Your Guide to the Washington, DC Metro Area
Ready to explore the many metro areas of Washington, DC? While Washington, DC proper has tons of history to offer, there’s also plenty worth exploring in Alexandria, VA. Or you might be surprised to learn that Columbia, Virginia was ranked one of the best places to live. Use this guide to learn more about what the Washington, DC area has to offer you.
Finding Charm in Alexandria, Virginia
You know those made-for-television movies or series where the big city person needs to go back home and reconnect with their roots, and every scene is just so darn charming you sort of get over the bad plot? That’s Alexandria, Virginia in short.
Located along the western bank of the Potomac River, with a population of about 160,000, Alexandria is only seven miles from Washington, DC—making it not only idyllic but also a popular commuter town, especially among professionals working in the federal civil service, in the U.S. military, or for one of the many private companies which contract to provide services to the federal government.
In its proper historic center of Old Town, you can find a slew of boutiques, restaurants, antique shops and theaters—making it an ideal place to spend a weekend. However, Alexandria can run a bit on the pricey side. Looking for an alternative?
If the charm and waterfront landscape is what woos you about Alexandria, you might consider National Harbor. Located just across the Potomac River in Maryland it has a lot of the charm you’ll find in Alexandria, but with home builders offering new construction properties for as low as $400,000.
Home Safe in Gaithersburg, Maryland
With a population of 59,933, not even a third of Alexandria, Gaithersburg is still the fourth-largest incorporated city in the state, behind Baltimore, Frederick, and Rockville. It was first incorporated as a town in 1878 although it didn’t become a city until 1968.
Much like Alexandria, Gaithersburg has an “Olde Towne” where most of its historic area is located. There you’ll find a few quaint parks and local businesses. But Gaithersburg also has quite a large section of the city that is dedicated to larger shopping centers, making it attractive to many who appreciate more modern conveniences. It’s about a 30-minute commute to Washington, DC but it also has plans for a rapid transit line.
Top employers in the area include The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), IBM, Lockheed Martin Information Systems, and AstraZeneca. It also hosts the garrison of the United States Army Reserve Legal Command.
Overall, Gaithersburg can be a great place to have it all. With low crime, top-ranked schools, and plenty of nightlife options—it’s also considered great for families and ranks highly for its ethnic and social-class diversity. If you’re looking to own a home there, home builders offer new construction homes for as low as $515,000.
Not to be confused with Columbia, VA (it sometimes happens)—which has a population of 83 and includes a commute of over two and half hours, you’ll find the larger Columbia to be slightly more convenient. About a 45 minute commute from the Washington, DC metro area, Columbia is a city built with a mission—to enhance its residents’ quality of life. Consisting of 10 self-contained villages, the city was designed to eliminate the inconveniences of older subdivision designs while also aiming to eliminate racial, religious, and class segregation.
Overall, the planners did a decent job with that. Columbia is in fact considered to be a reasonably diverse area. However, Columbia might not be the best spot for commuters. You can save about 15 minutes on your commute to DC if you moved to Laurel, MD instead. And since Laurel is close to many highways, you’ll have easier access to other cities, too.
Laurel is also considered a diverse area with many options for shopping and dining out. Locals say it’s more built-up than a lot of other areas of Maryland sometimes feels. People describe it as quiet, simple, and a good place for raising kids. Homebuilders offer new home construction in Laurel for as low as $420,000, which is another huge draw for those who are looking to live near Washington, DC on a budget.
There’s a large sprawl of areas to discover when exploring what living in the Washington, DC area might be like. The neighborhoods above hardly begin to cover it.
Contributed to Your Home blog
Looking for more tips, ideas or inspiration? Return Home here.