Tag Archives: Urban area

A Note to Catherine —– “I want to walk or take Public transportation to work, the grocery store, to get my hair cut, to go out on Friday night, to dinner, to party, to Church, and finally Starbucks. Can you find me that Place?”

Discussion Series on X-Urban Living in the DC Area.

I started discussing a few months ago the issue of City Dwellers by heart, living in Virginia, who love DC, but didn’t want to live downtown. This idea of x-urban living is similar to the concept of walkability .  A valuable tool for reviewing property amenities regarding access to local area public transportation, shopping, civic centers, eating establishments, & entertainment is the Walk Score® site (www.walkscore.com)  Below, is an excerpt from their website:

What makes a neighborhood walkable?

  • A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a center, whether it’s a main street or a public space.
  • People: Enough people for businesses to flourish and for public transit to run frequently.
  • Mixed income, mixed use: Affordable housing located near businesses.
  • Parks and public space: Plenty of public places to gather and play.
  • Pedestrian design: Buildings are close to the street, parking lots are relegated to the back.
  • Schools and workplaces: Close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.
  • Complete streets: Streets designed for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit.

When you visit their website, you can plug-in a specific address or a more generalized location (such as a shopping center)…the result is a score based on the criteria above.  Also included are tabs to local restaurants, amenities, and transportation links.  It is a wonderful resource!!  check it out!

Below is the results of a search for Falls Church City, using the location of the Four Provinces Resturant…..This location has a score of 91, a Walker’s Paradise!

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If DC is the center of the action, why would I want to live in Virginia?

For those of us DC Urban Junkies, we want nothing more than sidewalks to a neighborhood restaurant, a grocery store no more than 3 blocks away, work commute by one means of transportation only (subway or bus), and a Starbucks no more than a quarter-mile from each of these locations.  It would be nice to have this in a “safe” part of town, with Georgetown, The Kennedy Center, all the museums, hip bars, and local bike trails close by.  Add in ethnic restaurants from all over the world, lots and lots of politicians, more different languages spoken in a school classroom than a UN convention, and all the drama of the greatest Nation’s Capital in the world….and you might have the perfect place to live!!!  Washington, D.C.!!???  Right???

Answer= Yes and No

Think of the ripple action of throwing a stone in water.  The stone represents downtown DC, and the resulting rings represent the surrounding communities.  The closer to the stone you are, the closer to the Urban Junkies housing dream, but at a substantially higher price.  Even when the Government attempts to decentralize from DC, and move locations away from the city, city dwellers do not sell and move to the burbs.  Bottom line, downtown places that fit the stated criteria are rare and expensive.  So where does an Urban Junkie buy?

Drop the “Urban” and look for “X-Urban”….close-in DC Communities that give you easy access to downtown, plus the ability to walk to get your hair done, restaurants and night-time venues, morning coffee, Church, grocery stores, and even your Doctor.  Prices may not be that much cheaper than a somewhat comparable property downtown, but transportation choices, and safety concerns of inner city subdivisions, lead to a great demand for urban type dwellings outside of the city. 

Where did this new, increased demand come from? The computer careers associated with the Government Contracting business and DotCom growth, starting in the late 80’s, produced a number of young, single professionals that moved to the area.  They were making money, wanted to have fun, and after the first few years of paying a lot in taxes, decided they needed a write off.  They didn’t want to settle down, and didn’t want the responsibility of maintaining a yard, or worrying about a roof, so houses and townhouses were out.

  Result?  The Condos in Arlington along the Orange Metro Line corridor.  The perfect fit to the definition of “X-Urban Living”.

Next Blog, “Do you want to buy a Home or an Investment?”  How the sky rocketing prices of the early part of this decade changed our criteria for purchasing a home.