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I currently live in Arlington (Rosslyn, to be specific) in a rental apartment but have recently been looking at single family homes within the beltway only. With a $400-$450k budget, I found a few very nice and recently updated homes in North Springfield. I looked over this forum, and noticed that many people discuss Springfield or WestSpringfield, but not a lot has been said about North Springfield (22151) in particular.
Driving around the neighborhood revealed plenty of well kept houses with clean lawns and good landscaping. I saw a few houses closer to Ferndale or Backlick which had multiple vehicles (work trucks) outside in the evening, but those seemed to be at least 5-6 blocks away from the homes I was interested in. But even in those cases, the homes looked to be well maintained. I also noticed that there are some new McMansions in the neighborhood which looked quite nice (but out of my price range). Overall, the neighborhood looked pretty solid to me.
I've checked out the demographics and income levels for the area, but wanted to get your opinions strictly on North Springfield. I'm not worried about schools (no children, or plans for) but am very much concerned about safety, crime rates and the condition of the neighborhood (types or residents, ages, etc.). Would you recommend North Springfield for safe and quiet living?
Joke...kinda. No I live nearby and it's okay. You'll certainly get more for your money but I find the area to be a bit more run down. I don't think that it's overall a bad area though. Northern Virginia is pure suburbia and there aren't any true bad neighborhoods just neighborhoods that aren't as nice as others.
I met a lady who lived in North Springfield and worked in Rosslyn at a job interview. It was a group interview and right before the actual interview we just made small talk. She talked about car break-ins in the Annandale High school parking lot and said that she finally moved to Burke and was happier but her commute didn't sound fun since she didn't drive.
I lived on Elgar St. for almost 2 years, and really liked it. It was SO convenient for commuting purposes (basically on 495, a short hop to 395, and Backlick was a great alternative for N/S commutes). My favorite part was being able to walk to Lake Accotink with my dog to walk the perimeter for our daily walk.
The houses are old, and with them come the issues of old houses, but the neighborhood was really nice. My street was often filled with kids in the 5-10 age bracket riding bikes or rollerblading around, though it was hit or miss on other streets (some were similar, some were older retirees). I used to walk my dog after dark all the time and never once felt unsafe. In all honesty, I'd often leave the door unlocked when we'd go for a walk if I didn't have pockets for my keys.
I live on the other side of Braddock Rd in Annandale and I often walk through North Springfield neighborhoods with my dog. I also bike with my kids to Lake Accotink. The neighborhood is great and it is a commuter's dream.
As others have posted, older houses have issues anywhere (inside or outside the Beltway) but I would not give up my 20 minute commute to work (Ballston). LOVE my commute! There are block parties, National Night Out events, neighborhood clean-ups, etc. It's also quite safe. I have a Fairfax County police officer across the street from me, a Fairfax County fire fighter two blocks away, a FCPS teacher two houses down, a lobbyist for Harley-Davidson two blocks west and several folks who work for Homeland Security nearby. There are active civic associations throughout the area, too.
We most often see police activity around here on Braddock Rd. The police like to park in the Ravensworth Baptist Church parking lot, just off Braddock Rd, and they target drivers running the traffic signals at Braddock and Ravensworth Rds. They also like to use their radar guns on Braddock Rd, especially east-bound between Ravensworth and Backlick Rds. That is pretty much the extent of crime activity.
The area is very safe. You will find the demographics to be a bit on the older side, as many of the residents have lived in their homes for decades. This is not true for everyone, but I feel like younger people would rather live further west in something bigger.
The homes in the area were built in the 60s so the hardest part will be finding the ones that don't need tens (yes tens) of thousands on dollars in work to bring them up to modern day standards. Many of the homes originally had tile parquet floors in the living room, wood paneling in the basement, puke color kitchens, etc. The ones that have been updated look great and you'd never know they were 50 years old!
The homes themselves are also a bit on the small side at 1250-2000 sq ft depending on full basement/split level/ranch etc. However, a significant number of the homes have additions and of course you have the odd McMansion built from tear downs. With your budget you should be able to find a nice place in 22151. There are only a couple of different home layouts in the neighborhood (ie all the split levels have essentially the same floor plan)...again the key factor to look for will be "updatedness."
We looked at a couple of homes in King's Park last year on the upper end of your price range, and for the most part, the neighborhood looked pretty good. Some older more "worn" looking places, but a lot of cuter well kept ones (with updates). I like how you could walk to the Elementary school and pool. Much nicer than inside the beltway Springfield, I thought.
Thank you all for your answers! After spending several years in the "downtown" Arlington corridor, I'm very much ready for a quiet and relaxed community (but that's still a reasonable commute from downtown Arlington/DC).
We moved from Ballston to WestSpringfield and we were in the same price range as you. We like it and it is safe. The only draw back is the # of food places around here. It takes us 15 to 20 mins to get to Clarendon on a normal day (not rush hour) so that is nice.
I live in North Springfield and it has been great. Very quiet, lots of families and I can be in downtown DC or Old Town Alexandria in 10-15 minutes non-rush hour. Lake Accotink is awesome and I spend a lot of time there with the kids. Neigbors are great (YMMV) and I have no complaints. The housing stock is a bit older than WestSpringfield but commuting is far easier from here. WestSpringfield arguably has nicer schools. I've lived in WestSpringfield too and it's nice but not really more upscale than North Springfield and the convenience factor for North Springfield trumps whatever slightly "nicer" neighborhood feel there is there for me.
Crime is relatively non-existent, if you look up the area on the Fairfax PD website crime map you'll mostly see a couple noise complaints and occasionally a car gets broken into for a GPS. All of which occur in WestSpringfield (and McLean and Vienna) too. I've never had crime activity in my block reported since I moved here 4 years ago.
So if you find a nice house in the area I suspect you'll be very happy if you're looking for a quiet place. Prices have been going up though, I bought mine for under $350k in 2008 and last year the identical house next door, slightly more upgraded, sold for $445k. Most of the houses I see for sale get multiple bids so be prepared for that. Also because the beltway bisects the community there are some houses near the highway, I chose to be further away but those houses near the sound wall are usually discounted and if you didn't mind that noise you can get a great deal probably. Good luck and I hope you find a house you like!
I'm a mid 30s professional who used to live in Rosslyn, then Shirlington, and now N. Springfield (Edsall Park just south of Braddock Road, but North of Edsall Road). It's probably the most affordable community in VA inside the beltway and very safe. There are a lot of older people in the blocks surrounding me, but it's very diverse too. We picked up a nice updated split-level with an addition for pennies in comparison to a lot of the other real estate in NOVA. If you like Korean food, it's a gold mine since the spots in Annandale are a mile away. Lots of buses run from here to the Pentagon for commuting purposes. Commute to an office next to Union Station is 45 minutes. Faster to areas downtown off the blue/orange line.
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