Rebecca Ortega’s Del Ray home
When Rebecca Ortega moved to DC in 2004, she saw real estate possibilities all around her. She bought a condo in Logan Circle, then still a neighborhood more appealing for its potential than its reality, and lived there for three years while watching the 14th Street Corridor fill out.
In 2007, she decided to sell. “I got a pretty good turnover from the sale and wanted to reinvest in the city,” Ortega told UrbanTurf. This time, she set her sights on H Street, and with her husband, found a three-bedroom, 2.5-bath row house right off of the main corridor at 13th and I Street NE.
The H Street house
For the next four years, Ortega and her husband watched another neighborhood flourish around them. “We saw a lot of change happen there,” she said. “We felt personally invested in the evolution of the neighborhood.” For awhile, the couple was happy in their home, which was spacious enough for the two of them and close to the area’s restaurants and bars.
Then, Ortega got pregnant.
Like many urban couples, they now needed to weigh the pros and cons of their home with a new factor in mind. “I never really move anywhere thinking anything long-term,” Ortega said. “I make decisions in the here and now.” But the arrival of a child necessitated a bit of long-term planning.
Strollers were becoming more common in the H Street Corridor, so they knew it was at least possible to raise a child there, and Ortega recognized the benefits of children growing up in a city. But their house was on a busy corner that faced a constant stream of cars, trucks and foot traffic. The bar scene brought reveling drunks to the corridor every weekend, and the house was constantly surrounded by noise and commotion.
These factors, and a desire to have four bedrooms instead of three, led Ortega and her husband to the decision to make the move to the suburbs before their daughter was born. They looked in Maryland and Virginia, trying to find a place with walkability, community engagement and a taste of urban life, while offering them space and quiet. They knew Montgomery County had great schools, but couldn’t find a house that felt right. They also looked in Chevy Chase, Silver Spring and Old Town, but nothing fit until they happened upon Del Ray.
“It’s really a walking neighborhood with a lot of families, dog parks and coffee shops,” Ortega said. “You can get to DC in twenty minutes.” And like H Street, the community felt engaged. “It feels like people want to get together, share ideas and better the community.”
A big kitchen in the Del Ray house
For $794,000, Ortega and her husband found a four-bedroom, three-bath bungalow on Little Street, three blocks from the Braddock Road Metro and less than a mile from Old Town and Mount Vernon Avenue. They made an offer and were able to move in before the baby arrived.
While it was tough to leave DC, Ortega enjoys the friendly atmosphere and the slower pace. “The first week that we moved in, almost every single one of our neighbors came by bearing baked goods,” she remembered. It took Ortega and her husband a moment to realize that a knock on the door at night no longer indicated some kind of emergency.
The couple recognizes that the move to Del Ray has not only led them out of the city, but broke the string of moves to neighborhoods on the rise.
“It was kind of bittersweet leaving,” Ortega said. “You want to make a smart financial investment, but you also want to make an investment in your future, and if you’re thinking about starting a family, other factors come into play.”
This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_pursuit_riding_the_emerging_neighborhood_wave_out_of_dc/5382.
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