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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:28 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
Posts: 2526
Location: Stepford USA

DH has a job offer there. He currently works in DC but comes home weekends. This job would require enough of his time (including weekends) that we would have to move there. Virginia would be our first choice because of where the job is. Looking between Quantico and the Pentagon.


Is it even possible to live there on any kind of ERE budget? I know housing prices are pretty high, but are real estates taxes low? Do most neighborhoods have HOAs? (pennsylvania is blessedly HOA-free for the most part) This job would shorten the amount of time for him to save up enough money for ER (and still pay for kids' college), but I worry that moving will eat up any extra money he'll earn.




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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:43 pm 
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I live in Arlington (Ballston area). Is it possible to ERE here? Yes, but it depends how much you make, what type of housing you need, and where you want to live. I only ER (40% of salary saved), but could probably get to over 50% if I was willing to give up things like location, going out, car, etc., but I'm not.


Outside the Beltway the cost of housing drops a lot and has a lot of traffic. However, housing inside the Beltway really holds it's value and is usually a better traffic option (depending on where you are going).


Traffic is definitely a consideration here, as it is terrible and completely unpredictable.


I currently rent a basement apartment for $1200 in a very urban area. This is about as cheap as I'm willing to go. Admittedly, it's hard to get much cheaper considering that number includes all utilities and cable/internet, and I refuse to live outside the Beltway.


Alexandria can have ok priced apartments and it's in between Quantico and the Pentagon.


Many neighborhoods have HOA, but I think most of those are either planned neighborhoods (not most of Arlington or Alexandria, but further out it seems to be more common) or townhouse plans.


If you want further clarification just ask.




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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 2:00 am 
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I live south of the beltway, but not too far south and still in Fairfax county, and lately housing prices in the closer-in areas have started to go up. If you think you are going to be here for years, you may want to check housing prices in Prince William county. There they had lots (and lots) of foreclosures and prices sank dramatically, so perhaps you can buy one of those. If you are looking for renting instead... not sure how that will work out as I think rents have gone up due to demand. Of course if you do live in PW county, the traffic could be a nightmare. Its certainly a trade off.


As for HOAs, its mostly newer neighborhoods that have them, and they are common around here. Thankfully I don't have one, as my house is from 1960. A good real estate agent should be able to answer most of your questions. I suspect most Prince William houses will be in HOAs, closer in not so much.


If you know what you're doing, you can save lots of money living in this area (as long as your housing costs are reasonable). Now that my house is paid off, my savings rate is probably in the 75% range (haven't calculated it, but just guessing).




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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 4:58 am 

Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:38 pm
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I live in Woodbridge, in Prince William County, renting an 1100 sqft basement w/ kitchen & laundry room for $1400 all utilities + cable/internet included.


I work at Quantico and the Pentagon. People heading north can take the VRE (railroad) or Washington Metro or "slug" (get a free ride with people who want to commute in the carpool lane so they take on extra passengers) up to Pentagon pretty easily. Traffic is definitely horrible. I get around it by working mostly at Quantico, which is a little south of me (opposite direction of traffic, so really not bad at all), and by working slightly odd hours so I avoid a little of rush hour (10-7).


"Is ERE possible" depends entirely on your budget and what you're willing to put up with to do it. You can get a mobile home / trailer for $40k or less in Prince William. Or you can pay $500k for a condo in Arlington plus $1500 to $3000 in condo fees. Or find a good basement like Chad did in Arlington (I'm going to do the same thing when I move to Arlington or DC next year.)


Like Chad, I am saving around 40%. I make six figures, but my wife is in school with no income, so we will save more when she graduates and gets a job. We also spend a *lot* on food, because purchasing from small farms & organic or better is important to us, and eating the way we do has improved our health leaps and bounds over any other way of eating (was vegan over 2 years, & have tried basically every other diet/food plan). So if we ate Standard American Diet, or ERE rice/beans/peanutbutter/tuna, we could save another 10%+ easily.


More info on your situation / income / living & housing requirements would help.




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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 5:20 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:18 pm
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Hi JennyPenny,


Another thing to consider in any high traffic area is the mass transit offerings as they relate to potential living arrangements. I did some Google-ing and this is the site for the DC metro area:


http://www.wmata.com/


It may help to map out transit routes from the work location(s) out to various areas along metro/bus routes then determine rental/purchase affordability (craigslist!) from there.


- Mac




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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 8:12 pm 
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MacGyverIt is correct. You need to keep the public transit in mind. There is a solid subway system, but it is reaching capacity (at least in the Virginia area). My friend that uses it has waited multiple trains at rush hour before he found one with room available.




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PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:47 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
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Location: Stepford USA

Thanks, this is really helpful. It's a great opportunity for him, but I can't see how moving to that area would speed up his retirement. Even though he'd make more, that area is pretty expensive, and he'd have commuting costs we don't have now. We're a family of 5 and I can tell DH would only be happy in a single family home.


And there's something I'll only admit to here--I think he'd like the job a little too much. I want him to be happy, but I want him to retire in the next 5 years. He comes home on weekends now so he doesn't get sucked into the whole DC power scene. If we lived there I think he might get drawn in a little more.


I know, I know--I'm a really bad wife. But I'd be a terrible DC wife. I can't even manage the Stepford wife thing. It's hard to compete with "duty" all of the time and that would only intensify in DC. Ugh, I should be happy for him, but I can't help feeling like this job is a step in the wrong direction WRT ERE.




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PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 11:38 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:13 am
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I own a place near Quantico that I rent out and I live a few miles away from the Pentagon in a rental.


Obviously there are accounts of ERE living in some of the most expensive areas (SF, NYC, etc) but the level of difficulty in those areas and Northern Virginia is considerably higher than many other locations in the country.


There are 1500sf townhomes in the Quantico area for ~150k (sometimes less) and property taxes for that type of place are about 1300/year.


Anything inside or very close to beltway is expensive (both purchase and taxes). It may be worth it depending on how frequently one must commute to the Pentagon. Travel time during rush hour from Quantico to Pentagon is 2-3 hours each way. While there are some options (VRE (rail), car sharing (HOV lanes)) the commute is generally among the worst stretches in the country.


If you need any help on real estate listings, let me know. I have a real estate license and access to the MLS.


If you ask me, the only reason to live around here is the large salaries - but that attitude might be influenced by my current frustration in finding affordable housing. If you live very close to DC, then I would say the museums, buildings, and green space are pretty cool.


Good luck.




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:17 am 
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Welcome to the area if you are coming. I have lived in this area for about 23 years now and currently live in Vienna, which is north on the beltway from where your DH's job will be.


If you don't have school issues, I would live as close to his job as possible. The traffic here is second to LA in being horrible, and will make your life miserable if you don't account for it. It is worth paying more to live near the job here if you value your time. Public transit is good into the city, but not that good where you are talking about. And there were some recent movement of government jobs that will make it even worse.


Taxes are better in Prince William than in Fairfax county, but it may be cancelled out by the commute.


One other thing -- this is a very transitory area. That means you should be able to find something to rent relatively easy, which I would recommend before you settle into any place in particular. It might sound silly, but you really need to understand the commuting, etc., before you settle into any one place. Some place a few miles away on a map may be an extra 30 minute commute -- no joking.


PM me if you want more info. Happy to talk to you on phone. I have a family of five, too, you know!


With all these folks, really sounds like we need to schedule a meet-up at some point.




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:44 am 

Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 6:51 pm
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I live in Maryland and Dragline is not joking about a few miles being 30 minutes or more in an added commute. It all depends upon the direction you are going (with or against traffic) and the proximity to good, direct public transportation (the fewer transfers, the better) and the time of day. I'm not sure what your kids' educational status is, but if they will attend public school, this will have a huge effect upon the price of housing. In my town there are essentially two school districts. In one, where the school boundaries include minorities and less-affluent folks, the housing prices are at about $400K for a 3-4 bedroom with a small lot. A mile away, same ZIP code, where the schools are predominantly white and upper-middle class, the same house would be $800K. One. Mile. Away. = double the price. That said, the Stepford wife factor is high in the snootier neighborhood, horrifying actually. (Secret: I live in the 'snooty' district but since I own property (rented out) in the 'mixed' neighborhood, I fib and say I still live there, so my offspring can attend that 'browner' 'poorer' school.)

Snooty: http://snoburbia.typepad.com/ (sad but true)

Commute: http://unsuckdcmetro.blogspot.com/ (hilarious but true)




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:12 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:24 am
Posts: 1002
Location: Bodymore, Murderland

Another Marylander. Though I work in Baltimore and not DC, I can second (or third?) everything mentioned about the traffic and commuting. Absolutely horrible. One of the things that truly pisses me off about working, actually. And I'm only 13 miles from my job--still takes thirty minutes on a good day, literally up to an hour on a bad day.


I... can't really back up my opinion, heh, but I wouldn't recommend this area. For ERErs or anyone. But that might just be me. People are unfriendly here. Everything is overpriced. Property and taxes both are quite high unless you want to live in the middle of nowhere and turn your one hour commute into 2-3. And for all that, there's really nothing in this area that makes it worth it IMO. The higher salaries are very likely eaten away by the higher costs unless you live in a less desireable (read: higher crime and/or longer commute) area.


I've only ever visited other places (not lived there), and again I'm more familiar with the Baltimore area and Maryland specifically, but... yeah. I can't wait to leave. The only reason I stayed here after college was family and easy access to high-paying government jobs, which were some of the only things hiring at the time.




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:22 pm 
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I kind of like the area, as there are a lot of smart people. I've made some decent friends here who don't always want to make small talk. It's nice to have some weight in the dicussions. Of course, it's not perfect, but not many places are.




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PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 9:15 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
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Location: Stepford USA

Well, DH got called down to Redstone, so I get a couple of weeks reprieve. Maybe it will give me time to get used to the idea.


I didn't realize how many people were in that area. DH's current rental is in Arlington, so I'll try and figure out a weekend I can get down there and organize a meet. I snagged a place in the Marine Corps Marathon, so I'll definitely host a meet that weekend if we don't organize one before then.




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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:55 pm 
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Location: Stepford USA

They really put the screws to DH this week so he took the job in DC. And he starts...Monday. Wow, they can really move fast when they want to down there.




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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:59 am 

Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:38 pm
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Welcome to DC...




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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:15 pm 
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Good luck with the house hunt.




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:06 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:30 am
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welcome and good luck :) I know the district well but can't really speak to the Quantico/Pentagon area... please share what you discover.




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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:31 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:36 pm
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I live in Arlington and would love to do a meet up and discuss the challenges of living frugally in the DC area.




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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:07 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:21 pm
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I'm a new discoverer of ERE, in Maryland near DC, and would definitely be interested in a meet-up.




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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:34 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:36 pm
Posts: 11

I created a meetup invite here. Let me know if the date/time doesn't work for you. http://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/viewtopic.php?t=2356




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