We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

For the prudent penny-saver looking to buy a home, these days seem pretty exciting. If you can afford a down payment, and have the necessary funds tucked away, why settle for that ranch-style property with wood panels in the exurbs? So 2005. The charming city condo surely beckons you with open doors.

I recently spoke to Kelly Novak, a former South Arlington resident that has been in the D.C. area for eight years, and recently decided to trade up he “tiny,” 600-square-foot condo for something a little more spacious and convenient to her D.C. office.

In an ideal world, here’s what Novak wanted: a small one-bedroom or efficiency in the U Street, Columbia Heights, or Dupont area. She had two other stipulations: it had to be pet-friendly, and not a basement unit. She was looking to spend between $200,000 to $250,000.

Here’s what she encountered: “Everything in the price range I was looking for was very small. We saw one one-bedroom, everything else was efficiencies.” There was one unit in the Dupont area that looked like it had its microwave ripped out (possibly a foreclosure property). A unit in the Columbia Heights area had a Brady Bunch-like color scheme: some walls painted bright orange, the kitchen painted bright pink. And the new carpet had air bubbles underneath it.

After checking out five to six units, Novak abandoned ship in D.C. and headed back across the Potomac, and eventually settled in a unit near Shirlington. She paid $260,000 for a condo over 800 square feet.