Crossing the Line

There is something about that magic dividing line between DC and the Maryland suburbs that stops people in their tracks when they are house-hunting.


Some people just get a kick out of living in the nation’s capital – which, by the way, ends at Western Ave on the NW side and Eastern Ave on the NE side. Others have a pathological fear of suburban living and they apply it to anything outside the line without truly exploring what that means in the context of the greater Washington region. (Of course, reverse discrimination against the District also exists but we’ll save that for another day).

The truth is that if you’re looking for a house in Upper NW DC – and probably Upper NE DC although I am less familiar with that area – then you just might find what you are looking for if you actually cross that line and peek at what nearby Maryland neighborhoods have to offer. And it’s NOT AS FAR AS YOU THINK IT IS!

Many of the close-in neighborhoods of Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Silver Spring have a similar feel to the outlying DC areas. And the extra 5 minutes of driving/transport to downtown DC may be counterbalanced by the availability of more public amenities like community pools, nice libraries, and recreation areas (let’s face it, it’s true).

If you’re new to this idea, start by visiting the Maryland neighborhoods immediately beyond where you are looking for a house. Go ahead – I dare you. Just drive around – and get off of the big roads that city folk despise. Visit Takoma Park, with its historic center and easy Metro access. Have a meal in one of downtown Bethesda’s many restaurants. Go see the Merry-Go-Round and funky art yurts at Glen Echo Park and then tour some of the streets around it. Allow yourself to get lost. And let me know what happens!

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  • Tracy

    I’m 2 miles “over the border” in Bethesda and loving it! I was one of those afraid to cross the line, but once I did it I realized I feel like I’m still in the throes of city life. Yes I traded in the walk to Starbucks, but seriously…how many cold wintry mornings did I really trek down there?? I’m in a great school district, can walk to school, have great neighbors who bring me produce from their garden, and I’m still close enough to hop on the bus to get to DC or the metro, or get to Downtown Bethesda or D.C. for that ever-elusive “night-on-the town”. I agree with the author…take a chance, step outside the boundary, but still stay inside the beltway, and you won’t feel as if you’ve missed a thing.

  • allison.scuriatti

    Dear Tracy, Thanks for your view. And not everyone has to trade in their walk to Starbuck’s – it totally depends where you are.