• Bethesda has an urban vibe, with 200 restaurants, two live theatres, 20 art galleries and excellent shopping.
  • The community is not formally a city, but a census-designated place, where more than 60,000 people live.
  • Housing is expensive, with the median home price at $771,900.

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Bethesda, Md., is a convenient and hip alternative to living in Washington, D.C. for those who work in our nation’s capitol.

The area most definitely has an urban vibe, with 200 restaurants, two live theatres, 20 art galleries and excellent shopping. Transportation is simpler than in DC proper, with ample parking and public transportation close by.

And, by the way, it’s not officially a city– it’s a census-designated place, without official boundaries.

Living in Bethesda

A Metro ride from the heart of D.C.’s Union Station to the city center’s Bethesda Station takes about 23 minutes. Rush hour service on the Shady Grove line departs every three minutes, so there is ample opportunity to make the train.

For those who wish to brave the drive, the 7 mile trip will take about the same amount of time.

According to Areavibes, Bethesda ranks as exceptionally livable. The ranking system awards the community of about 60,000 a score of 85. Maryland overall gets a livability score of 74, and the U.S. has a score of 72.

The only area where Bethesda really falls down is in cost of living, which the Areavibes team estimates is 56 percent higher than the rest of Maryland. 

Bethesda amenities and recreation

The area does well for attractions, education, employment and housing values. It has been recognized by Forbes and Time for its educated, high-earning residents. For parents, there are a variety of choices for schools, both in the large public systems and a long list of private schools.

Bethesda is squished into the northwest corner of I-495, so there is good highway access around the D.C. area. It is also about two miles northwest of the National Zoo, which is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon on the leafy outskirts of the Capitol area.

Wage earners in Bethesda do well. But they need that income to afford the average home there. Bestplaces found that the median home price in Bethesda is $771,900.

Big employers include Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, the Bethesda Naval Hospital (Bethesda Naval Medical Center, or Walter Reed), the National Institutes of Health and a variety of other government agencies and outposts, including the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

The west side of the community has been developed into a shopping and entertainment district known as Bethesda Row.

Downtown Bethesda is promoted by the Bethesda Urban Partnership. The organization is responsible for landscaping, maintenance and marketing the downtown area through campaigns and events.  It also manages the Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District, operates Bethesda Transportation Solutions and manages the Bethesda Circulator.

DowntownBethesda.com provides a variety of resources and an interactive map for those who are looking for a night, or just an afternoon, out on the town. That site is also a resource for those looking to find a home in the area.

Email Kimberley Sirk.

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