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Old 01-08-2011, 06:21 PM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
4,489 posts, read 9,553,761 times
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Shirlington is a possibility...a handful of shops and restaurants that you can walk through. A small, older movie theater too. There are townhouses in the area that rent for ~$2200 (or at least there were last year this time when we were looking). It's kind of a pain to get to Fairfax from there though, and I'm not sure what the schools are like that you feed into.
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Old 01-08-2011, 06:53 PM
 
11 posts, read 21,356 times
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Wow - Those photos are amazing!! Thank you --- AND DEFINITELY remind me that I do want to leave Houston and go back East!! (even if I don't have the best house $$ right away).

I agree I would love Vienna - not sure we could afford it originally. Same goes for Falls Church. Do you think there are rentals available there?

CaliTerp07 - Being able to walk to a shopping mall / lake or park would be good enough for me if that was the best I could get!

I figured if I have to rent initially - I would rather rent in a more urban / fun spot with young families and then move (if we could ever afford it) to a family - friendly neighborhood - ANY of those in the awesome photo tour you posted!

Thank you so much again!!

Can you think of any nicer townhome areas (names) to look towards? If not - you have been a HUGE help already! Thank you thank you
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Old 01-08-2011, 07:37 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,555 posts, read 12,617,038 times
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I think whether you should move or not depends a lot on your priorities.
--If your priority is to get back to the East Coast - yes, do it.
--If your priority is for your husband's job - yes, do it.
--If your priority is to move away from strip malls and car-centric areas - no, don't do it.
--If your priority is to move to a cheaper area - no, don't do it.

One thing on your list that you do NOT have to worry about is the area being too rural here. You have to pretty much go out to West Virginia to get rural, so that should not be a concern at all.

Because things are so crowded/congested here, you usually don't have to drive far to strip malls and chain restaurants. On the other hand, driving 5 miles can easily take 20 minutes. As others have said, this area is not known for cute, walkable towns. And the ones that are here are relatively close-in and pricey. Some places with downtown areas:

Arlington - close in and expensive
Falls Church - slightly farther out and slightly less expensive
Vienna - just farther out and less expensive than FC
Herndon - farther out and less expensive
Occoquan - farther out (PW county), not sure of prices; pretty small.
Leesburg - farther out (Loudoun County) - less expensive
Purcellville - farther out (Loudoun County) - this is pretty far out there and leaning toward rural, small town.

The good news is that your kids are young so you can move here and if you don't like where you live, you can figure out what you want without having to change schoools.

There are no shortage of Moms clubs, Community Centers, classes, biking/hiking trails, etc. all throughout the area. And many of the towns are very family-friendly, even close-in areas like Arlington.

I think you can find what you would like around here. You may not love it. It's not New Jersey, and I don't say that sarcastically. It's not full of small towns where everyone knows your name. But it is pretty nice, and you can probably find some place that you like well enough. And you can always go to the Jersey Shore for a long weekend, which you certainly can't do in Houston. :-)

Hope this helps somewhat.
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Old 01-09-2011, 12:41 PM
 
19 posts, read 83,993 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by csoell View Post
By the way - it is a good career move and I HATE the weather in Houston come May to October. It is higher than 95 daily!!
I totally agree with you 100%

You and I both are trying to leave Houston. Hopefully, we're both out of here before the horrendous heat comes along. I'm looking to relocate to Fairfax County as well. The east coast is definitely home for me.

Good luck with your move from Houston.
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Old 01-09-2011, 01:24 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
30,101 posts, read 67,188,022 times
Reputation: 15748
Quote:
Originally Posted by michgc View Post
I think whether you should move or not depends a lot on your priorities.
--If your priority is to get back to the East Coast - yes, do it.
--If your priority is for your husband's job - yes, do it.
--If your priority is to move away from strip malls and car-centric areas - no, don't do it.
--If your priority is to move to a cheaper area - no, don't do it.

One thing on your list that you do NOT have to worry about is the area being too rural here. You have to pretty much go out to West Virginia to get rural, so that should not be a concern at all.

Because things are so crowded/congested here, you usually don't have to drive far to strip malls and chain restaurants. On the other hand, driving 5 miles can easily take 20 minutes. As others have said, this area is not known for cute, walkable towns. And the ones that are here are relatively close-in and pricey. Some places with downtown areas:

Arlington - close in and expensive
Falls Church - slightly farther out and slightly less expensive
Vienna - just farther out and less expensive than FC
Herndon - farther out and less expensive
Occoquan - farther out (PW county), not sure of prices; pretty small.
Leesburg - farther out (Loudoun County) - less expensive
Purcellville - farther out (Loudoun County) - this is pretty far out there and leaning toward rural, small town.

The good news is that your kids are young so you can move here and if you don't like where you live, you can figure out what you want without having to change schoools.

There are no shortage of Moms clubs, Community Centers, classes, biking/hiking trails, etc. all throughout the area. And many of the towns are very family-friendly, even close-in areas like Arlington.

I think you can find what you would like around here. You may not love it. It's not New Jersey, and I don't say that sarcastically. It's not full of small towns where everyone knows your name. But it is pretty nice, and you can probably find some place that you like well enough. And you can always go to the Jersey Shore for a long weekend, which you certainly can't do in Houston. :-)

Hope this helps somewhat.
^ Excellent reply. I could not have said this any better myself. My biggest fear for the OP is that they may currently live in a very nice newer home in The Woodlands, TX and won't be seeing enough of a salary bump by moving to Fairfax County to afford them a similar living arrangement. People tend to exaggerate the "high salaries" in Northern Virginia. Is it really a quality-of-life improvement earning $90,000 in Fairfax vs. $60,000 in Houston if a home that would cost $300,000 in Houston might cost $750,000 in Fairfax County? Obviously I'm not in the OP's shoes, but what a lot of people don't realize is that more often than not the higher salaries they are offered in NoVA are completely devoured by the higher cost-of-living. I could have earned $35,000 in my native Scranton, PA or $50,000 in NoVA. Believe it or not my standard of living would have been slightly better in Scranton with the lower salary even being taken into consideration.

I'm now earning half of what I was in NoVA, yet I live in an upscale loft in Pittsburgh for a little over $500/month while I was living in a rat-infested 1-BR apartment for $1,200/month in the sterile suburb of Reston, about 20 minutes north of Fairfax. If I wanted to live in a unit as nice as the one I live in now in Reston I'd have to have a roommate. I still don't buy the argument that the salaries in NoVA are high enough, generally speaking, to fully compensate for the astronomical cost-of-living. I'm living paycheck-to-paycheck here in Pittsburgh, but I was living the same way in Reston, too.

As others have noted finding a "walkable" community with a traditional "in-town" atmosphere is not NoVA's strong point (yet developers refuse to address this). Brambleton is pretty much the ONLY newer development I can think of in NoVA that tried to meet that unmet demand for nice housing walkable to a "downtown". Vienna and Falls Church City are good options to consider, but housing in each community is generally very expensive. Ditto Arlington and Old Town Alexandria. Occoquan? Seriously? Blink or sneeze and you're already through it. Same with Clifton. I was always VERY partial to Purcellville, personally, but it would be a horrible commute to Fairfax. Reston has a fake downtown, and it is semi-walkable; however, housing is also very expensive there given its distance from the city.

"Affordable" + "Walkable" doesn't exist in NoVA unless you really lower your standards.
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Old 01-09-2011, 01:35 PM
 
Location: Fairfax Station, VA
42 posts, read 89,388 times
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A walkable cheaper option is a condo in the "new" strip mall by the fairfax government center (Does it even have a name?). There is a movie theatre, lots of restaurants, stores, a kids gym, painting pottery place.
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Old 01-09-2011, 02:38 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
30,101 posts, read 67,188,022 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Basketweave View Post
A walkable cheaper option is a condo in the "new" strip mall by the fairfax government center (Does it even have a name?). There is a movie theatre, lots of restaurants, stores, a kids gym, painting pottery place.
That would be Fairfax Corner. Former friends of mine live within walking distance of it, and they are pretty happy there. They can also walk to Wegman's.
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Old 01-09-2011, 03:58 PM
 
5,071 posts, read 8,615,610 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michgc View Post
Arlington - close in and expensive
Falls Church - slightly farther out and slightly less expensive
Vienna - just farther out and less expensive than FC
Herndon - farther out and less expensive
Occoquan - farther out (PW county), not sure of prices; pretty small.
Leesburg - farther out (Loudoun County) - less expensive
Purcellville - farther out (Loudoun County) - this is pretty far out there and leaning toward rural, small town.
It's expensive, but McLean also has a somewhat amorphous "downtown" area centered around Old Dominion and Chain Bridge Road. However, those who live near there can walk to all the same types of things as people who live in the parts of the Town of Vienna near Maple Avenue can walk to - a community center, a library, an elementary school, parks, Starbucks, "regular" and upscale grocery and convenience stores, and a fair number of restaurants. It's not particularly attractive (it seems that one developer may have been quietly assembling a lot of the land parcels with a view towards redeveloping it at some point), but then neither is Maple Avenue in Vienna. Finding a townhouse to rent for $2,300/month, however, might be tough.
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Old 01-09-2011, 05:03 PM
 
5,071 posts, read 8,615,610 times
Reputation: 2722
Quote:
Originally Posted by RestonRunner86 View Post
I'm now earning half of what I was in NoVA, yet I live in an upscale loft in Pittsburgh for a little over $500/month while I was living in a rat-infested 1-BR apartment for $1,200/month in the sterile suburb of Reston, about 20 minutes north of Fairfax. If I wanted to live in a unit as nice as the one I live in now in Reston I'd have to have a roommate. I still don't buy the argument that the salaries in NoVA are high enough, generally speaking, to fully compensate for the astronomical cost-of-living. I'm living paycheck-to-paycheck here in Pittsburgh, but I was living the same way in Reston, too.
Not to get in the way of your hyperbole about "upscale" (sic) Pittsburgh neighborhoods like Polish Hill and nasty places in NoVa, but if your Reston apartment was really "rat-infested," why in the world are you surprised that your sub-tenant from California has complained and moved out?

I'm smelling a rat here!

As to your comparisons of the purchasing power of a paycheck in Pittsburgh, Texas and NoVa, the salient point is that ExxonMobil doesn't have any corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh, which is emblematic of why the housing prices are so low there. It's that darn supply-and-demand thing. All of ExxonMobil's corporate headquarters are in Texas, NoVa or the UK. Pittsburgh may be a relative bargain for someone earning a low-end service wage, or in a portable field like health care, but there are many fields where Pittsburgh simply isn't on the map. And, as between the suburbs of Houston and NoVa, each area has its pros and cons, which the OP has made pretty clear she understands. Some adults will, with their eyes wide open, decide to move from a larger home in a less expensive area for a smaller home or townhouse in a more expensive area if the latter offers career opportunities that aren't available in the former, or it simply offers a chance to live in another part of the country.

Last edited by JD984; 01-09-2011 at 05:38 PM..
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:41 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,555 posts, read 12,617,038 times
Reputation: 8315
Yes, McLean has a downtown area, too. And I left out Alexandria and Clifton and probably a few others. Agree that price will probably be the biggest constraint in most of these areas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JEB77 View Post
It's expensive, but McLean also has a somewhat amorphous "downtown" area centered around Old Dominion and Chain Bridge Road. However, those who live near there can walk to all the same types of things as people who live in the parts of the Town of Vienna near Maple Avenue can walk to - a community center, a library, an elementary school, parks, Starbucks, "regular" and upscale grocery and convenience stores, and a fair number of restaurants. It's not particularly attractive (it seems that one developer may have been quietly assembling a lot of the land parcels with a view towards redeveloping it at some point), but then neither is Maple Avenue in Vienna. Finding a townhouse to rent for $2,300/month, however, might be tough.
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