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Old 11-29-2010, 08:03 PM
15 posts, read 18,891 times
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Well unemployment is taking its toll on my family and I and we are currently living in Southern NJ. My wife currently works in Philadelphia and is very used to a 30 minute commute which is a blessing to say the least. If I do get the job in Arlington, VA I would have to hope that my wife can transfer to her offices DC location. On top of that we need to have a single family home that is affordable and would make sense for the family, but I am clueless on the areas and it appears that 2 hour commutes are likely for us but any help would be much appreciated. Here is what we are looking for:

- Homes under 250k (this pretty much puts us in a 1.5 hour commute I am sure)
- We would prefer new construction but open for anything.
- decent schools (my daughter is in first grade and my son is a year away from Pre-K.
- Good neighborhoods, low crime rate.
- Still need to research taxes but I am used to 6k a year.

I have a feeling that renting will be the initial choice but if I can get close to an hour and a half commute for my wife and I, we should be good. Culpeper is just too far out unless someone has experience with this. Maryland is an option as well but I don't think it matters based on friends who live in Bethesda, MD and commute to DC.

Thanks for any help you can provide.
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Old 11-29-2010, 09:00 PM
Location: Northern Virginia
4,489 posts, read 7,648,281 times
Reputation: 3587
Does it have to be a SFH? If you would accept a TH (common in this area), you would have a much better chance of finding a decent commute.
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Old 11-30-2010, 05:04 AM
15 posts, read 18,891 times
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A townhome probably wouldn't be out of the question since we once lived in one before moving to South Jersey. It would really depend on the square footage. Having two little ones and then a dog on top of it, space is a big concern.
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Old 11-30-2010, 07:14 AM
5,228 posts, read 4,694,507 times
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Agree that including townhouses in the search would open up many more possibilities. Otherwise, for a SFH in that price range, maybe down around Fredericksburg? And take VRE to work (possibly having to take some connector from VRE station to office, like bus).
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Old 11-30-2010, 07:17 AM
Location: Northern Virginia
4,489 posts, read 7,648,281 times
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There are a few townhomes in Centreville, Springfield, and/or Woodbridge areas listed around the $250k mark. Depending on the hours of your job (many people here can flex and/or work 4 day weeks), those commutes would be under the 90 minute mark.
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Old 11-30-2010, 07:33 AM
2,311 posts, read 3,366,680 times
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I really think you need to research cost of living here much more heavily before you make a final decision. It's a very expensive place to live. Also, when you say 1.5 hours for a commute, are you talking about the total time that both you and your wife will drive (i.e., 45 minutes average each, going to different workplaces), and are you talking about both the morning and evening commute in that total?
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:32 AM
15 posts, read 18,891 times
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I would be looking to do 1.5 hours for just one way max. I used to do 2 hours from PA into NJ which after 6 months forced me and my family to move back in NJ.

Work hours will probably be 8-5 but I am an early riser and will more than likely look to leave around 5:30 in the morning my wife would need to be in the office by 8:00 the latest and daycare would then be the next concern for our kids.

As for cost of living, NJ taxes the hell out of you for every little thing, including moving out of the state, all though they claim you get this money back at tax time. ( I will believe it when I see it though) Here is roughly what I see in NJ and this is not typical, most people see a lot higher prices:
A 230,000 home:
6k in property tax
300-400 in water bills
200-300 in electric

In the 3rd quarter of 2010 NJ was ranked 47th on the cost of living chart with Hawaii ranked the highest at 50th. VA was ranked 22nd. Now this obviously depends a lot in the areas you live within each state. Housing being the biggest factor.

The key items are the quality and safety of the areas, I don't want to waste time looking in an area and have my neighbor say "welcome to the ghetto". I am just really unfamiliar with VA/MD/DC areas.

Last edited by riptide1977; 11-30-2010 at 08:47 AM..
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:59 AM
Location: Northern Virginia
4,489 posts, read 7,648,281 times
Reputation: 3587
Day care will easily cost you a couple hundred per kid per week. My coworker pays $1800/month for a single 2 year old in full time day care, and this isn't a super fancy place.

Property taxes on your home should be around half what you are paying in NJ, but electric seems low. I average $150/month for gas/electric (alternates which is higher). Water bill looks about right.

Virginia has very cheap parts to live in. Go way west, or way south, and you'll find them. NoVA is absolutely not that part. NoVA is on par with any other major metropolitan area. Prices are similar to LA for the most part, when comparing housing/gas/food/services.
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Old 11-30-2010, 12:18 PM
Location: Springfield VA
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If you move down here you'll definitely have to weigh your priorities. Unfortunately a short commute and $250K house is just not gonna happen in Arlington. But a townhouse in the suburbs is doable as mentioned. You're looking at maybe an hour commute into DC versus 30 minutes though.

I used to live in Oakton and moved to Arlington when my commute got too long. Ironically enough a few months later I get a job less than 10 minutes from Oakton.

So yes I'd recommend the areas of Oakton, Vienna and Fairfax. I work in Fairfax now and it is a really nice suburban area. Did a quick look and there's a 3 bedroom townhouse for sale at like $230K in Fairfax at 1300 square feet.
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Old 11-30-2010, 02:47 PM
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
7,154 posts, read 9,102,535 times
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Where in New Jersey are you moving from? I moved here from the Philadelphia suburbs so I can maybe help you with a comparison. Taxes will be much less in VA than in NJ. Car insurance will be much less, too! Taxes here are about $6000 on a $500,000 house. But, housing costs are very high so taxes will be higher because of that.

I think you have to drop the idea of new construction. Anything new is big and expensive, unless it's a condo. If you work in DC and Arlington, you have to weigh your desire for a shorter commute versus a bigger/newer home.

$250K is very low for a SFH here. A townhouse or older/smaller home is more likely. And even then, it will be tough. It helps if you are a handyman or like redecorating (pulling down wallpaper and shag carpet for example). Renting is probably a better option, especially since you do not know the area well.

Feel free to ask any more questions.
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