Reviews & Comments
Rockville, MDPretty Awesome - depending on what you want
Having practically grown up here, it is fair to think I am biased. Before making assumptions about my opinion, though, I've lived in multiple cities in these states - VA, TX, MN, and CA. I think I have pretty broad experiences. Also, I value safety, good public education, entertainment, access to culture, access to the outdoors, and affordable housing.
Safety - 10/10
Rockville (other nearby MD cities include Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Potomac, and Gaithersburg) is the burbs. It sits in Montgomery County and is extremely safe. Homelessness is practically non-existent, however you will still see the occasional well dressed panhandler. There are also pockets of the city that are less nice and sketchier, but compared to other cities I've lived, I have never felt scared walking to my car in the middle of the night alone.
Affordability - 3/10
Unfortunately, it's not affordable when compared to the national average. Rockville is still considered DC Metro and generally very expensive to live in. The last apartment I had (2017) was approximately 650 SF at $1500+/mo for the first year months (promotion) and then jumped to $1800+/mo in year 2. Rockville is not a suburb so even to me, $1800/month is a little crazy.
Public Transportation - 8/10
The Red Line runs right through Rockville, with a stop every couple of miles or so. Personally, the subway system in DC Metro is really good - it's somewhat clean and they are constantly adding new stops. Almost everyone uses it to get into DC, even to DCA. I believe the stop to Dulles is complete too. Furthermore, if you need to catch a flight to BWI (an hour away), for $5 you can use the shuttle that runs between Baltimore and Rockville.
I dont know about buses but I know we have a huge fleet of them.
City Bikes everywhere.
Public Education - 11/10
A handful of schools in the area are always ranked the highest in the Nation. If you look at NoVa (Northern Virginia) they also have plenty of high ranking public schools, so it's not just Rockville. Magnet programs are also abound.
Entertainment (access to culture, access to the outdoors) - 8/10
Close to DC for bars, nightlife, museums (mostly all free), music, etc.
Within Rockville, you will find open air, outdoor shopping areas that are beautifully designed to give you restaurant options, activities, shopping, and outdoor spaces - Rockville Town Center, Pike/Rose, Downtown Crown/RIO. You have Bethesda Row and Montgomery Mall in the neighboring city. This is also constantly expanding - I don't know if it's complete yet, but the area where White Flint Mall used to be is being redeveloped to something like The Grove in LA.
Food is average. You have decent selection of your chain stores. DC has more options. Asian is pretty good - big Korean and Viet in VA. Peruvian chicken is a thing. The best Mexican is at a gas station.
For outdoor activities you'll have to drive. There are several lakes where you can canoe, kayak, or paddleboard. There are trails to hike in Rock Creek and further out. Maybe not as plentiful as some other states.
You can visit the Potomac River at several points in the DC area, but not Rockville.
Overall, it's a really great place for a young family to settle down. It's not as exciting for college kids or young adults when compared to party cities but it's not too shabby. I definitely look forward to returning to the area.
Additionally, since we are so close to the capital, we are more shelter to economical volatility. Shutdowns aside. If you look at Recession unemployment rates or housing market values, it didn't fluctuate as much as the rest of the country. So peace of mind is a good thing.