Most people are familiar with areas like Georgetown, Capitol Hill and Dupont Circle, not to mention Bethesda, Maryland, and Alexandria, Virginia. But the District of Columbia comprises dozens of unique areas with which even seasoned residents may not be familiar, each of them offering its own array of dining, entertainment and housing options.

What many homebuyers aren’t aware of are the great neighborhoods located right next door to these booming areas, offering homes for much more affordable prices.

We asked top real estate agents in Washington, D.C., listed by real estate technology company Agent Explore (a U.S. News partner) to give buyers the inside track on some very affordable and desirable neighborhoods that might not be on their radar screen – but should be.

Love Capitol Hill? Check out these neighboring communities…

Kingman Park/Lily Ponds. Located near the far northeast corner of Capitol Hill, these areas offer two major perks: affordable properties and easy access to Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. The District of Columbia is in the process of redesigning the stadium’s campus, says Ty Voyles, a principal at Fulcrum Properties Group: “Once that redesign goes through, these neighborhoods will benefit big time.”

[Read: A First-Time Buyer's Guide to Washington, D.C.]

If you want to live near Capitol Hill in a reasonably priced home, these areas might fit the bill. In Kingman Park, you can purchase a livable row house in the $400,000 range, or in the $600,000 range if it’s been renovated. Lily Ponds, which is near the Anacostia River, has seen average home prices go up by more than 50 percent over the last five years. “That’s a really good return on investment, but still a reasonable price point for D.C.,” Voyles notes.

Edgewood. This Northeast District of Columbia neighborhood sits in the middle of the Bloomingdale, Brookland and Eckington, areas, which “have seen massive booms in housing development, prices and retail in the last five years,” Voyles says. Edgewood is close to all of the amenities these three neighborhoods provide: The Catholic University of America; Brookland’s Red Line Metro stop and Monroe Street Market; and Bloomingdale’s great restaurant scene. But if you’re looking for a quaint row house in the District of Columbia, you can buy one in Edgewood for a third of the price of a home in Brookland.

Hillcrest. Buyers looking for a suburban community that’s a short commute to Capitol Hill should look at Hillcrest, located in the southeastern part of the District, across the Anacostia River from downtown. “It has a great stock of brick colonials, and you can buy a full detached, renovated home for about half the price of a Capitol Hill row home,” Voyles explains. It has stunning views of the monuments and Capitol Hill.

There’s also a neighborly feel to this area. “People look out for one another,” Voyles adds.

For easy commutes to downtown…

Cheverly. Like Hillcrest, Cheverly, Maryland, has a very tight-knit community feel and has easy access to the District via the Orange Line Metro. Residents have access to amenities like the Cheverly Swim and Racquet Club and the Cheverly Community Market. Cheverly's housing inventory is very similar to highly desirable areas like Arlington, Virginia, but you can get a basic brick colonial for almost $500,000 less here than you'd find it in the popular Virginia suburb.

[Read: D.C., Maryland or Virginia – Where Should You Live?]

Brightwood. The craftsman- and bungalow-style homes of this District of Columbia neighborhood are similar to those of neighboring Takoma Park, Maryland, but are much lower in price. You can enjoy Takoma Park’s various restaurants and retail establishments, and walk to the area’s Metro stop on the Red Line. Brightwood also has convenient access to Georgia Avenue’s quickly developing retail corridor and Metro Bus service.

Northern Virginia’s affordable gems are…

Claremont. Located near Shirlington, Virginia’s bustling commercial area, the Claremont neighborhood has affordable, older homes selling for under $500,000. If you’re looking for a single-family home in Arlington with a yard and a driveway – but want quick access to shops and restaurants – Claremont might be the neighborhood for you.

Pimmit Hills. Often overlooked or driven past, this Falls Church, Virginia, neighborhood has many of the same perks as Claremont. Its reasonably-priced older homes are set on large lots (some more than a quarter of an acre), and the area is a prime spot for buyers looking for a fixer-upper or to tear down old homes and build anew. Tysons Corner Center, a large shopping area, is located nearby and is a big selling point for Pimmit Hills.

Cherrydale/Waverly Hills. Near Route 66 and Lee Highway, this modest residential area composed of detached homes and multifamily housing is redefining the concept of “walkability.” Cherrydale and Waverly Hills never had that distinction some 15 to 20 years ago, due to their mile-long distance to public transit. That’s since changed, says Billy Buck, president and CEO of Buck & Associates Inc. “People these days are more willing to walk longer distances and bike to Metro, or take the Arlington Transit Bus.”

As a result, neighborhoods like these are getting more attention from health and exercise-minded buyers who have a different vision of what their commute should look like.

[Read: A Buyer's Guide to Arlington, Virginia.]

Kenmore. Nestled in Arlington’s larger community of Ashton Heights and home to Gum Ball Park, Kenmore’s convenient location near Virginia Square Metro on the Orange and Silver Metro lines corridor means easy access to retail and dining offerings in the Clarendon, Ballston and Courthouse areas. “Like a lot of neighborhoods in Arlington, it used to be a farm,” Buck says.

Today, Kenmore is made up of duplexes that go for less than $700,000. The neighborhood “remains a good value given everything else in Ashton Heights is much higher, typically over a million,” Buck notes. Homes are well built, and many have benefited from innovative renovations, he says.

Old Town Alexandria’s hip neighbor…

Del Ray. Transplants from Portland, Oregon, looking for a good coffee fix should visit this quaint area in Alexandria. Mainstays are 1930s row houses, consignment stores and, of course, coffee shops. With row houses selling for around $500,000, you don’t necessarily need a fat wallet to live there, either. Located near the Braddock Road Metro, Del Ray is close to the Birchmere, an iconic District of Columbia-area attraction that features live music. It has the look of neighboring Old Town Alexandria, “but gives off a much more casual, down-to-earth vibe,” Buck says. “Everybody’s walking dogs, going to yoga class. They all look happy.”

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Tags: Washington, D.C., housing market, Maryland, Virginia, real estate, housing, home prices, new home sales, existing home sales


Jennifer Lubell writes about real estate and travel trends for U.S. News & World Report. Much of her career has centered on health care policy and consumer health issues. Her work has appeared in numerous association and trade publications, including Provider magazine, Modern Healthcare magazine, American Medical News and women's lifestyle websites. She has also written stories for the Cleveland Clinic, Brand USA and Georgetown Business magazine. You can follow her on Twitter at @jreporter5.