Gaithersburg: Where we learned to understand polar motion, thanks to the Gaithersburg Latitude Observatory now a National Historic Landmark!
One of the main cities in the D.C. - Arlington-Alexandria Metropolitan area is Gaithersburg -- home to almost 60,000 residents, 250 years of history, and a number of major corporations. It is a community of educated, active folks who value the area and have created a solid, family-centric city. It successfully mixes the old and new and the planned and unplanned to make a highly desirable urban area with a good quality of life.
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Moving to Gaithersburg
Being a short ride from Washington and not much further from Baltimore, Gaithersburg is a pretty convenient place to look for home rentals, with a high quality of life and plenty of work to be found within a relatively short distance.
There is a distinct difference in lifestyle from the east side of the city to the west, mostly because of the generational gap in the buildings. The west side is the area that has been built up through New Urbanism, creating a number of walkable neighborhoods where shops and residential units are in one place. The central business district and the east side contain the original parts of town, and as such, arent planned out as meticulously and have older homes. On both sides of the highway, a surprisingly large number of citizens live and work within the city limits. This is thanks to a number of large, international corporations making Gaithersburg a place for industry, including IBM, MedImmune, Sodexo and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
While rental rates aren't horribly high, rental vacancies can be somewhat rare, with only a few dozen being available at any one time. If you want a spot in Gaithersburg, especially in the desirable areas, you'll need to start looking for your home rental long before your intended move, and you'll want to jump on a place the minute you find one that ticks most of your boxes another one in that neighborhood may not open up for weeks or months.
As it is split by the highway, Gaithersburg has different personalities, different advantages and disadvantages, depending on the side of the highway and the neighborhood. This is a city where the neighborhoods will draw drastically different people, and just because you don't like one neighborhood, it doesn't mean to stop looking for a home rental entirely. Take a good look at some of the neighborhoods, and pick which one suits you. Here are four of the most common neighborhoods for people to find rental units:
City of Gaithersburg: Sometimes called City Center or Olde Town, this is a great place for the person just trying to get in to Gaithersburg to start almost all residential buildings are renter-occupied. Even better, it is right in the middle of everything, with parks and shopping centers all in walking distance. This is the only neighborhood on the east side of the highway that can compete with the planned communities when it comes to convenience. $$$
In their reviews of Gaithersburg Station Apartments, renters rave about the caring and personable staff, as well as the multiple swimming pools and community gazebo.
Quince Orchard:Made up mostly of large, owner-occupied single-family homes, Quince Orchard is an up-market neighborhood of tree-lined streets and picnic-friendly back yards. There are no studio apartments available, and few small apartments, although all properties are exquisitely maintained. Rental units also have low turnover rates in this neighborhood. $$$$$
Kentlands: The first "New Urbanist" neighborhood, the Kentlands is a blueprint for all of the walkable, eclectic communities that have been popping up. For good or bad, the success of the Kentlands has lead to a number of mixed-use, picket-fenced neighborhoods popping up in suburbs across the country. The Kentlands often has condos and apartments for rent, and is a close-knit community.$$$$
Washington Grove: An incredibly diverse neighborhood, Washington Grove is convenient to the older parks and schools on the east side, while being only a short walk from "Olde Town" Gaithersburg. With plenty of green space for outdoor activities, this neighborhood sees some turnover in its housing market but rarely sees a condo for rent for longer than a month or so. $$
Living in Gaithersburg
Set in the continental climate zone, the Gaithersburg gets all four seasons of weather, being hit especially hard in the summer with heat and humidity. Winter is on the chillier side, with four months where it tends to drop below freezing. The big difference between yearly highs and lows means that you'll need to make sure the any home for rent that you check out can heat as well as it cools. Winter also brings snow, although Gaithersburg is south enough that it doesn't receive the severe snows of the Northeast, averaging only a few inches per year. Still, grab a snow shovel to clear your walk and, if you have to park on the street, a folding chair to reserve your space.
Thanks to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Highway also known as Route 270 splitting the town down the middle, its easy to drive from Gaithersburg to the surrounding areas, including a 30-minute jaunt to Washington D.C. Public transit does a decent job of getting Gaithersburg residents around in the area, with the Shady Grove station being part of the Washington Metro, the MARC system running commuter rail service out of three stations in Gaithersburg, and bus service in and out of the city, as well as intercity routes. No airports are in the city, but three airports are in close distance by car or public transit, including Baltimore-Washington, Ronald Reagan, and Washington Dulles International Airports.
Gaithersburg has plenty going on year-round, including festivals and shopping. One of the highest profile festivals is CelebrateGaithersburg, a street festival that takes place every summer, with live entertainment, music and dance competitions, and numerous local restaurants providing a variety of cultural foods, including Filipino and Middle Eastern fare. While this is certainly the centerpiece of Gaithersburg's festivals and a must-see, there are plenty of others throughout the year, including Oktoberfest, the Winter Lights festival and the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair. During the summer, there are also weekly performances at the City Hall Pavilion, ranging from concerts to animal acts.
While it may not excite the kids and wont matter to the childless renters among us Gaithersburg is serviced by the Montgomery County Public Schools, a school district that consistently scores high on placement exams and is known for being a solid, upstanding, scholarly district.
The Olde Town area has plenty of eclectic shops, brewpubs, bars, and restaurants, some of them in very convenient walking distance from residences on the east side of the highway. The east side also has some of the major shopping areas, such as the Lakeforest Mall, along with the City Hall and the Montgomery County Fairgrounds. The west side has the New Urbanist retail areas, including the Washingtonian Center, a shopping district that pulls folks from both sides of the highway as well as from outside of the city.
If you're afraid of growth, stay out of Gaithersburg. The area has been growing, and will continue to grow, with a number of New Urbanism communities under construction or in the planning stages, as well as a rapid bus line to connect the busiest neighborhoods in the west part of the city with the major stops in the city.
While this all sounds rather doom-and-gloom for those who enjoy the outdoors, don't worry there are vast acres of parks in and around the city. From small neighborhood parks such as Bohrer Park in Olde Town, to large state parks such as Upper Rock Creek Park just outside of Washington Grove, theres plenty to explore. The massive Black Hill Regional Park is just on the other side of Germantown, while the Agricultural History Farm Park just to the east of the city combines the outdoors and learning all in one, a fully functioning farm providing a look at the areas farming past, with a variety of family-friendly festivals year-round.
If you don't like exploring or learning, but like to go chase little white balls around nicely trimmed grass areas, hey, its the Washington D.C. area of course there are golf courses. A half-dozen courses are within a 20 minute drive from downtown Gaithersburg, so it'll never be too hard to find a tee time.