Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sweating a Petworth home purchase

[I left this post in a comment thread at, called Sweating a Petworth home purchase]

For years in graduate school, I didn't make any money. Then I moved to DC and got a grown-up type job, and earned a grown-up type salary. Then I paid grown up taxes, and I thought, "Wow! I need a homeowner tax deduction and first-time-buyer-in-the-District federal tax credit!"

Living in Adams-Morgan, I perceived the value of the durable transportation infrastructure (read: Metro) that had just opened, especially when coupled with the transit oriented development strategy that the District set out to pursue.

I was cool with the green line, although houses I checked out in Shaw and Pleasant Plains skeeved me out. (A girl I was dating stepped on a dead rat in front of a "for sale" sign. No sale.) Petworth seemed like a nice, unassuming place to be. I rode my bike all through the neighborhoods, at all hours of the day and night. Plenty of good houses, with pleasing repetition, and a few oddball blocks with architectural interest.

Also, the year before a friend had purchased a 3-story 6BR rowhouse in Columbia Heights (Harvard St.) for short money. Six months later another friend bought a 2-story 5BR rowhouse about 5 blocks north and 5 blocks east for the same money. The time was right for me to buy a 4BR 5 blocks north and 5 blocks east of him; if I waited, I would have to go even further north, further east, get fewer bedrooms, or pay more. So my motives were primarily financial.

Then my girlfriend -- now my wife -- relocated to DC and moved in with me. So did her dog. Walking that dog around Petworth helped me understand that this is the friendliest place I have ever lived. "How you doin'?" is truly the Petworth anthem if ever there was one: a civil greeting, complete with eye contact.

Now I have a son, who was born in the back bedroom of our Petworth house. We have another child on the way, who will be born in the same Petworth bedroom. I've lived here for several years, and I feel like I belong to the neighborhood. I like my neighbors. I like the other families that I see sprouting up around here. I like my nailgun, and all the other tools I used to renovate my somewhat-creaky centennial house. I like the prospect of a Mocha Hut a few blocks away. I like the greenspace of the RCC cemetary, the water of the Warder Reservoir, and the triangle parks that appear on every corner.

I like Petworth.


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