No matter what stage of life you’re in, deciding where to live is always a challenging decision—weighing the benefits of vibrant city living versus the tranquility of a country home, or the blended life of near-urban living that we enjoy in Bethesda.
Our preference should be no surprise, but Bethesda has a legitimate claim as a wholly unique place to live. Located just a couple of miles northwest of Georgetown, which was the economic center of Montgomery County before the creation of Washington DC, Bethesda is far closer than most adjacent suburbs to their urban core.
That’s largely because Bethesda emerged just after development of the automobile, when a twenty-mile commute would’ve been far too long to consider. Earlier development in Montgomery County had necessarily hugged the railway lines, encouraging tighter clusters of homes and shops. Thus, Bethesda retained close proximity to the capital without the developmental density of railway suburbs.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Here’s why we love living in Bethesda.
Bethesda: A Population that’s Second to None
A full 54.4% of Bethesda residents over the age of twenty-five have a graduate or professional degree. Fold in those with four-year college degrees, and you’ve covered more than 82% of all residents. The U.S. average is just 44.5%, barely half of Bethesda’s figure.
How did Bethesda gain so many doctorate-holders and other advanced professionals? The National Institutes of Health (NIH), relocated to Bethesda in the 1930s and 1940s, played a central role. Beyond providing a government center for scientists and medical researchers, the NIH also attracted private industry, lured by proximity to the nation’s capital and one of the world’s premier research institutes.
The symbiotic relationship between public and private research in Bethesda transformed it into more than just a bedroom community for Washington DC. Bethesda residents no longer needed to travel into the capital to find high-quality jobs—they were located right in Bethesda.
Bethesda has earned numerous accolades for its remarkable educational achievements, such as “Most Education Small Town” from Forbes magazine in 2014. The high level of education has translated into high levels of financial success. From the Washington Post to CNNMoney, Bethesda has been lauded for its ability to connect the dots between education, wealth, and exceptional living.
Theater, Art, Shopping, and Eating in Bethesda
The benefits of a highly educated and successful population reverberate throughout a community. In Bethesda, this means an abundance of theaters, art galleries, and other cultural hubs. The Quotidian Theatre Company, for example, centers its offerings on the everyday human experience, with Anton Chekhov and Horton Foote as its guiding playwrights.
In addition to live theater, Bethesda is home to cultural institutions like Strathmore, which blends visual art exhibitions with its renowned Music Center, home to performances by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, among other internationally recognized groups. (Fox Hill partners with Strathmore for a number of on-site events.)
Residents and visitors have the opportunity to pair the experience of live performance with a causal stroll through more than twenty art galleries in Bethesda, which range from the contemporary works of the Waverly Street Gallery to those of the Fraser and Margot Stein galleries.
Before or after indulging in the cultural scene, Bethesda treats residents to exceptional options for dinner, drinks, or just about any other meal. More than 200 restaurants blanket the area, clustering around the theaters and performance venues to capture the pre- and post-show crowds. Upscale French venues like Mon Ami Gabi provide refined fare, while spots like Chef Tony’s offer sophisticated, local dining in a slightly more relaxed atmosphere. And those are just two of 200.
The Perfect Distance from a Leading City
At times, living just outside a city means never venturing in, whether the burden arises from a long, arduous commute or the frustration of finding parking. This is simply not the case with living in Bethesda, where the capital’s metro whisks residents into the city center quickly and affordably. Bethesda keeps the capital at the perfect distance—ready access but enough separation to maintain a sustainable pace of life.
With that proximity come additional, sometimes overlooked benefits, like access to two major airports and rail service throughout the Northeast Corridor. Further, with its location northwest of Washington DC, Bethesda provides residents with access to western Maryland and its rural delights. There’s no need to cross through the capital to find lush, wide-open spaces.
Everyone knows that finding the right community means finding the right mix of people, cultural activities, and home life. We have yet to find anywhere that competes with living in Bethesda. Neither have the many residents who decided to retire at Fox Hill.