As you've gotten in the previous answers, there are plenty of options for you in the Northern VA area that would meet you basic criteria. What you may want to do is take the time to come up with a list of the other things you are looking for in your next place. Be it walking distance to the Metro station, restaurants, or dog park, do you need a garage space, do want to be in the middle of nightlife mix or are you looking for something a little quieter. Once you've expanded your criteria, it should help you refine your search so that you can then make the rent/purchase decision.
Good luck and feel free to drop us an email if you have any additional questions,
AJ Heidmann, ABR, CRS, e-PRO
Cell 703-474-1260 Fax 703-518-8314
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Old Town Alexandria
The link below will explain exactly why.
I agree with Ashley, unless you really know where you want to live, don't rush into a home purchase. A year from now, there will still be homes for sale.
In Alexandria (including parts of Fairfax County with an Alexandria mailing address), there are 653 listings. Too many? How about 3+ bed, 2+bath for under $350,000? There are 271 of those. How about 3+bed, 2+bath for under $275,000? There are 102 of those.
You shouldn't have any problem at all.
By the way, how is Ithaca doing? I went to school there (Ithaca College, not Cornell) quite a few years ago. I loved the fall, driving around the lake. I wasn't so crazy about the winters, though!
Hope that helps.
In any case, yes there are plenty of 2 br options for less than $400 in and around DC, on both sides of the river. I think even the thirty minute commute is possible, as long as you realize an occasional 45 minute or more commute is likely, should there even be the slightest sniff of snow, etc. The feds are pretty good about allowing flexible schedules, which allows some to arrange their commute to minimize lost time.
I'd be happy to help you find a place in Virginia.
You DON"T want to drive to work, even if you get "free" parking with your Capitol Hill job (no hope of that parking space if you work on the Senate side, some hope if you are working on the House side).
If you have/plan to have children, Arlington's schools are THE BEST. No racial problems, only 20,000 children in the school system. Fairfax County has over 160,000 KIDS in the school system. Somehow, Arlington never runs short of money (unlike Fairfax), so in hard economic times, the schools don't really "cut back." Services are MARVELOUS here in the "People's Republic of Arlington," where things are done by consensus -- known as "the Arlington Way," we talk it to death over a period of several years of study.
Yes, welcome to sticker shock, but rents are as bad -- expect to pay over $2,000 for a 2 BR 2 BA new rental apt. in Arlington which isn't even walking distance to Metro. Many new buildings were built with the intention that they'd be sold as condos, but the market has soured, so they are rental and LOVELY. But, you pay for parking, all utilities, etc., and have a GORGEOUS exercise room, party room, 24 hr. attended front desk, etc.
Remember the 3 most important words in real estate: "LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION." There is always a market for Arlington properties, but the further out you go, the harder it is to sell.
When you say "30 min." you mean RUSH HOUR. My husband's office mates HOWLED when a new hire, a political appointee, who had househunted ONE WEEKEND came in on a Monday and reported that he'd bought a house "only 15 min. from the office!!" Sure, when he did the drive on SUNDAY MORNING, but otherwise, on a DRY WEEKDAY, the drive took well over an hour. His wife wanted a place with room for horses.
The commute killed him and he left after a year.
There isn't a "bad neighborhood" in Arlington and there isn't a less expensive one either, unfortunately. Things used to be cheaper in South Arlington (on the other side of Rt. 50, the dividing line between north and south).
Well priced homes sell FAST -- sometimes before the first open house.
Advice: Choose a FULL TIME realtor, tell them EXACTLY what you want. Think SERIOUSLY about renting for a year, unless you think your boss won't lose the 2012 election.
I have owned a condo in the District for 34 years -- hundred year old bldg, renovated in 1976, 704 sq. ft., one bedroom plus den, purchased in 1977 for $42,000, in a PLAIN JANE no elevator 3 story bldg. whose only amenity is the coin operated machines in the laundry room. NO JOKE. My unit is on the first floor. Current assessment: $367,000. No nighttime street parking, 20 min. walk to Metro. Public schools are not great. Lovely neighborhood, but how much time does anyone spend walking around the "hood?" And, in this EXCELLENT NEIGHBORHOOD, CRIME is a problem -- muggers figure wealthy people carry money -- we don't, we carry credit cards!!
Good luck. Now you will find out why Federal govt. salaries are allegedly so "high." Wait until you buy groceries, the food prices are out of sight because there is no competition -- only 2 grocery store chains!!
I love it here (why else would I have remained for 47 years?). Mild winters, people from everywhere around the country and internationally as well. Extremely well educated. Interested in current events, etc.
...Definitely there will be possibilities for you.
The best way for you to remain anonymous and get a flavor of products and prices is to go to my site http://www.arlingtonhouses.com and look at properties. You will be able to see the entire Washington Metro area market and also check out community information, etc. All information is current and complete.
Once you have done your due diligence and you are ready for someone to make the process easier for you, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-568-1100. With my many years of experience I can lead you through the maze, cull through the possibilities and make the process downright enjoyable.
#1 Agent - Arlington, Virginia Office
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Have you been prequalified? I have a great lender - Cindy Fox (check Service Providers page of my web site - scroll to Preferred Lenders, she's with SunTrust).
Let me know if I can help! 703-669-3142
First, search the local MLS using http://www.HomesDatabase.com. This is the public face of the local MLS and has everything that's available on the market. If you're having reservations about purchasing right now, you can always rent for a while until you've lived in and become familiar with the area. I do sales as well as rentals, and will be happy to help you no matter what you decide to do.
If there's anything else I can do to help, please just let me know. Drop me a line at TinyVarner@gmail.com, and I'll be happy to answer any questions or help out however I can.
Lots of good advice here, but be careful about your requirement of a 30 minute commute.
I live in North Old Town and work at the Pentagon. It takes me about 12 minutes to drive to work. (It is about a 5 mile trip). When I go to capital hill, (a 7 mile trip or so), it takes me about 30 minutes.
Be sure to ask about traffic on 395/US Route 1/ Gw Parkway (the fastest way to go from VA to the district) when looking at homes.
Like others said, with a 400K price range, there are hundreds of condos/townhomes that are within your ragne. But, although they may be "next to DC", your commute time might be longer than 30 minutes...
If I can help you in any way, let me know! Good luck with the job search and your possible move.
If you need a referral to a top agent in either area just drop me a line and let me know I can get someone to email or call you with just information if you like.
Coldwell Banker Triad