Beltway Military Living | Neighborhoods
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Listen Up! This is the most important page on this website. Read this before anything else.

  • The #1 question military families ask us is:

  • “I just received orders to {insert beltway duty station here}, where is the best place to live?”


    The answer to that question ALWAYS is: “Well, that depends.”

So how do we answer this in a meaningful way?


We start by asking “What’s most important to you?” The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Investopedia, and many other sources all claim the Washington D.C. metro area as being the 5th most expensive region to live in the country. Accordingly, in the DC area, as in many other highly expensive cities, you’ll have to prioritize to achieve your goals.


An age old phrase often used to set expectations in indentifying value in a project or purchase will typically go like this: “better, faster, cheaper – pick two out of three.” And that’s the perfect analogy for finding a home in the Beltway. ┬áHere are two examples:

Triangle Depicting Relationship In Finding Value between things that are Better, Faster, or Cheaper
  • Example #1

  • You want to purchase a 3,000 sq ft single family home with 2-car garage, within 25 minute drive to the Pentagon, for $450,000. Well, you can easily get a home for $450,000 within a 25 minute drive to the Pentagon, though it will not be a 3,000 square foot single family home – more likely, it will be a 1,000 – 1,200 sq ft condo or maybe a 1,600 – 1,800 townhome. Alternatively, you can get a large 4 bedroom single family home in that same price range, but it will be a 45-60 minute drive to the Pentagon. Remember, pick two out of three.
  • Example #2

  • Or let’s say you want to purchase a 2-bedroom condo with a parking space, within a 10-minute Metro ride to the Pentagon, for $300,000. The reality is that you’re likely to pay $400-600K for a 2-bedroom condo this close to the Pentagon. If you’re willing to extend your commute by 15-20 minutes, you can get closer to your target price of $300,000. Pick two out of three.



Price, Space, and Commute: the three factors that determine where you will live.

The good news is that you can still get an amazing home for your family in a market that steadily appreciates and is ideal for long-term investment. You just need to prioritize what’s most important for you to have. As you probably gathered from the above scenarios, the three critical components to look at when identifying your new home are: PRICE, SPACE, and COMMUTE. It is these three factors that will determine where you will live. We call this the Housing Triad.


For those with children, we do not factor schools into this equation as good schools can be found in just about every town or neighborhood and at every housing price point. This isn’t to say that you will ignore schools when searching for your home, but rather a good school for your kids can be found independent from the three factors above. In other words, schools are not a factor of price, space, or commute (barring unique circumstances).

Housing Diagram Showing Relationship Between Price, Space, and Commute

Using the housing triad model we know that PRICE and COMMUTE have an inverse relationship for a given square footage. In other words, at a given price point, you can either live closer to your duty station in a smaller home, or live further away in a larger one.


Also, if one of the three components changes, one of the other two will be affected. So if you want a larger home closer to your duty station, you’ll need to be comfortable with a higher price. Or in many cases, even the same size home closer to your duty station will result in a higher price.


So how to solve this puzzle? You can have all three if you are willing to pay for it, but most folks often find a happy middle ground. Tell us your priorities and we can find the best home and location for you and your famililies needs.