Hello, my family (DH, DS-almost 5 mo, and me) will be relocating to the Metro D.C. area in May. We have no idea where to start looking in terms of housing. DH says he'd prefer a house to an apartment. We are on a fairly tight budget, though. We need to be either in D.C. or a relatively short commute from Columbia Heights. Any tips on good areas for young families - affordable, safe, nice things to do with a little kid nearby. We are a multi-racial family and would prefer to live in a more diverse area.
Excited, anxious and proud to be pregnant for the first time! My partner and I can't wait to meet the little boy sometime around Sept 20th.
Having a "fairly tight budget" is tough in this area, because good luck if you find a modest 1br for ~1k. Then again, and I'm .pretty sure that renting costs more per month than owning.
My fiance, roommate and I rent 3br house in Alexandria near Huntington metro for $1975. Zip code 22306. $1975 is awesome inexpensive for a house because rents are sky-high. We trade the affordable rent + lots of room for a longer commute. It takes me about 1h to get to work, and 1.5 max to get back on public transportation, but totally worth it. I got used to the commute quickly. If you plan to ride metro, the yellow line from Huntington area goes directly to Columbia Heights. They're on opposite ends of the line, so it's half an hour on the train without transfers. Huntington is the end of the line, so you're pretty much guaranteed a seat on the way to DC.
This part of Alexandria has things to do with a babe. My babe isn't born yet, so there are many cool spots I don't know yet. But the two where I plan to spend lots of time are:
Huntley Meadows Park, a nature preserve/bird migration preserve. The best part about this place is the boardwalk through the marsh. There are tons of birds, turtles, tadpoles to watch. Ten miles down the road is Mason Neck Park, a small VA state park. You can stroll the loop trails that lead up to the scenic Pohick Bay, and rent boats or even camp the night. These are special places in our heavily-developed region.
We rent through Davies Realty in Falls Church.
Silver Spring, MD is another area much closer to Columbia Heights than Alexandria where you may find a nice place to live at a reasonable rate. If you like nature, Rock Creek Park also runs out to Silver Spring and I found an inexpensive (rent controlled apartment) there two years ago. I only lived in MD for a year, and don't know which parts of it to recommend. Also, I don't drive and have always lived in areas with good public transport. So that's all I know to suggest to you. (traffic in this area is crazy, by the way so you may be served very well by having metro nearby)
The Del Ray neighborhood in Alexandria is full of children. I have never seen as many young kids/young families strolling a main street as there on Sunday morning. I don't know how much housing costs there, but it's a diverse area and you're sure to find playmates. The part of Del Ray I'm referring to is close to the address 2016 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va. 22301.
Good luck. Just keep looking and you'll find an affordable place in a neighborhood you like. My parents and our family have.