Plavsic and her son in Capitol Hill
For years, Julie Plavsic, 46, worked as an immigration (asylum) officer in New York and San Francisco, but a job with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services brought her to DC last fall.
When she started her housing search in DC, there was one crucial factor influencing where she looked: her seven-year-old son, Nikola. She found a one-bedroom sublet near Eastern Market, and while the neighborhood was ideal — close to work and within the district of the highly regarded Watkins Elementary School — Plavsic knew she need a two-bedroom.
With condos and row houses on the table, Plavsic started her house hunt, looking first in the $300s but soon realizing that she would need to go up into the $400,000s to get what she wanted. While narrowing her options, Plavsic often thought of her son.
First, she decided to stay on the Hill for the schools. “I’m pretty committed to public schools and my child being in a racially and socioeconomically diverse setting,” Plavsic said.
Walking was also a priority for Plavsic, who didn’t want to have to worry about delayed Metro trains and broken down buses when she was trying to get to work. And she liked the thought of walking Nikola to a community school. “We’ll have more of a feeling of belonging to the neighborhood and being a part of the community. He’ll naturally get to know the kids in his neighborhood,” Plavsic thought.
Plavsic began taking a closer look at the schooling options on Capitol Hill. She liked a lot of things about Watkins, but it felt too big for Nikola, and she decided that one of the area’s smaller neighborhood schools might work better.
After that decision was made, Plavsic limited her search further, scratching condos off the list.
She was tempted by a two-bedroom condo that had outdoor space and was in a good school district, but something didn’t feel right. “I still had this nagging feeling,” remembers Plavsic. In New York City, she had a bad experience with a controlling coop board. “It only takes one neighbor to make your life miserable. What if I have a neighbor who doesn’t like kids?” she wondered.
Now that she had decided to just look at row houses, Plavsic could concentrate on the nuances. After looking at house after house, she felt drawn to the area’s more historic, originally detailed homes. “So many [homes] were renovated in this modern style!” Plavsic said. “I was in love with the historic feel and facades of the Hill, so it was disconcerting to walk into something modern.”
One house that came on the market in December seemed perfect, but Plavsic didn’t realize how quickly she needed to put in an offer; someone else snatched it up shortly after it was listed.
Then, in January, a two-bedroom, one-bath row house just east of Lincoln Park popped up. With original wood floors and moldings, the house had the historic character that Plavsic was looking for. There was a cute yard and a large bathroom, and perhaps most importantly, it was zoned for Maury Elementary, a small, highly-rated school just north of Lincoln Park. There were some downsides, like a small galley kitchen and second bedroom, and no second bathroom, but Plavsic thought that those were the things that brought it into her price range.
She made an offer, but the journey wasn’t over. The house received several offers and when Plavsic’s escalation clause kicked in, she faced a decision: she could have the house, but the owners would be allowed to live there for a month after closing, rent-free, while waiting for renovations on their next home to be completed. “I was thinking, am I going to lose this house because of $2,000?” remembers Plavsic. Not an ideal situation, but ultimately, it wasn’t a deal breaker: Plavsic accepted the conditions and got the house.
As of this writing, Plavsic has closed but hasn’t moved in yet. She and Nikola hope to move in in April, and he can’t wait to have his own room and a yard to play in. “Every day he is asking me ‘How many more weeks?’” Plasvic said.
This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_pursuit_a_mothers_search/5231
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