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Old 01-30-2012, 12:29 PM
 
8 posts, read 10,507 times
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Hi everyone,

My family and I will be relocating to the state of Virginia in June; from Lenexa, KS (suburb of Kansas City) my husband has accepted a position in Washington DC (State Department).

I am looking for suggestions and feedback concerning OVERALL quality of life in Northern Virginia. We are currently looking at: Alexandria, Kingstowne, Springfield, Leesburg and any other suggestions would be welcomed.

We are a family of four. We have two children ages 9 (son/3rd grade) and 13 (daughter/7th grade). So safety, good schools, family friendly neighborhoods and diversity are very important to us. We are outgoing and friendly, yet we are pretty conservative.

We plan to rent the first year or two perferably a TH. Our rental budget is $2,500.

Any help would be greatly appreciated as I have found this forum to be very helpful.

Thanks in advance!!!!
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Old 01-30-2012, 12:40 PM
 
Location: Arlington, VA and Washington, DC
23,642 posts, read 33,439,851 times
Reputation: 32362
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsump View Post
Hi everyone,

My family and I will be relocating to the state of Virginia in June; from Lenexa, KS (suburb of Kansas City) my husband has accepted a position in Washington DC (State Department).

I am looking for suggestions and feedback concerning OVERALL quality of life in Northern Virginia. We are currently looking at: Alexandria, Kingstowne, Springfield, Leesburg and any other suggestions would be welcomed.

We are a family of four. We have two children ages 9 (son/3rd grade) and 13 (daughter/7th grade). So safety, good schools, family friendly neighborhoods and diversity are very important to us. We are outgoing and friendly, yet we are pretty conservative.

We plan to rent the first year or two perferably a TH. Our rental budget is $2,500.

Any help would be greatly appreciated as I have found this forum to be very helpful.

Thanks in advance!!!!
I'd look in the 22315 (Kingstowne) zip of Alexandria on homesdatabase.com. Also consider the 22307/22308 zips as well. All three are very family-family and while they aren't the best schools in the area (Fairfax County; highly thought of system), very likely they are a couple of steps above where you are coming from.
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Old 01-30-2012, 02:53 PM
 
766 posts, read 851,799 times
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May I ask where approximately in Washington DC will your husband be working? Will he plan to drive to DC or take the metro to work?
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Old 01-30-2012, 03:50 PM
 
19,183 posts, read 28,382,298 times
Reputation: 4002
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsump View Post
Hi everyone...
Congratulations! Now hubby can tell eveyone he works in Foggy Bottom. It seems to get a laugh out of the tourists on the Metro.

Some basics for general qualty of life in NoVa --

For starters, traffic during rush hour is freaking terrible. Either don't drive to work at all, or don't try to do it during rush hour. That's all on that score.

Otherwise, it's an upscale area. Median household income in Arlington and Prince William counties is over $90K. In Fairfax and Loudoun counties, it's over $100K. Those are nominal figures. The cost of living here is high also, but not high enough to make those numbers unimpressive. There is a lot of earning and buying power here.

It's essentially safe everywhere. That doesn't mean there is no crime. There IS no place that has no crime. It means that crime will not be something that comes to mind in any serious way as any part of everyday life. The use of common sense is still recommended.

I assume that schools in Lenexa are perfectly good. All of the area school systems here are at least very good as well. As they do everywhere, the quality and success of schools tend to vary in proportion to the income and educational levels of parents. NoVa is also one of the highest educated areas in the country. This doesn't mean that everyone here is so smart. It means that we have a higher proportion of people here who are pretty smart at something or other than a lot of places do. There are certainly differences between the various schools and within the various school sytems, and those can be argued. One can also argue whether 1986 or 1990 was a better year for bordeaux, when the bottom line is that it was all very good in both years, some perhaps being a little better than others according to personal taste.

It is also a very diverse area, but less and less so as you move further away from the city. It may not be so obvious if you get out to Dulles Airport or beyond, but if you go downtown, you will see people from everywhere and hear multiple foreign languages being spoken, most of which you will not be able to identify.

NoVa is a young and transient area. There was almost literally nothing but farms and a few dusty, rural villages outside the Beltway fifty years ago. The area grew up very rapidly, within the adult lifetimes of many of its senior citizens. Most of us are immigrants who came here from someplace else -- the Northeast, the South, the Midwest, the West Coast. Natives tend to be the exception here, not the rule. In part because of the military and diplomatic functions, people tend to leave all the time as well. The chances that your child will lose one school friend each year because he or she just moved away are rather high. Fortunately, kids adapt.

Kansas is flat. NoVa is not flat. It is also not West Virginia, although West Virginia is nearby. This is mostly rolling to hilly countryside with lots of creeks and streams, often called "Runs", as in Bull Run or Pimmit Run. If someone mentions Four Mile Run, they are not talking about some jogging adventure they are about to set off on. Well, at least probably not. Much of the eastern half of NoVa retains a wealth of mature trees. To the west, more was cleared for farming. We have a lot of deer here. They will eat most of your flowers and all of your hostas. There are also many, many parks. Some include courts and fields for athletics. Others just include paths, so it's up to you to figure out what it is they are good for.

The climate here is moderate. The weather typically provides beautiful springs and autumns. Summer can be insufferably hot and humid, and winter can be brutally cold and windy with paralyzing snowfalls. Usually, the summers have a few pretty hot days and the winters have a few pretty cold and windy days, and that's about it. We've had a failry mild winter this year with highs often in the upper 50's and 60's.

There is no dominant culture here. We are all so diverse and have been here so briefly that it's never (at least not yet) been broadly determined what "being here" is supposed to mean. The fact that we are not all homogenized may be part of why some newcomers find the area a bit inscrutable. We tend to respect each other's space rather than interupt them because until we can establish some sort of basics or ground rules, we have no idea who these other people are or what they might welcome. Usually, just a smile and a hello are enough to crack the ice. People are friendly and outgoing here as often as anyplace else. But they may need a little hint just to assure them that the coast is clear.

Oh yeah. You will learn to say Hey! instead of Hi! If you don't already, you will start to refer to other people as y'all, even if there is only one of them. And if you do now, you will no longer use the article ''the" in front of highway route numbers. There is THE Beltway and THE GW Parkway. But you cannot take THE 66 to anywhere, merge onto THE 50, cross over THE 123, or get a speeding ticket on THE 395!!!

So, that's sort of an overview. If I think of something else, I'll add it. Again, congratulations, and welcome to the area, y'all.
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Old 01-30-2012, 04:00 PM
 
Location: Tysons Corner
2,772 posts, read 3,654,327 times
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Haha, typical non-east coast discussion. "Hey how long does the 7100 take from springfield to kingstown?"

Well put Saganista. Welcome to the area, this area is built on people who have moved here from other areas and help bring a different view point. Word of advice, dont become one of the people who make the wrong choice of living too far out, and then complain that it takes forever to do anything and get to work and that theres nothing to do around here. Kingstown is a good area, Alexandria in general is a fun area.

For 2500 you should be able to find a nice large townhouse or a smaller detached single family in Kingstown. If you are dead set on a house you arent gonna get any closer to the city than that. You can look into Vienna for that price also, Fairfax proper, and for that amount you could live very well in Herndon/Reston
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Old 01-30-2012, 04:07 PM
 
Location: South South Jersey
1,652 posts, read 3,409,845 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saganista View Post
Kansas is flat. NoVa is not flat.
Actually, KC sits on the Missouri River, so the whole area is fairly rolling. But the Kansas City area would have more of a, well, "Missouri" topographical feel than a "Kansas" (i.e., Great Plains) one, even without the MO River, in spite of "Kansas" being in the city's name - KS is a long state, and KC sits on the eastern/MO border. Not 'rolling' to a 'Blue Ridge foothills in western Loudoun' (or 'MO Ozarks,' for that matter) degree, but rolling and wooded with, you know, plenty of little waterways and stuff.

But I don't mean to nitpick.. Well, I am a smidge tempted to quibble over the characterization of all of NoVA as 'upscale.' The area is decidedly *less* upscale than I would've invisioned it back in my MO/KC days.

But aside from those two filaments of split hair, a most excellent summary/guide, saganista.
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Old 01-30-2012, 04:16 PM
 
18 posts, read 32,066 times
Reputation: 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsump View Post
Hi everyone,

My family and I will be relocating to the state of Virginia in June; from Lenexa, KS (suburb of Kansas City) my husband has accepted a position in Washington DC (State Department).

I am looking for suggestions and feedback concerning OVERALL quality of life in Northern Virginia. We are currently looking at: Alexandria, Kingstowne, Springfield, Leesburg and any other suggestions would be welcomed.

We are a family of four. We have two children ages 9 (son/3rd grade) and 13 (daughter/7th grade). So safety, good schools, family friendly neighborhoods and diversity are very important to us. We are outgoing and friendly, yet we are pretty conservative.

We plan to rent the first year or two perferably a TH. Our rental budget is $2,500.

Any help would be greatly appreciated as I have found this forum to be very helpful.

Thanks in advance!!!!

You're so lucky! I was in a similar situation, but actually moved from NOVA to KC, and I miss NOVA soo much!

You will love it there, there's a lot of diversity (WAY WAY more than KC), huge pockets of different ethnic stores and neighborhoods/areas (Vietnamese, Korean, Ethopian, etc).

As for safety, All the locations you named are pretty safe, I'm personally from Springfield, and it is really safe compared to where I am right now (I'm staying in east KC).

Schools are also very god, I think Thomas Jefferson High School is highly ranked, if not ranked number 1 in the country, and the other high schools and middle schools have high test scores too.

For where to rent, I personally liked Springfield, it was easy to get to any of the other locations since the metro and interchange are close by. DC was about 13 miles away, of you take the metro there. As for renting, I lived in a TH (specifically in Springfield) when I was still in NOVA, and can point you to some nice areas there,if you want to shoot me a PM.

Good luck, and you'll love NOVA, I wish I was back there (3 more years!!!).
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Old 01-30-2012, 04:21 PM
 
Location: Tysons Corner
2,772 posts, read 3,654,327 times
Reputation: 1495
Yay someone with nice things to say about this area! I forgot what that felt like
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Old 01-30-2012, 04:24 PM
 
5,071 posts, read 8,641,159 times
Reputation: 2722
Quote:
Originally Posted by saganista View Post
There is no dominant culture here. We are all so diverse and have been here so briefly that it's never (at least not yet) been broadly determined what "being here" is supposed to mean. The fact that we are not all homogenized may be part of why some newcomers find the area a bit inscrutable. We tend to respect each other's space rather than interupt them because until we can establish some sort of basics or ground rules, we have no idea who these other people are or what they might welcome. Usually, just a smile and a hello are enough to crack the ice. People are friendly and outgoing here as often as anyplace else. But they may need a little hint just to assure them that the coast is clear.
Did a quick search and it seems that parts of Lenexa are fairly diverse in terms of whites, blacks and Hispanic residents. NoVa has a substantially larger Asian population (primarily folks of Korean, Vietnamese, Indian and Chinese heritage), so that may be a change. We're all about the bulgogi, Korean tacos, pho, banh mi sandwiches, pad thai, and masala dosas here. Not to mention kabobs.
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Old 01-30-2012, 04:30 PM
 
19,183 posts, read 28,382,298 times
Reputation: 4002
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsump View Post
We are currently looking at: Alexandria, Kingstowne, Springfield, Leesburg and any other suggestions would be welcomed.
Part Deux --
Leesburg is too far away for a daily commute to Foggy Bottom. Hubby will end up causing tensions to rise all over the world. Alexandria has a lot to offer, but I would think twice over whether all of it is the best area for 9- to 13-year olds coming from Kansas.

Assuming that DH will indeed be working at 21st and C Streets, NW, the best way to get there is via Metro to Foggy Bottom. Living somewhere near the Blue Line station at Franconia-Springfield (Kingstowne qualifies, as do Springfield and West Springfield) would work out very well. Anywhere in Arlington, Falls Church, or points west along the Orange Line would also be ideal. $2500 a month should do well for you anywhere but in the super high-priced areas. Of course, if the morning destination is at FSI or some other out-location, then that's a whole different story.
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