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Old 09-02-2007, 12:16 AM
 
32 posts, read 151,052 times
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Hi all: I'd appreciate some advice on where to live in NOVA. We currently live just outside San Francisco and are walking distance to shops, parks, schools, restaurants, etc. Ideally, we'd like to find the same setup in NOVA. Are there any places in NOVA with a downtown? We have 3 young children, so schools are very important to us as well. My husband's job will be in Reston and we are willing to spend $900,000-$1.1 million for a home. Of course, the shorter the commuting time the better!

Thanks in advance for your advice.
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Old 09-02-2007, 07:16 AM
 
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There isn't anything in NoVa that will actually equate to just outside SF. Only a few areas here have a history in their present form that goes as far back as the 60's, so things are arranged a little differently. Reston itself near the Town Center might be an approximation of what you describe. The City of Falls Church might be another place to look, as well perhaps as the Town of Vienna. These three all have a definable downtown area that is close to parks and rec facilities and some interesting dining spots while also having housing appropriate to your budget within walking distance and excellent schools, though I would check out the ones in Reston. You wouldn't much need to do that in FC or Vienna, as those are all some degree of excellent or another. Commutewise, obviously Reston is very close to Reston. Vienna would be about ten miles out, and doable in about 25 minutes. That's mostly back roads against the traffic, so very consistent (except for snow days). Falls Church is a few miles further along. There are main road options, but those would take you through Tysons Corner, which can be and often is a traffic nightmare at rush hour. Still, it would be against the dominant flow of traffic all the way, so 30-35 minutes would probably cover it. Those are some ideas, anyway. I'm sure others will have rec's to offer as well...
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Old 09-02-2007, 10:08 AM
 
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Thanks Saganista - We had ruled out Reston because it's too far from D.C., where I will most likely be working and where we'll be visiting a lot. I had heard about the City of Falls Church. Using back roads, is it a reasonable commute to Reston? Like around 30 mins? We are looking for a town that has a sense of community, activities, and friendly neighbors.

Again, I appreciate everyone's help. Searching from across the country can be quite overwhelming!
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Old 09-02-2007, 04:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BayAreaFamily View Post
Thanks Saganista - We had ruled out Reston because it's too far from D.C., where I will most likely be working and where we'll be visiting a lot.
I'd endorse x-ing out Reston then. It is not a particularly difficult commuter run on the bus to West Falls Church and then on the Metro into DC, but if you indeed have two targets to shoot at, it would be just as well to try to split the difference, and being able to get downtown easily for events is a factor to consider as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BayAreaFamily View Post
I had heard about the City of Falls Church. Using back roads, is it a reasonable commute to Reston? Like around 30 mins?
Back roads from Falls Church would essentially take you through Vienna in order to get around Tysons Corner. In the morning rush, the difference might be 10-12 minutes. Maybe a little less. Vienna to Reston via the back roads, I have done dozens of times. It's a pretty consistent 25-30 minutes, all else being equal. The major exception would be snow days. Since snow just discombobulates everything around here, it's just as easy on those days to deal with a little extra traffic, then hop on the Dulles Toll Road (267).

Quote:
Originally Posted by BayAreaFamily View Post
We are looking for a town that has a sense of community, activities, and friendly neighbors.
Both Falls Church and Vienna will offer that sort of town feeling. Most areas in NoVa are not incorporated at all but are simply areas (officially, Census Designated Places) within their larger counties. This doesn't tend to encourage an actual sense of community very much. Falls Church and Vienna are both incorporated, the former as a City, the latter as a Town. The major difference between the two is with respect to school systems. Falls Church runs its own excellent system, Vienna does not, hence you will pay Fairfax County taxes in addition to the Town taxes to support their also excellent schools. Both have their own municipal government, courts, police, fire, road maintenance, trash and snow removal services, water and sewer systems, and so forth. Without much doubt, these are the two nearby areas that actually have the greatest sense of themselves as a community. Each of them is quite proud of its independent status, and takes appropriate steps to celebrate it. Their respective local websites cover some of the ways in which they celebrate...

City of Falls Church, Virginia

Town of Vienna, Virginia, Town Government .

Quote:
Originally Posted by BayAreaFamily View Post
Again, I appreciate everyone's help. Searching from across the country can be quite overwhelming!
Yes. Names, numbers...but no context and no meaning! It can be a daunting task! Hopefully, some of the c-d NoVa folks can help make things a little easier...
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Old 09-03-2007, 09:46 AM
 
32 posts, read 151,052 times
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Wow - thanks for all the information! I'm confused about what it means to be incorporated. Practically speaking, what does it mean? Higher taxes? Also, are the local taxes in Falls Church higher since you don't pay the county tax?

I think we've pretty much narrowed our search down to Vienna and Falls Church. Can you tell me the name of the main downtown street for Vienna and Falls Church? I think for Vienna it is Maple Street, but I'm not sure where on Maple all the shops, restaurants, etc. are.

I really appreciate your time!
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Old 09-03-2007, 06:50 PM
 
Location: Mesa, Az
21,148 posts, read 37,408,996 times
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And for some unknown reason: Arlington is actually a county yet it is a de facto city in all but name.

For the record: N Arlington bears a strong resemblence to San Mateo-------especially the similarities between Alameda de las Pulgas and Williamsburg Blvd.
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Old 09-03-2007, 07:38 PM
 
76 posts, read 312,716 times
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If you are willing to live a little further out, in your price range I'd encourage you to look at the following Loudoun communities: Lansdowne, Belmont Country Club and River Creek. They are all beautiful communities with young families and excellent schools. Loudoun is a new, up and coming area with excellent dining and shopping opportunities and in your price range you should be able to find a beautiful, practically new home. good luck!
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Old 09-03-2007, 08:10 PM
 
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The main street in Falls Church is Broad St. (also known as Route 7). Most of the walkable retail/restaurant/library/parks part of FC is between Haycock/Shreve Road and Lee Highway (Rt. 29). When considering Falls Church, make sure that any homes you are looking at are in the City, and NOT in the adjacent part of Fairfax County generally known as "Falls Church" that also bears a Falls Church postal address. They are not the same, but some realtors aren't good about making that clear.
Unless you are willing to commute well over 1.5 hours each way to DC, I wouldn't recommend anything in Loudon County.
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Old 09-03-2007, 10:25 PM
 
Location: In exile, plotting my coup
2,408 posts, read 13,346,194 times
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I don't have much to add since others have covered things nicely, but I'll throw my weight behind Falls Church as well.
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Old 09-04-2007, 08:18 AM
 
19,183 posts, read 28,339,482 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BayAreaFamily View Post
Wow - thanks for all the information! I'm confused about what it means to be incorporated. Practically speaking, what does it mean? Higher taxes? Also, are the local taxes in Falls Church higher since you don't pay the county tax?
Incorporation basically means that there actually is a local government. In most parts of NoVa, the first level of government is the county, and since Fairfax County for instance has more people living in it than seven states, that's a pretty big government. Incorporated towns and cities have taken local matters into their own hands. Since they provide services, they collect taxes to pay for those services. You may or may not pay County taxes in addition, but incorporated or not, the overall tax burden in NoVa is not as high as in the other jurisdictions in the area. Local government meanwhile translates into local management of various services and locally developed and administered remedial, recreational, and other programs (such as zoning). It's not a coincidence that the incorporated areas of NoVa are the ones that have the greatest 'sense of community' about them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BayAreaFamily View Post
I think we've pretty much narrowed our search down to Vienna and Falls Church. Can you tell me the name of the main downtown street for Vienna and Falls Church? I think for Vienna it is Maple Street, but I'm not sure where on Maple all the shops, restaurants, etc. are.
It's Maple Avenue actually in Vienna, which is also Route-123, a major trafiic artery to Tysons Corner which is to be shunned if at all possible eastbound in the morning rush and westbound in the evening. The shopping district extends along it from Nutley Street on the Oakton side to East Street on the Tysons side. The stretch from Nutley to Lawyers & Old Courthouse Roads is mostly services (medical, hair salons, etc.)...the bulk of the retail (including the Magruders, Whole Foods, Safeway, and Giant supermarkets) are between Lawyers/OC Roads and East Street. There is also still a strip of shops and restaurants along Church Street one block north of Maple Avenue, between Lawyers Road and Center Street. That area was downtown Vienna until the 1960's, when growth caused the town to move it over onto Maple Avenue. Significant restaurants include Cafe Rennaisance (just south of 123 & Glyndon...try the coffee of the same name after dinner), Le Canard (123 & Branch Road...specializing in duck recipes), and Bonaroti's (123 & East...very good northern Italian). Also popular are Marco Polo (123 west of Lawyers...very nice Sunday brunch), Bistro 123 (123 between Park and Glyndon), Anita's (123 & East) which is a long-time Vienna favorite for Mexican, and Wu's Garden (123 east of Beulah) for Chinese. And there is always The Amphora, an upscale diner open 24/7/365 (123 east of Nutley) and noted for its bakery, and That's Amore (next to Le Canard) for mass-produced Italian . The newest place is Bazin's (Church Street west of Center Street). I've only been in there twice, but so far so good. There are many, many more choices ten minutes away, in and around Tysons.
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