My husband has just been offered a job in College Park, MD. I'll be moving with my 3 three kids (two in elementary school, one younger) and am looking for some info about neighborhoods and schools and so on.
The biggest city I've lived in is Seattle and it was generally true that closer in town, a lot of the neighborhoods and schools were less desirable and expensive. If you moved further outside of the city you would find better schools, safer neighborhoods, and less expensive housing, you just had to balance the commute length with these factors.
Is this true in the DC area? I realize that College Park is already a little ways outside of the DC. Are the neighborhoods and schools in that area pretty good? I'm trying to decide what cities and neighborhoods I should investigate. We'll probably want a lower cost, 3 bedroom rental for our first year in the area. We haven't yet figured out if we're going to fly out ahead of time to look for housing or if we'll try to arrange something remotely.
Also, it wouldn't hurt to have a few contacts in the area to answer questions. If you're willing to talk with me, please send me a pm with your contact info.
I would look online for a local agent to help with finding a place to live (but beware of Craiglist, while a good resource, there are still lots of scammers). We moved from Europe and had an agent look for rentals for us. She had a list for us and set up visits within two days of our arrival. It was great!
We live in AA county, between Baltimore and DC and people in our area work in both places.
College Park is an okay area to live, but not great. I don't know anything about the schools. I would look into Silver Spring, Burtsonville, Laurel, maybe even Columbia depending on how long of a commute your husband is willing to do. Good luck!
I live in Halethorpe, about 30 minutes from College Park. It's an older established neighborhood with houses built in the 20s and 30s mostly. We within walking distance from the Halethorpe Elementary School, but we homeschool. My sister's children attend Halethorpe and love it. They are planning, however, to move from the area to live in the Catonsville High School zoning. The Marc train leaves from the Halethorpe stop and travels both to DC and Baltimore. It's a nice neighborhood. Our 21227 zip code has a huge split in "good neighborhood" vs. "bad neighborhood". I don't even go in to some of the areas/ stores of 21227 because of the crime. The same is true for most metro areas. You really have to learn it first hand before making a decision of what is best for you and your family. I would suggest you learn the area by RENTING first, perhaps from a distance at first. There are some rough neighborhoods and some close knit ones. For example, my husband's parents lived in Adelphi and cars were routinely broken in to, going so far as to cut through a convertible top of a car that was covered to break in. Though others in Adelphi love their neighborhood and think there common sense "rules" to avoid such crimes.
What I know about College Park..... My husband attend Univ of Maryland College Park- it's still a big college town with great sporting events to attend. (LOTS of traffic on game days- football and basketball are big.) There is a great health food store called "Mom's Organic Market". Here's the link....
Good luck with your move.
College Park is an affordable area. The neighborhoods vary and I'm not sure about the schools because my kiddos are little and haven't started school yet, but I've heard good things about the College Park Nursery Co-Op if you have a really little one. I would say it really depends on where your husband works because the commutes around here are hell-ish.
I sent you a PM with my phone number. Feel free to call me with questions. :)
Mama, birth worker, and dreamer extraordinaire.
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Thanks, ladies, I'm making progress. I appreciate your comments.
Since we will be renting, I think I prefer to find a place in College Park to avoid a commute. It looks like I should be able to find a house to rent in a neighborhood that is reasonably affordable and reasonably safe. I've heard that most of the College Park schools are okay, not horrible but not great, and I think I could handle that for a year and then maybe try to move to a better school when I know more about the area.
I will also look for rentals in the outlying areas that some of you have mentioned. I love the feature on google maps that lets you figure out a public trans route between two addresses. My dh will be working for UMD and it looks like there are quite a few lines going into the university.
I looked up both the organic food store and the nursery school, they look really cool!