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Old 09-03-2010, 05:44 PM
 
2,668 posts, read 4,162,156 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daveyinaz View Post
I see a couple of threads where people are saying 90-115K is like living on food stamps...can this really be true?
No, it's not true.
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Old 09-03-2010, 07:15 PM
 
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Awesome responses. I was aware that the cost of living was higher than the national average and obviously Arizona. So let me build on what has already been discussed such as the traffic? How comparable is it to that of Los Angeles or, maybe, even Phoenix?
Assuming commute is no problem (I also drive a Prius but that is a completely different thread so that will help in travel expenses, which district/locality/neighborhood/town/city would have the best family upbringing ratio to cost of living?
And what I mean of best family upbringing ratio is good school districts, low crime rate, cheapest groceries, housing, etc, etc...
I must note please don't think that I don't have an idea of all this already or that I haven't done my research, I'm just hoping to supplement my information with some "real" people instead of just listed numbers on some website somewhere.
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Old 09-03-2010, 07:36 PM
 
Location: Expatriate Philadelphian in Northern Virginia
7,786 posts, read 12,009,047 times
Reputation: 2249
Quote:
Originally Posted by daveyinaz View Post
Awesome responses. I was aware that the cost of living was higher than the national average and obviously Arizona. So let me build on what has already been discussed such as the traffic? How comparable is it to that of Los Angeles or, maybe, even Phoenix?
Assuming commute is no problem (I also drive a Prius but that is a completely different thread so that will help in travel expenses, which district/locality/neighborhood/town/city would have the best family upbringing ratio to cost of living?
And what I mean of best family upbringing ratio is good school districts, low crime rate, cheapest groceries, housing, etc, etc...
I must note please don't think that I don't have an idea of all this already or that I haven't done my research, I'm just hoping to supplement my information with some "real" people instead of just listed numbers on some website somewhere.
Traffic is bad. If it's better than LA, it's only because our mass transit options are more developed and utilized. Coincidentally, I saw a news report today about an Allstate study that concluded the DC area (presumably including NOVA) has the highest incidence of traffic accidents in the country.

Your second question would be rather subjective, especially since we don't know where you'd be working. For example, Ashburn is considered a desirable place for many families for just about all the reasons you mentioned. But it's probably more desirable to those working in Reston, Herndon or Tysons Corner than for commuters to Alexandria, Arlington or DC...not that you won't find all of those combinations out there.
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Last edited by Tone509; 09-03-2010 at 08:07 PM.. Reason: typo
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Old 09-03-2010, 08:01 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
26,551 posts, read 47,232,923 times
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For what it's worth I earn a salary of roughly $50,000 and am just squeaking by living in Reston, which is about 20 miles northwest of the District. My problem? I don't have a roommate, but I will be "fixing" this, so to speak, by moving into a 2-BR unit either in my same complex, elsewhere in Reston, or in Arlington in May 2011. One thing you'll notice is that either 1-BR apartments in this area are generally overpriced or 2-BR apartments are generally underpriced (not sure which) because I've see numerous complexes where only an extra $100/month-$200/month will get you a second bedroom.

In my case my rent, without utilities, is $1,105/month for a 1-BR apartment, which is actually one of the cheapest prices to be found in Reston that's not in a trashy area (granted I pay for it with having to live with rodents and feeling like everything I touch will break, but you get what you pay for). I could instead rent a 2-BR in Reston next Spring for about $1,400/month, which would lower my rent to $700/month if I got a roomie. That extra $405/month in my pocket would give me a LOT of breathing room that I currently don't have as I sigh inwardly with $7 in my savings account and expenses (car payments/maintenance, gasoline, insurance, groceries, utilities, student loan debt, credit card bills, cell phone bill, etc.) in literal equilibrium with my salary. It is for this reason that I'm now pounding the payment looking for a second job just to have a contingency fund for emergencies (my bonus this year was entirely devoured when my car needed $1,700 in work to pass inspection). In my native Scranton, PA one could live like a king alone on a $50,000 salary. In Northern Virginia our increasing cost-of-living eats up that figure in a hurry, which is why I'd advise anyone with a sub-$60,000 salary to get a roommate. The lack of privacy would definitely be a drag, but this area isn't getting any cheaper; the recession has yet to hit here.

I think I'd be just fine supporting myself on my $50,000 salary with a roommate, so I think anyone telling you they are impoverished making twice that amount (or more) are the typical NoVA poseurs who won't shop anywhere but Whole Foods, Banana Republic, Armani Exchange, etc., drive luxury vehicles, wear designer sunglasses at night, etc. I can very easily see those people whining they'd "struggle" on a $100,000 salary. All of my colleagues/friends who live with roommates live VERY comfortably here on $50,000 salaries, which is frustrating while I'm struggling to keep my head above water for the luxury of living with mice in the exurbs, but such is life.
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Old 09-03-2010, 11:00 PM
 
2,668 posts, read 4,162,156 times
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[quote=RestonRunner86;15750249 I will be "fixing" this, so to speak, by moving into a 2-BR unit either in my same complex, elsewhere in Reston, or in Arlington in May 2011. [/QUOTE]

What happened to Winchester? Why in the world would you continue to live in Reston when you hate it so much?
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Old 09-03-2010, 11:37 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
26,551 posts, read 47,232,923 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yankeesfan View Post
What happened to Winchester? Why in the world would you continue to live in Reston when you hate it so much?
I'd be a hypocrite in an environmental sense if I moved to Winchester and drove 120 miles back-and-forth each day to my office when I chastise others for wasting gas. Working in the perpetually under construction "oasis" they call Tysons Corner I'm sort of stuck. I'm also considering North Arlington (Cherrydale, Westover, Lee Heights, East Falls Church). I just wish there was a place like Winchester within reasonable commuting distance to Tysons Corner. There's not. Winchester is truly a special place in so many ways.
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Old 09-04-2010, 07:27 AM
 
Location: Virginia
18,717 posts, read 15,638,857 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daveyinaz View Post
I see a couple of threads where people are saying 90-115K is like living on food stamps...can this really be true? I'd like to know from a reasonable standpoint. And what I mean by that, is not some military or federal contractor wife who thinks it's her place to spend all her hubby's money and complain they don't make enough because they can't afford to live in a 4000 square foot house with a swimming pool.
FWIW, We've had a few times when we were living on less than that. We did just fine, although we did not live in Alexandria or Arlington. We lived in Herndon, where life is good... and also less expensive.

It's not difficult to live a frugal lifestyle here, especially if you can cook. We saved a huge amount of money by not eating out. Also, there are a lot of things to do for free around here, especially if you like museums and concerts. (Of course, when times are good and money has flowed freely, we enjoy spending it. There are lots of pricey ways to enjoy living it up here, too.)

IMO, it comes down to how you feel about living among other people who DO have a lot of money. (Also, you need to be comfortable being around a lot well-educated people with multiple degrees.) If you're comfortable with that, you'll be absolutely fine. OTOH, if you're really not comfortable around rich/well educated people you're going to have a difficult time here because there are a lot of people like that here, and they live in every part of northern Virginia.

The good news is: we don't tend to care what you wear, drive, or spend money on. For one thing, we take great pride in our diversity. For another, everyone is too busy to pay attention to what is really your business. So, you don't have to worry about spending money on clothes or a car to impress your neighbors. Your neighbors probably won't notice or care.
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Old 09-04-2010, 08:59 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC (formerly Vienna, VA)
5,959 posts, read 6,325,430 times
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We live fairly well on not much more than the salary that you asked about. We are a family of 5 living in Vienna. But our priorities are not designer labels, the latest gadgets, or fancy dinners out. We bought in 2000 before the housing market took off so that helped quite a bit. We also bought a smaller, older ranch home, and we have fixed up and added on little by little over 10 years. I had also saved a lot of money over the prior 10 years before we bought our house (and that was on a $20K - $50K salary) so we had a good downpayment. So if you have a decent downpayment for a home, that will make a difference. My husband is also very, very handy which makes a huge difference in maintenance costs.

We live fairly frugally but what that means is we eat out once a week rather than several times. We shop consignment sales for the kids. We buy in bulk at Costco or good deals at the supermarkets including Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. We stay at Fairfield Inns when we travel rather than higher-end Marriotts. We don't trade in our cars every 2-5 years. Our cars are 8 and 9 years old. We do have cable, cell phones, and fast Internet. My kids take dance, soccer, Girl Scouts, and other community center classes. We send them to camp for a few weeks each summer. And we manage to contribute the maximum allowed by law to our 401(k) and IRAs for retirement and $2K each into our kids' college funds.

Do we live like kings? No. If we had more money would we find ways to spend it? Yes. Are we hurting for money? No.

The best thing to do is take what your monthly salary would be and then write out a list of your expected monthly expenses. Housing will be your greatest cost. Then estimate utilities, food, car payment if you have them, transportation costs, any credit card debt, student loans, or other debt you may have, then clothing, insurance (car, health, home), vacation, entertainment, and any other monthly costs you have. Don't forget to include money set aside for emergencies that may arise and hopefully savings. That is your best bet in finding out if you can afford to live here.

As far as places to live, if you choose North Arlington that cost will be very high (good schools, close proximity to DC). Alexandria has charm and is close in but schools aren't rated as highly. McLean is the most expensive part of Fairfax County with the highest ranked schools. Very desireable to live there but pricey. Falls Church is mixed in price because some schools aren't ranked very highly. All of these towns are inside the beltway.

We chose to live in Vienna because it was still relatively close-in (just outside the beltway) and convenient to jobs and had highly ranked schools. We chose to buy an older, smaller home so we wouldn't be "house-poor" and could still save money for the future.

Bottom line is one could afford to live in this area on that salary but there will be trade-offs - either living farther out, buying a smaller older home, or cutting out on some amenities you might be used to. Having some savings and little or no debt would be a great help, too.

Hope this helps.
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Old 09-04-2010, 02:12 PM
 
2,668 posts, read 4,162,156 times
Reputation: 1214
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caladium View Post
IMO, it comes down to how you feel about living among other people who DO have a lot of money. (Also, you need to be comfortable being around a lot well-educated people with multiple degrees.) If you're comfortable with that, you'll be absolutely fine. OTOH, if you're really not comfortable around rich/well educated people you're going to have a difficult time here because there are a lot of people like that here, and they live in every part of northern Virginia.

The good news is: we don't tend to care what you wear, drive, or spend money on. For one thing, we take great pride in our diversity. For another, everyone is too busy to pay attention to what is really your business. So, you don't have to worry about spending money on clothes or a car to impress your neighbors. Your neighbors probably won't notice or care.
Excellent, Caladium. As is what Michgc just wrote.
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Old 09-05-2010, 05:44 AM
 
Location: Virginia
18,717 posts, read 15,638,857 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daveyinaz View Post
Awesome responses. I was aware that the cost of living was higher than the national average and obviously Arizona. So let me build on what has already been discussed such as the traffic? How comparable is it to that of Los Angeles or, maybe, even Phoenix?
I don't know much about Phoenix. I used to live in LA and still go back there quite a bit, so I feel I can compare Nova to LA. IMO, housing is much less expensive in Nova. Peoplethink homes are expensive here but they have no idea how expensive it gets in places like Los Angeles. (Although apartments have started to become expensive in Nova since so many people are moving here. Buying a house is still substantially less expensive than in CA.)

Groceries are probably a little less expensive in LA. Utilities are less expensive in LA, especially if we get a cold winter. Taxes are better in Nova. Car/clothing expenses are much less in Nova. Entertainment is much less expensive here IMO, ymmv depending on what you like to do. Nova has a lot of free things to do, which is one definite plus to living here.


Quote:
Originally Posted by daveyinaz View Post
Assuming commute is no problem (I also drive a Prius but that is a completely different thread so that will help in travel expenses,
You drive a Prius? You'll fit right in, every other car here is a Prius.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daveyinaz View Post
which district/locality/neighborhood/town/city would have the best family upbringing ratio to cost of living?
Hard to say, there are lots to choose from. Tell us where your job is and we might be able to give you a few good ideas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daveyinaz View Post
And what I mean of best family upbringing ratio is good school districts, low crime rate, cheapest groceries, housing, etc, etc...
Pretty much anywhere you choose will have a good school district and low crime. As in any city, avoid the absolutely cheapest places. Groceries are pretty much the same no matter where you go.
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