My apologies as this has nothing to do with triathlon training, but was hoping you all could offer advice nonetheless. I've been in DC the past couple years and am moving soon - trying to decide between staying in Dupont area or moving to Clarendon.
I've noticed tons of folks from the club live out in Arlington and I assume there's a reason! Do you all love it out there or just not want to live in the city? I don't know many people who live in VA, so if you have any feelings about it you could share I would very much appreciate it - thanks!!
I did the Arlington/DC (Penn Quarter) debate for quite a while before I finally decided on Clarendon. That was over a year and a half ago and I am SO happy with my decision.
The biggest plusses of Arlington for me:
1) parking for myself and guests is easier
2) proximity to grocery stores (and other necessities)
3) I can walk to pretty much everything I need within a 1-mile radius of Clarendon
4) Traffic/congestion is better in VA
I also just like the vibe of Clarendon. There are neat events like Clarendon Day, and the Mardi Gras parade. It has a real neighborhood feel.
I do really like Dupont, though.
Let the debates begin.
Before I married I lived in Arlington (Fairlington) for about three years. For the past year, I've lived in the AU Park neighborhood of DC.
While I don't know if upper NW is in your sights, I definitely have preferred it to South Arlington. The proximity to Rock Creek Park, the C&O Canal and bike-friendly (non-VA highway) streets like MacArthur Blvd and River Rd have made it great.
In terms of triathlon, the only downside has been the lack of nearby access to a public swimming pool, but the Wilson HS pool (Tenleytown) is under construction and should be open in 2010.
One plus of moving to VA... your income taxes may drop significantly! I was shocked how much my "state" payroll taxes increased when I moved from VA to DC.
Love DC, MD, and VA. Trying to convince someone who lives in DC the merits of VA is like convincing a European to move to Asia. Not likely to succeed. But, I'll give you a perspective as a VA native: The thing that most DC'ers and transients to this area miss is that Arlington is not all of VA. VA is a state. When you move to VA, you are not moving to another DC, you are moving to a much larger place. Yes a lot of people like and live in VA, a lot more people, by multitudes, than DC:
DC population: 591,833, VA population: 7,769,089 (MD 5 and change).
Tiny Arlington county alone has 209,969, Fairfax county has 1,015,302, Loudoun County 289,995, Prince William 364,734(2008 figures). These are all within an hour of DC, with multiple tri and running clubs throughout.
In the typical single person pov, it's DC and metro stops vs Clarendon corridor. The hottest clubs, bars and restaurants; what can you walk to. Easy to party late, find singles and mingle, cab / walk between each other's places. Better off in DC for that. Also worth consideration is Bethesda, MD.
But beyond that thought process, there are large differences. Public school rankings, household incomes, college stats, employment figures, etc. in NOVA are consistently among the highest in the nation, often The Highest in the Entire Nation (imagine that ranking - out of 50 states and all those counties and cities). High tech and industry Meccas like Tysons, Herndon, Dulles, Rosslyn, Crystal City are in NOVA. DoD, CIA, FBI's and Marine's Quantico, Army's Ft Belvoir, Navy's Norfolk, most consulting, contracting, and defense firms (the miltiary-industrial complex), and most crazy national security things are in VA. Notable exceptions are the biotech firms and NSA in MD. Make 6 figures by age 30? Then find nearby housing you can afford with space to raise a family? Try those areas - not too hard.
Politics in VA are important, national news, and ongoing between the Northern and Southern contingents. VA was a swing state for the presidential election, and each of our votes really mattered.
The VA-centric view has you extending to Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, VA Beach, Norfolk, etc. When you are in VA, you are part of a much larger land mass, and you actually are a state. There are massive tracts of land for parks, forests, mountains, and a resulting huge contingent of Athletes (not to mention the military-based mindset of NOVA which is naturally athletic). There are no concepts of 'moats' in VA - there are multiple cities, forests, rivers, valleys, Civil War battlefields, mountain ranges.
Some of your state is Tobacco Road - Philip Morris is HQ'ed in your capital city, Richmond. Your children will play football against the likes of Michael Vick and the wickedly tough Southern teams, in the state playoffs. In VA HS football, there are Six Divisions, each with A, AA, and AAA levels - as an example of the sheer quantity of high school competition in any sport that eclipses DC or MD.
You'll think about sending your kids to VA Tech, George Mason, UVA, JMU, etc. with in-state tuition. They'll likely go to the college they want, because of the VA public school system - it won't cost you a private school dime. They'll grow up swimming in the NOVA Swimming League (NVSL), one of the best leagues in the country, or try out for Curl Burke, which produce Olympians.
You'll drive out to Mt. Weather and the Blue Ridge mtns to bike or Old Rag to hike (you get the Appalachian trail in VA). You'll swim in beautiful pools, or in huge man-made lakes, or the ocean. You'll want and use a car in VA, and won't feel bad or frustrated about it, because you can park - For Free. MD is like VA, somewhat smaller. And yes, you won't be taxed as much. I'm not saying it's better, just a very different perspective. The perspective not that Capital Hill or Penn Quarter, or Dupont is my home, but that Virginia, a state, is my home. If you move to the Northern-most point of VA then spend all your time looking North to DC, you probably wasted your time. Good luck.
I used to live in Courthouse for a few years, which is just down the street from Clarendon, and decided to move into DC. It was a great decision for me.
While Clarendon is overall clean, safe, and well kept I think I got bored with the scene after a while...and being packed like sardines into the rush hour metro got really old, too.
Schools, fire, EMS, and taxes are better in VA, but you get to meet some very interesting people and see some wacky things living in DC - which keeps it interesting. Whatever you're into...
thanks for the input! Since my current dependents are of the furry variety, the school systems are less of a concern, but good to know.
You've hit on most of my pros/cons in terms of Arlington being safe, cute, easy parking, but the downside being the metro commute (I love being able to walk to work) and the perceived homogeneity. I guess I'll have to spend some more time out in Arlington and see if it feels like home!
Awe man! Where's the love for Maryland. Probably the one thing that isn't easy about living in MD is that it's not easy to get down to DC to train with other DC Tri folks. Otherwise, everything else from work location, closer to the DE beaches, etc. are great ('cept taxes).
move to southern california and be done with it. LOL
Hugh - It depends on where you live in Md. I live in Glen Echo/Bethesda, right off MacArthur, and I can easily get down to Hains Point via the CC trail (7 miles) or join the club ride when it goes out to River/Seneca/Poolesville. I haven't been able to train much with the club more because of family obligations, not because of location.
All I can say is I love your post Simon! I have lived in Arlington and Alexandria for nearly 10 years and would not think about moving - except to a nicer house in another part of Alexandria where I might have 3 bedrooms instead of two. But then again, I am old and married. But I still walk to either the metro or an express bus and park my car for free so when I want to zip to Target I am there! And on the weekends I can be downtown for dinner in a flash - by car or by cab or by metro. We have plenty of dog parks if those furry critters are of the canine variety.
And besides all the good stuff Simon points out, you can call youself a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Janice: Since when did you become old?
This video may help: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4T1RMuoQnKo
Janel - That was awesome! I'm definitely moving to Arlington now. You know I gotta thing for those brown flip-flops!
Ditto Simon...I'm a Virginia transplant, and can't imagine living anywhere else. Nicely said.
That vid is SPOT on. So gritty up there in Arlington, UGHHHH!!!
LOVE it! A great depiction of my 'hood.
Glad to see my "hood" is finally getting some street cred....
Yes, the Town and Country state. Simon for Va Governor.
Also, if you live in Arl/Clarendon/Ballston, you can easily go into DC any time.