UrbanTurf Reader Asks: What Neighborhood Would You Buy Into In DC?

by UrbanTurf Staff

In this installment of UrbanTurf Reader Asks, a reader on the verge of starting her home search asks the eternal question: If you were looking to buy in DC right now, what neighborhood would you buy in?


I am about to start looking for my first home and at this point there are no limits to my neighborhood search. I know that it has been broached indirectly on UrbanTurf before, but I would love to hear people’s recommendations for neighborhoods to buy into. I am not completely against the historically established neighborhoods in DC, I just doubt that I will be able to afford much in those areas. Also, I am debating between a condo and a house right now, so I am more interested in what people like about a certain neighborhood than the housing options that are available.

Post your neighborhood suggestions 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, editors choice, dclofts

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/urbanturf_reader_asks_what_neighborhood_would_you_buy_into_in_dc/2538


  1. Hiller said at 11:46 am on Monday October 4, 2010:

    Hill East or so it has been coined. Right next to Capitol Hill, affordable houses, good access to public transport.

  1. former Georgetowner said at 12:01 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    We can all talk about what neighborhoods WE would buy in, but I’m not sure how much of a help that would be to you.

    I bought a condo in Mt Pleasant, and I bought there for the following reasons:
    - affordability
    - access to public transportation
    - easy access to downtown, Dupont, Kalorama, etc
    - right by Rock Creek Park
    - I think that Mt Pleasant has some really beautiful streets and houses
    - Mt Pleasant feels like a neighborhood. I lived in Gtown for 3 years, and I never met my neighbors on either side of me.  Despite the fact that one day, one of my neighbor’s dogs ran away and I found it… I wasn’t expecting much, but I WAS expecting at least a “thank you, my name is ____. what’s yours?”

    But I’m also single and don’t plan to raise kids in DC, so schools are not important to me.  I intend to live here for a few years and rent my place out.  As we get days like today, I especially want to get my ass out of DC and into San Diego.

  1. little boy blue said at 12:02 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    Shepherd Park - It has access to lots of transit, walkable to almost anything you need, easy access to Rock Creek Park, and housing stock that is less dense, and several hundred thousand dollars cheaper than comparable chevy chase.

  1. wdc said at 12:14 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    Get a house.  Condos are bad investments. 

    H Street is a good area to invest if you can still afford it.  That area is rapidly changing for the better quickly.  Some parts are more expensive (Cap Hill) than others (Trinidad/Rosedale), so there are a variety of price ranges available, any of which would be a good investment.

  1. Greatest Upside without the Crime said at 12:17 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    Near Northeast and SW Waterfront

  1. cbr said at 12:21 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    Why are condos bad investments?

  1. Max said at 12:47 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    Anything within 4 blocks of NY Ave metro will have a lot of price increase in the next 2 years.  HArris Teeter opening in a few weeks, close to a lot of stuff, really low prices right now.  If you can’t stand the hood, I’d just buy what I could over in Logan/U Street.  THere are some affordable condos and the are is where it’s at

  1. Mike said at 12:57 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    I’m in the same boat, as I’m looking to buy in the next 6-8 months.  I really like the Hill, so Hill East is particularly attractive.  However, I also like the Bloomingdale/LeDroit area.  Not as good public transportation options, but you can get a lot more space for your money and a lot of places have parking.  Assuming the street car project gets going, there will be a light rail option eventually too.

  1. MG said at 1:15 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    We just bought in Shepherd park and love it.  Plan on sending the little one to the public school.  Wonderful neighborhood with walkable community in the most part.

  1. eric said at 1:25 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    Have you looked in shaw? Not as unestablished as it used to be but still has plenty of good options for young buyers.

  1. Kingman said at 2:51 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    Just bought in Kingman Park 2 months ago…Love the area, feel extremely safe. Plus, with the addition of the trolley coming from Union Station right down Benning Road, the future is bright here. Buy quickly as prices are rising on my street already…

  1. Teets said at 2:58 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    100% agree with Max. NY Ave metro location has the most potential.

    Unfort, last I looked there is an absence of Metro-proximate properties on the MLS.

    Like-minded buyers bought early with anticipation of the Harris Teeter.

  1. HF said at 3:20 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    We focused our search on Hill East and the Nationals Park area/SW.  Both of those areas have great upside potential, but I think that between all of the development going on near the ballpark (The Yards, eventually Half Street, etc) and all of the development coming over the next decade on the SW Waterfront, that is where the biggest transformation (and biggest bang for your buck) is likely to be.

  1. Kingman said at 3:56 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    We looked briefly at Nationals Park area but there are only condos (which we didn’t want) and overpriced new construction townhouses that are priced 3 years ahead rather than current…Also, we have friends that purchased a condo three years ago 2 blocks from the park and their condo is actually worth less than what they paid…things are moving too slow there.

  1. Q-Street said at 4:26 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    I have to go with Eric.

    Shaw is the most central neighborhood that still has affordable options relative to the surrounding neighborhoods.

    Shaw is anchored by a metro, walking distance to the golden triangle, about equidistant from the White House and Capitol Hill.

    O Street Market and the CC Marriott are going up right now, and a lot of young homeowners have moved in and are renovating their houses.

    I bought a 4 bed/3 bath for $197/sqft on a quiet street last year. Six blocks west and you can’t find anything for under $400/sqft.

    I can walk to the U street corridor, Logan, Dupont, Chinatown and my work at Farragut Park.

  1. PC said at 4:32 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    Brookland and North Mighigan Park are good areas. I just bought my first place there (row house).  It is still affordable, interesting mix of row houses, single family homes and condos, etc.  The area near the Rhode Island metro is being developed and there are plans for improvements near the Brookland metro.

  1. Suzanne said at 4:48 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    Cathedral Heights. Great deals, good access to downtown as well as VA and MD, safe. I have seen more young families in the area lately.

  1. dave said at 5:01 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    Brookland or Ledroit Park/Bloomingdale

  1. Ashley said at 5:22 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    We just bought in North Michigan Park and were able to get a 3 bedroom/ 3.5 bath brand new townhouse for under $400K.  We are walking distance to the Fort Totten Metro Station but not much else.  We bought mainly because there are a lot of things that are planned for the area, and being near Fort Totten metro means that we are a quick metro ride from almost everywhere in the city, especially with our pick of three metro lines.  The neighborhood is called Emerson Park, though there are also many older homes in the area available, though they tend not to be much less than the new homes.

  1. Sharyn said at 7:43 pm on Monday October 4, 2010:

    Ashley, we’re neighbors! And I echo her sentiments. Good stuff to come, but not much here as of now. Having the 3 metro lines is huge, plus you can get a lot of bang for your buck right now. We got a 3bd, 2.5ba for roughly $350K. Older homes in the area are going for about the same price as our new place.

  1. HF said at 10:18 am on Tuesday October 5, 2010:

    There are actually older row houses over by Nats park—there are a few sprinkled throughout the new development (such as on 3rd St SE), and there are a couple blocks of houses across South Capitol Street from the ballpark.  Those are the best deals for your money in that neighborhood, especially compared to the prices of the new condos.

  1. C said at 10:38 am on Tuesday October 5, 2010:

    We bought in near NE halfway between the NY Ave metro and the bars on H St, and have been pleasantly surprised how quickly it’s gentrified in the past year.  Homes are constantly being re-habbed, more bars/restaurants open up on H St, lots of commercial development is going on at 1st and M St, and the trolley is coming.  There’s a good mix of white collar/blue collar, and professionals/retired/students. 

    We used to live in Shaw, and while I personally love that neighborhood, I worry about re-sale value with the towers there.  Plus, we found more bang for the buck in H St. vs. Shaw (which lately has Logan Circle pricing).

  1. Darrin D. Davis said at 10:42 am on Tuesday October 5, 2010:

    Here are 10 great reason to consider buying in some of the great neighborhoods (Anacostia, Hillcrest, Congress Heights…) east of the Anacostia River!

    1.  EAST OF THE RIVER homes have the most reasonable real estate prices in the Washington Metropolitan area.

    2.  The homes are often the largest in the area with the best views of the river and Washington monuments.

    3.  Easy access to major thoroughfares (I-295, I-395, I-495, B/W Pkwy) and just ten minutes away from downtown DC, National’s Baseball Stadium, Washington’s National Airport and the National Harbor.

    4.  Local and federal government agencies moving to the area, including Department of Homeland Security, Coast Guard Headquarters and DC Department of Housing, which are all bringing in more service, restaurants and retail outlets.

    5.  DC’s focus on making the Anacostia River a “World-Class Waterfront” and the redevelopment of Anacostia Park. The park will feature a workout facility, swimming pool, walking, biking and running trails, tennis and basketball courts, an amphitheater, picnicking, boating and river-rowing fun (see artist sketches below).

    6.  The residents are diverse, civic-minded & upwardly mobile professionals.

    7.  New reasonably priced (some below market-value) luxury condos, apartments & townhouses being developed.

    8.  New businesses, including; art galleries, banks, restaurants, retail, Historic Anacostia’s Uniontown Bar & Grill and Big Chair Coffee & Grill,  Fairlawn’s Yes! Organic Market, Deanwood’s Ray’s The Steaks, Fort Dupont’s Orchid Thai Restaurant and Anacostia’s only full-service realty company, Anacostia River Realty.

    9.  The reasonable real estate prices will offer a great return on investment for years to come.

    10. The overall positive buzz about the “renaissance” of neighborhoods EAST OF THE RIVER.

    Darrin Davis, Owner/Broker
    Anacostia River Realty

  1. Mary said at 10:48 am on Tuesday October 5, 2010:

    I like SW/Waterfront as having a nice mix of things-now as well as things-to-come. So, there’s the new Safeway and Arena stage and the Marina Cantina on the river and a couple other places one can walk to as well as a nice sense of community now. But, there’s also the redevelopement on the waterfront and so forth still to come, so things to look forward to. Since development all over the District always takes longer than one hopes, I think it’s important that there be things one enjoys about one’s ‘hood now, as well as interesting long term developments.

    Plus, it’s pretty sweet to sit on my balcony, look at the 14th Street bridge, and see the traffic my colleagues are stuck commuting home to NoVa in.

  1. Victor said at 11:54 am on Tuesday October 5, 2010:

    Mount Pleasant.  A historic quiet neighborhood with tree-lined streets and a great sense of community.  Access to metro, buses and within walking distance to the shops of Columbia Heights.  Hurry, I see homes in Mt. Pleasant selling within days of being listed.

  1. Wendy said at 11:54 am on Tuesday October 5, 2010:

    I second Kingman Park.  I bought a condo there in May and I love it.  It’s about a 20 minute bike ride to Capitol Hill even during morning rush hour.  Stadium Armory metro is about 3/4 mile away, and buses are even closer.  The neighborhood is usually pretty quiet.  Safeway on Benning Road is a short drive or bus ride away (less than 10 blocks).  Parking is ample. 

    I’d love to live in the historic section of Capitol Hill near Eastern Market, but Kingman Park was an excellent choice for this first-time homebuyer.

  1. Ryan said at 12:28 pm on Tuesday October 5, 2010:

    I just bought in Hill East area. 18th and Burke street location.  love it—close to metro, much more affordable that elsewhere in city, harris teeter and safeway, close to eastern market and barracks row, almost always parking in front of house, feels like a neighborhood.  and i think there’s a lot of room for increase in home values vs some of the more expensive areas of the city.  good luck in your search!

  1. SL said at 1:12 pm on Tuesday October 5, 2010:

    Petworth is a great value - walkable, friendly neighborhood with many young couples buying their first place and having kids. Most houses sell in the $350K to $500K range, making it one of the most affordable metro-accessible neighborhoods in NW DC. Despite the recent crime in the press, the overall trend in crime is way, way down. It’s a great place to look if you are feeling priced out of Shaw or the H Street area.

  1. Citi said at 1:29 pm on Tuesday October 5, 2010:

    I tried for 12 years to persuade my employer to transfer me to DC, and finally it happened.  I had no clue which neighborhood to choose, I just knew my favorite Bistro was in Dupont Circle… and dreamed of walking out my door and into the Bistro.  Well, of course I couldn’t afford to buy in Dupont Circle, so I left my options open.  I looked at property (both townhomes and condos)in SE, SW, and NW.  I fell in love with a condo in Petworth and an old townhome in SE, near the Stadium.  Then I found a huge condo in Shaw that was beautiful on the inside - but not so on the outside.  I visited all three properties during the daytime, during rush hour, at night, on the weekends…all to get the feel of the neighborhood, the parking limitations, the commute time, how comfortable I was in the surroundings, and what sacrifices I would need to make.  I utimately chose the largest place in Shaw and I love it.  I did sacrifice parking, but I absolutely love my choice, and all of my neighbors are a fun and wonderful group.  Instead of focusing so much on finding the perfect neighborhood to start your search, just let it flow and visit homes in differnt areas, then narrow it down from there.

  1. Brenda said at 1:44 pm on Tuesday October 5, 2010:

    Eckington is in between NY Ave Metro and Rhode Island Metro.  Nice pocket with new things happening on all sides.  Right now it is pretty affordable with a mix of old, young, students and professional and blue collar workers.  They are doing alot of work on RI and the metro area.  There is a mixed use development going up and you can walk the Metropolitan Branch Trail to either station. I sent an email to Trader’s Joes to see if they would put a store in old Safeway on RI.

  1. zetalady3 said at 8:50 pm on Tuesday October 5, 2010:

    I bought East of the River several years ago, and I don’t regret it one bit! I know most of the readers here probably don’t venture into SE any further than the Nationals Stadium, but you don’t know what you’re missing.

    In addition to affordability and space, (two bedroom two bathroom at 930 SF), I have the best view that can beat ANYONE hands down. A new Charter school just opened across the street, the metro is a short walk down the street, and my Jack Russell Terrier couldn’t be happier with daily walks up and down the enormous hill we live on. For those of you worried about safety, the complex is gated, and I have to say in the five years plus I’ve lived here, nothing has happened here to me or my fellow condo owners that does not happen living in a major metropolitan city such as DC…
    I say keep an open mind, check out many neighborhoods and welcome to city living. Its great! (My friends who live in Adams Morgan and Georgetown can never believe their eyes when they come to my place for dinner parties, lol, as they feel they got cheated with their small condos, enormous fees, and crappy street views)

  1. Rosedale said at 3:12 pm on Wednesday October 6, 2010:

    Rosedale/Kingman Park.

  1. Mig said at 9:42 am on Thursday October 7, 2010:

    Definitely Columbia Heights.  I just bought a condo a year ago and I love how it’s close to everything, a block from the metro, and still affordable with lots of room. A great neighborhood feel and lots of new upcoming restaurants and stores.

  1. Janson said at 1:38 pm on Friday October 8, 2010:

    I wasn’t the one asking the question, but these answers have been incredibly useful. It’s interesting to me that no one mentioned the premium neighborhoods. It suggests optimism and confidence in DC continuing to develop at it’s recent rate. While I hope that will be the case, there’s no way I was going to make my single largest investment in something speculative, and as nice as some of the neighborhoods mentioned here are, in many cases it seems speculative that they will continue to develop as quickly as they have in the past. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but there’s a risk that it won’t.

    Plus, there’s another factor: the lower your interest rate, the lower your tax deduction and the higher your principal contribution (especially in the first five years). Although you pay less interest over the life of the loan with a low interest rate, you also have a more linear ratio of interest to principle across the life of the loan. So, with a low interest rate I want to protect my monthly mortgage principle payment more than I would if my source of return was mortgage interest income credits.

    And that suggests to me a more conservative neighborhood. So I bought a condo in Dupont three blocks south of U st. The advantages: all my friends, wherever they live, are happy to come visit. I even host parties for friends because of the location. I’m half way between the red and green lines and several major bus routes run nearby. So my commute is extremely short and flexible - I rarely go the same way twice.

    Because services and transportation are so good, I don’t need a car (or parking) but I do have a zipcar in the back of the building and the bike share next door. The restaurants aren’t that good for what they cost (there are signs of improvement) but other important services are the best in DC, from dry cleaning to farmers markets. And all these things save me money and time. Finally, I appreciate the professional flexibility that comes from being able to easily and quickly rent out my apartment because of its well-known understood location (I’m not saying the rental rate is higher, just that it’s a more liquid market).

    The bad: My apartment is smaller than the small petworth house I could have bought for the same money. Still, that means my maintenance and utility bills are a fraction of what they would be.

    I hope the Reader shares her decision and reasoning.

  1. Undecided said at 3:38 pm on Monday October 11, 2010:

    Thanks Janson for sharing your thoughts - i’m pretty much in the same boat (potential buyer) and your analysis is pretty right on - especially for a single female - the established neighborhoods leave off much of the unknown in the up and coming areas.

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