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Old 01-29-2012, 08:38 PM
 
4 posts, read 6,747 times
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We will be moving to Northern Virginia in the next few months and are trying to determine which specific geographic area would be the best for our family (Alexandria, Burke, Vienna, etc). We have three young children, so excellent public schools are very important, as well as a family friendly neighborhood.
My husband will be commuting to Capitol Hill for work and we would like for his commute to be less than one hour. Are there any family friendly areas within that commute time where we could purchase a 4 bedroom home for under $650,000?
I have done a great deal of online research regarding homes currently on the market, so I have a decent idea of how much home we can get for our money in the different areas, I am just not certain which areas are actually within the one hour commute and desirable for a young family.
Thank you for your insight!
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Old 01-30-2012, 04:40 AM
 
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Just about everywhere is family friendly. Families are what the suburbs are all about. Vienna has a particularly good reputation on that score, probably because it actually has a town government (most places don't) and they have invested in parks and playgrounds and youth sports of all sorts. Falls Church City and Arlington also have local governments, as does the City of Alexandria. All of them have invested in family-friendliness, but none of them has quite the F-F rep that Vienna seems to have acquired over the years.

Almost all of the schools in the area are at least very good and some are better than that. You'd do better in terms of advice on the schools front after zeroing in on a few possible homes or areas and finding out which particular schools they feed into. Chances are that there will be parents and/or teachers with relevant experience and info to offer at that level.

The harder part I think is going to be the cost-versus-commute trade-off. Via the Orange Line, Metro train-time to Capitol South during rush hour is 37 minutes from Vienna, 30 minutes from West Falls Church, and 21 minutes from Virginia Square in North Arlington. Parking at the station is a virtual non-option inside West Falls Church. Kiss-and-ride always works, and there is plentiful bus service connecting everywhere to Metro during rush hour. Via the Blue Line, train-time is 42 minutes from Franconia-Springfield. Areas in nearby West Springfield or Kinsgtowne might be places to consider as well.

As you probably know already, there are perfectly good 4-BR SFH's for $650K or less in the further out areas at least. Might be tougher find in North Arlington.
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Old 01-30-2012, 04:55 AM
 
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I would look into Springfield and Burke. Also, driving to Capitol Hill isn't as bad as some other places with DC so I would consider driving or carpooling. Earlier hours are better. From Springfield, he could conceivable get into Capitol Hill in 30 minutes if he worked a 6:30 to 3:00 shift. An hour if he drives much later. I work near Capitol Hill, come from Woodbridge, and get to work in about 40 minutes but that is a 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. shift which works VERY well when one has kids and you want to participate in after school activities.
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Old 01-30-2012, 06:59 AM
 
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Your options under the $650K price point would be Vienna, Falls Chruch, Town of Vienna, Burke, Springfield and Alexandria. I would recommend you to rent for first year if you wish that way you are familar with the area and also his commute. If you decide to invest in Vienna Route 66 has HOV 2 restriction from 6-9:30 AM.
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Old 01-30-2012, 07:19 AM
 
19,183 posts, read 28,336,193 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NOVAHomes View Post
Your options under the $650K price point would be Vienna, Falls Chruch, Town of Vienna, Burke, Springfield and Alexandria. I would recommend you to rent for first year if you wish that way you are familar with the area and also his commute. If you decide to invest in Vienna Route 66 has HOV 2 restriction from 6-9:30 AM.
HOV-2 hours on 66-East are actually 6:30 to 9:00, but you have to be OFF by 6:30, so from Vienna, you'd likely need to be ON by 6:00 or a little after. VA residents who have hybrid vehicles can apply for special tags that allow them to use 66 (and other HOV routes) during restricted hours. Otherwise you need two people (of any age) on 66, and keep in mind that it is heavily patrolled and troopers are quite good at spotting mannequins and inflatable girlfriends.

All federal employers and many others also participate in the SmartBenefits program, which would turn the Metro fare from Vienna (or anyplace else) to Capitol Hill into $0 each way. Free is usually difficult to beat.

Renting first is a nice idea, but a second move is not always the easiest thing to commit to with three small kids to consider.
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Old 01-30-2012, 08:52 AM
 
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Thank you for the responses so far.

If we were to focus specifically on Burke or Vienna, what would you think the driving commute time to Capitol Hill would be (at a variety of times, into or out of DC)?

Thank you so much!
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Old 01-30-2012, 09:18 AM
 
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I think it would take a few days -- for you to become so discouraged by it that you went and jumped on the Metro or VRE. As ChristineVA said, if you leave the house very early (or similarly, very late), it can be a different story. But for an 8:30-5:00-ish sort of schedule, the drive-and-park thing to Capitol Hill will figure to be tough on the wallet and on the nerves. The backups on the traffic cams each morning indicate that a good number of folks still do it however, so maybe some will chime in with their personal stories.
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Old 01-30-2012, 10:33 AM
 
1,261 posts, read 5,607,820 times
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Originally Posted by saganista View Post
I think it would take a few days -- for you to become so discouraged by it that you went and jumped on the Metro or VRE. As ChristineVA said, if you leave the house very early (or similarly, very late), it can be a different story. But for an 8:30-5:00-ish sort of schedule, the drive-and-park thing to Capitol Hill will figure to be tough on the wallet and on the nerves. The backups on the traffic cams each morning indicate that a good number of folks still do it however, so maybe some will chime in with their personal stories.
I agree. My husband commutes to Capitol Hill from Burke as a solo driver and it takes him at least an hour in the morning and 1.5 hrs in the evenings on a good day. Most days are not so good and during inclement weather, forget about it. He doesn't have a flexible schedule so commuting by VRE is not an option. Burke and West Springfield meet your criteria in many ways as far as family-friendly neighborhood and good schools. But your husband's commute would be easier from areas closer in than Burke (unless he can travel by public transportation or have flexible hours). Besides the areas you are considering, you might want to add Annandale (outside the Beltway). We have friends who live in Truro and their commute is 20-25 mins shorter into DC just based on their location.
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Old 01-30-2012, 10:41 AM
 
Location: among the clustered spires
2,380 posts, read 3,861,715 times
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For $650k, you can get a somewhat older SFH, that has been touched since the Kennedy Administration, in the middle of Falls Church City, great schools, very walkable, etc. Much of close-in Vienna has been torn down and replaced with $850k+ houses. I would do that.

The hybrid tag thing no longer works, it is closed to new entrants.

But now (brag time) ... not all of us get to have this:

http://a3.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/409333_10150562579154483_704509482_8547724_7894804 0_n.jpg (broken link)

Notice the distinct lack of blue tint on this plate, attached to a 2004 Civic hybrid. This will serve me well if I need to commute from Leesburg to Arlington one day. (but I won't park in the handicapped space unless my wife's with me.)
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Old 01-30-2012, 11:09 AM
 
19,183 posts, read 28,336,193 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stpickrell View Post
The hybrid tag thing no longer works, it is closed to new entrants.
Actually, it looks like it now goes away for everybody at the end of June unless it's extended again.
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