Love living downtown? 4 DC suburbs to consider

FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, file photo, a "Sale Pending" sign sits atop a realty sign outside a home for sale in Surfside, Fla. The National Association of Realtors releases its March 2016 report on pending home sales on Wednesday, April 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
(AP/Wilfredo Lee)
  When people think of the downtown District of Columbia, images of the National Mall, Capitol Hill and Chinatown usually come to mind. But the District of Columbia isn’t the only part of the metro area with a distinctive downtown. Bustling cities in nearby Maryland and Virginia offer a multitude of gastronomic, retail and entertainment options within easy reach of the nation’s capital. We contacted top District-area real estate agents as identified by the real estate data company OpenHouse Realty (a U.S. News partner) to get the details on these busy suburban hubs — and how their main streets measure up to Pennsylvania Avenue. Neighborhoods just outside of the District are “exploding in value,” says Tamara Kucik, an associate broker with W.C. & A.N. Miller Realtors, a Long & Foster company. People want accessibility to everything the District has to offer, but they don’t want to deal with traffic and congestion. As a result, they’re buying homes in alternative downtown communities with easy access to shopping, restaurants and entertainment. Millennials in particular are staking new territories in these communities outside District lines, Kucik observes. Many offer prices comparable to the homes located in the District of Columbia. In Virginia, there’s an additional perk: The taxes aren’t as high as they are in the District and Maryland, notes Jen Walker, a real estate agent with the Jen Walker Team of McEnearney Associates Inc. For homebuyers interested in living near the action without enduring all the hassle, here are some examples of “downtown” areas worth exploring: [Read: 10 Up-and-Coming Neighborhoods to Buy a Home in Washington, D.C.] (AP/Wilfredo Lee)
DSC_0004.jpg
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit-themed restaurant at 208 Queen Street in Old Town Alexandria. (WTOP File Photo/Rachel Nania)   Old Town Alexandria. Situated on the Potomac River, this historic neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia, is composed of cobblestone streets and red brick sidewalks that offer many conveniences to potential homebuyers. The area’s main drag, King Street, is lined with boutiques, coffee shops, pubs and restaurants. The Torpedo Factory Art Center is a unique attraction of Old Town, where the public can interact with working artists in their studios. Numerous commuting options make it easy to go carless. The King Street Metro station is serviced by the Blue and Yellow lines, which provide a quick ride into the District. Homes in Old Town aren’t cheap. Whether you want a quaint historic townhome or a new condo, prices range from $500,000 to $1.4 million. Living near the river comes at a premium: The closer you get to the waterfront, the more expensive homes will be. What you pay for square footage is also going to vary. Some of the more historic townhomes are big on charm but short on space. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
bicycling and running in Falls Church
Bicyclists and runners are seen using a trail in Falls Church, Virginia. (WTOP File Photo/Ed Kelleher)   Falls Church. Falls Church, Virginia, is another downtown area in Northern Virginia that holds appeal for buyers. “People are drawn to the school system here, which always gets outstanding ratings,” Walker says. A walkable area with a strong sense of community, Falls Church has a number of appealing features: a farmers market on Saturdays, easy access to shopping at Tyson’s Corner Center and to downtown via the West Falls Church Metro stop. Condos and single family homes predominate in this area, around a $700,000 price point. Teardowns are popular? it’s common for people to build new homes once they buy a property in Falls Church, according to Walker. [Read: A Buyer’s Guide to Arlington, Virginia.] (WTOP/Ed Kelleher)
Snow in Silver Spring, Maryland on the evening of Feb. 14, 2015. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Snow coats bicycles parked across from the IMAX Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland on the evening of Feb. 14, 2015. (WTOP File Photo/Megan Cloherty)   Silver Spring. Once known as a blue collar area with few amenities, downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, has blossomed over the past 15 years. A glossy new shopping and retail area features a water fountain that children can play in. “Silver Spring has transitioned from a place with an easy commute to D.C. to a place that’s family-friendly,” says Kucik. “It’s accessible to downtown D.C. via the Metro and MARC train, and is close to many parks and trails, including the 10-mile Sligo Creek Trail.” Downtown Silver Spring is also home to the American Film Institute Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, which shows both mainstream movies and foreign films. Silver Spring’s reasonable home prices has been a draw for millennials. You can buy a starter house for around $375,000, if a rambler or Cape Cod appeals to you. With its growing popularity, however, home prices in this area have gone up in recent years, sometimes into the $700,000 range. It’s a sign that this is an area that’s come into its own, Kucik says. [Read: D.C., Maryland or Virginia? Where Should You Live? ]   (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
bethesda.jpg
(WTOP/Megan Cloherty)   Bethesda. Like Silver Spring, downtown Bethesda, Maryland, has evolved to serve everything that homebuyers need. It has its own Metro stop and easily accessible bus routes along its main thoroughfare, Wisconsin Avenue. The one key difference is that Bethesda residents are generally in a higher income bracket. New restaurants and retail dot the three main arteries of Bethesda: Wisconsin, Bethesda and Woodmont avenues. While Silver Spring is trending up, Kucik says Bethesda Row’s shopping center “is trending to more mainstream — but with a classier edge,” featuring stores like Capital Teas, Kate Spade, Lululemon, Le Creuset and Apple. Looking for a real estate agent in Washington, D. C.? Our Find an Agent tool can match you to the person who’s most qualified for the job. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
(1/5)
FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, file photo, a "Sale Pending" sign sits atop a realty sign outside a home for sale in Surfside, Fla. The National Association of Realtors releases its March 2016 report on pending home sales on Wednesday, April 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
DSC_0004.jpg
bicycling and running in Falls Church
Snow in Silver Spring, Maryland on the evening of Feb. 14, 2015. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
bethesda.jpg

More from U.S. News

10 Up-and-Coming Neighborhoods to Buy a Home in Washington, D.C.

A Buyer’s Guide to Arlington, Virginia

D.C., Maryland or Virginia — Where Should You Live?

4 Washington, D.C., Suburbs to Consider If You Love Living Downtown originally appeared on usnews.com

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up