Picking a Neighborhood

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One of the best parts of moving to a new city (or just finding a new apartment) is choosing a neighborhood. I’ve been really happy with the various places I’ve lived (New York’s Upper East Side, Philadelphia’s University City, and now, Georgetown), but of course I always experienced the “what if” feeling. What if I lived in downtown DC closer to some of my favorite restaurants and workout studios (well, then I would be farther from work). But what if I lived in Virginia and was closer to work (however, would I still be able to find that “neighborhood” feel?). You know the drill.

Several of my friends have either re-signed their leases, moved to a new spot, or are currently living at home and exploring apartment options. I thought I’d share a few of the factors that were important to me during my search, which are things I still think about fairly often.

1) Practicality. Are you close to work? If not, does that matter? If you’ve been dating someone in your city, how close do you want to live to that person? Is it really worth it to Uber pool across town several nights a week in order to see him or her, or do you appreciate having your own neck of the woods? For me, I basically live as close as possible to my office in Virginia while still living in DC, which is something that I wanted. Of course, if I lived on the other side of the river my commute would be that much easier, but I’m much, much closer to work than I would be if I lived farther east in the city. Things like proximity to a grocery store, pharmacy, and gym are important to consider. In Georgetown or Glover Park, for example, you’re not necessarily going to be near a grocery store depending on where you live. I’m not personally super close to all three of the places I listed above, but I’ve made it work. I’ve had to accept that not every city is going to be like NYC, where there are truly three pharmacies, three grocery stories, and three gyms/workout studios per block! In Philly, I didn’t necessarily fall in love with my neighborhood, but I was happy with it because of how easy it was for me to get to class, buy food, and dine out every once in awhile, so as a busy student, practicality definitely won.

2) Personality. What’s the neighborhood’s personality? How does it match your personality? Is your neighborhood a place you look forward to coming home to at the end of the day, or do you just feel blah about it? I know that while I’m personally a city girl at heart, I prefer living in a neighborhood rather than in a more city-like high rise. Walking and driving around Georgetown honestly makes me so happy, and while I’m farther away from other things, I love how gorgeous and safe it is over here. In New York, I liked living on the Upper East Side because of the similar neighborhood feel, but the experience was definitely worlds away from one of my friend’s–she lives in an amazing, 20+ floor building downtown! Do you want to live in the New York/DC that you see on TV, or are you ok being a bit more removed from all of the chaos?

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3) Price. This is probably the number one factor for most people, but it’s definitely related to the other two. Maybe living in that cute but pricier neighborhood is worth it if you can walk to work (practicality) and cut back on transportation costs–honestly, not having to splurge on that monthly subway pass in NYC would’ve been amazing! Price is so personal and can vary so much from city to city, so there’s really no one “right” way to approach it. Also keep in mind that in some neighborhoods you can get more for your money in others. I knew people in New York who chose to live in Connecticut or New Jersey because they could get a little more space for their money, but in return, they had a much longer commute.

Have more neighborhood questions? I’ve lived in three cities (and apartments) in four years, so I’ve been there!  Drop me a note or leave me a comment and I’ll chime in!

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