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Old 09-16-2006, 08:07 PM
 
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Hello, All!

I need some advice. My family and I want to move out of our Fairfax Co. townhome and into a single family home. I stay at home with the kids and would like a family-friendly neighborhood.

My husband works in Reston. Is Ashburn a safe bet? Any thoughts on particular communities we should look first? I'm guessing we should stay close to the Toll Road to help my husband avoid long commutes... (We had been thinking about South Riding, but I've heard traffic can be brutal on 50.)

Any feedback would be appreciated! Thanks!
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Old 09-16-2006, 10:52 PM
 
Location: In exile, plotting my coup
2,407 posts, read 10,473,565 times
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I would definitely steer clear of South Riding. The traffic is ridiculous seeing as how the roads that way haven't been built to accomodate the growth. There's more or less only one way in or out (at least, one direct way).

As far as Ashburn goes, I'd say a commute to Reston will take roughly 35-45 minutes. I live in Ashburn Village which is a nice enough community. I believe the cheapest single-family homes here are generally in the mid to upper 400s. There's also a decent number of condos. There are plenty of families around here as well, with lots of kids. The schools are good (although Loudoun County schools aren't AS good as Fairfax County, but good nonetheless) and you also get free membership (although the cost is actually probably hidden somewhere in the cost of the house or taxes) to the Ashburn Sports Pavillion, a large facility with a full gym, indoor/outdoor pool, racquetball, tennis courts, a basketball court, and a lake outside that you can rent paddleboards on. They also offer some after-school daycare although I'm assuming that is not free. You're around 10 minutes from the Dulles Town Center mall, 30 minutes from Tysons Corner, around 15 minutes from Dulles Airport and 15 minutes from the Leesburg outlets.

One drawback is the traffic, although I guess that's the case everywhere. However, I've only been in Ashburn for around 10 months and just within those 10 months, I've seen a remarkable increase in traffic on the main roads, particularly Ashburn Village Boulevard and Waxpool Road.
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Old 09-17-2006, 12:57 PM
 
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Thanks for the post! Ironically, I was just researching Ashburn Village last night. The sports/rec center looks amazing. I'm disappointed to hear that the traffic is bad there as well, but at this point I really don't know how to avoid it, you know?

If I can find us a home that is less than 500K and is less than an hour from my husband's office, I'll be thrilled.

Thanks for your feedback. It's very appreciated.
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Old 09-17-2006, 10:36 PM
 
Location: In exile, plotting my coup
2,407 posts, read 10,473,565 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KatOne View Post
Thanks for the post! Ironically, I was just researching Ashburn Village last night. The sports/rec center looks amazing. I'm disappointed to hear that the traffic is bad there as well, but at this point I really don't know how to avoid it, you know?

If I can find us a home that is less than 500K and is less than an hour from my husband's office, I'll be thrilled.

Thanks for your feedback. It's very appreciated.
Yeah, unfortunately traffic and cost of living is just a given in the DC area and there's really no way around it. If you wind up minimizing one of them, say by living in a high-density area with Metro access so you can avoid most of the traffic, well then that will cost you an arm and a leg. Conversely, if you find a cheap place to live, it will be an enormous distance from the city and you will spend an incredible amount of time commuting through gridlock. They're just two things that I guess we pretty much have to deal with living here.

One remarkable thing about Ashburn is that I don't think I've seen a single part of it that is remotely rundown or rough-looking. Not even a single apartment complex. Everything just looks so new and well-maintained.

I think you should be able to find a perfectly nice home for under 500K in Ashburn Village if you choose to live here, perhaps even within walking distance of the Pavillion. I have to say, I generally don't like Ashburn because it's just not my thing (I'm more into cities rather than suburbs) but I was driving around today and I don't know what it was, I'm sure the beautiful weather had something to do with it, with the smell of barbecue from people's decks, and soft music coming out of windows and kids riding their bikes in the streets and such, and I just sort of saw what it is that appeals to so many people about living here. It's still not my thing, but for families, I can see why they would become enchanted by it.
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Old 09-18-2006, 10:33 AM
 
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Default South Riding

I am looking at South Riding, and I work in Herndon. I wouldn't think the commute could be as bad as DnB says, although I tried the Loudon Co. Pkwy in the rain last week and had a miserable 35-minute drive to Herndon.

South Riding appears exceptionally family-friendly, my wife and I have driven through and looked at a lot of townhomes. It is "master-planned" and thus has sidewalks, bike paths, 3 elem. schools, pools, shopping, even dentists and vets all in the community. We really like it and if we can afford to, plan to buy a TH there in the spring (if not we're going to rent there!). I have not looked too deeply into Ashburn but it seems to spread out and car-dependent vs. South Riding.

If I lived in South Riding and had to get to Reston I'd take 50 east to 28 or Centreville Rd. There are a lot of east-west roads to cut across to Reston from there, like Frying Pan, West Ox, Sunrise Valley, etc. My guess would be 30-40 minutes, no longer than it would take from Ashburn. I have not done the drive myself but I go from Chantilly-Herndon for work.
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Old 09-18-2006, 01:30 PM
 
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Thanks for the reply!

Yes, you're right, South Riding is perfectly self-contained. And that might be what I don't like about it. Does that sound strange? I actually got lost in the development at night once and I swear, I thought I would never get out. My cell was dead and I just kept wandering around searching for a landmark b/c the place is so big and the houses all looked alike and each street was identical to the other. It was maddening. We have friends who live there and we visit them about once a month. They say nothing but good things about the community, but I think part of that is b/c they bought their house right before the market cooled and they paid an arm and a leg for it (with an interest-only loan, ouch!) They have to like or it else they couldn't sleep at night. Plus, they both work from home so they don't have to fight traffic.

That said, there are some serious deals to be had in S. Riding right now that make it VERY tempting. It's still not off our list for consideration. I was there last Saturday and it truly is an immaculate community. But everywhere I looked there were For Sale signs, tons of open houses going on... It gave me pause. There were FIVE houses for sale on my friend's street alone. I kept thinking 'why do people want out of here so badly?' Something's up...

But, like I said, it's still tempting b/c it is just sooo family-friendly.
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Old 09-18-2006, 02:13 PM
 
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I don't think people want out of South Riding, I didn't see any shady characters when we were driving around yesterday fantasizing about leaving our fourth-floor apartment. Would love to hear more thoughts on the subject.

All the homes for sale, I look at that as an advantage. A few are moving for normal reasons, but I think the majority of sellers in South Riding are either speculators and move-ups.

1. The speculator who bought looking to hold and "flip"...case in point: the Toll Brothers Amberlea models across the street from Hutchinson Farm Elementary (South Riding station, actually, Center St. and Shipley/Radke/Atchison Terrace, e.g.: these are the ones I referred to in my post above. They're decent places, but only 18ft wide and they carry a hefty $174/mo. condo fee (you don't own the land, just the house). Anyway, a look at the Post's real estate sales database for that area reveals a TON of single names in the buyer's column. Normally a 3 or 4 bedroom townhome would be a joint purchase, right? How many single people want to live surrounded by minivans and walking trails? A lot of the ads read "never lived in," and a lot of the homes look never lived in as well. So that's my guess.

2. The "move-up" is looking for a bigger place and also wants to cash in on the recent price surge, in South Riding and everywhere. A lot of these folks went ahead and bought the new place before selling the old.

Another thing hurting these sellers is the builder is still building out there. I would not pay a dime more for a new place vs. an old one but to many it's worth it, and Toll Brothers is adding to the supply. According to their sales people they're not gonna cut prices, but the CEO rates NOVA as Toll's worst area so I'm sure a tough winter will change their minds (they "don't reduce prices" but are offering say, $25K in incentives which you can use to reduce the price of the home, buy down points, get a deck, etc).

I know you're probably not looking for a TH like me; there are SFHs starting around $450K.

Finally, check out this late-to-the-party flipper: http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/rfs/208259370.html (broken link)
These are the new homes Toll is selling, starting for $379K. Flipper (who paid $433) wants $450K. Any suckers out there?
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Old 09-18-2006, 03:03 PM
 
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The commute from South Riding to Reston is not 30 to 40 minutes during rush hour. I would imagine at least 1 hour each way, if not more. Route 50 is brutal during rush hour.

Ashburn to Reston is much more doable thanks to the toll road.

I would personally recommend living in Reston or Herndon itself, to minimize commute time. I work in Herndon and I live in Fairfax. I prefer Fairfax because it has a little bit of the college town feel, more shopping, more dining options, and is closer to D.C. and the inside of the beltway.
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Old 09-18-2006, 03:28 PM
 
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Default Where does 50...

Start to get bad? Let's say I am starting from the Loudon County parkway. Is it bad all the way back there?
Which route are you talking about?
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Old 09-18-2006, 04:07 PM
 
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Yes, Route 50 Eastbound is bad every morning from Loudoun County Parkway heading east. It starts to get the most backed up as you cross the line into Fairfax County. It depends on the day. That route is FILLED with large, heavy trucks because that corridor is filled with industrial parks, landscaping companies, etc. Your commute on 50 east from South Riding will probably take about half an hour just to get to Chantilly (about 8 miles or so). It is stop and go. It starts up like this around 6:30 in the morning and will last until 8:30 or 9:00 AM. I used to head to school each morning on that route. I am glad that I now live in Fairfax and can take quiet backroads to work in Herndon each day.

I would avoid Loudoun County at all costs. It's just too far out. Sterling would be doable for me, and possibly Ashburn, but I can't stand the Ashburn area.
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