Dreaming about your perfect home is one of the many pleasure when you move. Do you want a single-family home, an apartment, a town house, a condo? But what about where that home is located? You can have all of the amenities in the world, but if it isn’t in the right spot, that dream home can turn into a nightmare.
There have been long debates over the top neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., and every year it changes. Some claim one is hot because the area is gentrifying and real estate prices will go up soon, while other’s concentrate on where the best food can be found. D.C. does not lack for diversity when it comes to neighborhoods. No matter your budget, you can find something, you just might have to compromise on schools, how close you are to the metro, and whether you require a view or not. After living in Washington, D.C., and polling a few friends and real estate agents, I’ve come up with a guide that will walk you through the nuances of ten neighborhoods that may just fit your personality and your wish list.
Music lovers and millennial flock to the U Street and Shaw neighborhoods for underground jazz concerts, alternative rock shows at the9:30 Club and to rub shoulders with upcoming greats trying to walk in native-son Duke Ellington’s footsteps. This is where you will find the local boutique shops, new restaurants popping up, and some of the best coffee in town at La Colombe and Compass Coffee. African-American history leaps out of the buildings of this historically black neighborhood that has been quickly gentrifying, but is still home to the Howard Theatre and Lincoln Theatre, and is located just south of Howard University.
The NoMa and H Street neighborhoods lie side by side. Most people can’t figure out where one ends and the other begins, but all can agree this is the place to be in Washington, D.C. right now. The H Street FreshFarm Market is the best spot to load up on fresh produce each Saturday, while the neighborhood explodes each autumn during the H Street Festival, which takes over 10 blocks to showcase music, art and multicultural performances. NoMa, which is home to Gallaudet University and the always-delicious Union Market, is seeing creative businesses scoop up old warehouse spaces to create a thriving artist neighborhood. It’s an easy walk to Union Station, which makes this neighborhood a commuter and traveler’s dream spot to live.
National Fans, young professionals and couples looking for a bit of quiet in the middle of the city are flocking to Navy Yard. The Washington Post recently stated that this neighborhood was “on track to be D.C.’s most densely populated neighborhoods.” Besides the Washington Nationals (D.C.’s major league baseball team), buyers are racing to scoop up property thanks to Yards Park, a massive green space consisting of several outdoor “rooms,” including an 11-inch deep Canal for visitors to splash in on hot summer days. There is no shortage of real estate either. Most properties are condos and apartments, with new buildings going up every month it seems. Prices are cheaper here than in Dupont Circle and Foggy Bottom. At night the neighborhood quiets down, which is a bonus for residence not looking for the party scene, but who want to relax on their rooftop decks as the sun sets.
All along 16th Street in Columbia Heights you will find embassies and international organizations, making this a multi-culture area, with loads of renovated houses and some new construction going in. Meridian Hill Park is perfect for anyone looking for a relaxing Sunday stroll in a European style, two-level park, while the restaurant on 14th Street are attracting young families and professionals for brunch. Bars, restaurants and coffee shops make it easy to get up early with the kids or stay out late with friends.
As one of Washington, D.C.’s oldest residential neighborhood this is a weekend hot spot for locals and visitors alike. Historic homes, apartments and new construction mingle seamlessly, but don’t expect to find any great real estate deals here. Property is a hot commodity for this centrally located neighborhood that has great parks, paths along the Potomac and easy access to government offices. The neighborhood has seen a burst of bakeries and coffee shops pop up in recent years, which adds nicely to the mix of old-school French restaurants and steak houses that DC is known for. Don’t fret though– young chefs are beginning to creep into the dining scene.
The first thing you need to know about Chevy Chase is that there are two Chevy Chase’s in the D.C. area. There is Chevy Chase the neighborhood in D.C. and there is Chevy Chase the town in Maryland. The two border each other too, which makes it hard to see. where one begins and the other ends. Families are flocking to this area because the Chevy Chase (DC) schools are great, and real estate prices are lower than other neighborhoods closer to downtown. Single-family homes with a nice size yard attract growing families looking for a small town in a big city. Neighbors are friendly, but your commute may take a little longer since the metro station isn’t within walking distance of most homes.
If you are looking for a social scene in a metro area, you can’t go wrong with Dupont Circle. The weekly, year-round Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market brings everyone out of their homes, hunting for a bit of fresh produce from their favorite local vendors. First Friday Dupont is a great time to get to know the gallery owners in the neighborhood, or you can just hang out at the Dupont Circle fountain, where plenty of locals catch up with friends, read, or just watch the day go by. The area is flooded with locally owned businesses, and 17th Street is the spot to be for shops, food and bars.
Looking for a neighborhood that is walker friendly and has a great nightlife? Adams Morgan is your place. Millenials moving in are the target market of many of the boutiques, bars and restaurants. Eighteenth Street is where you can get your fix of historic row homes that you dream of decorating with the items you find in the furniture and home stores nearby. The DC Arts Center draws in the emerging artists of the city, Thrillist.com is telling whiskey lovers to buy a home immediately, because this neighborhood does whiskey like no other. The food scene is growing, and slowly the nightlife is changing from a mostly college crowd to a more sophisticated clientele.
Art and Catholicism take over what some call “Little Rome” in DC. This northeastern neighborhood is home to Catholic University, the Bascilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (the largest catholic church in North America), and the Franciscan Monastary of the Holy Land of America. Don’t be put off if you aren’t religious though. Brookland is host to the Arts Walk at Monroe Street Market, where local artists have set up their galleries along a pedestrian byway. Residents like to keep the fact that they have a nice local brewery scene growing a secret so more people won’t move in and disturb the quiet. If you are looking to buy, make sure you check out the old bungalows that are perfect for couples and small families.
If you are looking for a family-friendly, away-from-the-crowds neighborhood, Petworth is for you. Just east of Rock Creek Park, this neighborhood is known for its events, including Celebrate Petworth, Petworth Jazz Project, Upshur Street Handmade Art & Craft Fair and The Petworth Community Market. You will often find moms pushing jogger strollers, and young professional catching up at a local watering hole after work. Rents can be cheaper than other areas across the city. There are multiple restaurants to choose from, and more coming as the neighborhood continues to gentrify. The best part about this neighborhood is that it isn’t crawling with tourists. Aside from President Lincoln’s Cottage, you won’t find a ton of historical attractions like you do downtown and along the National Mall, making this a tight knit community that sticks together.