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Old 09-14-2012, 05:13 PM
 
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You don't mention children or schools. If living in a top public school district is not an issue, that opens up a lot of smaller, older homes on large-ish lots in communities that feed into Annandale, Stuart, Falls Church, and some of the other high schools whose relatively low test scores reflect their socioeconomic diversity. Like the Vienna area that michgc described, it's not truly rural, and strip malls lurk near every intersection, but there are lots of side streets and dead ends with older ramblers and bungalows and towering trees.
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Old 09-15-2012, 06:14 AM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
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You can buy a 3,000 sq. foot house on 1/3-1/2 acre in my area of Mount Vernon near the Potomac within that price range and you'd be no more than an hour away from your office, either via the beltway or the GW parkway (a very scenic drive by the way).
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Old 09-15-2012, 11:12 AM
 
Location: among the clustered spires
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If 1/2 acre in a heavily wooded area suffices, try the rural area north of the town of Vienna. Great Falls is actually doable on your budget, too.

In fact, I'd really recommend the area around Walker Road and Georgetown Pike in Great Falls for you as you mention a community feel, etc., as being important. There's an area of 60s and 70s homes to the SW of the village shopping center going for between 450 and 600k depending on house size, etc.
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Old 09-16-2012, 04:06 PM
 
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Thanks all.

One thing we will definitely be considering is renting a place for a year (my UK home is locked into a mortgage until December 2013 and I'd be paying 8,000 in fees to sell before then). One option would be to rent a condo/appartment for a year in Tyson's corner and give ourselves time to explore the areas you mention. This would mean I could alomst work to work (or drive 2 mins given the USA doesn't really have pedestrian friendly roads!). What is Tyson's corner like for living? Appreciate it will be built up and busy - is there plenty of bars/restaurants and things to do?
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Old 09-16-2012, 04:50 PM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
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Tyson's Corner is an urban jungle. Lots of high rises, two gigantic malls, and a spaghetti bowl of streets. But yes, there are plenty of restaurants and some bars. You also will have easy access to get downtown for weekend activities or out west (for when you crave the rural atmosphere!) I think renting for a year would be very smart, so you can get a feel for the areas you're reading about and see if they really fit the bill.
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