There's A Whole Lot Of Leaving Going On
Some growing families find they're leaving Old Town for new, and bigger spaces
We live in one of the many charming mews communities in Old Town, and we love the beautiful gardens, underground garage parking, walking distance to the grocery store, the river and King Street. While the commute into Georgetown to the office can be maddening at rush hour, it doesn’t get much better than one light to the GW Parkway.
It’s been a wonderful place to live for the last six years, and we have been lucky enough to have two neighbors with children close to Sophia’s age. There are a few other families in our community with younger or older kids and we’ve enjoyed Halloween and Easter events together and become accustomed to impromptu play dates and trips to the park when one of our little friends knocks on the door to see if Sophia wants to play.
However, the majority of the 100 or so condos in our community are not occupied by families with children. The units have two or three bedrooms at the most – and we do not have basements, full sized washer/dryers, or backyards. The trip through the heavy garage door and up the stairs to our units is far more challenging with an infant car seat and twice the groceries we needed before kids.
A basement or storage area for the toys and somewhere for the grandparents to sleep when they visit begins to feel more important. And then there’s the question for many of us in North Old Town – which I am only just beginning to research - of elementary school district.
Most of our neighbors are first time homebuyers without children or folks at the other end of the spectrum whose children no longer live with them.
While it’s true that our 1,120 square foot townhouse is feeling smaller by the month, I’m not really ready to move on. It has caught me off guard that our neighbors with children are moving on.
They are not going far, but it’s not the same. One set of neighbors moved into a wonderful house in Del Ray. While they still have two bedrooms, they have upgraded to a front porch, a fenced in backyard, and finished basement and a loft space. The other set of neighbors, which includes Sophia’s best friend in the world, moved down the parkway this weekend.
I went to see the house and said to them, “you’ve traded in the VW Bug for a Winnebago!” Five bedrooms, a deck, a two car garage attached to the house, a big yard…and Fairfax County. Both families now live on blocks filled with kids riding bikes and are within walking distance to their local elementary schools.
I’ve had many conversations about this topic with Old Town parents and many have expressed that they would love to stay in Old Town but cannot afford real estate with the square footage they need for a growing family.
Popular options seem to be moving into the DelRay/Rosemont area for a little more room (while maintaining a reasonable commute to the city and access to the metro, shops, and restaurants) or moving down the parkway for a lot more space, and the appeal (for some) of Fairfax County schools.
Parents seem to have a lot of feelings about where they want to live based on schools, and I’m having some trouble finding good information and data on this topic. I’ve started to poke around the Alexandria City Public Schools and Fairfax County Public Schools websites and query parents with school aged children about how they made their school choice.
I have to say that it’s all a little overwhelming - as is the thought of leaving the 22314 ZIP code. And Perks. And Giant. In the end, it may be the mini washing machine that finally convinces me it’s time.