Welcome to the National Capitol Region! Or the DMV. Or the Greater Washington area. Different names, same area. It’s the nation’s fifth largest metropolitan area, and our new home.
When I accepted the job offer that would uproot us to DC, we knew we wouldn’t get the chance to come tour the region firsthand before picking a place to settle. Jessica was seven months pregnant, meaning traveling long distances wasn’t really considered safe and painfully uncomfortable. So we instead used our millennial superpowers of “internet search” and “mutual friend connections” to get a feel for the area.
Fortunately, info on the region isn’t really that hard to come by. It’s a rapidly growing area that is frequently included on “top places for _______” lists (USA Today, Forbes, etc.). We browsed blogs and housing websites, trying to get an idea for what kind of community we wanted to join. We helped narrow our search by focusing on these five questions:
- What kind of housing stock is available for 30% of our income?
- What kind of amenities were within walking distance? Can we easily and safely walk to restaurants, parks, and entertainment options?
- Griff will need a place to frolic. Any dog parks near by?
- I don’t want to drive to work – are there reliable transit options available?
- Is there a bikepath nearby?
We tried finding something in the District but couldn’t find a ‘hood that suited our needs and was also in our price range (Takoma Park came close, though). So we expanded our search to the ‘burbs. Alas, I never thought I’d be a suburbanite – but with baby #1 on the way, the time to consider such an Armageddon-like scenario was upon me. Surely there were some suburban (with emphasis on the “urban”) neighborhoods in the nation’s fifth largest metro area?
Turns out, the National Capital area really came of age post-WWII, meaning auto-oriented development dominates most of the region. Tysons, Rockville, Reston, Springfield… all pleasant and affordable areas, but not quite our jam.
We found what we believe to be the perfect balance in Alexandria, Virginia. It’s a historic city filled with great urban character, and amenities. Ready for a tour? Here are some of our favorite aspects about our new home. Enjoy!
Our Neighborhood: Carlyle
Carlyle is Alexandria’s contemporary answer to historic Old Town. I haven’t uncovered the full picture of it’s history quite yet, but from what I can gather it was a master-planned Transit Oriented Development that has been continuously growing for the past ~25 years. We enjoy the great transit access, walkable environment, and nearby charm of Old Town.
Old Town: A Historic Port City
Old Town is the heart of Alexandria. Local leaders have done well to preserve the historic fabric of the neighborhood, which was designated a National Landmark Historic District in 1966. Beautiful rowhomes, historic ties to the revolutionary war and civil war, local restaurants, and the waterfront make it a top tourist stop.
Top Spots Around Town
Life in Alexandria isn’t limited to Carlyle and Old Town. Here are some other notable sights, landmarks, and places we enjoy visiting.
And with that, I’ll conclude the tour of our new home. Perhaps someday I’ll geek out and learn more details about how this place came to be. But that’s it for now.. thanks for reading!