UrbanTurf Reader Asks: Retired Couple Looking to Move Downtown

by UrbanTurf Staff

In this installment of UrbanTurf Reader Asks, a retired couple who is interested in moving back to the city is looking for guidance on which neighborhood(s) would be the best fit for them. 

Capitol Hill Row Houses

We moved to Capitol Hill in 1980 right after we were married and then moved to the Virginia suburbs a few years later, raised two boys. Now, we are empty nesters wanting to move back into the city where we can walk to restaurants and other attractions. We prefer Capitol Hill but we are open to suggestions on other DC neighborhoods with similar amenities and access.  We’ve rebuilt several homes ourselves over the years but we want the next house to be either recently renovated to our taste (eclectic contemporary) or have a design/build firm to do a full renovation. We have $700-$800K in equity but would be open to spending more if a separate entrance rental unit was included.  We are close to retirement and want to minimize any mortgage.  A three-bedroom/2.5 bath would be about the right size for us.

Post your thoughts in the comments section. If you would like to submit a question for UrbanTurf Reader Asks, send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


See other articles related to: urbanturf reader asks, home buying, dclofts, capitol hill

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/urbanturf_reader_asks_retired_couple_looking_to_move_downtown/2212


  1. Diane said at 7:31 pm on Monday June 28, 2010:

    Capitol Hill would be a good place to retire, community-wise.  They even have one of the more active aging in place groups of the region (http://www.capitolhillvillage.org/).  I think Chevy Chase also has an aging in place group and there is one starting up now in Old Town, Alexandria, where I live. But the challenge of Capitol Hill (and most other urban neighborhoods) is that townhouses aren’t aways the easiest to age in.  Condos are an option, but there aren’t many condos with the space you want.  Of course, some townhouses are easier to age in than others—can the stairs be fitted for a stair lift?  is there a bathroom on the first floor?  are there a lot of stairs at the front entrance or can one of the entrances be easily fitted with a ramp?  No one wants to think about these things, but they are important if you plan to stay awhile.  One of my relatively young but retired neighbors died of cancer recently and was denied home hospice because he did not have a first floor bathroom.  You might go to the library and check out a few books on universal design before you start house hunting to give you some ideas of things to look for in buying a house.

  1. Molly said at 9:29 pm on Monday June 28, 2010:

    Capitol Hill is a good option as is Cleveland Park and Logan Circle. However, the latter two are in the upper reaches of your price range.

  1. wdc said at 10:29 pm on Monday June 28, 2010:

    agreed that the hill fits what they are looking for and there are a good number of folks doing what they are or opting to stay and retire here because of capitol hill village and other growing amenities here.  welcome back!  let’s talk about where on the hill you’d like to end up.  it’s a much bigger and nicer place than it was when you left.

  1. Mary said at 8:52 am on Tuesday June 29, 2010:

    The comments on the difficulties of aging in a townhouse are fair ones, though. I find that condos built in the 1960s, especially, have very large floor plans and the amenities (elevator, pool) and such that also seem to make aging in a building easier. I live in a fairly full service coop that even has trash pickup from your unit every day. This is convenient for lazy 30somethings like me, but looks to have really allowed several of my very elderly neighbors to stay in their homes and the community they’re familiar with, with the addition of some nursing support during the days, far longer than would be possible elsewhere. And anything built in that era will allow plenty of scope for cosmetic renovations that will build value and be fun projects.

    So, I’d have a think about Cathedral Heights (transit’s a PITA but if you don’t have to commute you can gleefully not care too much!), any of the many buildigns along Ct. Ave, especially the coops. And, if they’re open to a somewhat transitional neighborhood, the Southwest Waterfront has some great coops and it’d be walking distance to the new Arena stage, the Rubel museum at the Randall school when it gets built and is a nice way to split the distance between the amenities and restaurants of Penn Quarter and the Hill.

  1. Dave said at 8:45 pm on Tuesday June 29, 2010:

    (from the “retired” couple).  We’re in our 50’s and still both active and plan to continue to work for several years but thinking ahead is always a good idea.  We recently enjoyed walking around the SE side of the hill and spent a evening at the Belga Cafe.  We liked that there was a nice mix of young singles, new families and older couples strolling the neighborhood.  We also like the neighborhood feel with proud home owners chatting on their front steps. We plan to continue “shopping” neighborhoods on foot to get a better feel, understanding that each street and block can have a unique feel and flavor.  I’d like to get more suggestions from people who live on the hill regarding which streets/blocks (not beyond 10th) might be interesting for us to explore next.

  1. Ae said at 10:01 pm on Tuesday June 29, 2010:

    Two words: Capitol Quarter

  1. SL said at 11:05 am on Wednesday June 30, 2010:

    Capitol Hill definitely stands out as a great neighborhood for this couple. I think another great option for your price range might be Mt. Pleasant, another great neighborly area with tons of restaurants/stores/amenities within walking distance. Cleveland Park is also great, but probably the priciest $ per sq. foot.

  1. Diane said at 7:23 pm on Wednesday June 30, 2010:

    I’m not a Hill expert, so I’ll leave block talk to others. 

    With regard to my original comment, by no means should you eschew Capitol Hill or a townhouse.  I just think you should be picky. And at that, it’s unlikely that you would find a place that is fully accessible.  My priorities for you would be 1). Easily accessible first floor; 2). Kitchen on first floor (not in basement, which is somewhat common, or 2nd floor); 3). At least a half bath on first floor; 4). An extra room on first floor that could be used as sleeping space if need be.  This is what I have, and I would rate my house as “ok” for aging.  If my husband or I were to start having problems, we could get by for a few months until we could figure out alternative arrangements.  Structurally, we have the option to convert our half bath to a full at some point, which would raise us to “ok plus” (we’d still be sleeping in the living room, but an “ok plus” rating would be above average for my neighborhood).  But, given how much I like our neighborhood, I think I could make do with “ok plus” for a while.  Also contributing to our rating is our staircase, which is easy to walk up and down (so hopefully we will be able to continue using it for a longer period).  If you haven’t already started going to open houses and looking at properties, you’ll quickly discover that there are many “bad” staircases out there.

  1. Diane said at 12:14 am on Thursday July 1, 2010:

    You might look at this house on 6th St SE (http://franklymls.com/DC7365293).  It appears to have a main floor half bath in addition to not having entry stairs.  Plus, the kitchen has a contemporary remodel. It has the number of baths you want but is one shy on the bedrooms, so not sure if that would work.

Join the discussion

UrbanTurf now requires registration in order to post comments. Register here, or login below if you are already registered.

Click here if you forgot your password.

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »

Upcoming Seminars ▾