Guest c2d2

Washington, DC and Maryland suburbs

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Guest c2d2   
Guest c2d2

I have lived in DC and the Maryland burbs over the past 10 years (went to GW for undergrad and masters), and I'd be happy to answer any questions about this area. :)

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Guest midwesterner   
Guest midwesterner

thanks for the offer!

let's say I will be attending the University of Maryland College Park. I'm used to owning my own home, not having to use a car, and not being afraid to walk down the street in my own neighborhood.

Which of these things do I have to give up to live on a PhD student's salary and attend UMCP? :)

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I am also considering College Park. I am interested to know if you think commuting by bicycle will work there (I don't own a car and I don't want to get one). Also, are there any good farmer's markets or natural food stores (e.g. co-ops) in College Park? Or are these things easily found in DC? And how is DC for biking?

And, if anyone is allergic enough, or spends enough time outdoors to know, what is the poison oak/ivy/sumac (whatever grows in MD) situation like?

Thanks!

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Guest c2d2   
Guest c2d2

if your only source of income is a stipend, you probably won't be able to own in the immediate area. biking is certainly a possibility and umd has a shuttle bus, so depending on where you live, not having a car isn't a big deal. althpough i have a car, i generally use the metro to get to downtown dc - i am a big fan of the metro system, though it won't go everywhere you might want to go in the burbs.

like every other area, some places are safer than others. i am a woman and i frequently walk around by myself at night. i'm sure others would tell me i am being stupid, but in all the time i have lived here nothing has happened to me. you just need to be aware of your surroundings.

re: farmer's markets and natural food stores. i don't currently live in college park, and i have never been to any farmer's markets near cp, but i found this online: http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/M2419 there certainly are a lot in the greater dc area http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/ar ... May11.html and there are also a few whole foods around.

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Guest magemaud   
Guest magemaud

My daughter goes to grad school in Washington DC and rents an apartment in Silver Spring, MD. UMD's campus is Metro and bus accessible and they have a shuttle around the campus because it's pretty spread out, so you could get by without a car, but you would be rather limited in where you could go off campus. I don't know what part of the country you're coming from, but be prepared for sticker shock when you look for places to live. The rule of thumb is, the closer you are to the Metro, the more expensive the rent. I really doubt if you will be in a position to buy property if you're living on a stipend. Downtown Silver Spring has undergone a resurgence and has gotten quite upscale but isn't as expensive as some other areas like Bethesda or Chevy Chase. There is a Whole Foods Market in town and a Trader Joe's about three miles away from downtown. A great place to look for information about the area is DC's Craigs List at http://washingtondc.craigslist.org.

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Guest smd   
Guest smd

Hi,

I've been offered financial assistance of 20k in univ of maryland in baltimore county... any idea about the univ, and if the money wud suffice?

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Guest associate   
Guest associate

I live in the Virginia suburbs of DC and just visited the UMD campus this weekend to look at open houses (for homes) and the surrounding area. I'm planning on purchasing a home, but if I want something bigger than a studio, I will probably have to rent out rooms and/or continue part-time consulting with my current employer to afford it on a grad student salary. I will also be buying before I leave my job so that I can qualify on the mortgage. Your own qualifications will depend on how much equity you have in your current home. You can use http://www.ziprealty.com to see up-to-date real estate listings with lots of details and maps and mortgage estimates. Studios in the area are around $150K, 2 bd apt are $270K if you want to be really close to the university. Houses range from $350K for a 3 or 4 bedroom and up, but it depends on how close you want to be to the school and what shape the house is in. Rooms rent for $450 per month or more near the university. University view apts rent apts by the room to current students at $735+ per month incl internet and all utilities (you can google their website, I think it's universityview.net). Check out http://www.craigslist.org for (some of the more) inexpensive options.

I hear there are a few crime reports from some current students at UMD. But overall, it's considered safe to walk around the university (they have good security) and as others have mentioned, there is a shuttle that goes to the metro and to many surrounding apt communities. The surrounding area is very suburban, and lacks life, in my opinion.

There is a May-November farmer's market near campus and lots of other farmer's markets in DC and surrounding areas. If you don't want to live in College Park itself, Takoma Park is a not-too-pricey but v. nice area. Some people call it the San Francisco of DC. But it is a ways out on the metro red line, and College Park is near the end of the metro Green line, so you'd want a car. Although there are DC suburbs (like Alexandria, where I currently live) where you can enjoy a very high quality of living without a car, and many individuals who could afford a car choose not to have one, College Park isn't one of these. I get the impression many UMD students don't have cars, but everyone else who lives there does. I plan to do without a car at UMD but I think I will have to pay a premium to live near the University shuttle or Metro and rely on some good friends in the area who do have cars for nightlife/grocery shopping etc.

If you really want to do without a car, it is worth the premium to live near a metro, but maybe a metro that is more lively and has more grocery stores and shops near it than the College Park station, which is not close to anything but a field and the USDA. In my experience, that premium costs less than a car. Plus there are neat car-sharing companies like http://www.zipcar.com and http://www.flexcar.com (see websites for which metros they have cars near) where you can affordably rent by the hour. Here's a really good metro map: http://www.stationmasters.com/System_Ma ... m_map.html . It has links to mapquest from each station so you can check out the surrounding area or see how far prospective homes are from the metro.

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Guest associate   
Guest associate

In Baltimore, housing and everything is much cheaper than in DC suburbs, so money goes considerably farther. You too might try http://www.craigslist.org for some of the more inexpensive housing options. I've had a friend in Baltimore find some really nice rooms for rent at very affordable (grad student) prices this way.

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Guest Samantha   
Guest Samantha

To the guy who asked about biking - there are definitely places to live close enough to UMD where you could get around by bike (moderately cheap places too). However, I fear that most of you "biking" people are from California or other places where the weather is nice all the time. Remember that it does snow during Maryland winters, and it gets relatively cold. The east coast also rains a bit more than the west coast, so keep that in mind (i know you arent necessarily from there, but just incase). I think what I'm saying is, 95% of the time, bikes will be great, but that other 5%, biking will suck ass.

I only bring this up because I went to college in upstate NY and remember talking to a california-native grad student there who was vehemently anti-car... until about mid-October. Apparently he didn't realize that bikes weren't very useful once it gets below freezing.

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Guest Samantha   
Guest Samantha

I just read magemaud's post about UMD being metro-accessible. Sure, there's a metro stop in College Park, but it isn't really in walking distance of the campus. I think UMD runs shuttle buses to the station, so if you live on or near campus and want to use the metro to go to DC every once in a while, it isn't so bad. But if you're trying to use it the other way around (ie living outside college park and using the metro to get to class), that is probably a wretched idea. Outside of rush hour, the metro doesn't run all that often, and then on top of that you'd have to wait for the bus. Then the bus drops you off on campus, and you have to walk to your class from there (and its a big campus). Just a headache, if you ask me.

When I lived in the DC area, it came as a complete shock to me that the DC Metro does not run 24 hours. I grew up in the NYC area and expected the DC Metro to work just like the NYC Subway system. It doesn't. :) It's more of a commuter thing.

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Guest magemaud   
Guest magemaud

The UMD campus IS very spread out and using the Metro and shuttle buses might not be the most convenient way to travel to class, but bikes are allowed on the Metro during non-peak hours so you could feasibly bike from the College Park station to your classes. Bikes aren't allowed during commuting hours (7-10 AM and 3-7 PM) but it might not be bad to use the Metro rail and shuttle service then since the trains and shuttles run fairly frequently. Here's a UMD shuttle schedule: http://www.transportation.umd.edu/shutt ... e_park.htm and the Green Line Metrorail schedule is available at the wmata.com website. It was also a surprise to my daughter when she found the trains only run until midnight on weeknights and until 3:00 on Friday and Saturday nights but the buses run 24 hours.

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Guest Julie   
Guest Julie

I attended UMD for a while and would definately recommand having your own car, especially if need to stay at a lab or library till rather late. The metro or shuttle doesn't run really late, and outside of rush hour, I think it's rather long wait.

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Guest MeggieB   
Guest MeggieB

For those of your familiar with the College Park area, do you have any advice about apartment hunting? I've been looking at Craigslist and the like, but I was wondering if there were any particular areas that are good to live in (it seems like a lot of people share houses, am I right on this one?) or if there are apartment complexes that are particularly nice or a good value. Also, are there places you would absolutely stay away from?

Any info would be most appreciated.

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Guest guest   
Guest guest

I am an international student who was admitted to a graduate business program at GWU with a tuition waiver for the fall semester. I'm on my own for fees, insurance and other living spending. I plan to get a job (either on or off-campus) during summer and fall semester to save money to cover those expenses. Actually I prefer working on campus (e.g. like in the position of a residence manager assistance with which I will be offered housing for free and some small stipend. I saw this kind of job listings on the university website). However, the problem is only after one is enrolled as a full-time student, can he or she access to the GWU career network and recruitment system with a student ID. What is your advice or suggestion for my case? btw, how is the job maket in dc and the areas around? I don't mind doing anything (even applying for a student loan) just to have enough money for my study.

Thank you.

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Guest magemaud   
Guest magemaud

The Washington Post online (http://www.washingtonpost.com) has both job listings in the District and MD and VA suburbs and real estate listings. So does the Washington Times (washingtontimes.com) My daughter was also able to access College Park area rentals at UMD's website even though she isn't a student there. It's unfortunate the GWU website doesn't allow you to search there unless you're a registered student.

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Guest guest   
Guest guest

I live in College Park now as an undergrad. I live off campus and it's about a 20 minute walk or a 5 minute drive/ bus ride to campus, so no car needed there, but i do have a car and it would be such a pain to get anywhere else outside of College Park (and trust me, you'll want to get out of College Park) without one, but I guess it wouldn't be that bad if you lived close to the metro, which I don't. The metro's not that inconvenient, in my opinion, you'll never have to wait more than 10 mins for it (and thats at 11pm on a Sunday), UMD's shuttle runs all night around CP and to the metro, but you have to know the schedule or you risk having to wait half an hour for the bus to come. Plenty of people bike and there are great trails, as long as the weather's nice biking/ walking is a perfectly decent way of getting around the immediate area. If you're thinking about living outside of College Park, look at Hyattsville, Riverdale, University Park, Greenbelt, Laurel, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, and Brookland in DC.

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Guest magemaud   
Guest magemaud

Another way to check out an apartment complex in advance is to see if it is reviewed at either "apartmentreviews.net" or "apartmentratings.com"

Reading tenants' reviews (good and bad) helped my daughter to narrow down her list considerably before she visited and found an apartment she really liked in Silver Spring.

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Guest skertrevir   
Guest skertrevir

20k at UMBC will be plenty enough. They've got off-campus housing services, check them out. It's a great school.

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Guest another_intl   
Guest another_intl

Intl students are NOT allowed to work off campus b/c of visa restrictions. You are only allowed to work on campus for up to 20 hrs/week during semesters and 40 hrs/week during winter/summer breaks. You may be able to get off campus work during the summer WITH SPECIAL PERMISSION (it's called Optional Practicum Training-OPT). OPT is limited (you're only allowed one year throughout your whole degree) and I believe it must be used up within a year of getting it, so you can't save it for consecutive summers. Finding a job on campus is your best bet.

I am an international student who was admitted to a graduate business program at GWU with a tuition waiver for the fall semester. I'm on my own for fees, insurance and other living spending. I plan to get a job (either on or off-campus) during summer and fall semester to save money to cover those expenses. Actually I prefer working on campus (e.g. like in the position of a residence manager assistance with which I will be offered housing for free and some small stipend. I saw this kind of job listings on the university website). However, the problem is only after one is enrolled as a full-time student, can he or she access to the GWU career network and recruitment system with a student ID. What is your advice or suggestion for my case? btw, how is the job maket in dc and the areas around? I don't mind doing anything (even applying for a student loan) just to have enough money for my study.

Thank you.

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just wanted to add what i know about college park. first off, although alot of students cut on umd, i think the campus is really pretty. tons of green, and about a million trees and squirrels, all in the middle of an ugly little town. college park is cheaper than the surrounding area, but it is a high-crime area. i dont really know how it is at other schools (other than where i got my undergrand, a small little town in nowheresville), but at umd you will receive an email about once every other day from the campus police about a mugging or attempted rape or something. DONT WALK AROUND COLLEGE PARK ALONE AT NIGHT. also, and this is probably the same at most huge state schools, parking is horrible. you will have to walk a half mile (literally) from class to class. like i hinted above, this is a very expensive area, and the stipend is not that great (usually, though it depends). pretty much everything you could want is within 5-10 minutes (max 20 min, if you're creative). again, my biggest complaints are the crime and the insane prices--- umd housing, if you want a decent apartment, probably only ranks behind new york, boston, and la--- and their stipend is nowhere near analogous to most colleges in those cities. all the same, im applying to go there.

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pg county as a whole is known as a bad county. they cant find enough cops to work in this county. seriously. in general, the cheaper the rent, the worse the area. so---college park is actually pretty reasonable rent-wise, because the area is so bad. but, to be fair, much of that "badness" is just rowdy students. that, and the purse stealing. takoma park ive heard is pretty nice, but really i dont know that much about it. its on the border, so actually its in montgomery county, which is known throughout maryland as ultra-liberal-- which means, in this case, tons of taxes. but really, i dont know takoma park that well. they've been trying to gentrify silver spring, but it hasn't quite taken yet. silver spring has been a bad area for a while; it's actually getting better, but not as good as the rest of montgomery county, safeness-wise. i work with a guy who lives in silver spring. he's lived there a year and he's had his car stolen, his laptop stolen, his radio stolen (the latter two both from within his locked apartment), and his next car dented from a hit-and-run. this is where he lives now, which is a couple blocks from where he used to live. where he used to live was cheaper, but it was so bad that the cops literally always had a car there. as in, the cops rotated parking outside of his apartment building. still, although he's considering moving somewhere away from silver spring, he's yet to do it. why? because everything is at his fingertips. also, the rent is pretty decent (he pays 700 for a 1 bedroom, but acknowledges when we talk about it that it would be cheaper if he shared a 2 bedroom with someone). he's willing to live with the risk of things stolen now and then to have everything he could possibly want within a few minutes walk or ride. one thing you should keep in mind is that AU has a metro stop. are you willing to ride the metro to school? do you want everything at your fingertips? are you accustomed to living in an area that might have some crime? how much are you willing to pay for a little (or a lot, depending) safety? if it were me, and i wanted to live close to school, i would try to find a roommate, and then look for neighborhoods where you can pay for your safety. finding a good place requires much looking around, and you may even want to pay a realtor. dc is like a lot of places--- areas that are right next to each other can be completely different. areas five minutes apart can have 1000/month difference in rent. actually, now that i think about it, if it were me, i would find someone that i could trust to tell me about every little area, and then go hunting. (which wouldn't be hard considering my girlfriend's mom is a realtor for that area). if you dont know or cant find anyone with that knowledge, then try to find a good realtor. i think paying them a little would be worth it in the long run. and if you have a roommate, the cost wouldnt hurt as bad. (you can always find a roommate somewhere if you dont already have one). finally, my last option would be, if you dont feel like doing all that, then get a place near the end of the metro, maybe gaithersburg. a really safe place, which along with rockville has pretty much all the stuff that silver spring has except not as much crime. and if your living in gaithersburg, or whatever metro stop you choose, you're only a five or ten minute metro ride away from all that stuff that gaithersburg lacks (musuems, clubs, 24-hr chinese food, etc).

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jgc    0
I have lived in DC and the Maryland burbs over the past 10 years (went to GW for undergrad and masters), and I'd be happy to answer any questions about this area. :)

Hi, if you read this post I would really much like to hear your advice on finding housing as a GW grad student. I am an international student and will start my program this fall. So far I have checked craiglists. Any advice would be much appreciated. Best,

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