I have a love-hate relationship with the places in which I live–not only my neighrborhood, but also my building.
-Is disgustingly pretty
-My apartment has been bug-free for the 6 months I’ve been here (I’m fairly clean, but not anal about it).
-It is a *rare* Friday or Saturday night when I can hear loud music. And I don’t think I’ve ever heard loud music on a weeknight.
-My kitchen is pretty much the most amazing thing ever (gorgeous, with brand-new appliances)
-The view from my balcony is fabulous (it looks out over Rock Creek Park), and it’s amazingly quiet for being right off of busy 16th Street.
-My apartment, though, does not have a washer/dryer (I know, cry me a river)
-My rent is also kind of insane (though average for DC, and increasingly average fora nice apartment in my neighborhood), and will probably go up when my lease is up in August.
So while over-all I LOVE my current apartment, there is no way I will be able to stay beyond August. This leaves the question: stay in my current neighborhood, or start looking elsewhere.
-I live right where the neighborhoods of Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, and Mount Pleasant come together. I freaking LOVE my neighborhood (probably even more than I love my apartment!)
-The neighborhood is amazingly diverse: rich, poor, every nationality and color, and I probably hear at least three languages being spoken just on a walk to the metro station!
-It’s wicked convenient: the metro station is two blocks away, and I’m an easy walk to three different grocery stores, the new DC Target, restaurants of every type, etc.
-I’ve personally never felt unsafe in the neighborhood, but it’s not the most crime-free place–a window of my car was broken the first week I lived here (I was really glad that I had taken the preemptive measure of taking the faceplate off my radio and am not stupid enough to leave anything of value in my car, so nothing was stolen), and people do still get killed fairly regularly (probably ever couple of weeks)
-In spite of this, the neighborhood is becoming increasingly “cool”, and rents have gone up significantly in just the time I’ve lived here! One bedroom apartments now pretty much *start* at $1500/month. That’s not much more than what I’m paying now, but I will not be able to continue to pay those kinds of rents with what I’ll be making at my two jobs (yes, I got the job I mentioned a few entries ago)
Many of my friends insist that I should move out to the suburbs with them. They point out that I have to now drive to *both* of my jobs (neither is metro accessible), and that rents are much lower in the ‘burbs if you don’t have to live near a metro station.
But I refuse to become dependent on my car! I don’t want to live surrounded by strip malls and parking lots and have to drive *everywhere*! I insist that I can find an affordable place here in the District.
And this is where the trouble starts: I love my neighborhood, but will probably not be able to afford to live here much longer. There are some cheaper and more basic apartment buildings in the area, but most of them have bug, or rat, or (even worse) bed bug problems. Yuck. You can make snide comments about “poor” people all day, but the grossest apartment building I’ve ever lived in? Full of GWU undergrads. Not exactly a “poor” bunch. And there are plenty of nice and white apartment buildings on Connecticut Avenue that also have bug and rat problems!
And when you get right down to it? I want a dishwasher, and a washer and dryer. Yes, I’m spoiled.
So basically, my options are:
-A much more basic apartment in my current neighborhood.
-Or a nice apartment in a less-awesome neighborhood.
I’m really torn–I keep telling myself that I can grow to like another neighborhood, but I drove around yesterday investigating, and I’m not so sure. I think I could totally live with Petworth, because it’s just one metro stop away, but there aren’t a huge number of nice apartment buildings in that neighborhood–it’s mostly row houses (which might be an option if a friend moves here, but I can’t afford one on my own). I feel like I like the H Street NE area in theory, but it’s still really kind of a mess and not terribly metro accessable (can somone explain to me why the end of H Street *closest* to Union Station looks like a freaking war zone, and then gets nicer the *farther* you get from the metro??? Why are there still empty lots and BLOCKS of boarded up buildings within a few blocks of Union Station? Why is all the development going on farther from the metro??? *boggles*) I also feel like I could handle Trinidad if IT WASN’T SO FREAKING FAR FROM *ANYTHING*! I get that that’s why it’s cheap, but seriously? I’m also thinking about Eckington, but I’m wary of having to walk down busy Rhode Island Avenue to and from the metro station (I’ve done the walk along a busy street in that area before [when I lived near the intersection of NY Avenue and N. Capital], and it was less than awesome) I think I could also do Brookland, but there I run into the same problems as with Petworth (lack of nice apartments)
I certainly don’t mind a little rough around the edges (in either neighborhood or apartment), but I’m finding that at least as far as apartments go, there’s very little in between totally-new-and-soulless-concrete-modern-loft (which I couldn’t afford even if it didn’t make me want to vomit) and 30-year-old-kitchen-cabinets-and-appliances-with-no-dishwasher-or-washer-dryer. What is so wrong with original character, wood floors, old wood molding around windows and doors, with appliances that are 10 years old or less (including a diswasher and a washer and dryer)? Maybe the problem is with the neighborhoods that I’m willing to (and can afford to) live in: most were pretty sketchy 10 or so years ago, so no one was investing money in rennovating apartments there. Now, the neighrborhoods are getting good enough that people can make money fixing up the apartments, but they either gut the place and loose all the old character, or make the rennovation so high-end that us poor over-educated but under-employed liberal arts grads who don’t have family money (yes, we do exist…well, at least *I* exist…) can’t afford them.
That was my very long way of saying that I have no freaking idea where I’m going to be living after my lease is up on my current place. And yes, it’s almost 6 months away, but I hate the not knowing, so I’m already obsessing about it…