I have gotten four emails/ FB messages about life in Crystal City in the couple of weeks. And three the month before that. It might be because I’m such an evangelist for the neighborhood (it’s seriously underrated), but it might just be because there isn’t a ton of information out there about living in Crystal City as a Foreign Service family. Everyone who’s anyone either stays in Falls Church (folks who have kids), Rosslyn (folks who don’t have kids), or DC (the cool kids).
My family is staying in the Crystal City Oakwood. We like Oakwood because I’m lazy and don’t want to have to find housing before arriving in DC. We like Crystal City because we don’t have a car. This is actually the third time we’ve stayed here, and until we need to start thinking about getting our kids into elementary schools, we’ll probably continue to stay here when TDY to DC.
Location Location Location
The Oakwood is right on the blue line. You have to walk through the adjacent Marriot and underground mall, but you don’t have to step outside and brave the miserable DC winters and summers to get out and go places.
Costco is within walking distance, and apparently has an agreement with all of the nearby apartment complexes whereby residents can just take the damn carts home, park them outside their building, and then Costco will come pick them up whenever. SO AWESOME. Not just for consumables shopping, but for making feeding my family a little less expensive. Bulk meats, vegetables, and coconut oil are amazing.
The Harris Teeter is 9/10 of a mile away (we measured it when I was trying to walk it 9 months pregnant in the rain), which can be rough, but you can also purchase a small food cart at Costco, and enjoy the beautiful spring weather. We walk it about once a week. The weekly farmer’s market is on Tuesdays, and although it’s a little bit expensive, the produce is actually less expensive than at Harris Teeter. We’ve subscribed to a CSA that delivers to a local office building once a week, and I love it.
There are a fair amount of decent food options. It’s true that Crystal City is kind of a suburban hell without any character, so you’ll find a ton of chain restaurants. I’m OK with Starbucks, Chiptole, and Ted’s Montana Grill, but YMMV. 23rd Street is just a few blocks away (although 8 blocks seems long, in CC, it’s a pretty short walk, since the streets go 15, 18, 22, 23), and there are a TON of local eateries, including Mexican, Thai, and Ethiopian.
And of course, playgrounds. There are great playgrounds. Our favorite has a special fenced in toddler jungle gym and swing set where we can let Jasmine and her friends run free ad wild.
Oakwood Crystal City
I like the Oakwood. Sure, the apartments are a little old and outdated, but not having to deal with the hassle of rent and a landlord is well worth it for me. We’ve never had any problems with getting problems fixed within a day or two. We’re in a two bedroom apartment with an OK view. We’re high enough up that we don’t get all of the noise pollution from the city below. And now there are a TON of toddlers and babies in the building, which has been great for us. The sunsets are spectacular.
The kitchen is OK. There’s no counter space, so we bought shelves to free up as much surface area as possible. The dishwasher is OK. The washer and dryer are OK. Basically, everything’s OK. Nothing is NEW and EXCITING and BEAUTIFUL, but everything is functional and works. We are a high energy, low maintenance family, so any place where my toddler can spill wine (MY wine, not HER wine) on the floor without inspiring panic about reimbursing the landlord for the carpets is an A+ in my book.
The bedroom’s fine. Comfortable bed, large walk-in closet (that has been 1/2 converted to scrapbooking storage). Decent view. We never use the TV, but it’s nice to have when I’m sick and want to cuddle, but Bertrand wants his daily dose of violent TV.
And the view’s pretty great during sunsets.
Getting to FSI and back
There are three shuttles to FSI in the morning, and three shuttles to FSI in the afternoon. The shuttles aren’t as frequent as if we were living in Falls Church, but if we’re really stuck, we can take the shuttle to Roslynn and metro back to Crystal City. Our shuttle drivers are AWESOME and drop us outside the daycare every day after discharging the other passengers.
So that’s Oakwood. We want more families to come so that we can continue our weekend playdates until we leave in December. We like it.