Daughter #2 accelerated a cross-country move for Valerie Fleming and Emily Klein
Valerie Fleming and her wife Emily Klein were living in San Francisco with their now three-year-old daughter Lucy — and just found out they were expecting baby #2 — when they started their suburban search. Initially, the family focused on the Bay Area exclusively, looking for a home with more space their family could grow into. Soon after Daisy was born, though, Valerie and Emily started thinking beyond San Francisco.
“Between COVID-19 and the wildfires, we were really locked inside,” Emily says. “For the first few weeks, we were in our baby bubble with Daisy. But to not be able to put her in her stroller and go for walks or even open windows for, I think, 33 days — it was too much. We started looking for Airbnbs and things like that — just to get away and be somewhere we felt like the girls could be outside and we’d feel better.”
They also wanted to ensure the girls could see family.
“You’re only a baby for 12 months,” Valerie says. “And COVID wasn’t going anywhere. We realized our families weren’t going to see the girls and weren’t going to have this baby time with Daisy. Life’s too short. We needed to make a big move.”
Looking beyond the Bay Area
Quickly, their search shifted and started to take shape. With Emily’s family in Nashville and Valerie’s in the DC area, the East Coast seemed to be an ideal fit. New York, Baltimore, and the DC suburbs popped to the top of their list, initially. After some initial research, DC became the clear front-runner.
“I’m from Maryland and we’d both lived in Baltimore, so considering a move to the DC area wasn’t crazy,” says Valerie. “But making plans with a toddler and a newborn during COVID19 — and from the other side of the country — it was a huge move, for sure, and we needed help. I spotted Suburban Jungle in a Facebook mom’s group and I reached out and got in touch with our Strategist Sarah Roggie. She is the best!”
When Sarah first connected with Valerie and Emily, they had been talking about Bethesda — where Valerie’s sister lives — as well as suburbs like Takoma Park and American University Park in DC.
“Valerie and Emily felt like these areas would be good transition spots — suburbs with a more urban vibe,” Sarah explains. “With that in mind, we jumped in and started exploring different neighborhoods and what ‘walkability’ really meant to them and the different school districts and options there. We also looked in other communities that checked their boxes — lots to do, strong schools, young families, parks, and proximity to Valerie’s family.”
After zeroing in on one community — and a specific house on the market — Sarah headed there, toured the house, then strolled the neighborhood, texting Valerie and Emily photos along the way.
“Initially they hadn’t planned to buy sight-unseen,” Sarah says. “But I think this made it a real possibility — that, together, we could make this work. They didn’t wind up getting that house, but this experience really shifted the way we were exploring the area.”
Searching suburbia — from San Francisco
During this process, the family got to know the communities they explored down to the street level.
“It’s amazing how different one neighborhood can be from another,” Emily says. “We would look at the map and slowly you start to zero in on the exact right spot.”
Ultimately, they did. On November 1, Valerie and Emily made an offer on a house in Northwest DC, sight-unseen.
“We trusted Sarah and we trusted our Suburban Jungle agent. Then we sent my mom, dad, and sister to look at it and they liked it, too,” Valerie says. “We had an accepted offer November 3 — Election Day. It was quite a day! The whole country was waiting and we were waiting on the results and to see if we got the house. Then we got the good news and kept packing!”
Three days later Emily hit the road with their 14-year-old dog and drove to Montgomery County, Maryland where they stayed with Valerie’s parents for three months. In the meantime, Valerie flew with Lucy and Daisy.
In December they closed, renting back to the former owners through the holidays. Shortly after Valerie and Emily wrapped up some final work on their new home — and, in February, the family of four moved in. Sarah continued to work with them to get to know the area, providing ongoing recommendations for everything from handymen, cleaning services, plumbers, dog groomers to childcare and preschools.
“We’re here to support our clients even after they move,” Sarah says. “It’s an end-to-end process that doesn’t stop when you close.”
Settling into DC living
Now, weeks in, Valerie, Emily, and the girls are getting acclimated to DC and their new neighborhood.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Emily says. “Now we’re both working from home, our au pair is here, and we’re unpacking and getting used to the area. So far, it’s been great. There are tons of parks and restaurants and, from talking to our neighbors, it sounds like there’s so much to do in the community when the weather warms up.”
There are also plenty of young families who quickly came over to meet Valerie, Emily, and the girls.
“We’re so excited to get to know the neighbors and families,” Valerie adds. “I’m so looking forward to our oldest making some friends in the community. People have been really friendly and we’ve been heading to the parks, and she’s been having a blast. We feel like we landed in the right spot for us — and that’s such a good feeling.”
Want to explore the DC suburbs — or ANY suburbs? Let’s talk! Schedule a Suburbs Strategy session now.
Images provided by Valerie Fleming