Know anything about North Bethesda or surrounding areas?

kathecNovember 10, 2009

DH is getting a vibe that his company might have him relocate, although nothing has been said yet. When he's gotten this "vibe" in the past, it's been pretty right on, so I'm attempting to be pro-active. If it never materializes, no harm done.

The company is in the North Bethesda area. We currently live in Texas, north of Dallas, but we're from California originally. We have kids aged 8, 6 & 4.

I was wondering if anyone knows anything about the area, schools, areas to avoid, places we should definitely look. Based on my initial assesment, I think we'll probably be looking at the 300K to 400K. I can look at listings, but it won't tell me much about the communities.

Any help is appreciated.

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Are you looking for a condo? Because there is only one single family home (399k) listed on in Bethesda right now. In "North Bethesda" (which is actually Rockville), there are five in that price range. If you can go up to the mid 400's you will have a few more listings to choose from.

Bethesda is a very pricey area due to its proximity to Washington, DC. (The schools, however are excellent.) You will probably experience quite a bit of sticker shock coming from the Dallas area. (I am a native Texan who now lives in NoVA but we initially moved to MD from Texas so I feel your pain.)

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2009 at 11:49PM
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Nancy Adamopoulos

You are not going to find much in your price range as previous poster stated. Areas around Bethesda and Rockville are very pricey. A lot of people in the area have longer commutes in order to find something affordable that is not in a run-down or higher crime area.

Check out Gaithersburg (parts have been renamed North Potomac)- This area is north of Rockville/Bethesda and is a little more affordable. But don't expect much more than 1/4 to 1/3 acre lot and an older house or a townhome. The zip is 20878. If you want more house/land or newer homes you'll have to travel farther out. You'll also fare better if you look in the 400K-500K price range and maybe you can negotiate the price down a bit.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 10:22AM
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I'd already checked Realtor & Ziprealty, so I'm not really suffering from sticker shock. We're from California. We bought and sold 2 houses there between 1997 and 2006, during the housing boom. I don't think there's much that can shock me. I'm pretty much doing advance scouting and I am trying to be very conservative in my firgures. DH & I are guessing that if they are planning to move him, it's going to be a promotion which will likely come with either higher pay and/or assistance with the move. We have no way of knowing for sure, so I'm playing a bit of "what you get for the money".

Thanks for the recommendation of Gaithersburg/North Potomac. I'll definitely check it out. Are there other areas within a nearby commuting distance ~30 miles that you recommend or along the metro route? Should we be looking North or West for more affordable housing and good schools? Is there anywhere to avoid due to crime? Is there anywhere to avoid just due to terrible traffic during commute hours?

I think that we could consider a townhouse, but I think condo might be out. Of course, we might even consider renting too. We'll have owned our current house 2 years in February, so we might consider renting ours out here and rent over there as it really hasn't gained much in value.


    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 11:05AM
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For the types of questions you're asking (as opposed to strictly "buying and selling homes" ) check out, specifically the forums. When I did a quick search on Bethesda, 367 posts came up! They're written by real people living in the area who are sharing advice and stories.

Good Luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: city-data forums

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 12:44PM
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Around here, a 30 mile commute during rush hours is generally very long and painful.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 2:53PM
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Is there anywhere to avoid just due to terrible traffic during commute hours?

The entire Washington, DC metro area.

Actually, you will want to observe the commute traffic prior to looking for an area to live in. With care, you may be able find someplace that has his (and your, if you work) commute going against the prevailing gridlock traffic flow.

You might also want to check into the taxes there before leaping.

If you go onto City-Data, watch out for the cliques and haters. There is as much bad information there as good in some of the forums. Sometimes it is hard to tell it apart.

It is not like gardenweb.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 2:57PM
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I lived in the area for 30 some years. My father was a federal emloyee, was transferred into the area and purchased in Potomac (zip 20854). Very high buck place now. I lived in Gaithersburg for quite a long time, too which is the outermost Metro stop on the Red Line. I commuted into DC so the Shady Grove/Gaithersburg Metro stop was a Godsend for me.

But if the company is located in North Bethesda, You might look into Rockville, Gathersburg, North Potomac, Germantown, Clarksburg, Olney, Damascus or even Frederick. Much more available in the single family and townhouse lines than in condos in any area. I'm most familiar with Montgomery County, but there's certainly been a lot of expansion into Frederick and Howard Counties. The area is so densely built up, you hardly know where one area stops and another begins.

The DC Metro area is an interesting place to live and work; lots to see and do. But the one negative is that traffic is an unavoidable nightmare no matter where you are in the area. The beltway is always clogged and at a standstill if there's an accident - despite that, some people commute daily from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 3:20PM
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I really liked the Olney area when I lived in MD, especially the Ale House.

I probably wouldn't recognize Olney today.

Here is a link that might be useful: Olney Ale House

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 3:44PM
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I think the Ale House might be the only recognizeable thing. Olney, like everywhere else, fell victim to some sprawl.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 4:01PM
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Thanks all for the valuable information. In California, I lived in both the greater LA Metro area and in the East SF Bay area, which are both exactly like the DC area in terms of density & traffic. One major difference is the rail system. Even after all these years, Californians just can't seem to get out of their cars.

I'll start looking at some of the areas that were mentioned to start looking at school districts, etc. It definitely gives me a starting point. DH is going to his office in Bethesda next week. We'll see what happens.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 6:01PM
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I taught in the area years and years ago. The schools are excellent. We had children of diplomats in our high school as well as princesses. The students are bright and planning to go to very selective universities. Their parents are more highly educated that some areas of the country. I remember both mom and dad would work for NIH, for example.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 8:50PM
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I lived in both the greater LA Metro area and in the East SF Bay area, which are both exactly like the DC area in terms of density & traffic.

I respectfully disagree. In my experience, the East Bay is nothing like the DC area, which is a good thing for the East Bay. If somebody put a gun to my head and said move to the East Bay or DC, I would head west in an instant.

I have only a little experience with the LA area, so I won't quibble over that one.

I'm not sure which rail system you are refering to in the DC area. If it is Metrorail, be advised it is operating at maximum capacity with no hope for desperately needed improvements in the near term. Parking at outlying stations can't begin to meet demand. Management is defensive and not particularyly good at what they do. There are serious safety issues, including management's refusal to let authorized independent inspectors onto the tracks, which was just in the news.

The control system and management's operating procedures have a serious unaddressed safety flaw, which resulted in a recent fatal accident, even though the train operator did everything right.

I have relatives who use the sysem daily, so this isn't just long distance hearsay. We also have a Metrorail employee in the family, so there is insight from that angle too. I would take the East Bay's BART any day over Metrorail, but I would take Metrorail over driving. That's how bad the commute is in the DC area.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 9:45PM
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My husband was one of the luckier ones as he only commuted to Walnut Creek and his commute was 25 miles and an hour and a half drive each way most days. It could have been much worse to Pleasanton, Oakland or "The City".

It's nice to hear your comments about the Metrorail news as our initial thought would be to try to find housing within easy distance to a station. It looks like if this materializes, we'll need to think seriously about commuting and how much we're willing to sacrifice for quality of life. I believe some in his office take one day a week to work from home. I guess it's nice to have one day off from that worry.

We're spoiled now as he works from a home office, his commute is about 30 seconds.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 10:36PM
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Housing close to a Metrorail station tends to be much more expensive than that which isn't close. Housing within walking distance of a station is sky high, even for the that area.

You might check into commuting by MARC, which runs on regular train tracks. I'm not familiar with the station locations, but they have a web site that lists them. MARC might allow you to live further out where prices are lower.

Unlike Metrorail, MARC generally does not run on weekends or holidays, when most suburbanites are all trying to get to the shopping centers at the same time. Some people feel that Saturday traffic in the DC area is worse than weekdays. It's not as bad if you can live way out of town. In the close in suburbs, it's horrid.

Here is a link that might be useful: MARC

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 11:23PM
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...and on the positive side, the DC area is a lot of fun with LOTS to do. One factor, before you move too far away from the city, is to realize how much DC has to offer as far as museums, culture, food, etc. You'll never be bored.

That said...I agree, it's all about the traffic and commute. You have to decide your trade space between commute time, price, and quality/size of housing.

And BTW - I like Metro and feel safe on the trains and buses.

Finally, I haven't spent much time on the west coast but from all I hear, I really don't think there's any way to compare it to DC. Apples and oranges.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2009 at 12:50AM
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You also might want to try Kensington, which is a community just east of North Bethesda. The zip code is 20895. A quick check on Zip Realty identified 10 houses there priced below $400k.

I, too, think that you should check out city-data. And be sure to post in both the DC and the general Maryland forums. I respectfully disagree with the poster who compared it negatively to Gardenweb. I think that you'll get a lot of good info there.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2009 at 9:33AM
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"Is there anywhere to avoid just due to terrible traffic during commute hours?"


Live closer in than you work.

This puts you against rush hour.

I live in McLean but work in Chantilly.

A 20-25 minute drive out-bound in the morning and inbound in the evening.

I watch the huge rush hour backups on I-66 going the other way.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2009 at 11:40AM
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It is a matter of priorities. Once you know exactly where work is, work backwards for commuting purposes. Have husband ask where others live as different routes each have their own issues. Metro may or maynot be close to office in N. Bethesda. Then consider schools. Way upcounty the schools are bursting with kids, the same with some downcounty as kids switched from private schools. So seriously consider local school & preschool situations as well. Draw circles and talk to a variety of agents as they tend to specialize in certain localities (tho they can all work everywhere). New Intercounty connector is opening in the next couple years (with expensive toll) and should be factored in. I270 can be a parking lot, so consider crosscounty vs. North/South. If you want a $400k house, consider upcounty or eastern/Kensington/Wheaton/Silver Spring. Also check crime rates in the various areas, as you are pricewise verging on some touchy areas. I live in the older downcounty Bethesda area and this is a good time to buy, especially if you can do fixing up on older homes that have sat on the market a while where they are willing to deal. Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2009 at 3:01PM
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I have lived in both 20852 and 20895. The former is generally much pricery than the latter but some areas of Kensinging (the Cedar-Saul area nearly Holy Redeemer, Chevy Chase View, etc) are quite pricey.

There is an area of smaller, older homes between White Flint and Strathmore off Rockville Pike. The neighborhood was well established when I attended Holy Cross Academy across the street 35 years ago. I believe they are somewhat less costly, but I'm not sure which zip code they are in.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 7:20AM
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Tom Friedman built an 11,400 SF home in Bethesda in 2003. Maybe he will consider selling it...

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 5:59AM
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