If you're new to Bethesda and have questions about restaurants, stores or where to find "this or that," leave a comment, or send me an email.
Any suggestions or comments are also welcome, in the hopes of presenting more of what you, the reader, would find most useful in this series. So, without further adieu, let's get started.
1 BR/1 BA FAIRMONT PLAZA [Click for listing] - $1,780 a month
Why start with Fairmont Plaza? This particular offer sounds like a fair deal, and it illustrates two points about apartment hunting in overpriced Bethesda: 1) Sometimes it's worth paying slightly more, rather than cost-cutting in a low-quality building on the edges of town, and 2) With rents so inflated, one way to beat the system is to lease a condo from someone who owns one.
$1,780 isn't bad if you split it in two, and one person takes a fold-out sofa bed in the living room (maybe that person should pay less than half!).
What you're getting in return is one of the best buildings in Bethesda.
Start off with location, location, location. Only Upstairs at Bethesda Row is closer to more things, and rents there are out of this world. If you want to go out to bars at night, and literally be steps away from your apartment, Fairmont Plaza is the place to be.
As one of the Nathan Landow buildings - and I've been in just about all of them now - you are going to get high quality finishes, floors and countertops. Marble lobby. Ceramic tile. Oak parquet floors. Raised-panel wood interior doors. Balconies.
Amenities are sparse in terms of there being no pool, no fitness center...
But how about this: In-unit washer and dryer! No more loose change or cards that don't register. No finding your clothes thrown out of the dryer by the crazy tenant down the hall. Big closets? Check. Gourmet kitchen? Check. Gas stove? Right-o!
I notice this listing says you'll get the use of a large, wall-mounted flatscreen TV, so you can save TV money.
Convenience? First of all, if you're uninsured or underinsured healthwise, you have a CVS Minute Clinic right across Wisconsin Avenue. A 24-hour 7-Eleven with Redbox rentals right across from the (controlled) lobby entrance.
Dining? Steps away, you have Starbucks, Black's Bar and Kitchen, Woodmont Grill, Tastee Diner, Jetties, BGR and Bold Bite .
Nightlife? Just as close, are The Parva, BlackFinn, Hanaro, Rock Bottom, Union Jack's, and more.
The first floor of the Fairmont has a yoga studio, hair salon, and French pastry shop.
And Veterans Park, farmers markets and the Taste of Bethesda will all be yards away.
It's worth checking out this weekend, if someone hasn't beaten you to it!
Most apartments have a bar area attached to the kitchen. Which means you'll need bar stools for casual dining or entertaining.
Ice Cream Bar Stool from Loft Living - $129
Scooper Barstool from Target.com - $49.99
Verdict: They look the same, but what a savings at Target, and the reviews average 5 stars. I think Target is the right choice here, and you can get more bar stools so all your friends can pull one up when they come over.
Don't forget Renter's Insurance when figuring out your budget! The yearly cost is far less than the value of all of your stuff, should there be a fire or water damage.