Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Karyn Young and Justin Hartley are recently-married residents of Columbia Pike.
Justin Hartley: "I'm originally from Jacksonville, Florida. I work out of DC, so that’s what brought me to the area. I do construction, in telecommunications. I work for a minority-owned business who contracts for Comcast and Verizon. When I first moved here, I moved to Arlington. Then I was living in Maryland in Silver Spring, and wanted to get a change of pace. I had been down here a few times for work and liked the area, so I moved here.
Karyn Young: I’m from Dallas, Texas. I moved here to be with Justin. We met when we were kids, in Dallas. We had long-distance dated, and then decided to move up here when I was laid off in Dallas. It was kind of perfect timing for me to come here. Right now I'm in sales for a technology company.
Justin Hartley: We met when we were ten years old. But then I moved to Florida and spent seven years there. We always kept in connection, but never really dated. She graduated college and moved to Florida, but to Fort Lauderdale. So we thought, "We could try this out." I'll come down. It's not too far.” It didn't work out then. We went our separate ways, didn't talk that much for a couple years. When I moved up here, I had split with the girl that I was with in Florida. We somehow got reconnected and rekindled, and talked, and would fly back and forth.
Karyn Young: Once we saw each other again, we were like, "Yeah." It's kind of weird being a part of this generation that's used to online dating, but actually not having online dated myself. I feel like I should know what that's like, but I don't really know what that's like.
What brought us here? I remember checking out so many apartments in Virginia in general, and then just being super close to the city. It was everything. It's kind of perfect spot. It's close enough to the Metro. We ended up liking it way more once we actually lived here. I don't know that we really knew what we were getting into. We can walk to things. That drew me. Living in Dallas, you don't walk to anything. That's not normal there. So living somewhere where you can walk to the grocery story and walk to a restaurant, and then kind of feel like a small neighborhood, but be super close to the city, that was like a whole other world. We go to the different ethnic restaurants around here. The one we haven't tried yet is the Ethiopian place, that purple place.
Justin Hartley: We've been to the Thai restaurants. It seems like there's a ton of Thai food on the Pike. There's a couple of Spanish restaurants, like the one of the side of the comedy club, Cantina Mexicana. We haven't been to the Irish pub yet, though.
We've been here for almost three years now. There are a lot of other young people in our building, but there's a mixture here, too. It seems like on our floor there's actually quite lot of families.
Karyn Young: The first year that we moved in there were, I didn't hardly ever see kids. But this year I see kids way more often than I used to.
I don't want to move. I’m hooked on the neighborhood and everything, plus I hate moving, but our lease is up and we started looking around, but I don't know.
Justin Hartley: The nice thing too that I like about the Pike is that it's still kind of quiet as opposed to living in Ballston or Rosslyn where there’s just people around all the time. I feel like I'm getting away from that when I come here, but yet I'm still close enough where I can take a bus to jump onto a Metro, or ride my bike, and it's not far from everything. We can walk to Giant Foods.
Karyn Young: That's where we just came from. We ate dinner right over at William Jeffrey's Tavern, which is right by Giant. It was a 10 minute walk. Not bad.
I met one of my best friends on Pike - Casey. They came to our wedding in Dallas, which was really far, and they got married, too. I met them at a gym actually down over by Giant. It's really cool.
Riding a bike for me in the city isn't something I'm super used to, but I'm not terribly scared of it right here, because it's not Ballston or Clarendon where the traffic would be a little bit more intense. It’s a little more relaxed.
That's honestly mind blowing because I’m in sales, so I drive a lot, and just the fact that we can share one car is great. That's crazy. Just coming from Texas where everyone has a car. And It’s the same with Florida. Everything's spread out there.
Justin Hartley: There's not much public transportation in both of those places. We've gone down to one car, when we moved, from two cars. We'll switch out the cars and we just either take a bus or ride a bike to the closest Metro station. Here, I can even take those scooters quite a bit.
Karyn Young: We sometimes take scooters to church because they're super close.
Justin Hartley: We’ve seen changes in the three years we’ve been here. I've seen a lot more families and apartments are popping up now. We've got a new one being built across the street and then another one Is going up, the Harris Teeter one; Centro.
Karyn Young: We're friends with the property managers in the building here, and they're worried about that one.
Karyn Young: Where I went to high school was super diverse. I was definitely the minority being white. I was in Dallas, close to downtown is just super mixed. The Garland area is predominantly Spanish and Mexican and then there's Richardson, which is predominantly Indian, and there's a lot of African Americans in Dallas. It was like everyone but white people at my high school. It was diverse. I noticed by the food here that the area along the Pike was diverse, but it was never something that sparked my interest or awareness particularly one way or the other. It was just part of the landscape. But the DC area in general is super different than Texas, so maybe I was just aware of that going in.
Justin Hartley: The apartment complex here, far more than any other apartment complex I've lived in, does very well at getting the community of the apartment together and hosting events downstairs. Whether it's like a pizza night or a games night, or a costume party for Halloween.
Karyn Young: They have really good events in our building. Lots of people come. I worked for an apartment complex before and tried to have those events and had 5-10 people show up and it was such a fail. But here everyone comes and actually has a good time.
Justin Hartley: It seems like people stay here. As long as we've been here we've seen a lot of the same faces. Not too much change.
Karyn Young: Something that we did right off the bat when we first moved to Arlington, we went to a community meeting. It was about Arlington's plan to end homelessness in ten years, and this is their ninth year. And it was kind of incredible that all of the non-profits work together in Arlington to provide resources to homeless people, which is really cool. I have always really loved non profits, and especially ones that gear towards affordable housing and ending homelessness.
Justin Hartley: I saw that the little shopping center across from our is due to go. I saw that on some Arlington Government website. They're trying to rezone it. There’s a little concern about Amazon coming here. We're concerned with wanting to own a house at some point, and with them coming in it's going to make what's already high-priced even more high-priced. I figure it's going to take a long time, though. I heard they have a ten-year project to get it all up and going.
Karyn Young: I don’t know if we’ll be able to afford a place in this area. Realistically it's hard for me to wrap my mind around it coming from Texas, just the difference in prices…
Justin Hartley: I think in maybe a couple of years we can be in a position to do something like that. I am worried that it might go out of our budget range.
Justin Hartley: Most of our friends who are our age are not purchasing houses here yet.
Karyn Young: Do I know a single person who owns a house in Arlington? No. All renters. I was actually talking with a friend of mine today at work how we're seeing a lot of our friends on social media back in Florida and Texas buying houses right when they get married.
Justin Hartley: They're our age, and we were just talking about how it's almost discouraging that feels, like we're not that far in life to be able to purchase a house but it's just because where we live. A lot of people use that as a benchmark in life. "Oh I can buy a house." It's like a check off the list. But to purchase a house here I think still… Our rent payment is more than my mom's mortgage. That's crazy.
Karyn Young: More young families around here are starting to rent, just because it's more affordable. We know one couple. They used to live in the Ballston, Clarendon area, they got married, now they're pregnant, they are having a kid in a month. They couldn't afford to buy, but they live in a house that they rent just off the Pike in Penrose.
It's hard to imagine that when I look at Ballston and Clarendon that all those apartment complexes where I see these young people and they pay that much – thousands a month for just a room. For 1500 dollars you should have a big space. In Texas I was able to live by myself for half that. They all have those jobs. They're all roommates. It's nuts to me. We've been talking a lot about how much work there is here, though. It's not just the jobs at Amazon, it's the jobs that the community has, too.
I'm more worried that we'd end up moving further away from Arlington, which would be a big bummer, I don't know, if I'm going to live in the area, I'd rather live right around here or I'd rather just go back to Texas where it's way cheaper. But I mean we are where we are. We're near DC. We don't want to move. We like this area.
Something I love about people from other countries is they are so not afraid to start a business here. Bakeries and restaurants and shops and that store down a couple blocks, the Botanica. There’s a little fashion store across the street right next to the plumbing place, too. They've got odds and ends of clothes and jeans and the owner always changes out the mannequins. She's really good about that. The woman who made my wedding dress is Vietnamese.
I feel totally comfortable around here. I love the neighborhoods behind Rappahannock Coffee. Those places are still semi-affordable. If semi-affordable is half a million dollars."
Interview and photography by Lloyd Wolf.