Even though the rentals are higher in downtown bethesda, you would save a lot of money by not having a car in the beginning. Getting a car (buying and insurance) is more expensive if you do not have a credit history. And by not having a car in first year, you would actually save a lot of money (cost of car, parking, gas, insurance). The other benefit is that you would not feel isolated in downtown areas, ample of things to do, shopping centers closeby. I think Chevy chase even has an Indian store. You would be surprised to know that we have managed one and a half years without a car and because we walk down to most places, it has improved our health too PS: Check zillow.com for your apartment search. It also tells you what are the closest schools and their ratings.