8 Great ‘Affordable’ Neighborhoods
We've rounded up Bethesda-area neighborhoods with nice houses, a strong sense of community, a convenient location-and the relatively low average price of less than $700,000.
Photo by Caralee Adams
New Mark Commons, Rockville
9 Homes sold in 2017
$618,056 Average sale price in 2017
39 Homes sold from 2013-2017
$597,999 Average sale price from 2013-2017
In the late 1960s, developer Edmund Bennett had a vision for a neighborhood in which contemporary homes were designed around the trees, and nature was preserved.
New Mark Commons, tucked off I-270 just south of Maryland Avenue, celebrated its 50th anniversary last year and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Still shaded by a canopy of trees, its 384 residences—about half townhouses and half detached homes—look much as they always have, thanks to strict architectural standards that limit renovations. Several walking paths weave through the neighborhood, and there’s a lake with a fountain at the center.
“As soon as I saw the trees, they really spoke to me,” says Madeline Gupta, 75, a retired nurse who spots blue herons, geese, deer and foxes from her home. “It has a sense of place.” She moved to New Mark in 1976 with her husband, Raj, 75, a civil rights attorney, and raised two kids in the neighborhood, which feeds into the Richard Montgomery High School cluster.
All homeowners are members of the New Mark Commons Homes Association, and its swimming pool, basketball court and tennis courts are a hub of activity for residents. Neighbors use the clubhouse for an annual cocktail party, a Halloween celebration and an international potluck dinner, complete with linens, flowers and china.
“People from all different ethnic backgrounds live here, and they bring homemade dishes,” says Alexandra Manolatos, 70, a resident since 1999. “I try not to sit with people I already know so I can meet a new neighbor.”
Manolatos chose New Mark, located about a mile south of Rockville Town Center and just east of Julius West Middle School, because of its proximity to the Rockville Metro station. Plus, she says it reminded her of the row house neighborhood in Baltimore where she grew up. “I have the same feeling here,” she says. “In my cul-de-sac, I know everyone, and they know me.”
Photo by Michael Ventura
Garrett Park Estates, Kensington
18 Homes sold in 2017
$631,875 Average sale price in 2017
83 Homes sold from 2013-2017
$604,539 Average sale price from 2013-2017
Living in Garrett Park Estates means being close to concerts at Strathmore and having easy access to the Pike District commercial area. The neighborhood is less than a mile from the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station and about the same distance in the other direction to the MARC train in Garrett Park. Rockville Pike borders the neighborhood to the west, and Strathmore Avenue is to the south.
While centrally situated for commuters and shoppers, the neighborhood is set apart from the hubbub around it. “Garrett Park Estates is a hidden gem,” says Alana Aschenbach, an agent with Wydler Brothers Real Estate. “The neighborhood is rarely used as a cut-through or shortcut…the traffic in it is usually residents headed in and out.”
Michele and Jeff Derogatis moved there 12 years ago with their newborn son, Max. “Price was a factor; we had been married just two years,” Michele says. “But honestly, the big thing that drew us here was the sidewalks. It is such a walkable neighborhood. We had a dog and a baby stroller…and being 10 minutes from the Metro was really important to us.”
As their family grew, the Derogatises decided to renovate their rambler rather than relocate. “This place is so special, we didn’t want to leave,” says Michele, 43, whose two boys, now 11 and 13, attend public schools in the Walter Johnson High School cluster.
Developed in the early 1950s, Garrett Park Estates has about 525 homes—mostly ramblers, split-levels and colonials. Many have been remodeled and expanded; others torn down for new construction. After living in apartments and condos, Raimy Kamons wanted a single-family home with a yard. The 41-year-old attorney says she’s connected with the “3-year-old crowd” in the neighborhood through her young daughter, Elise. “A lot of people hang out in the front, rather than the back, of their houses, and neighbors just walk by and stop and hang out,” she says. “It’s really kid-friendly.”
Photo by Michael Ventura
4 Homes sold in 2017
$689,200 Average sale price in 2017
23 Homes sold from 2013-2017
$688,819 Average sale price from 2013-2017
Parkview is an anomaly—an inside-the-Beltway neighborhood that is relatively affordable.
Situated just east of Wisconsin Avenue and south of Cedar Lane, it’s a relatively small enclave with 186 homes. Built in the 1950s, many of the houses are a variation of split-levels; others are ramblers. Some owners have renovated the interiors, upgrading kitchens and baths, but the neighborhood has retained much of its original design.
“It’s very friendly,” says Marc Minsker, who is involved with the neighborhood association, which hosts a potluck in January at the nearby Knights of Columbus ballroom and an annual summer picnic off Beach Drive and Cedar Lane, where kids play soccer and flag football. “It’s just a great time for the neighbors to get together and catch up with one another.”
Parkview is the ideal location for Marc and his wife, Jia. Marc can be at his job as a school principal in Frederick in 45 minutes. Jia walks less than a mile to the Medical Center Metro station to commute into the District, where she works as an attorney.
Parkview is next to the National Institutes of Health, the Naval Medical Research Center and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and a short drive from the Beltway. It is part of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School cluster.
Parkview doesn’t have sidewalks or a central gathering place, but Marc says his kids enjoy the nearby playground and trails in Rock Creek Park. He likes that the house he bought in 2010 backs up to the soccer fields at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, cutting off further development.
Lisa Vogt, 53, who has lived there with her husband, Tim, 54, since 1997, started a neighborhood watch program. She adds: “People really look out for each other.”
There is also a baby-sitting co-op and an active mahjong group.
Photo by Michael Ventura
Washingtonian Woods, Gaithersburg
12 Homes sold in 2017
$663,292 Average sale price in 2017
65 Homes sold from 2013-2017
$664,526 Average sale price from 2013-2017
after dinner, Lisa Cline often puts on her hiking boots and treks through the woods by the Muddy Branch stream with her husband, Jack, and their 10-year-old son, Harris. Or they walk on the three-quarters of a mile loop at Washingtonian Woods Park, which has a pond where they can fish.
The Clines, who moved to Washingtonian Woods 10 years ago from Boston, like the natural feel, open space and friendly atmosphere of their Gaithersburg neighborhood, which is situated just west of Muddy Branch Road and bordered by Darnestown Road to the south and Great Seneca Highway to the north.
“There are literally children everywhere, riding bikes and playing basketball,” says Lisa, 51, a freelance writer whose husband, a lobbyist, commutes by MARC train into the District. “But there is a certain amount of privacy, too, because houses are not as closely situated to each other as in other subdivisions.”
Built in the late 1980s, the 375 single-family homes in the development are mostly colonials, many with cathedral ceilings, fireplaces, first-floor dens and two-car garages, says Mincy Neil, a real estate agent with Long & Foster. There are also 200 condos. In the Quince Orchard High School cluster, the neighborhood is within easy access of I-270 and is close to the RIO Washingtonian Center and Downtown Crown shopping areas.
“It offers a swimming pool and active community organization,” Neil says. “People socialize together and it’s cohesive.”
With its pool table and multiple televisions, the clubhouse is a popular venue for March Madness basketball and Super Bowl parties. Meagan Brady, 38, and her husband, Matt, 40, who have 4-, 6- and 8-year-old sons, help coordinate those events along with the neighborhood’s annual fall festival, which includes games, crafts, music and a kids’ scramble to get candy placed on a hill by the neighborhood park. “Candy Hill” is the prime sledding spot in the winter and an amphitheater for outdoor movies in the summer. This year, the neighborhood social committee will organize coffee hours for newcomers and toddler playdates.
Photo by Michael Ventura
Randolph Hills, Rockville
48 Homes sold in 2017
$427,201 Average sale price in 2017
192 Homes sold from 2013-2017
$386,530 Average sale price from 2013-2017
For Ken and Rebecca Kopczyk, Randolph Hills had the right mix of location (near shopping, the Metro and running trails) and houses in their price range. They moved to the neighborhood, just south of Randolph Road and east of Rock Creek Park, in 2015, and have a 1-year-old son, Sam.
“The affordability of the neighborhood was definitely a big draw,” says Ken, 36, whose rambler, like many in the area, offers about 1,000 square feet on the main level and has a finished basement.
Residents gather for the neighborhood’s annual Brazilian barbecue and 5K at the Randolph Hills Local Park in the fall, and for a music festival with performances by locals at nearby 7 Locks Brewing in the spring.
“It’s a little hipster-y, which almost doesn’t exist in Montgomery County,” says Matt Covell, who lives in the neighborhood and whose company, Structure, has renovated homes in the area. “There’s more of an organic feeling about the place, more so than a polished feeling of other neighborhoods.”
While some owners are renovating, they are generally sticking to the footprints of the original structures in the 967-home neighborhood located in the Wheaton High School cluster. “We are seeing a lot of younger folks moving into this neighborhood and popping houses up on the top or out the back, but on a smaller scale with style and cool features,” Covell says.
Omar Shawqi gutted and refurbished the home he bought in 2015. His 10,000-square-foot lot backs up to the woods in Rock Creek Park, where he regularly jogs with his dog, Bandit. “Everybody knows each other by what their dog’s name is,” says the 32-year-old, who has a 15-minute commute to work in Bethesda. There are plans to update Dewey Local Park, which is adjacent to Randolph Hills, with a new dog park and other amenities.
Shawqi says he likes the low-key feel of the area, where neighbors go caroling during the holidays and invite each other to potluck dinners. “It feels like a touch of the Midwest in Washington, D.C.,” he says. “They are a little more laid back. They are very welcoming. You can stop on the sidewalk and have a conversation with someone that lasts more than seconds. That’s what surprised me.”
Woodside, Silver Spring
8 Homes sold in 2017
$639,688 Average sale price in 2017
74 Homes sold from 2013-2017
$613,369 Average sale price from 2013-2017
Woodside residents can walk to the Metro and to restaurants and movies in downtown Silver Spring. The neighborhood’s 339 homes are bordered by 16th Street to the west, Georgia Avenue to the east and Spring Street to the south.
“It’s self-contained, and that geography contributes to our sense of cohesiveness,” says Sarah Brookhart, who has lived on First Avenue for 18 years. “Being a quiet neighborhood, but very close to D.C., was the original draw. The reason I’ve stayed there is that it is all that and more. Now we have our own wonderful Silver Spring downtown just a short walk away that makes Woodside especially appealing.”
Woodside’s character is another selling point, says Long & Foster real estate agent Barbara Ciment. “It’s eclectic with Cape Cods, colonials, ramblers. They even have townhouses. It’s a mixture. And it’s an established neighborhood, so there are beautiful old flowering trees.”
The Woodside Civic Association has been vocal in preserving the look of the neighborhood. About 10 years ago, the group was successful in reducing the number of new townhomes built on Georgia Avenue and making sure their appearance fit with the area, says Brookhart, 65, a former association president. For decades, the group has supported the development of the Purple Line, but now that it is being built, the focus has shifted to minimizing the impact of the planned station next to the neighborhood, making sure concerns about aesthetics and noise are addressed.
Woodside is in the Downcounty Consortium; parents can request to send their kids to one of five area high schools. The home school is Albert Einstein High School.
Mary O’Driscoll, 56, and her husband, Perry Plumart, 60, moved into a 1939 colonial in Woodside nearly 25 years ago, not knowing how long they would stay. “We loved our huge backyard, the trees, and just fell in love with the area,” she says.
Photo by Stephen Walker
Regency Estates, Potomac
21 Homes sold in 2017
$678,493 Average sale price in 2017
132 Homes sold from 2013-2017
$661,167 Average sale price from 2013-2017
Nearby schools are a big part of the appeal of Regency Estates, which is just west of Seven Locks Road and north of Tuckerman Lane in Potomac. Winston Churchill High School and Herbert Hoover Middle School occupy several blocks of the neighborhood, and their soccer fields, tennis courts and outdoor track are a draw for residents.
Oscar and Luisa Hendrick settled in Regency Estates in 2002, in part because of the quality and convenience of the schools. Their three children walked to Beverly Farms Elementary School, as well as Hoover and Churchill.
“There is a strong sense of community,” says Oscar, 57, whose employer, the International Monetary Fund, would have helped pay for private schools. “Churchill has a relative big population of students, which, of course, presents some challenges, but at the same time, many opportunities in academic and extracurricular activities that are very difficult to match, even by the best private schools.”
With about 800 residences, the neighborhood includes a mix of split-level and tri-level homes, ramblers and a few colonials mostly built in the ’60s and ’70s. Initially, the Hendricks bought a split-level, but moved into a larger colonial on the same street in 2005.
The Regency Estates Swim Club is a popular spot in the summer. “People describe it as a throwback to the ’60s. It’s a safe place where everybody knows each other,” says Mara Senn, 49, president of the swim club’s board of directors. “It’s not too fancy, but it’s nice.”
Members for about seven years, Senn and her husband, Chris Michaels, 48, have 10- and 13-year-old sons on the swim team. One highlight of the summer is the team lock-in. “Everybody sleeps over at the pool, makes s’mores and pitches a tent on the grounds,” Senn says. There are also holiday picnics, a crab feast and weekends when food trucks pull up to the pool to offer dinner.
Although the Hendricks are now empty nesters, they plan to stay in the neighborhood because of its friendly atmosphere and convenient location.
“It’s suburban, but many things are reachable,” says Oscar, who commutes to work in D.C.
Shopping and dining options are available at Cabin John Shopping Center and Mall, where a face-lift and expansion are underway with more restaurants and commercial development planned.
Photo by Michael Ventura
Rock Creek Forest, Chevy Chase and Silver Spring
19 Homes sold in 2017
$671,283 Average sale price in 2017
111 Homes sold from 2013-2017
$650,341 Average sale price from 2013-2017
When Cynthia Lan Martin, 37, and her husband, Jody Martin, 36, moved to Rock Creek Forest, they felt they had hit the jackpot. “It’s the best blend of city, suburb and affordable. That trifecta is hard to find,” she says.
The neighborhood in eastern Chevy Chase and western Silver Spring is bordered on three sides by national and county parkland, with East West Highway running through its center. It’s adjacent to Rock Creek Park, with its trails, creeks and lush trees. The Martins look forward to their kids, now 3 and 5, being old enough for riding lessons and summer camp at nearby Meadowbrook Stables. In the meantime, they frequent the popular Candy Cane City playground and Ray’s Meadow Local Park, which was updated with new equipment last fall thanks to a neighborhood lobbying campaign.
“We go to the parks all the time. It’s a great way to let off steam and meet other families in the neighborhood,” says Jody, who moved to the area four years ago.
Gary Zinkgraf, 57, lives in his childhood home and raised four kids in the neighborhood, which he describes as “tight knit.” Rock Creek Pool, which is being renovated, remains a gathering spot, and Zinkgraf has served on the pool’s board of directors, just as his father did in the 1960s. Most of the homes—colonials, Cape Cods, ramblers and split-levels—were built in the 1950s.
Rock Creek Shopping Center on Grubb Road has a fitness club, deli, grocery, pharmacy and several restaurants. The central location, access to parks, walking distance to synagogues, availability of the Gwendolyn E. Coffield Community Recreation Center, and the schools in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School cluster (including Rock Creek Forest Elementary School) are driving forces for sales for the approximately 600 homes in the neighborhood, says Mynor Herrera, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties in Bethesda, who lives in the neighborhood. “The proximity to everything is crazy,” he says.
Home sales data, provided by Bright MLS and MarketStats for ShowingTime, includes sales for single-family homes. Statistics generated on Jan. 10, 2018. Information reliable but not guaranteed.