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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Moving Season

When I worked in shipping back when I was in college, it got busy three times a year. Christmas, of course, and moving season. Moving season is actually two periods, one at the end of the school year and one at the beginning of the school year. And the latter was always the bigger one.

Right now, I'm stuck at my current bungalow in Laurel for another winter. The Bush economy has prevented me from making the necessary upgrades that would enable me to sell my house. I figured I'd look at a few areas that seem to be the hot spots around here. This of course will be anecdotal, based on my friends and coworkers, so feel free to comment on other areas.

Everyone in the DC area in their mid-twenties to early thirties knows at least one person who lives in Arlington. I have a few friends that work in Tysons Corner who are relocating to the region for convenience. Ironically, they'll be able to take the Metro everywhere except to their jobs! (for now). I was there just the other night, and that place never ceases to amaze me, attracting young professionals of all kinds. There's definitely a narrow age demographic there, but perhaps over time it will cater to a more diverse age spectrum. For now, it's a great place to be in your twenties.

Or as Silver Spring, Singular likes to say, SSINO (Silver Spring in name only). Many of my recently married friends are making their way to communities in Aspen Hill, Colesville, and White Oak. Though relatively car dependent, this area is ideal for raising a suburban family. The New Hampshire Avenue and US29 Corridors are each a string-of-pearls suburban neighborhoods. In my opinion, the corridors are deteriorating and in need of a lot of elbow grease, and I believe a good number of these young families will be making their way back towards the city in the not-too-distant future.

Now, I've never been a fan of Capitol Hillbillies... You know, the trust fund just-graduated-from-a-really-good-school congressional intern types that turn the historic row homes into mini frat houses... But a lot of my city dwelling coworkers are moving there because it's the only place in the city with a valuable resource for them: MARC. You see, MARC is the only half decent transit system that runs anywhere near Fort Meade, and if you want to live in DC and ride the MARC, you have to live near Union Station. This is the main reason that I think Metro ought to go out to BWI. But for now, Capitol Hill is home to a growing pocket of "reverse commuters" headed north in the morning rush.

I hate to admit I am not as familiar with this town as I'd like to be. It is certainly attracting a good number of my friends down there. even a young family I know is making their way down near the King Street station. I suppose this will give me more opportunity to explore down there, like I should have been doing the last 28 years I've been living here!

I have a coworker who moved here from Glen Burnie. It quadrupled the length of his commute, but he says actually drives less because he only uses the car to get to work. I might have gone with something a little closer to 295, like perhaps Anacostia or H Street, but less driving nowadays is less gas, which means less money. I think it speaks volumes of the city if someone can move a half hour further away from work and actually drive less overall because of the walkability of the neighborhood.

Cheaper than regular Bethesda. It is a very convenient area for driving, but Metro is clustered in narrow pockets along Rockville Pike. I imagine over the decades the area will become a little more pedestrian friendly, but for now it is a series of wide empty roads, strip malls, and office parks. If you can afford one of the grossly overpriced single-family houses there, you're doing alright and probably don't mind paying for all that gas (which is also overpriced in that town!)

I've noticed a major run on houses in the North College Park neighborhood just south of the Beltway and east of Route 1. I was wondering why so many people were flocking to that part of town for a while before it struck me. It is a nice, clean safe neighborhood of low-density single-family houses, and it's relatively cheap. But the kicker is that there is pedestrian access to the Greenbelt station, which has Metro and MARC, and is a major bus hub. I've seen friends sharing a house, young families, and settled families flocking to this neighborhood because it has all of the suburban charm and it is staggering distance to public transit often reserved for high density regions. The other side of the tracks is currently nothing but a parking lot, but plans to develop the area will mean that in the future, residents will be walking distance to a major town center as well.

Interestingly, i don't see anyone I know flocking to Hyattsville, and indeed they are still laughing at me when I tell them it's where I'm trying to move. Perhaps the joke will be on me when I do wind up moving next spring. Of course, for now I'll do anything to get out of this ratty little neighborhood.

Where do you see a run on housing?


Dan Reed said...

"Or as Silver Spring, Singular likes to say, SSINO (Silver Spring in name only)."

You know, Downtown Silver Spring is SSINO so long as we aren't a city yet.

Anyway: I think Outer Silver Spring
is stronger than ever. The revitalization of Downtown combined with the increasing expense of the 270 corridor's making East County a more attractive place to live for families. There are some solid neighborhoods here, among them Stonegate, Springbrook and Good Hope - and new homes as well, some of which are selling for upwards of $1 million.

There are some struggling areas - Briggs Chaney and parts of White Oak, notably - but they're also on the upswing, with the new rec center in White Oak and, of course the FDA moving in. Young people just starting out are flocking to Burtonsville because you can find a house or condo there for well under $500,000.

While you won't find any nightlife in East County, you'll find a nice, quiet place to do the suburban thing, which is the least you can hope for.

As for Hyattsville: what about the Arts District? I assume those little townhouses are selling like hotcakes.

Dave Murphy said...

Stonegate, Springbrook, and Good Hope... I suppose I just threw them under "Colesville". Having spent a good deal of my life trapsing around those neighborhoods, I find them to be a little disconnected versus the rest of Silver Spring. I think White Oak/Hillandale will come around if it ever gets transit, but the further out areas need some help.

As for Hyattsville... I KNOW! I don't understand why everyone thinks it's such a bad idea.

Scenic Wheaton said...

I agree with Dan and Dave - some parts of Hyttesville are incredible with a nice sense of community, good places to get beer and coffee (necessities), and the Northwest Branch bike trail is an incredible ride.