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Old 10-17-2010, 06:20 PM
 
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I am posting in several forums looking for basic, starter info on different areas of the country that my husband and I have agree to look for work (for him). We are born and raised & still live in Northeast PA.

I know the school districts in Virginia are stellar (well that's what I've seen from my research).

My biggest "worry" with Virginia is the lack of old fashioned neighborhoods. I really, really, really don't want to live in a townhouse/apartment complex or a subdivision. Does that exist in VA?

What are the crime rates like?
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Old 10-17-2010, 06:36 PM
 
7,965 posts, read 18,039,589 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magritte25 View Post
I am posting in several forums looking for basic, starter info on different areas of the country that my husband and I have agree to look for work (for him). We are born and raised & still live in Northeast PA.

I know the school districts in Virginia are stellar (well that's what I've seen from my research).

My biggest "worry" with Virginia is the lack of old fashioned neighborhoods. I really, really, really don't want to live in a townhouse/apartment complex or a subdivision. Does that exist in VA?

What are the crime rates like?
The two most important questions (besides, in your case, quality of schools) may be:

1) Where will your husband's employer be located? and;

2) What is your housing budget?

The short version of the history of NOVA, from this five-year-old "newcomer's" observation , is that as recently as thirty years ago, much of the region was rather rural/pastoral with few incorporated towns and cities. When businesses started to spring up here, the priority was apparently to build housing - and subsequently retail - as quickly as possible to accomodate the burgeoning population. Creating town centers did not seem to be a priority at that time. Today, in many of the close-in aforementioned incorporated towns and cities, such as Vienna, Falls Church, Fairfax, Alexandria, and urbanized Arlington County, the old-fashioned neighborhoods tend to go for a premium. There are other alternatives further out such as Manassas - which gets mixed reviews here - as well as Fredericksburg - which is far south enough to attract commuters to Richmond.

Certainly not all of NOVA is cookie-cutter housing; many communities feature parks and recreation centers. You will hear a lot about the pluses and minuses of (not) buying a home that belongs to a home owners' association or HOA. And, as mentioned before, finding a community with a traditional downtown may come with financial and/or commuting trade-offs.
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Old 10-17-2010, 07:00 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
30,101 posts, read 67,188,022 times
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With all due respect, Magritte, from one native Luzerne County resident to another you're barking up the wrong tree in Northern Virginia for the lifestyle you seek. Your husband will be accepting an entry-level accounting position, which will probably pay $40,000-$50,000 in this area. Even assuming you obtain a position with a similar salary a couple can not comfortably afford a decent home with character in the "old-fashioned neighborhoods" here on $80,000-$100,000 unless they have a very large down payment to put down.

Some on this forum use as many euphemisms and excuses they can to justify how erroneously this area was planned (or lack thereof) over the past 30-40 years---around the automobile first with any semblance of caring about a proper "built environment" on a pedestrian scale second (if at all). They claim that the area grew too expeditiously to do a good job, which is bunk, in my opinion, because during the early-1900s places like Pittsburgh also grew very rapidly with people seeking work, and they still have well-planned neighborhoods. I got into some hot water on a thread recently about the Gainesville area of Prince William County, in which I couldn't figure out the "allure" of living in an area with no sense of community cohesion or "sense of place", so to speak, and got reamed out royally by people who honestly don't care that their community has no central focal point or ease of walkability.

Northern Virginia has very few "old-fashioned neighborhoods", and those that exist are very expensive. The fact that I'd never be able to afford a cute older home in a walkable neighborhood here was the primary reason why I've now decided to leave (and others are following now that I've made them also realize that they will have to living in unsavory "rooming" situations for years while our peers are building equity in homes for those same years in other areas).

Old Town Alexandria? $$$
The Town of Vienna? $$$
The City of Falls Church? $$$
Arlington County? $$$
Del Ray? $$$

I'd stick with inquiring about areas that are less "Sunbelt"-oriented.
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Old 10-17-2010, 07:04 PM
 
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Thanks Tone and RR. The one area that seemed like it might pan out, employment wise, was Reston. I know the COL in NoVa is almost 2.5x that of WB/Scranton.
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Old 10-17-2010, 07:16 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
30,101 posts, read 67,188,022 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magritte25 View Post
Thanks Tone and RR. The one area that seemed like it might pan out, employment wise, was Reston. I know the COL in NoVa is almost 2.5x that of WB/Scranton.
Therein lies the problem, too. I would have been starting out, most likely, in the mid-to-high-$30k range with my accounting degree in Wilkes-Barre. I started out at $41,000 in DC. I'm making $51,500 now near DC. I'll be making $48,500 with a much lower cost-of-living in Pittsburgh. The salaries in DC, in general, have not kept pace with the cost of housing. Reston does not offer the "old-fashioned neighborhoods" you seek. It wasn't even founded until the 1960s, and the oldest neighborhoods are all deteriorating. It didn't have a downtown until the early-1990s, and it is a sterile one at that. The town's founder, who is still alive and is in his mid-90s now, is very critical of a lot of ways Reston failed in its development over the years.
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Old 10-17-2010, 07:22 PM
 
5,071 posts, read 8,615,610 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RestonRunner86 View Post
The fact that I'd never be able to afford a cute older home in a walkable neighborhood here was the primary reason why I've now decided to leave (and others are following now that I've made them also realize that they will have to living in unsavory "rooming" situations for years while our peers are building equity in homes for those same years in other areas).
We're very happy that your request for a transfer to Pittsburgh was granted, RR. There are plenty of places like Pittsburgh that can use additional residents, particularly younger ones, and the energy they can bring to a community.

I somehow doubt that your postings about NoVa, however, have triggered a tidal wave of departures from the area. Indeed, my guess is that, at least for a while, for every recent arrival who decides this area isn't for him or her, they'll be 2-3 newcomers to take his or her place.

Magritte25 - I don't know the particulars of your situation, and I'd never discourage anyone from seeking employment in an area with a comparatively healthy economy. But, just from the sound of your original post, this doesn't sound like the area for you and your husband. We have lots of subdivisions, and many of the more affordable properties for those who come to the area with relatively little equity to purchase a new home are townhouses or condos.
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Old 10-17-2010, 07:34 PM
 
Location: Novastan
384 posts, read 899,403 times
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Yes, there are lots of quaint adorable neighborhoods in Northern Virginia. North Arlington, a very desirable area, has a variety of houses from Sears Craftsman homes to modern mansions. Del Ray, Rosemont, and Old Town might fit the bill as well.

I recommend you check out the police website for each city/county. It varies alot.
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Old 10-17-2010, 08:13 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
30,101 posts, read 67,188,022 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JEB77 View Post
I somehow doubt that your postings about NoVa, however, have triggered a tidal wave of departures from the area. Indeed, my guess is that, at least for a while, for every recent arrival who decides this area isn't for him or her, they'll be 2-3 newcomers to take his or her place.
That's fine. You're correct that net in-migration will still exceed net out-migration in Northern Virginia into the foreseeable future. That still doesn't invalidate my point that the neighborhoods the OP seeks are going to be out of their price range.
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Old 10-17-2010, 08:29 PM
 
3,164 posts, read 6,118,355 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magritte25 View Post
Thanks Tone and RR. The one area that seemed like it might pan out, employment wise, was Reston. I know the COL in NoVa is almost 2.5x that of WB/Scranton.
If you are concerned about schools, don't head to Reston. The schools are not very good.

Vienna has a real sense of town and great neighborhoods plus good schools. City of Falls Church does too, just make sure you are actually in the city of Falls Church for the good schools. An address of Falls Church is not enough, you must be in the city itself.

There are lots of family friendly neighborhoods in Fairfax county.
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Old 10-17-2010, 08:52 PM
 
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Yeah - very family friendly subdivisions - not neighborhoods - no little towns to walk around or streets that cut through - ususally only a couple of ways in and out of these neighborhoods.
To live in Vienna you have to make A LOT of money.
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