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Old 08-14-2010, 03:56 PM
 
Location: Bethesda
6 posts, read 8,949 times
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Default Mclean or Bethesda

Hello,
My husband works at Bethesda, and I will start working at Crystal city soon. We have a 3 year-old girl who is going to Pre-school in Rockville, MD. WE are looking for a good family-friendly, reasonable priced neighborhood that is reasonable commute to both Bethesda and Crystal City.

We'd like to rent first before making decision on buying. At first we thought about renting in Rockville, then I'll take the metro. Anyone has ideas how long it will take? If I choose to drive, perhaps Mclean? We have lived in MD most of our lives, so are more familiar and comfortable in MD. But we definitely like to explore VA side. We're looking for a racially diverse neighborhood (we're Jewish and Chinese) with great school districts. If we move to Mclean or Arlington, what are the good neighborhoods for my husband to drive or take metro?

Thanks very much for any helpful information!
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Old 08-14-2010, 07:37 PM
 
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I don't know what you mean by reasonable, but McLean is considered very expensive. You can get a better value in Falls Church (either Falls Church City (most of 22046) or the part of Falls Church in 22043 feeds into Haycock/Longfellow/McLean). We are in the latter part and can walk to the metro from our neighborhood. Good luck!
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Old 08-14-2010, 08:11 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC (formerly Vienna, VA)
5,783 posts, read 5,790,588 times
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I was going to suggest Falls Church, too. In general, the commute from VA to MD is better than the commute from MD to VA on that side of the beltway. Another option would be Vienna - a bit farther out but very doable to both locations. I lived in Bethesda/Rockville for 9 years and know it pretty well. I've lived in Falls Church (1 year) and Vienna (9 years) for 10 years, so feel free to ask any specific questions. I think you'll find McLean similar to Bethesda in terms of wealth and among the best schools with the best test scores in the area. Vienna is probably a step below that as is Falls Church (although as mentioned above, some parts of Falls Church feed into McLean schools). While I like Arlington, it would be a longer commute for your husband. It's probably the most similar to Bethesda as far as being a downtown walkable city.

Our family makeup is similar to yours. We are Jewish and our one daughter is from China (adopted). There are many, many Asians in NoVa to make her feel like she fits in, but not as many Jews. They are spread out over NoVa - definitely not concentrated like in Bethesda or Rockville. We love living in Vienna. I loved Bethesda, too for the walkability factor, but it was a bit too competitive/snobby for me. Vienna is more family-oriented and less single/going out oriented than Bethesda. HTH
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Old 08-14-2010, 08:15 PM
 
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I should add, if this is of interest, that there is a really good preschool at Temple Rodef Shalom, right next door to Haycock Elementary in Falls Church.
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Old 08-14-2010, 09:14 PM
 
Location: Bethesda
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Buildinginva and Michgc,
Thank you both for such helpful information! Yes, Mclean is quite expensive too, but we've found it is a bit cheaper than Bethesda. It is funny that you mentioned about the snobbiness/competitiveness in Bethesda. We feel the same way too after living in Bethesda for 1 year. That's why we're leaning more towards Rockville, but definitely open to NOVA. We've been to Vienna a few times (wolf trap if that counts), and loves the nice neighborhoods when we drive through them, and being close to Wolf trap is definitely a plus! I guess the questions are, will we be driving or taking metro, and how long will it take? And how would you compare Falls Church or Vienna to Rockville?

Thanks so very much again!!
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Old 08-14-2010, 09:40 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC (formerly Vienna, VA)
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I'll let BuildinginVA comment on Falls Church since s/he lives there. As far as Vienna there is the Town of Vienna which is roughly the areas just to the north and south of Route 123 around the Whole Foods. The housing there is generally old -50s ranch houses, 60s splits, and 70s colonials with newer fill-ins. It is a walkable, but not quaint downtown but much smaller than Bethesda. It is very family-oriented. I wouldn't want to be single here. There are lots of preschools, baseball and soccer fields, two swim clubs, a library, a community center, and the business district which centers around Maple Avenue (Route 123). Church Street parallels Maple and is "quaint" and slowly getting built up with coffee shops, ice cream, pizza place, some consignment-type stores, and specialty stores. It's nice to walk around there. Throughout the year, the Town does several events geared toward families such as Viva-Vienna, which is a fair over Memorial Day weekend, July 4 fireworks, Halloween Parade, Holiday Stroll, and smaller events such as weekly concerts on the Town Green and a weekly farmers market. The schools are considered good by most - not the ones with the highest test scores (look to McLean for that) but always near the top with regards to rankings.

Coming from Bethesda, I do not feel any snobbiness factor in Vienna compared to there. People are friendly and wave and smile. I do not feel like I need to impress anyone, and if I buy clothes at thrift store, I'd have no problem telling my Vienna friends. My Bethesda/Rockville acquaintances would probably roll their eyes. I don't see the hyper competitiveness with regards to brand names and the like in Vienna as I did in Bethesda. People are much more down to earth. The Metro is located just outside the town limits so commuting to Crystal City by train is possible - to Bethesda not as convenient since it would involve changing trains.

Beyond the Town of Vienna, the area up Beulah Road toward Wolf Trap and Route 7 is also considered "Vienna" but is not part of the town. That area is generally newer and bigger homes and is wealthier. Some of that area feeds into Vienna schools, some into McLean High School; some into Marshall High School in Falls Church. It's a very pretty area but not walkable to any sort of downtown like you might be used to in Bethesda. Also, up Lawyers Road outside the Town limits but before reaching Reston is "Vienna" (not the town). That area mostly feeds into Vienna schools as well. There is an area south of the Town which is generally older homes, too - developments such as Stonewall and Dunn Loring Woods are big ones. This area mostly feeds into Marshall High School as well. Just east of the Town and you are approaching Tyson's Corner. It's less residential in parts, and may look different as they are bringing Metro to Tysons in the next few years.

I am most familiar with the Town of Vienna. There are others on this board who live outside the town limits who could probably clue you in to their neighborhoods/areas. Overall, I am happy to have made the move from Bethesda to Vienna. It's a great place to live and raise a family.
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Old 08-15-2010, 07:36 AM
 
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I wouldn't describe Falls Church as snobby. However, being closer to DC, the housing is a bit more expensive than Vienna (in the nicer parts of Falls Church) so you may get a slightly different socioeconomic group. I think you will also see more households with both parents working. Socially, there are a lot of the same things going on in Falls Church - several nice free community events for kids on Halloween, Easter, etc. in the local park, a nice farmer's market, etc.

I think Falls Church is more conveniently located to Bethesda because you can avoid taking the Beltway and go through back roads in McLean and GW Parkway to get to the American Legion Bridge. Obviously, it's also closer to Crystal City. I don't know how long metro will take. I now commute by metro to Union Station and takes about 45 minutes. It's no more than 20 minutes from West Falls Church to Rosslyn so I think you could be in Crystal City in under 30 minutes. Check the metro website, you can plug in your route and get the exact time.

Btw, I just a rental sign in our neighborhood, DM me if you want the exact location.
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Old 08-15-2010, 08:42 AM
 
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As far as I can tell, the prices in the City of Falls Church and the parts of Falls Church that feed into McLean schools are very similar to prices for comparable homes in Vienna. The main difference is that the houses in Falls Church will be on smaller lots so in that sense the housing is a bit more expensive. If you look at prices for new in-fill properties being built in the City of Falls Church and the Town of Vienna, however, they are about the same. Definitely agree that you'll find more dual earners in City of Falls Church area and more stay-at-home parents in Vienna.

When we were in Vienna, we had several neighbors who commuted to Bethesda, but Falls Church would certainly be closer to Crystal City.
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Old 08-15-2010, 01:25 PM
 
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If you're considering Vienna, then your only bet is probably the Town of Vienna due to public transportation access. With that, you'll be paying a lot more in taxes because you'll be living in the Town of Vienna. Same applies for the City of Falls Church with regard to taxes.

If you choose Falls Church, most of Falls Church is accessible to public transportation, and that includes two subway stations, a metro bus system, and a city of Falls Church bus system.

The city of Falls Church and Fairfax County portion of Falls Church are both generally more accessible to Crystal City and Bethesda and DC compared to the Town of Vienna.
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Old 08-15-2010, 02:46 PM
 
4,455 posts, read 4,889,497 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reeze View Post
If you're considering Vienna, then your only bet is probably the Town of Vienna due to public transportation access. With that, you'll be paying a lot more in taxes because you'll be living in the Town of Vienna. Same applies for the City of Falls Church with regard to taxes.

If you choose Falls Church, most of Falls Church is accessible to public transportation, and that includes two subway stations, a metro bus system, and a city of Falls Church bus system.

The city of Falls Church and Fairfax County portion of Falls Church are both generally more accessible to Crystal City and Bethesda and DC compared to the Town of Vienna.
If you wanted to be able to walk to the Vienna metro, you would not be limited to the Town of Vienna (22180). There are a number of Vienna neighborhoods in the county in the 22181 zip code within walking distance of the station. And, of course, if you wanted to drive to the Vienna or Dunn Loring Metro stations, you'd have other options, both inside and outside the Town.

I'll let others, if they wish, address whether the additional taxes that Town residents pay are that much of a burden, compared to the additional services that are provided. A lot of the housing in the Town of Vienna is less expensive than housing in the county with Vienna addresses. Some folks might decide they'd rather pay a smaller mortgage and higher taxes for additional services, and others might prefer lower taxes and a bigger mortgage.

While Falls Church (City and county) clearly is closer to Crystal City than Vienna, I'm not convinced there's a big benefit in one place vs. the other when it comes to commuting to Bethesda.

Last edited by JEB77; 08-15-2010 at 03:13 PM..
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