Four years ago Zach and I moved into the city. We’d been living in a nice apartment in Alexandria, VA, right outside the District. At the time I was working at a charter school in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, and I really wanted to move into the city. Most of our friends lived in the city, most of what we did as a couple was in the city. Only Zach’s job was in Virginia. We made the move to a smaller, more expensive place and it was a fabulous decision. That first apartment had problems (namely an insane landlord) but when we hunted for a new place we found our haven. Our tenth floor apartment with a huge balcony overlooking Mt. Pleasant and Rock Creek Park, views of the National Cathedral and a half circle line of sight from Silver Spring in the north to Rosslyn in the south (and every city’s fireworks on the Fourth of July). We’re four blocks from the metro, around the corner from easy grocery shopping and other needs, and easy walks to the great neighborhoods we love in our city. I was literally across the street from my job. When I took a new job in Dupont Circle, just a 25 minute walk or a 15 minute bus ride. And our little one-bedroom apartment was lovely. A photo was even featured in Apartment Therapy once – during the fall Home Cure. My living room photo was posted on the main page!
Then Zach got a new, way better job. In Maryland. His 40 minute metro commute to Virginia became an hour-plus drive to Maryland.
Then our little man came along, and the promise of infant locomotion in an apartment already filled to capacity, and prominently featuring many computers all in reach of little hands.
Then came my decision to quit work in order to take care of Del and focus on my photography business.
So this week, with a fair amount of angst, we found a new apartment. The list of pros and cons is a really hard one to sort out. Pros: A ten minute drive from Zach’s office; two bedrooms and two bathrooms, washer/dryer in the apartment, near a bus to the metro line, parks and basic shopping in walking distance, nearly $400 a month saved on rent/parking cost – all of which can go into our house savings fund for a down payment on a home about a year from now. Cons: An hour or more from the friends and activities we love in the city that has been our home for the last four years, very much a “driving” area, very typical suburbia, did I mention it’s an hour from our friends?
We really wanted to never be those people who had a kid and moved to the ‘burbs. But circumstances are such that it’s really the smartest decision for us right now – more for finances than for the kid. In 12-15 months we’ll have another few thousand dollars socked away for a house, and we can look back in DC for our long-term home. I want to raise my son in the city, among the narrow streets, cafes, buses and rowhouses. We love it here and I want him too also. It is a very sad farewell to our balcony and the seasons changing in the trees beneath us, our messy gray bedroom, the fire engine alarms and bus break squeals of 16th Street. And to the friends we could see at a moment’s notice. Not that we’re moving across the country, and it’s not Siberia. It’s just enough distance to seem so close yet so far away.