to Chicago 3 years ago, after 12 years in VA and DC. Housing is definitely more expensive there, but I have found that EVERYTHING ELSE is more expensive here. My insurance costs are much higher, my property taxes are more than tripled, the schools here are not that great-so I'm paying for private school (Arlington schools are some of the best in the country), gas is more, even accounting for the huge increase nationally, and food is more with less variety in the number and type of grocery stores. Then you have to add in all the free recreational activities in DC-all the museums, zoo, and tons of events on the Mall are all FREE! The only thing about even is the bad traffic :lmao:

    Anyway, I loved Arlington. It was a great small community near a large city.
     
  6. melcan

    melcan Mouseketeer

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    Hey tiny, My best friend lives in Fairfax. I was just up there last weekend.
     
  7. bdcp

    bdcp DIS Veteran

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    I have lived in both MD and VA and owned homes in both. MD has higher overall taxes due to county taxes tacked onto state taxes. Virginia has personal property taxes on vehicles, but even with new cars, we've found it cheaper than MD taxes. Property values tend to be better in VA. We are currently in Loudoun and home prices have dropped a lot. Good thing we're staying put for a while and we put 20% down on our house to begin with. We love Loudoun. We both work in Fairfax county though so the commute is like 10 miles. When you say Washington, DC, do you mean downtown Washington? There are other things to consider such as subway (Metro) or bus vs driving and which part of DC his job will be in. I worked in DC during college and commuted via bus and metro. Most of the communities with regular old '60's ranch homes aren't in the neighborhoods you'd want your kids going to school. The best schools are usually in the newest neighborhoods. Our boys both graduated HS in the town/area we live in now.
     
  8. tinytink

    tinytink DIS Veteran

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    I personally love my choices in grocery stores, Wegmans, Harris Teeter, Giant, Safeway, Magruders, Costco, Sam's Club, BJ's and not to mention all the asian and latino ones that are popping up everywhere.

    Arlington is great but it is expensive, I spent the majority of my life there and I would love to move back but we've settled in Fairfax and we are not planning on selling our house either because like many we purchased when the market was super hot and put down over 20 percent so we're staying put.
     
  9. StephMK

    StephMK DIS Veteran

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    Where exactly he'd be working definitely makes a difference & if he has any flexibility in work hours. I grew up in Ffx Co & recommend many of the schools there too. Not sure how old your kids are, the high schools are pretty big around there. What type of activities are your kids involved in? What type of work do you do? Anything in particular you want to have close access to?

    We moved away almost 2 yrs ago & I do NOT miss the traffic there! But we pay as much in NE as we did in VA for property tax-auto & home. Our home is 2x as big, cost 1/2 as much but taxed the same as in VA. We were told the cost of living would be so much cheaper in NE but it's really not. We pay more for medical care, groceries/gas maybe just a little less but most stuff is comparable to what we paid in VA. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to help. We looked at a lot of areas in & around Ffx Co over the years when moving around to diff. houses. Good luck!!
     
  10. kellia

    kellia DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the replies!! He would work a couple of blocks away from the Mall. It is supposed to have flexible hours and telecommuting, though, or we wouldn't even be considering it.

    Our dd is 13, boys are 5. We definately need good schools! Dd is on the swim team, boys aren't old enough to really be into anything yet. Any idea for how long the commute would be living farther out in some of the towns mentioned? We both currently commute over 50 miles each way to work, but it only takes us an hour to drive. I am sure it wouldn't be like that out there!

    I work in IT, have a business degree.

    Are there lots of parks with bike paths in the area? That is one thing we love doing as a family.

    What are the summers like? Is it humid? Coming from Michigan, we don't do well in heat! ;) I really won't miss the winters, though.

    Oh, can anyone give me a ballpark figure of what latchkey and summer daycare costs there?
     
  11. holbear

    holbear Mouseketeer

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    I live in Germantown, MD. It's about 15 miles NW of DC. If you are looking to take the metro, it is convenient but ends in Gaithersburg. Many will drive to the metro and park but the parking is tough. If you don't get there early enough there is no parking left. There is also a train that travels out to WV (MARC train). Many people do live that far out and commute. The train is strictly a commuter train which means it only travels for a block of time in the morning and evening (think 5-9 am and 4-7 pm, but I'm not sure of the hours). My DH does commute to DC and it takes him just about an hour. When we considered moving here we picked Germantown because it was about the furthest he wanted to consider commuting from.

    The house market has dropped and you can find houses for much better then a couple years ago. It is still a pricey area. Taxes are high. Montgomery tax is a 60% piggyback tax on top of the state tax. We have been happy with the public school system and the resources for kids are outstanding (sports, libraries, ect) It is a crowded area all around and very ethnically and economically diverse.

    Good luck with your decision.
     
  12. PlutoPony

    PlutoPony DIS Veteran

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    There are obviously good schools and less good schools within a district. IMO if you look along the I-66 corridor you should be OK. There are good schools going down I-95 but there seems to be a little more variance between schools that way. Keep in mind this is strictly my opinion and others may disagree :)
    No problem there. Many neighborhoods with a pool have summer swim teams and there are a LOT of kids doing year round programs. Don't know how the cost of that will compare to what you're used to however.... Otherwise you'll likely find all the sports here that you have in Michigan Hockey is not big here as what you're used to but it can be found...
    It's not so much how far you are as much as how's traffic, accidents, weather, etc. It may be worthwhile to look at commuting via Metro (that goes out only as far as Vienna in the west and Springfield in the south) which still puts in in pretty expensive housing. Taking VRE (express train) would allow you to work out further since it goes much further into the suburbs both west and south. If you're driving IMO I wouldn't go further than Prince William County, and if you really like Fauquier thoroughly check out the commute - some parts don't add much time but others can add a lot. Driving from western Prince William is 40 minutes without traffic and maybe 60-90 (or more on a bad day) with traffic - but it's slow moving stop and go driving....They are constantly building roads here and it is getting better slowly. But the the commute can vary quite a bit day to day...

    Yes there are, that's something that's gotten much better since we've lived here. There are also the bike paths on the C & O Canal, and the WO&D Railroad paths.

    Summers are hot and humid (this year was cooler than normal :thumbsup2). Winters are all over the place. Not much snow, some ice. Be aware that schools close and roads are an absolute disaster when there's an inch of snow... that takes some getting used to. Most winters are very mild but we're due for a snowy one....

    Housing costs may be a rude awakening for you. This is definitely a buyer's market but things are selling if priced right. For a house in a decent middle class neighborhood you might be able to get in under $400k now but you'd have to look hard (we're in western Prince William). These same houses were going for mid $500's two years ago so you see the prices have come down. Don't know about townhouses but I'd guess lower $300's if you want something in good neighborhood and condition. Generally housing prices go up as you go closer in. Also closer in houses tend to be older, much more new construction out in the 'burbs. There are bargains to be found in closer, those typically need quite a bit of work but may be worth it if you like that type of thing....

    HTH - good luck!

    Edit - am just giving VA info since that's what I'm most familiar with. Don't mean to imply that the MD suburbs wouldn't be a good place to live!
     
  13. punkin

    punkin <font color=purple>Went through pain just to look

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    I live in Montgomery County in MD. There are some very good schools here, but the prices of housing are fairly high (though much lower than a year ago). I like it better than VA mainly because the traffic seems to be much lighter (that's relative, mind you).
     
  14. czycropper

    czycropper DIS Veteran

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    If my DH would have the option to live down there we would be there! :lmao:

    I lived down there for many years. I started out in the MD suburbs and moved to NoVa and never regretted it for a minute. We loved Northern VA. We lived in McLean (rented) and Vienna (owned).

    DH's office was in Downtown DC and most of the times he would drive in and leave really early in the morning. My office was in Reston so I was going opposite traffic and had no problems.

    Summers were very humid but to be honest so are most summers up & down the East Coast (well, maybe not in New England but they sure are in New Jersey).

    I miss living down there a lot but it looks like we're stuck here in New Jersey since this is where my DH's job is but at least he's being put in charge of the London Office in 2009 so we'll get to travel over there every quarter!
     
  15. pbharris4

    pbharris4 DIS Veteran

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    We live in the Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania County area which is about an hour south or 50 miles south of D.C. ther is alot of commuters down here, in fact, one neighbor works for House of Rep. at the Ford Bldg in D.C. another works at the Pentagon, another is a pilot in D.C., another at the Dept. of Agriculture, etc. alot of people have moved down here to have a bigger house or more land as it is cheaper to live here then closer to the city, but then you have to commute whether by train (VRE) or carpool, some telecommute.

    What makes the Fredericksurg area unique is that we are smack dab in the middle between D.C. and Richmond (50 miles south) so you can work either place. Although the whole area compared to other places in the US (except NY, CA and some others)is still pretty high price wise. HOWEVER, this is a great time to buy a house..and get more house for your $$$.

    You're in IT which is great. So is my DH and he used to say that D.C. is the Silicon Valley of the East. The 3 big defense contractors would be a good place to look for a job. Northrop Grumman is always looking for IT people. I'd get in touch with a realtor in the area. It all depends on how far you are willing to go and what you can afford as well.

    And as others have stated...housing might be more in the D.C. area, but with everything else...there is more competition (i.e. groceries, clothing) so they can have lower prices. My parents in NE Penna. had lower house payments, but there were only 2 grocery stores and the cost of food was ridiculous.

    If you do look in this area....the Chancellor district is the best in Spotsylvania County, IMO, but there are other nice areas too. Best Wishes in your new adventure!!
     
  16. PrincessDadx2

    PrincessDadx2 Openly has the hots for Wuv Tigger

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    I have been in Fairfax County for 30 years and currently live in Centreville. Lots of change over the years, but still love the area.

    Cost of living depends on your house. Besides housing you can buy anything you want for about as cheap as possible between Costco and the big box retailers, local immigrant shops, and online. We live in a late 1960's area and you can currently buy a SFH for less than $400,000. Don't know how long that will last. My house has gone from $560 to $400 in the last few years, but still significantly more than I paid. After the current election I expect things to stablize and then begin to move up again. Real estate here is about a 10 year boom bust cycle.

    Our neighborhood is nice with trees, bike paths and great schools within walking distance. Many swim teams, but I think it was a lot more competative/intense 10-15 years ago. Commute time to DC is probably 1hr to 1 1/4 hr by metro bus - train if you are close to metro. Drive time is 40min to 2hr depending on time of day, accidents etc.

    If you breathe and know IT you should be able to quickly get a job for $50,000+. If you have a security clearance or special skills easily 6 figures. Lot of contractors/homeland security work in western fairfax county with about a 20 min commute from my house.

    Definitely a quicker pace of life with a lot of options. Many transient/busy people so you need to get involved with a Church or club or something to make friends. We have always known our neighbors though that is community dependent. Our neighborhood has block parties etc. and we are active in the PTA.

    Summer is hot and humid, but no worse than WDW :thumbsup2

    Don't need childcare, but I know our school has before and after care. I think that is one other cost that is probably higher than other areas.

    Great location for doing things - 2 hours to the mountains 3 hours to the beach easy drive to Philly or NYC or Williamsburg or Downtown DC is mostly free, etc.

    Don't know what your DH salary is, but I would want to have a household income of +100k to live here. People do it for less, but it is more enjoyable if you have the resources.
     
  17. Fabinva

    Fabinva Mouseketeer

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    I live in Bristow, VA and work in Wash DC (close to the mall). I commute daily by car and very early (6am) and it takes me an hour to get to work. I have the option to take the train (VRE) but found it is faster if I drive and I get free parking.
    Bristow is west of Fairfax in Prince William County, it is a new area very and great place for families. We love our neighborhood and the schools.
    Right now house prices had dropped a lot so you should be able to get a good deal.
     
  18. clutter

    clutter <font color=FF66FF>Princess's Mom<br><font color=b

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    I'm going to agree with most of this!

    I'm a fairfax person, and many of the schools west of the beltway are great. Many nieghborhoods have swim clubs in the neighborhood, and they mostly have swim teams. I know some other kids that swim the rest of the year, but I'm not sure where. There are sports leagues covering the various areas of Fairfax that will have great opportunities for your boys to try a variety of sports as they grow. As an IT person, you can pretty much be assured of getting a job here. Summer camps can run a huge range of differences. If you can get into the school's programs, they can be inexpensive. After school is $275/month and summer was maybe $200/week or so. There are specialty camps that will run more in the summer, but there are tons to choose from. I love it here, except for the cost of housing.
     
  19. lvanleer

    lvanleer DIS Veteran

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    Well I've lived in Montgomery County Maryland all my life and love it....we have great schools and neighborhoods here....however another county that you might want to look into is Frederick County Maryland immediately north of my county....the MARC commuter train is convenient and the property costs are a little lower up there.....hope that helps.
     
  20. punkin

    punkin <font color=purple>Went through pain just to look

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    Absolutely. Housing, even with the current drops is astronomical compared to most of the country. If you want a good school district, prepare for a nice sized mortgage.
     
  21. kellia

    kellia DIS Veteran

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    Thanks again for the posts!! I checked out a couple of the Virgina county sites posted above, haven't gotten to MD yet. Property taxes there don't look too bad, it looked like it's a little over $1000/year per $100,000 your house costs, is that right? Actually, that would be less than what we pay now.

    What is the personal property tax? You have to pay taxes every year on your car or just when you buy it? It looks like that is about 4%, so I have to pay $400/year if my car is worth $10,000?? Are there any other taxes?

    One other thing, are there any additional taxes for working in DC or do you have to pay anything extra if you live outside the state the state you work in? DC is considered a state for taxes, isn't it?
     

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