In which I ask for comments and advice…

Today, I’m going to go see a condo with the intent of possibly renting it. I’ve reached the point at my current place where I’m sick and tired of it. Various reason, primarily lack of space, noise, dust, dirt, pests, mice, having to deal with the laundry room machines not working when needed, etc. – nothing egregious, just the usual problems one encounters living in a high rise complex that is designed for a very transient population. I’ve been here 8.5 years, which is eons compared to the majority of the folks here.

The plus side to where I live now is the location – 4 miles from work and in Alexandria.

Pros for the place I’m going to see:
— 700 sf 1 bedroom (my current place is 360 sf and studio)
— full size kitchen (currently tiny galley kitchen, no counter space)
— brand new stainless steel appliances (currently ancient stove, apt size fridge)
— full size washer/dryer (currently – laundry room down the hall)
— brand new carpet (currently – fake pergo tile floor)
— ground floor unit, one of six (currently, 10th floor unit, one of hundreds)
— Rent is equivalent to what I pay now
— good parking (currently, large lot – first come, first served)
— allows cats, dogs (currently, cats allowed, but I have no room)

— it’s in Woodbridge, VA (20 miles from work) It’s a shit commute, because everyone else is driving into the District for work, so traffic will be pretty hellish.

The big temptation is the size of the place for the very reasonable rent. Rentals of the same caliber close to where I am now are at least $350-$500 a month more and often have extra fees to park or it’s on a first come-first served basis, or have only street parking. I really hate to pay $1250+ a month for a small one bedroom or studio, but that’s what the market’s like here. Moving out to Woodbridge means I could pay < $1000 for way bigger place. There's a great deal I like about the idea, but am still very leery of the commute. I do listen to audiobooks, so entertaining myself will not be an issue, it's just the time that the drive will take up every day. For comparison's sake, my daily commute to/from work now is about 25 - 35 minutes through neighborhoods, passing various school zones. The new commute would be primarily highway (slow moving) or on Route 1, which is a main road through to DC. On a normal day, about 1 hr. With no traffic (which is uncommon, 35-40 mins) Again, I haven't seen the place, but am going to meet the owner there at noon today. It could be fabulous; it could be so-so. I'd love to get your input.

25 thoughts on “In which I ask for comments and advice…

  1. I remember Woodbridge from 9 years ago. I had friends who lived there. It was a nice area. Is there a possibility of taking the metro system? When I went to visit them (I was doing an intern at the Smithsonian and lived downtown) I would take the metro and they’d pick me up. I can’t remember how far it was.

    1. I just found out that I can take the VRE into King St. Station. This is actually fairly doable and avoids the insane drive. From King St. I can bus/shuttle it to work.

      Hmm…this gets better and better.

  2. Good luck with the apt! I hope it works out!

    (and I just said to Liz, “I want to be the Gordon Ramsey or Tim Gunn of helping people move. I want to step in and MAKE IT WORK.” I’d be REALLY good at it, and EVERY time I see someone I love on my flist talk about moving, I want to GO THERE and SORT YOU OUT and PACK YOU UP.

    …I may have a problem.)

    1. I may have a problem

      Uhm, yah, but it’s a GOOD ONE!

      You are so good at this sort of stuff and I’m shite. I would so love to have you and Liz come down and sort me out… ::g::

      ::crossing fingers this is a good place::

  3. Well, I wouldn’t want to commute an hour one-way unless there was the option of public transportation or carpooling, or possibly flexing work hours or occasionally working from home to avoid the worst of the traffic. (This is what I do now, and while I had to get used to rising so early, it’s been worth it. I live 13 miles from work, and depending on when I leave, the commute in can take 20 minutes to 1 hour, the drive home 35 minutes to 1.25 hours.)

    But you should consider the extra commuting costs (for gas, increased car maintenance, and time and stress, or for the metro if you need to take it) when you compute the cost. In some ways, it might not be as expensive as you think to live closer despite the higher rent. It depends on how much more driving you’ll be doing, both to work and to socialize.

    I’ve done the calculations various ways, and while I loved being in the city proper and being close to friends and things to do, I like the space I have now (more than double what I had) and the quieter lifestyle and privacy enough not to mind my commute requiring me to drive every day. My cat is happier, I have a little yard, and I am still in Seattle, so it’s not quite the ‘burbs, although it’s not as convenient to work as it could be. I even have room for house guests now (hint)..

    It really does depend on what things are important to you and how much time you spend at home–I am a homebody, and I’ve never regretted paying a bit more in rent or mortgage to be happy at home. It’s not just a place to sleep for me.

    My friends who have moved too far outside the city seemed to have regretted it if they weren’t doing it to buy a place of their own or for their families. The younger ones most of all seemed not to like it.

    1. Turns out, I just discovered I can drive to nearby train station, park free and take the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) directly to a metro station and then bus/shuttle it to work.

      This is really doable. Plus, yeah, I could work from home when necessary, so if weather is atrocious, I could do that.

      Now, just need to actually see the place and if it’s right for me.

      Thanks for the info!

  4. It depends on your priorities, really. Is the hour commute going to be worth the nice place to live. Or is the frustration going to make you hate it. To me, I’d hate the commute a lot. But can you come up to Springfield and take the metro? That might make it doable.

    1. Yeah, I’m not fond of commuting, but, did just find out that the VRE station is nearby so I could VRE to King St. Metro, then shuttle to work. Very doable.

      Don’t know much about VRE ridership, but I will do more digging.

      Thanks for the feedback!

  5. Moving into a more livable space can be a big boon, but I understand about the commute, which sounds pretty awful, so only you can make that choice. I’d wait and see what you think of the place.

  6. Eek. Tough one.

    I’ve lived in various areas around the Beltway, and it’s the traffic that finally drove me out of the area. I suppose some depends on your vehicle, what kind of gas mileage it gets, how it handles in bad weather, etc.

    On the other hand, there’s little we wouldn’t do for ‘ a clean, well-lighted place’, is there? Our home is our sanctuary.

    In short, I have no answer. Have you done an exhaustive search? Is this place the best choice out there?

    1. Sadly, it wasn’t very well lit, and still being cleaned up, so hard to tell how clean it would be. Kitchen was great, but the rest kind of meh. Not really worth the commute.

      Oh well, it’s back to the drawing board.

      Thanks for the feedback!

  7. Eh. Commutes suck but an hour isn’t *that* bad; and within a couple of weeks you’ll probably have figured out a way to shorten it or a good time to leave to avoid some of it. I say if the place is great go for it! 🙂

  8. Try driving it at your normal work time. Look for other ways (back streets). Think about shifting your hours by one hour and see if that makes a difference.


    1. Definitely on the “meh” side. It’s not fabulous. 🙁

      Not worth the commute at all. Oh well, had to go look, in any case.

      Keep your fingers crossed that I find something worthwhile!

  9. I lived in Manassas and commuted when I first moved out here, and the commute wasn’t too bad. I got on the metro as soon as possible, though (Franconia-Springfield, iirc) so I don’t know about driving in further than that. Plus doesn’t the VRE run from Woodbridge?

  10. For me, the commute is everything. The only way I could do that drive it is if the office would let you possibly work off-rush hours — start at 6 am and leave at 2, or start at 10 am and leave at 7, etc. Because otherwise, you are going to spend soooo much money in gas and time and … okay, audiobooks are good things.

    VRE/metro is definitely a good alternative, but I would actually do it at least once before taking the plunge. But that’s me – it could be incredibly frustrating and not cheap, which is the experience of some other folks I know who do the VRE thing.

    1. Good points all, thanks!

      The place wasn’t at all what I expected – great kitchen, but so-so everything else and laid out a little funky. Just not my style.

      Oh well. Guess I’ll just keep on looking!

  11. well you know me, the commute is the dealbreaker, but VRE might be an option. See if you can find out (maybe on the’s traffic chat?) how soon/if the parking lot fills up on weekdays; I know that’s an issue with some of the outer Orange Line Metro parking lots. Starrcat had a great idea in doing the drive on a regular work day.

    So, with a regular kitchen would you take up cooking? 😛

    and omg I want my own washer & dryer too…maybe someday

    1. VRE would have been a good option – sadly, the place wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. The kitchen – yeah, fabulous, but the rest of it was fairly meh. Laid out a little funky, so space wasn’t as open as I’d like, nor was it well lit.

      It wasn’t quite up to what it would need to be if I were to consider that commute.

      Back to the search!

  12. Dang, that’s a really tough choice. The commute is not one that I’d look forward to, but the space is something that you would enjoy every day to offset it.

    See the place – but if it doesn’t make your heart sing, and preferably in harmony, then don’t do it. At this rate, bigger places will also open up in your area, and probably for lower rents than they would have cost a year ago.

    1. Yeah, my heart didn’t sing, it mostly just hummed a little when looking at the nice new fridge and gorgeous stove. Everything else was just not my style, nor did I like the layout. It’s quite nice, just not worth that commute.

      I’ll keep looking – it’s not like I have a deadline. 🙂

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