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Old 09-25-2010, 11:07 AM
 
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My husband and I will be moving very soon to the DC area. He is working in DC in the L'Enfant area of DC. We are considering homes in both Maryland and Virginia. Our budget is $400 - $500. We are in our 50's with grown kids so schools are not our first concern, the commute is however. Schools are only important from a resale value. My questions are...

1.) which state would you tend to choose and why?

2.) In Virginia we are looking in Woodbridge, Manassas, Sterling, Ashburn and Leesburg. Which areas would you recommend in both? Which areas would you avoid? Are there other areas we should look at?

3.) About how long would the commute from these areas be?

4.)What are the pros and cons for these areas?

5.) I am a RN. Will it be difficult for me to find a nursing job in these areas?

6.) Seems like you can get a lot more house for the money in Woodbridge. What would be the pros and cons about this area?

thanks for any help and advice you can give us.
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Old 09-25-2010, 11:34 AM
 
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Hi there. Did you mean 400-500k, or 400-500/mo. for rent? I assume since you're talking about houses, you mean the former. Many on this forum are more knowledgeable than I am about some of these areas, but I think Ashburn/Leesburg would be at least an hour commute. Sterling maybe 45 min. Woodbridge- with no traffic, maybe 30 minutes, however 95 South is a BEAR. There is never "no traffic" on 95. I would think during rush hour that would be an hour commute. I would not live anywhere below the Beltway where I had to get on 95, but that's just me. I-66 is also a horrible commute.
In order of "loveliness", I think Leesburg is the nicest, then Ashburn, Manassas, and Sterling/Woodbridge are comparable. But they're all nice areas (some have "bad" parts, as do almost all towns), you probably can't go wrong with any of them. For 400-500k, you're going to have to be that far out to afford a house, unfortunately.
Leesburg is a quaint, historic town- really lovely. Ashburn is a very nice area of suburbia. Manassas is more of a mixed big- nice downtown area, but also some spotty areas. I think Woodbridge is pretty much suburbia as well.
I would suggest Springfield for you- the commute would be much, much better and you could probably still find a home there. I would also suggest Virginia in general over Maryland based on the fact that your husband is working in L'Enfant.
I don't know about the RN info- there are many hospitals in this area, so I wouldn't think it'd be a problem, but I don't know.

Last edited by novadc; 09-25-2010 at 11:35 AM.. Reason: left something out
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:59 PM
 
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I live in Woodbridge and you can find a very nice house for 400-500K. With just two people, I'm not sure what size you are looking for but you're going to get a very decent home for that amount of money. Woodbridge is fine--many people dislike it. It has its bad parts which are easy enough to avoid in your price range. Woodbridge would have many commuting options for your husband. There is a slug line from the Horner Rd. commuter lot straight to L'Enfant. I've picked up slugs there and done that route many times--easy and fast. Go to www.slug-lines.com to read up on this if you've never heard about it.

I think Manassas is a bear to commute from. There is the VRE and that's about it.

The other areas are nice, very nice but I would not want to commute into DC from those areas.

Springfield would be an excellent commute for your husband and you could easily find a home in that price range also. There are some older areas of Springfield (closer to I-95) that I would avoid but overall it's a good place. You could also check out Kingstowne which is on the Franconia side of the Springfield area. You'd probably be looking at a townhome in the area vs. a single family home.
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Old 09-25-2010, 01:01 PM
 
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My responses are below:

Quote:
Originally Posted by catz0026 View Post
1.) which state would you tend to choose and why?
There are a lot of benefits to living in MD. Montgomery County there in particular is comparable in many respects to Fairfax County here. Some people feel that the MD taxes are too high. Others are not fond of the liberal leanings of the immediate MD 'burbs (Montgomery and Prince Georges) although Alexandria, Arlington County and a fair portion of Fairfax County are "blue" as well. Note that you would have to pay a car tax in VA. I would agree with the previous poster who said it would be a more convenient commute to L'Enfant Plaza. For resale value purposes, Prince Georges County schools may not benefit you as much as those in Fairfax, Loudoun, and possibly Prince William as well.

2.) In Virginia we are looking in Woodbridge, Manassas, Sterling, Ashburn and Leesburg. Which areas would you recommend in both? Which areas would you avoid? Are there other areas we should look at?
I pretty much agree with the previous poster again. None of these are truly "bad" areas. Some people embrace the relative socioeconomic diversity in Sterling and Woodbridge more than others. I'm assuming that you prefer a detached SFH. If you're open to a TH, there are numerous closer-in options in Chantilly, Centreville, Reston and even Springfield to consider. In fact, (West?)Springfield may have smaller SFHs in your range.

3.) About how long would the commute from these areas be?
At least an hour as predicted before. Living in Fairfax County would help your commute significantly, especially if you would choose to live a short ride from a Metrorail station.

4.)What are the pros and cons for these areas?
Ashburn is a newish, family-friendly area. Nearby Sterling, in comparison, doesn't appear to have as many amenities; however, it's also said to be more laid-back than Ashburn.Leesburg is an older town that has built up in recent years. Forum members seem to like the Old Town section of Manassas the most. The same would be said about the Lake Ridge secton of Woodbridge; anything immediately off I-95 seems to be among the least popular.

5.) I am a RN. Will it be difficult for me to find a nursing job in these areas?
I regret I don't have an answer for that one.

6.) Seems like you can get a lot more house for the money in Woodbridge. What would be the pros and cons about this area? See my responses to #2 and #5.

thanks for any help and advice you can give us.
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Old 09-25-2010, 01:27 PM
 
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,400 posts, read 25,778,611 times
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My husband and I will be moving very soon to the DC area. He is working in DC in the L'Enfant area of DC. We are considering homes in both Maryland and Virginia. Our budget is $400 - $500. We are in our 50's with grown kids so schools are not our first concern, the commute is however. Schools are only important from a resale value. My questions are...

1.) which state would you tend to choose and why?

Depends on where you want to live in MD. If you can be closer to DC with your MD choices, I'd say go for MD. All your VA choices will have rough commutes.

2.) In Virginia we are looking in Woodbridge, Manassas, Sterling, Ashburn and Leesburg. Which areas would you recommend in both? Which areas would you avoid? Are there other areas we should look at?


I wouldn't choose any of them, to be honest. All of these areas would have rough commutes to DC.


Of these choices, I'd go for the Cascades section of Sterllng, since it's closer than any of the others by about 10 miles.

What is Cascades? It's a section of Sterling that many people seem to forget exists. There is a common assumption that Sterling=Sterling Park, however Sterling has three sections. Each section is very different and are several miles apart from each other.

Sterling Park is a nice enough area (and the town I think most of the people above are referring to). However, I recommend Cascades (also sometimes called Potomac Falls). Here are some photo tours of the areas you're interested in so you can see the differences.


Cascades/Lowes Island (a part of the northern section of Sterling)

Leesburg

Brambleton (a part of western Ashburn)

Sterling Park


3.) About how long would the commute from these areas be?

All would be at least an hour.

4.)What are the pros and cons for these areas?

Way too many to list. Each of these communities has numerous threads about them where you can compare the differences.

5.) I am a RN. Will it be difficult for me to find a nursing job in these areas?

Hospitals near Ashburn/Sterling are Reston Hospital and the new hospital near Lansdowne (I forget the name of it). There are also several medical centers. I don't know if it's hard to find work, but I'm guessing nurses are relatively in demand since so many people are moving in.

6.) Seems like you can get a lot more house for the money in Woodbridge. What would be the pros and cons about this area?

I don't know, I'm not an expert on Woodbridge.

thanks for any help and advice you can give us.

You're welcome. Best of luck, whatever choice you make.

Last edited by normie; 09-25-2010 at 02:18 PM..
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Old 09-25-2010, 03:05 PM
 
Location: Fairfax County
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Since your husband will be working in the L'Enfant Plaza area, I would strongly suggest looking at Maryland so he will not have to cross the (Potomac) river.
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Old 09-25-2010, 03:44 PM
 
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L'Enfant Plaza in DC is very close to Prince George's County, Maryland, and Alexandria (City and Fairfax County) in Virginia. It is not close to Montgomery County, Maryland at all. Even though you wouldn't have to cross a bridge to get from MoCo to L'Enfant Plaza, you'd still have a lot of traffic.

Your husband would have a pretty rough commute if you lived in any of the places in Virginia you mentioned. I'd go nuts if I had to commute to DC from Ashburn or Sterling, and the other places you mentioned are probably just as bad, if not worse.

For $500K, you'd have a fair number of options in Alexandria, including both townhouses and older SFHs. Some people don't like the Alexandria schools (City/Fairfax County), but you've already said the schools aren't an issue for you.

Unless you (1) can't deal with diversity and (2) will be miserable unless you live in a house on a really large lot, there would seem to be a lot to recommend Alexandria. The Tantallon section of Fort Washington in Prince George's County, Maryland might also be worth considering - houses are less expensive than in NoVa/MoCo, and your husband could avoid 395. We have a few Maryland folks who check out the NoVa forum, so maybe they'll add their two cents.

Last edited by JD984; 09-25-2010 at 03:52 PM..
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Old 09-25-2010, 04:21 PM
 
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I live in Alexandria and it's definitely the closest to L'Enfant. I didn't suggest it because you aren't going to get a decent single family-home for 400k there. Springfield is just a bit farther than Alexandria but you could probably afford a house. Prince George's Co. MD would be somewhat close as well although there are A LOT of sketchy areas there. I disagree with a previous poster- Most of MD would NOT be close at all- no, you wouldn't have to cross the river, but you'd have to cut down through the entire city to get to L'Enfant. Basically, if you're wanting a single family home in that price range you're going to have about an hour commute. It's the classic DC conundrum- house/area you live in vs. your commute. This is why I live in a townhouse in Alexandria because of a single family home- can't stand any more of a commute than I already have.
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Old 09-25-2010, 05:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by novadc View Post
I live in Alexandria and it's definitely the closest to L'Enfant. I didn't suggest it because you aren't going to get a decent single family-home for 400k there. Springfield is just a bit farther than Alexandria but you could probably afford a house. Prince George's Co. MD would be somewhat close as well although there are A LOT of sketchy areas there. I disagree with a previous poster- Most of MD would NOT be close at all- no, you wouldn't have to cross the river, but you'd have to cut down through the entire city to get to L'Enfant. Basically, if you're wanting a single family home in that price range you're going to have about an hour commute. It's the classic DC conundrum- house/area you live in vs. your commute. This is why I live in a townhouse in Alexandria because of a single family home- can't stand any more of a commute than I already have.
I don't know about $400K, but I see plenty of decent SFHs in Alexandria for around $500K or slightly below. Many are in Fairfax County with Alexandria addresses, rather than in the City of Alexandria, in nice, older neighborhoods. The OP's husband would have a decent commute to L'Enfant, they could enjoy Old Town, and they could be close to the Potomac if they wanted.

Of course, if someone's been in a much larger, newer house in a considerably less expensive part of the country, the types of properties I'm describing might not be considered "decent." As is often noted, this area is frequently about trade-offs, so people have to decide what they value most.
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Old 09-25-2010, 05:38 PM
 
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The houses in Alexandria that are single family homes for under 500k have not been renovated since the 80s, I can guarantee you. Or they're in a less-than-desireable neighborhood. You're not going to get a 2000 square foot, detached, renovated or new home in a nice neighborhood in Alexandria for 500k. This is why I suggested Springfield as their next best bet. It's their best bet of a decent commute coupled with a house in their price range. Good luck!
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