Opinions on Moving to the DC/VA Area

I’m looking to move to the DC/VA area right away.
I’d like to arrive in the area, get a job, then earn the money to get a place, then bring up my wife and dogs. I’m not too picky about what job- I’ve seen literally hundreds in the area that I would find acceptable. I’m not too picky about where I stay while I’m making my money (I lived outdoors for nine months once).
I am unfamiliar with the area. I don’t even know what city I should move to.

So, I ask:

  1. What city in the DC/VA area should I move to?
  2. Where’re very,very cheap[sup]*[/sup] places to stay whilst I’m making ready for my family to arrive?
  3. Who wants to have a beer with me when I get there?
  4. Where’s a great place to have semi skilled toting job[sup]**[/sup]?
  5. What should I avoid in re questions 1-4?

I’m open to all suggestions.
I have a wide ranging variety of skills and qualifications that I could make available to any interested potential employers who happen to read this.

*As close to free as possible.
** Toting things from one place to another- managing official correspondence, waiting tables, driving a forklift, etc.

If you’re looking for cheap, you can’t mind having a big commute, cause any place at all close to the city is very expensive. Manassas and Warrenton are both worth looking at, maybe Leesburg.

It shouldn’t be too hard to get the semi-skilled toting job, but I don’t know of any places offhand.

I’d be happy to offer my two cents, but it’d help to have a little more info about what you are really hoping for.

Do you prefer living in the city or the suburbs? Do you drive a lot, or prefer to take the Metro or public transit? Once you get a job, what would you roughly expect to spend on rent?

General info: DC is quite sharply divided into nice and crime-ridden neighborhoods. There are places in the middle, but most of them are going upscale quickly. You’re going to have a LOT of trouble finding a rental place in DC that will accept dogs. I don’t know where you’re coming from, but rents are expensive here. When you look at rental listings, you generally want to avoid Anacostia, Capitol Heights, Petworth, Trinity, Eckington, and a few other places I’m blanking on. Here are two good rental agencies that focus on Capitol Hill, but that market is probably out of your price range.

Arlington is a bit more suburban, and there are enormous amounts of new rentals going on the market (all high-rises), but same cost as DC. It’s close to DC, but traffic can be a bitch. Alexandria is more or less in the same boat.

You’ll also want to look at Maryland communities, like Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, Greenbelt, College Park. I’m not the best one to talk about these areas, I don’t go there often.

Best resource for cheap rents: Washington City Paper.

You’re going to have a tough time finding “very, very cheap” places, especially for a short term rental. Your best bet is to share, but I’d be very, very surprised if you find something for less than $400 that’s within 90 minutes of the city.

Best of luck, I’ll stop by the thread later and see if I can offer any more help.

For short-term, leaseless accomodations, shared housing is your best bet. You can try the University of Maryland’s Housing Search to try to find something in the College Park area.

Thanks y’all.

As to the more specifics:

I just would like to be able to get to DC for special events- say, not much more than a 2hour drive away.
So, even though I say the DC/VA area, I guess that I really mean the VA area within 100 miles or so of DC.

For some reason that I’m not sure of, Maryland doesn’t sound like where I’d like to be. Not that I’ve really heard anything about Maryland mind you.

Good thinking.
I’ll look into a roomate situation or something.

Maybe a Doper has some spare room that could be shared with a stranger? I can certainly trade labor for lodging.

Thank you both again for you help.

I have some personal issues with Virginia, so I can’t help you there, but you can probably find some cheap housing in Baltimore, which is 45 minutes from DC on a good day. I’ll try to rustle up some links later.

Thanks EL. My objections to Maryland are ephemeral and could easily be dispersed.

I’m interested.

In fact, if you’re really willing to go up to 2 hours away from the city, you can likely find something pretty damned cheap in WSest Virginia. I’ll leave it to our WV dopers to give you the local scoop.

Check out Springfield, Manassas, and Woodbridge, VA. There all a ways southwest of DC, and I rarely go down there, but it’s my guess that it’s a pretty decent mix of new middle-class McMansion type houses, and somewhat older, probably more affordable places.

Forklift? Try the Coca-Cola warehouse at 5401 Seminary Rd. in Alexandria.