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Bubbles the Chimp

Moving On Up...Or Over...Or Just Slightly Due South. No, North! Fuck.

We bought our little condo five years ago, back when the real estate market had fully lost its goddamned mind. Places went under contract within hours of being listed or while we were looking at them. Everything sparked a bidding war and went for thousands above the asking price. You didn't dare ask for an inspection.

"Termites? Who cares about termites? They just mean your house is delicious."

"We'll take it!"

We finally lucked out on our place because the sign for the open house had been knocked over and nobody could find the listing. We spotted the lock box on the door and wandered in. We met a very confused-looking realtor. "I don't know where all the foot traffic is today," she clucked as we signed her completely empty guest log. "Usually these open houses are wall-to-wall people."

We murmured in fake amazement, took a quick lap around the unit and went outside to call our agent while casually sitting on top of the flattened sign and glaring at some young couples who were wandering around with printouts and staring at the maze of identical buildings and doorways in confusion.

We had every intention of staying here until Noah started school -- maybe even longer, since the neighborhood elementary schools are shockingly decent for the District. We're city people! We love cement! We hate yardwork! And houses! And strip malls! And easy accessibility to Target! We're hardcore, man!

Then our friends sold their condo and bought a little brick house in the suburbs. As they gave us a tour, we realized we were drooling. A driveway! A grill! A basement! More than one toilet! A place to keep the ironing board!

We watched Ceiba run around the backyard in pure doggie joy as Noah squealed and laughed, and I took Jason's hand and squeezed it knowingly.

"You're imagining a swing set over there, aren't you?"

"What? No, I was thinking about what a kickass wine cellar we could build in that basement."

Close enough.


We've been kind of dragging our feet ever since. Our real estate agent royally sucked last time (she didn't show up for our closing because, as she told Jason on the phone, she had "the runs") and we've been a little gunshy about picking someone this time. We also keep changing our minds about the neighborhood we want. And then this weekend I think we changed our mind about which STATE we want.

We're staying as close to the city as possible (I keep joking that our big move to the burbs is actually just a move down the street and across a bridge, which is not really that big of an exaggeration), and there are literally about fourteen million listings in our price range. Which is a big jump from five years ago, when we made out our wish list of features and locations and prices and ended up with a place that cost more than we wanted to pay and met exactly one criteria from our list: IT SHOULD HAVE A ROOF. (We wrote NON-LEAKING in the "bonus" column.)

So this Sunday we drove around, toddlet in tow, to look at open houses. The real estate agents eyed us hungrily -- they were bored and lonely and kept offering us candy and cookies if we'd just stick around and talk to them. One open house had a full ice cream sundae bar. We stomped around the houses, sighing at hideous outdated kitchens and poking walls of knotty-pine paneling to see how easily we could rip that shit off.

We attempted to stop for lunch at a Panera but the parking lot was full. There was even a line to GET OUT of the parking lot, composed entirely of cars who'd foolishly decided to pull in and circle around and were now trapped. Including us. I started to get that shallow-breathy feeling I only seem to get in suburban parking lots when some guy started knocking on Jason's window.


Jason shot me a look and lowered his window. The guy liked Jason's car and wanted to know what make and model it was. He was especially impressed at how well Noah's carseat fit into the back.

"Why would he have a gun? He's just on his way to Starbucks."

"I thought he wanted to carjack us."

"Oh yes, he'd steal our car and then continue to inch his way to the exit. He could probably make a clean getaway in under 40 minutes!"

"Normal people don't just rap on people's car windows. It's not...natural."

"People are friendlier out here."


Anyway. I am sort of nuts. But I am still confident we're making the right choice by moving, even though we certainly didn't find our dream home. Yet. Oddly, our favorite house was the one that needed the most work, despite my insistence that as God is my witness, I would never renovate a kitchen again. A house that had been completely and beautifully remodeled felt too much like someone else's home. I don't know. I think we'll know our house when we find it.

Although I am pretty sure it wasn't the house with the next-door neighbors who repeatedly shot their potato cannon into the backyard.


Tire: Does Not Convey.



Ahhh, house hunting. We are starting, and everything within our price range has rust orange shag carpet, and kitchens with a mustard-yellow decorating theme. Um, yeah. Maybe we should quit looking in the areas where we're looking because we obviously can't afford anything that does not look like it was decorated a la the Brady bunch. Argh!

Good luck to you guys!

Y from the internet

haha. DUDE. My neighbors used to shoot off their potato launcher all night long. And not only that? One time, he came and knocked on our door at 9:30 pm with no shirt, beer in hand and said "Hey, if you hear a big boom, don't freak out, I'm gonna be shootin off my cannon."

Lucky for us, they moved recently, but you know? I kinda miss those mother fuckers. They were pure entertainment.


Seriously! What is with all the knotty-pine paneling? And how can there still be so many avocado appliances still in working order?


House-hunting is fun! We were driving around a neighborhood we were considering (because of work and Target proximities) and spotted several teenagers with more-baggy-than-average pants, hooded sweaters and baseball bats. When we told our friends they rolled their eyes and told us about the gang activity - but not to worry, because South of that street it's Totally Fine.
Needless to say, we continued looking.


you weren't by any chance in the falls grove shopping center in rockville, md? cuz there's a panera and a chipotle right next to each other there. and parking is def. a nightmare around lunchtime! i live right around there, it's a GREAT GREAT area :) i highly recommend!


Paneling. I HATE paneling. No decorating done there since the 70s. I think I would prefer to remodel for the reasons you mentioned. To personalize it and make it mine.

Also, please don't forget to pack the tire. We'd miss the tire. I'm a little disappointed that Y didn't mention the tire.


We are in the market for a new home, as well. I love househunting. Good luck!


I thought our realtor was going to kill us (even though she was nothing but nice and smiley the whole time)--we were SO picky. But we finally found a house we loved that had some actual land around it and wasn't in a neighborhood where all houses look the same. Bonus points. I did have to remove three bathrooms worth of wallpaper, but that was a concession I was willing to make.


Some guy really knocked on your window to ask you what kind of car you were in?

WTF? That is really bizarre. Maybe I am weird, but when I see a car I like? I LOOK AT IT. The make and model is usually on it. Duh.

Does this not strike anyone else as bizarre?

The Mom

We just bought a house and are moving in 2 weeks... paneled walls included (to be painted over, for now). Let me know if you want an agent referral... ours is great. We're in VA but they may do MD too if you're going that way.


My nephew used to have a potato cannon. I made my son stay in the house when they were shooting it because I just knew it would backfire and kill him -- or at least leave him buried in a mound of fresh mashed potato.

As for the house hunting? Much success to all of you. With any luck, you will find the perfect house with a special place for Tire. Perhaps as a swing on the lovely oak tree you'll surely have. Perhaps even as an exercise wheel for Ceiba. Then she will be too tired to chew your shoes.

And, as the only one of my kind left apparently, I love knotty pine -- as long as it isn't too dark. And also real, not fake paneling.


Jennifer: THANK YOU. It was bizarre. It's like he'd never seen it before, and it's just a damn Mazda. Although we get asked about it all the time -- guess it's not a very popular model.

Still. Suburbs = bizarre = going to die.


you're moving to baltimore, aren't you?



This talk of suburbs and cars and yardwork and "nice" people and DRIVING TO STARBUCKS is about to give me "the runs." (I'm with Jennifer -- couldn't that dude just look at the car itself with its hood ornamenty self-advertising goodness to see what the model/make was??)

But I'm sure you're doing the right thing. The toddlet, he needs places to toddle! And I am with you on the grill envy. We don't even have a terrace, let alone a grill. (A George Foreman Grill doesn't count.) Also: wine cellar! Hmmm.... Hello, suburbs!


I know I'm not a grownup yet because the reason I want a backyard is to have a place to put a trampoline.


Amalah, I hear you about the remodeling. We are currently undergoing a major bathroom remodel (which includes a remodel of the pantry) that we started in JUNE when I was only three months pregnant, and which we naively thought would be finished by, oh, late July. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! It's been about fourteen weeks, and we are hoping that we'll have our shower back on Monday.

Good luck with the house hunting!


As long as they shoot their potato cannon into their own yard it's fine. They might even be willing to assemble a dirty diaper cannon. Think of the fun you could have with that.

I Think You Should

As a former resident of Alexandria, Virginia is not that bad. I think the closer you are to the District, the less clautrophobic it is.

I remember when I lived there we ended up at a horror movie (at the Shirlington theater) set in a suburb where every single house looks alike. Ends up it was shot out near Dulles. Still makes me cringe.

Amy W

Please say you are chosing VA over MD...


Cool fades like the tatoos on the breast of an old biker chick. Giggling children on a swing set in their back yard lasts forever. As an older but not necessariy wiser mother of two I can promise you that it only stings for about a minute. We left DuPont for Chevy Chase, Chevy Chase for The Kentlands in Maryland, and finally moved to North Carolina to live at the beach. My husband now surfs, my children go to the beach every weekend, our friends are all northerners looking for the same things we wanted. More family time, no 495 or 270 or 66 time, beaches, sunshine, no winter, and no DC self important assholes.
As a third generation Washingtonian it was hard to leave, but I would never go back.
When you make a decision for your child, and cool starts to fade, that usually means you are on the right path.

cheers and good luck.


I find that the people in the suburbs are generally friendlier, yes. Friendlier in a good way? I'm not sure. Last week the bag boy at Safeway helped my neighbor load her groceries into her car and then attempted to make out with her. So with the whole "friendliness is weird" thing? You have a definite point.


if you are looking in Alexandria/DelRay(hooray - you really will love it here in NoVA - promise) I can recommend a great realtor (don't worry it's not me or anyone I am related to, we are just that kind of helpful around these parts). Good luck -hope to see you Saturday mornings at the Farmer's Market(s)!


Let me guess: you're looking in Potomac, MD?


I lived in NoVA (Fairfax) for years- that place is a total rat race. But there are some great old houses in Arlington and Alexandria. Stay close to the metro!! Sterling....Herndon...then you're really asking for serious BURB action, yuck.


The car question = the fuck?

House hunting is suicidally scary, I know. And choosing an area to live is almost worse - we're looking at areas about 1500 miles from where we reside, so househunting is somewhere in the range of "kill me now," because you know, it costs us $1000 every time we want to go scope out an area. And limiting it to the entire greater Boston area isn't helping.

My point: I feel your pain and wish you luck.

Nicole P.

I thought my grandparents were the only ones with the matching avocado refrigerator and rotary telephone that still work and are still being used! Avocado. Rotary. Phone.



The traffic in Virginia sucks but I'd rather live here for a million years than move back to Maryland. oi. Best of luck in the search. :)


I have friends who found a great townhouse in Fairlington a couple years ago. They LOVED their realator. I believe she worked out of Herndon, but obviously has listings much closer. No one should have to move to Herndon. That makes my Arlington-loving skin CRAWL. Just shoot me an e-mail if you want me to get their realator's name, though.


Oh choose Kensington! It is great- suburbs but close to DC- more than two ways to commute. Parks and a cute train station, antique row and farmers market. I am a born in DC but raised in MD girl so I can't go over the bridge to VA (if that is what you meant. And the fire station and train are HUGE hits with my 2 year old son. The house next to us is for sale and would much rather your family move in than some people I see checking it out.


Oh my, I have been stuck in that same godawful Panera parking line more times than I want to admit.

Good luck finding your dream house!


also, just to balance the posts here....I would rather put a hot poker in my eye AND have a root canal every Wednesday than live in Northern Virginia. Kensington Maryland, Bethesda, even parts of Takoma Park are great. Stay out of NoVa, it is Hell I tell you!!


I feel Nicole P's pain. My parents have an avocado range top and oven. I think they finally replaced the avocado dishwasher and refrigerator a couple of years back. Though the kitchen itself still boasts avocado green paint on most of the walls. *Shutter*


As the other half of a couple that has moved five times in the past seven years--and only one of those was a rental--here is my house hunting advice:

Ignore the details. You know, like the fucking crown molding they're always oohing and ahing over on "House Hunters." Because crown molding in a house with a leaky basement or roof will just mock you. Anything decorative you don't like can be taken care of later. Realtors love to point out the decorative crap, in a desperate attempt to steer your eye away from the crack in the wall/ceiling or the fact that the sink is leaking and the cupboard under the sink smells moldy.

If a house has good bones (i.e. doesn't leak, crack or appear to be sliding into the earth), you can work with it. Do NOT get suckered in by the crown molding/custom cabinets/tile work in the bathroom. All that can be fixed.

And get thee an inspector, no matter what. And insist on being able to look in attics, crawl spaces, etc. We narrowly escaped buying a house that was beautiful, built in the 1800s (I shit you not), but when the inspector and my husband peeked in the crawl space, they found Huge. Mounds. Of. Animal. Poop. Fresh. The inspector said, "I don't even KNOW what kinda animal would've left THAT." He also found evidence that the basement had been flooded with at least two feet of water in the not-so-distant past.

That said, Good luck and happy hunting!


Welcome to the "burbs!" How about Martin's Additions? Close in is still almost like the city!


(Does anyone else get the feeling they've wandered into the middle of some kind of gang-war shoot-out grudge-match between Maryland and Virginia?)

I hope everyone understands if I keep our neighborhood of choice to myself for awhile...possibly always...I've been extremely transparent about where I live now and I don't plan on putting us in that situation again. Thanks for all the recommendations though...just forgive me if I seem to be ignoring them. I'm really not. Just trying to keep the location details to a minimum.

I am going to be the most paranoid suburbanite ever.


Come move to Detroit! :) The suburb I live in are really friendly, but.. okay.. yeah pretty white-trashy. Anyway I hope you guys find a great home (I'm sure you will) and I remember all too well how SO fun yet SO depressing house searching can be! Oh yeah - and I agree with all the others on the oddness of the car incident!


btw - there is a website out there, not sure if you have heard of it or not, but Jason is listed on it and it gives your guys' home address. just as an fyi. i wont list the website here because, well, duh... but if you want to email me ill tell you the site so you can get removed if you want.


I don't care if they are in the suburbs, the city, Panera's or Stabucks (and why...please tell me, are those two places always kext door to each other?) people shoud NOT knock on your car window to ask a question unless it is "are you aware that you have a person sticking out of your truck". Some guy knocked on my window when we were pulling the boat to the lake on Sunday and wanted to know about our boat. I was all "DUDE! Its a mid-eighties SKI BOAT. This is not a desireable watercraft for ANYONE. You scare me. Go away now." Patrick thought I was nuts. You have made me feel better. Thank you.


Oh man, that's so exciting. We're planning a big move in a couple years and have been looking at houses in the town we're moving to for awhile now.

Good luck and don't settle!

(but I would so move next to the potato gun people. Let's face it, what possible annoying thing could you and your family do that would trump the potato gun?)

Y from the internet

You'd LOVE California. And so would your tire. Infact, he sent me an email last week asking me telling me so.


Miss Britt

LOL - I have lived through TWO seperate kitchen remodels and I am constantly telling my husband that I don't care WHAT amenities the next house has, all I need is a finished kitchen.

But I have a feeling I'm full of crap. :-)


When I first read that you were moving, I was mildly sad (yes, I care about the lives of people in the computer) because you were living MY DREAM LIFE, i.e. yay for the city, and all that.I'm not exactly enamored by the suburbs, barring Silver Spring. Then when I heard you were thinking of Va., I was even sadder (yes, I just worsened the Md-Va. wars). I'm a very proud Md. resident (and I live in MoCo at that-- we have the best schools!). So I hope you move down (up?) here, and I promise I won't stalk you. :)


Incidentally, I'm from Kensington too. I could take it or leave it-- it's a bit slow for me.


"gang war going on"- yea I'll say- i was getting afraid to cross the street here in your comments! haha-man- you people are ruthless-personally- my sis lives in your neck of the woods- and from what i can tell- the whole area is pretty nice-

Hey but what do i know- I'm just a dumb blonde sitting out her in sunny California(come west, little chicka)

But do be careful what you wish for- i went from lifing it in a big city- to living in a posh subarb-to living in a "not so posh suburb-to moving to a little wine counrty town in the country!

Where I find i love the best-


We live smack in the middle of the city in Chicago and have a Panera and a Chipotle within a block of each other. Both with insane parking lots. What is it with Panera and it being insanely busy all the time?

Anyway. You can remodel another kitchen. Just don't be pregnant this time. And now you know all the contractor bullshit so you can be all "Ohhhh NO you did not just (insert bad thing here). I know you can fix it by doing (x,y or z) and they will be scared of your knowledge and finish your house before anyone else's!


That was suppose to be 'living it up in a big city"-oops-the comment box missed up on me.


Yes, Amy, I was starting to feel like I wandered in between the Hatfields and McCoys in your comments section ("NoVa sucks!" "Come live next to me in Kensington!" "Die, Maryland, die!"). I don't know WHY you would want to keep your address secret! Once you move to the suburbs you have to invite everyone over, you know. It's like a RULE.

Also, after househunting in a crazy Northeast market for nine months last year, I finally chose my house based solely on the fact that there was no wallpaper to strip. Trapped wild animals gnawing on the basement windows FROM THE INSIDE? No biggie. No rooms full of flowered or ducks-and-hearts country wallpaper to peel off? SOLD!


To add my unknown voice to the fray: ooh, ooh, pick Virginia! I know you're undecided and that what I say has no real bearing on anything, but I grew up in Fairfax and have oodles of nostalgia for it now. FCPS is a fantastic school system, too. I miss VA like mad (I married into the military and live in TX right now)-- it's actually one of the reasons I read your blog: DC love. Thanks for all the posts where you've referenced something from "home" for me.


Yeah, I'd keep your location a secret, too, although you seem to have only loving fans. Besides, there are Paneras everywhere and they all have crappy parking lots. And they need some new soup selections, by the way...and also? Where's a pic of Noah, please? He always makes me smile--takes me back to the days when my now cranky 14 yr. old was a blonde sweetie, too.

2 words for you: gaithersburg, MD.

Margarita Mama

You'll be surprised how many people just like yourself live in the suburbs, because only the independently wealthy can afford having enough space to raise a family in a city. I moved to a very conservative suburb (didn't realize it when I did it), but everyone I meet has recently moved here from Chicago.

Also, I've been in the burbs for 8 years, so why don't I know what the hell a potato cannon is?


Come to Virginia! You can still get to the city super fast. Also MD suuucks. Except for Friendship Heights, but hey, that's just because there's a Loehman's and it's so on the border.


You will know your house when you walk in it. Thats what I did. We knew as soon as we went in the front door.

Its cheesy but when your home, you know it!


Insanely jealous that you can move to an affordable area so easily. I'd need half a million bucks to get a house here, and that would only get me to the fringe of the ghetto. I looked at a place online today that was great except for being located two blocks from a mall in which someone was shot last week. Joy.


Virginia, baby, Virginia. But when it's said and done, nothing wrong with Atlanta. We've got Panera, Chipolte and Starbucks out the yingyang. Good luck.


Houses fall into two categories:

Hideously decorated 70s shit with paneling and shag rugs.

Tiny, overpriced new houses with cream/white paint everywhere that look like they'll fall down in 2 years.

Me, I'll pick the old crappy looking house anytime. It's expensive and painful to remodel, but it's YOURS when you finish.


oh, one piece of assvice--don't buy a house where you plan to knock out walls until you find out if the wall is LOAD BEARING (i.e., keeps the house from falling down)


"Come, come, check out our large green expanses of dying grass," the northern suburbs call. We started in Dupont. And then Silver Spring. And now we're all the way out here in Olney. It's a slippery slope. Make sure you truly want to start inching out the red line. Look what happened to us. Let our story be a cautionary tale.


You know, when I lived there, none of the other military officers were buying because the market was in such sad shape. Oh how that has changed.

Take your time. Don't move too far out. Seriously - I know how much it sucks to drive out to the end of the Dulles Toll Road or down Rt. 410 to see friends. I can't imagine making the trip every single day.

But I remember the fantasizing. We'd visit friends and family with ginormous houses, and then return to our one-bedroom Manhattan apartment and sigh. Trade-offs.


This past January, we moved our of our townhouse into a single family home on a tree-lined street with park land around it. (Montgomery Country, MD) The neighbors actually introduced themselves and brought us baked goods, which freaked us out a little. Brace yourself for that.

Having a basement and a yard and real trees! and 2.5 bathrooms! and 4 bedrooms, plus a family room! and a bigger kitchen! Is so great.

The previous owners painted over the paneling in the family room, and it actually looks good.

It sounds like your timing is very good, too.


Ever think about Buffalo? So many big old housed with charcter... and cheap to your MD/VA standards, I bet you could buy a castle here!. Low cost of living, easy to save money and travel for FUN! and then come home to big nice old house with character all yours. Starbucks, and Chipotle here... I've never even heard of Panera... Buffalo's cool, and sometimes cold. sigh.


Congratulations! Can't wait for the pics!

Also, what a winner of a Realtor.. haha!


We moved to the suburbs (of a city on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line from you) about 5 years ago. I said I never would. The commute alone to my downtown job would kill me. My Kid was in 3rd grade at the time. It was such the right thing to do. Quiet, safe, comfortable, lots of other kids. We live on a cove (cul-de-sac to you people)and the kids can play in the street - they even have bases spray-painted for playing ball. It's a great way to raise kids.

jennie lee


That is all :)


Brilliant- mentioning you were near a Panera, Starbucks and Chipotle pretty much could be ANY suburb of DC. No one will be able to guess unless you start mentioning guns or tobacco farms!


My favorite thing about that photo is the death traps on every. Single. Stair.


Something to keep in mind, A.: there are very strict liquor laws in Montgomery County.

Safe? Sure. Culture? Yeah, of course. Trying to get a magnum of Pinot Noir? Forget it.

Choose wisely.


So when are you getting the minivan????

Honestly, we just did the move to the house our children will grow up in (we thought we were there and then found this w/5bdrms OMG!) My only advice really mean it when you pick a place cause moving SUCKS!!!!! I never want to do it again.


Back in the day when it looked like we might actually have to move there, we were considering Maryland, Montgomery Co., that is.

As you already know, I can't really recommend Loudon Co. {shudders}

Matt in London

Move to London, it's the best city in the world (if you don't mind traffic congestion, way over the top prices, teenage mums and feral kids, street hustlers, a transport system that doesn't work and a socialist mayor, amongst other things)...that said, I love it, but I love Vegas, so what do I know?


I feel you Amy! My husband and I have lived in historic urban neighborhoods in Atlanta and Columbus since before we were married.
We moved to Florida where there are no urban neighborhoods with a dream of living on the water. We're renting right now, but the market here is still on crack so we probably won't be making any offers for a year or so. As much as I hate, hate hate the idea and feel as if I'm selling my soul to the devil, the suburbs is where we are probably going to end up because the schools are better and having things like Fresh Market and Target less than a half hour drive sounds pretty appealing. Along with more safety, and hopefully more people our age.
Good luck to you. This is a great time to be a buyer. Not so much on the sell side, but I don't know anything about the DC condo market.


I feel your pain. We have tire issues, too. (Check it out: Good luck on your house hunting. You'll find the one that's right for you.


Let me just say I LOVE that Deborah mentioned Buffalo (NY) up there a few comments back, which obviously has nothing to do with MD vs. VA, but still! Buffalo gets such a bad rap because of the winter weather, but the summers are gorgeous and the cost of living is soo LOW (plus, beautiful, well-maintained old homes that are a steal by DC standards). Unfortunately, the job market? She sucks. That's why I live in North Carolina now--hey, speaking of which, the Raleigh/Cary area is very nice! And not as expensive as DC....


The Maryland vs Virginia thing is very funny - no matter which side you live on you can't ever possibly imagine living on the other & people in DC are just bewildered! NO matter what side you choose if you think you ever might want to make a left hand turn on a Satruday don't stray too far out into the 'burbs - just sayin

Liberal Banana

I don't know why but I just cannot imagine living in Maryland. It's totally illogical but I think there are "Maryland people" and "Virginia people." And of course "DC people," but they're either rich, don't mind living in a 500 sq ft studio, or are cool with living in a house with 6 other people. (Yeah, no thanks.) I'm in Alexandria because that's where I got an amazing (by DC standards) deal on a condo in August '04. (But my realtor sucked, too!)

Commuting everywhere in this area blows so you're never going to win on that front.

Good luck finding a place that is perfect for you!


I just have to say that I LOVE seeing stuff on someone else's stairs. Our stairs have become the only safe place in our house to store stuff that we don't want covered in spit up or drool!

Thank you for being human!
and good luck with the house hunt, I'm sure it will turn up at the strangest time!


Whatever neighborhood you end up in will be great for you. Now onto logistics...

Start sorting and throwing away stuff now. Today. Do just a little bit every couple of days. You'd be suprised at how much crap you will pay someone to move just to throw it away at the new house. Also, if things are organized before you start packing, it makes unpacking sooo much easier.

Second, if you havent gotten a "Noah Box" yet go get one. This is for all the special stuff you dont want Jason to accidentally throw away (ex: the itty-bitty diaper left over from when Noah first came home that you can throw away because OMG! look how tiny he was!?!?!) If you have a place for the special stuff, you'll be less likely to lose it or something get ruined.

As for the knotty pine walls- dont worry too much. They look great painted out. Just be sure there is drywall underneath the paneling. Having to add drywall because you dont like the paneling will easily double or triple the cost of the room redo. Another drawback is the lack of a sound barrier around the room without drywall.

Just my 2 cents. :-)


Pitching in on the VA side--and this from a California girl who swore she'd never live below the Mason-Dixon line. But life out here on the edge of Farifax and Loudon is awesome. We have lower taxes than MD, and it's not quite as suburb-y.


When my hubby and I were looking for our first house 4 years ago, our realtor showed us a house in Silver Spring where the across-the-street neighbors had chickens in the front yard. Just for that reason, my husband was almost attracted to the house. But the immediate neighborhood itself was nothing to speak of.

We ultimately did get a place in Silver Spring, and we came out on the MD side of the dilemma simply because it was that much closer to NY, where my family lives, and because it's still a blue state. Nowadays, we also own a house in Virginia Beach, because of my work, and hubby seems to be attracted to the Delray section of Alexandria, because so many people we know with young kids live there, and it is a nice area. But VA is still a red state. So there.

Black Belt Mama

Choose your neighbors wisely. That's all I'll say about that.

Also, the housing market in DC sounds a lot like it was a few years ago (and probably still is now) in certain parts of NJ. Moving away from it all was the best decision we ever made and we're so happy in suburbia. Just looking for homes in suburbia was a breath of fresh air. I hope you'll find the same true for you. Happy House Hunting!

Real Girl

Sigh. You drool over brick houses in suburbs, I drool at the thought of real estate getting inexpensive enough for me to move to an actual one bedroom in NYC. I bought my studio before prices here got absolutely insane, and although my small pad has soared (yay!) in has everything else.

God, I wish I could find realtors begging me to stay and look at places! DROOL.

random stuff

The suburbs are nice, and you just have to learn not to hit Panera Bread at the height of lunch. The first time you have a picnic in the front yard or you camp out in the backyard with Noah, you'll wonder what took you so long to get there.


I admit to enjoying seeing stuff stacked on each stair in your picture. I do the exact same thing and hear groans from my husband for doing it. "But come on, you want me to take this up all those stairs? Why don't I just set it here instead?!"

House hunting is so hard. And emotionally draining. You find a house you like, you start moving-in in your mind, picking rooms out for your furture kids, and then some jackass outbids you and you don't get the house. It sucks.

What I'm saying is good luck. I know you guys will find something perfect for your little family!

(I hear you on the "no more kitchen remodels". Our little remodel project ended up with us tearing the whole damn house down and building a completely new house. It's been almost 2 years. We got the roof on last week. I think we have one more year to go!)


Dude, we just did the same thing, and it's awesome. I was really anti- at first, but upon relaxing, it's actually semi-nice to be able to get to a home depot without traversing the urban sprawl.

bad penguin

Come to Maryland! It is way better than Virgina. Really. And places like Takoma Park, Silver Spring and Bethesda are not so suburby and scary. Have fun finding a place.

Amy also

I know where you are looking!!! (I almost went to the open house with the sundae bar this weekend myself). We might be neighbors, but don't worry, your secret is safe with me ;^)


Good luck with the moving and the house hunt! I'm still a renter, but just finding a place to rent in the DC area that accepts pets and has parking and is metro-accessible is a nightmare. I can't even imagine buying. And I feel your pain on the moving...the summer after my junior year of college, there were THREE simultaneous moves going on in my family: I was moving from an apartment in Bethesda to my parents' place in PA for the summer, my sister was moving from PA to Brooklyn, and my parents were moving out of their house that my grandfather had built in the 50's (so they had half a century's worth of accumulated crap to sort through). Now, I plan to live in my apartment until I die, because I will never move again.
PS speaking as a proud Arlington resident...pick Virginia!


But where will you put the tire?


I'm with Deborah! Buffalo!!! We own a big beautiful house in the city, near the zoo, the park, the shopping, the restaurants, (and yes, panera!), but we still have a great backyard (big enough for the trampoline, Theresa), and we know and like our neighbors.

Ok, so the schools suck, but yeeeeeeeeears before we have to deal with that, right?!


My husband and I are considering buying our first home, and we're also torn between the charming, old downtown neighborhood where we currently rent versus the big yards that beckon out in suburbia. I guess once we have kids we'll value all that extra space to contain the fallout from the Plastic Crap Explosion you've warned us about... But I will sorely miss downtown and the ability to walk to all of our favorite restaurants and bars. The 20-minute drive to the nearest Target, however? Not so much.

Good luck with the house hunt!


I don't know if you watch Sex and the City but your story reminded of when Steve and Miranda bought there house. And you're right when you walk into the right house you will just know.


Putting in a good word for VA - why in the world would someone want to voluntarily pay more income tax than they have to by choosing MD over VA? I'm just sayin', is all...

I love Arlington/Falls Church, where I've lived in both apts. and houses since I graduated from college 5+ years ago.

dutch from sweet juniper

just thinking about a line to get out of the panera bread parking lot makes me to stick my head into that five gallon bucket of primer over there. trust me, don't move: lawns just mean lawn care. and collections of dog turd piles.


All these comments make me feel like I should be out egging houses in Maryland with my VA gang wearing a Va is for lovers t-shirt or something.


No matter what, you MUST work with a buyer's agent... they will save you all sorts of time and trouble. Do not trust the seller's agent to tell you the truth about anything. Ask friends for recommendations on a good agent to work with. You don't pay the agent's fees anyway.

Things have changed alot in the 10 years since I bought a house in MD (what, no septic inspection required? OK, whatever you say. Sure, it's a 160 year old farmhouse, but the septic should be fine, right?) -- really, a buyer's agent is a must. If you meet an agent who doesn't a) promise to WORK for you, on your schedule b) send you listings based on your selected search options every day, including addresses c) harass everyone and anyone to get water testing data, septic plans from the town, your good faith money back if you change your mind, etc -- then find another one. Yes, they really should do all this stuff, with a smile and a hot coffee for you. Good luck on the house hunting!


Our friends just used a realtor they really liked for an Alexandria sell/buy process. (Although I am a fellow Arlington-lover myself.) In any case, let me know if you want the info.

Rachel K.

The whole thing about the guy coming up and tapping on your window... that would have bothered me as well.
In fact, that is the EXACT way that my brother got robbed last year (granted he went to Duke and lived in Durham).
A guy tapped on his window and then pointed a gun at him...
So no thank you, I'm not rolling down my window for anyone! Please admire my car from afar!


Virginia may have lower taxes but Maryland does not have any personal property taxes. And, red, yes, that is a problem for me.

After living in VA I swore I would never live in an area where I had to commute over a bridge to get to work. No taking the back roads - you still have to get over that frickin' bridge.

Personally I vote against the D.C. area in general. Both my husband and I grew up there but didn't want to go back after law school. We live in Baltimore now and love it. I live in the "close-in" suburbs (think Bethesda-like) and can walk to just about anything I need to. I still miss downtown but we have adjusted to life outside of the city (we'll go back when the kids are older).

Good luck with house hunting and condo selling.


More tire! Yay! We loves us some tire!

On a more serious note, the poster above who said she doesn't cross a bridge, that's the besst advice anyone here can give you. I work in VA, and thusly, I live in VA.







Except to go to the zoo. The zoo is awesome.


What? Shameless plug of my parents' house (also my dream house)?! “BUY ME!” it screams, while gently whispering into your ear promises of hot summer days stopping the ice cream man right outside your door, watching your son run to the park within eyeshot of the back deck but knowing that in this neighborhood, he’ll be safe, and watching him ride his bike in the quiet cul-de-sac with all of his friends. Or wintertime, sledding down your own hill, making a snowman in the front yard, and taking the short walk to watch the Christmas parade go by downtown. Loudoun may be suburbia and a commute to DC, but childhood here is picturesque.


The suburbs are souls sucking death colonies of conformity don't give in!

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