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Old 12-10-2012, 07:41 AM
 
Location: Winchester
47 posts, read 78,018 times
Reputation: 46

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My husband and I took the drive out to see some of the new housing going up in the Winchester area, I guess technically the address is Stephenson, VA. The houses are new builds and incredibly affordable. There is a sports complex, community pool, etc. It almost seems too good to be true for the price honestly.

My question is are the prices so much lower because of the distance alone? Or is there something else going on in that area that we don't know about? The distance/commute is definitely a factor for us, but we're seriously considering it anyway just to be able to build a new home to our liking.

Has anyone made the commute from Winchester into NOVA? (specifically Leesburg, Ashburn or Sterling) I'm working in Leesburg but my husband works in Sterling.

Right now the only thing really giving us pause is the drive. It's a straight haul down Rt 7 for both of us, but we have to consider the mileage we would be accumulating each day.

Advice?
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Old 12-10-2012, 09:53 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,574 posts, read 12,675,338 times
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My guess is the price is primarily a reflection of distance. Secondarily, it's not really "NoVA" out there, so it's not only distance but the fact that it is a whole other real estate market. It's the Shenandoah Valley and all that that connotates - small town, rural, mountain living, not as much to do, not as highly-ranked school districts, etc. - that reflects on the housing prices.

Having said that, I really like Winchester, but I think that commute would get real old real fast.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:40 AM
 
Location: Charles Town, WV
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I can toss out a few comments regarding my commute, although I live in Charles Town vice Winchester. I leave slightly before 5 am each morning and commute along Rt 7 thru Leesburg, and then along Rt 7 from down to the Rt 28 split. I follow Rt 28 to Rt 50, and then into Fairfax. Traffic generally flows at 65mph the entire distance at that time of the morning and the commute from Leesburg down to Rt 28 generally is uneventful. My homeward commute takes me out of Fairfax at 3:30 (ish) and I travel the Greenway back to Rt 7 in Leesburg. Traffic is generally congested (almost bumper-to-bumper slow) along the Rt 7 bypass between the Greenway and Rt 9, then opens up from Rt 9 westward. A later beginning to my morning commute brings more congestion. I'm certainly not an "early bird" by starting my commute at 5 am .... plenty of folks on the road before that.

This drive is very consistent. It's usually a 65 minute commute to work, and a 70-75 minute commute home. Over the past 10 years, I'd guess that there have been roughly 5 or 6 days where something happened (wreck, snowstorm, some event) that caused my commute to be over the normal time.

But, in the end, it's a very long drive, day in and day out. I'm full of energy on Mondays, not so much by Thursday.

Today was a rare day for me, in that I left home late at 6:30 am and made it to work slightly before 8 am. But I used the Greenway to come into Reston Ave. Traffic got congested coming into Leesburg at Rt 9, opened up slightly prior to the Greenway, and then was great along the Greenway.

I'd guess that I spend roughly $350 - $400 monthly in gasoline to commute. Most of that, although not all, would have gone away had I decided to remain in Herndon.

So, gas dollars and time .... you have to decide how important that is balanced against the larger home and whatever else draws you to Winchester. I definitely like my weekends better in Charles Town than I did in Herndon.

Regarding the "highly ranked school districts" ..... I'd argue that you would really have to work hard to find a "bad" school system anywhere in the Metro DC area. They are all pretty good. Beyond that, it's defining different levels of "better". No matter where you go, the key is always parental involvement.

Good luck with your search.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:43 AM
 
367 posts, read 763,534 times
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This commute is not as bad as a RT 66 commute say front royal to fairfax everyday.
But lets talk, the reason that neighborhood is so cheap is because it it bordering WV. Honestly if you have kids the culture/difference in schooling is not worth it.
The drive you will only see traffic from leesburg to purcellville. In bad weather going over mount weather can be dangerous.
As beautiful as the homes are I always say the commute is never worth the house.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:46 AM
 
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Bill gave me an idea what about lovettsville? They have builders out there for around 250-300 it would only be a 30 min commute verses stephenson.
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:16 PM
 
Location: Winchester
47 posts, read 78,018 times
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We actually checked out Lovettsville as well. We liked it and it's definitely an option, but the housing was just slightly higher than Winchester/Stephenson. My guess is because it's still Loudoun County? Because there is really nothing out that way otherwise. It seems like we'd either head back into Leesburg for shopping, or even over to Maryland. They have a proposed "town center" in the Ryan Homes development there, but nothing is guaranteed. The sales rep in the model home said it would be more like a small town "general store" and maybe a few other small businesses.

As far as schools go - I'm not too concerned with it since my husband is a teacher and I'd like to think I'd be involved enough to keep my son on track no matter where he ends up. He's still a baby, so we have a few years before elementary school anyway.

Thanks for the input about the commutes. I think my husband is much more comfortable with the idea of a 60-90 minute commute than I am. BUT, like mentioned above - since my husband is a teacher he would have summers off. So having a bigger house in a more laid back/country lifestyle is definitely appealing during those off months.

Lots to consider. Thanks!
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:04 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,574 posts, read 12,675,338 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lisag81 View Post
As far as schools go - I'm not too concerned with it since my husband is a teacher and I'd like to think I'd be involved enough to keep my son on track no matter where he ends up. He's still a baby, so we have a few years before elementary school anyway.
I just want to be clear that I was not implying that the schools are not fine out that way - I really have no idea if they are or are not, actually. But you asked why the prices are lower out there. Part of it is clearly distance. People pay a premium to live closer in. The other part is the reputation of Loudoun and Fairfax School districts. People pay a premium to live within their borders. That doesn't mean another school district is not adequate or even good, but they do not have the reputation that a school district like Fairfax County has and would not command a premium on housing prices, even if everything else were equal. I honestly don't know if Winchester schools even have much of a reputation for most NoVans.

Housing prices are based on perceptions and unless reality equals perception, the prices won't necessarily reflect reality. For now, most people perceive Winchester to be too far to commute and probably more rural/small town than many in the DC area are looking for, hence the lower housing prices. While some would actually prefer that type of living, regardless of the distance, they are a small enough minority to not raise prices much.
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:47 AM
 
6,561 posts, read 12,890,748 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lisag81 View Post
We actually checked out Lovettsville as well. We liked it and it's definitely an option, but the housing was just slightly higher than Winchester/Stephenson. My guess is because it's still Loudoun County? Because there is really nothing out that way otherwise. It seems like we'd either head back into Leesburg for shopping, or even over to Maryland. They have a proposed "town center" in the Ryan Homes development there, but nothing is guaranteed. The sales rep in the model home said it would be more like a small town "general store" and maybe a few other small businesses.

As far as schools go - I'm not too concerned with it since my husband is a teacher and I'd like to think I'd be involved enough to keep my son on track no matter where he ends up. He's still a baby, so we have a few years before elementary school anyway.

Thanks for the input about the commutes. I think my husband is much more comfortable with the idea of a 60-90 minute commute than I am. BUT, like mentioned above - since my husband is a teacher he would have summers off. So having a bigger house in a more laid back/country lifestyle is definitely appealing during those off months.

Lots to consider. Thanks!
You are where we were 5 years ago. We bought in Stephens City (Just South of Winchester instead of North which is Stephenson and Clearbrook)... The schools are not as great as they are in Loudoun, but they are good enough, especially when you work in the education field (My wife teaches) and stay on your kids (We share your philosophy that most schools are fine as long as the parenting at home keeps the kids on task)...

I commute to Leesburg every day leaving around 7AM and take Rt 7, getting to work around 8AM... Usually traffic is fine but there is always a bit of a slowdown where Rt 9 and Rt 7 intersect... And yes, there are those days where there's an accident and its backed up, but that's to be expected with such a commute.

The Shenandoah Valley is less expensive and a MUCH more mellow and less "status conscious" place to live. We have enjoyed the relaxed environment and the proximity to the mountains and all since moving up from Florida in '07.... I recommend it. There is nothing "wrong" with where you are looking. Its cheaper because of where we are and the distance from the major job center of NoVA...

Hope that helps. Don't be frightened. We're good peeps..
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:14 PM
 
Location: Winchester
47 posts, read 78,018 times
Reputation: 46
Thanks for your input!

I think my next question is what the drive down Rt 7 is like during the winter....especially some of those hilly spots where I felt like our vehicle might have taken off if it had wings! It seems like that section coming into the valley could be scary when the roads are slick.

Otherwise I think Winchester and the surrounding towns are still definitely on the short list. Next we plan to check out Charles Town, WV and see what's going on up that way.
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:43 PM
 
162 posts, read 305,759 times
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We lived in Cross Junction (up 522), and commuted to Leesburg (my husband dropped me off and then kept going!) and also commuted to Tysons (again my husband dropped me off and then kept going!). The one thing I wish someone had told us was to consider the cost of gas. Living in Cross Junction cost us about $600 more per month than if we bought a more expensive house closer in. Had we thought about this, we would have spent the money to live closer in. Will your husband and you commute together, or will you be driving separate, thus double the gas/mileage/wear and tear? We got gas every 2 days (our drive was longer, than yours will be) and got an oil change every month (this was with us commuting together). We had a house built and in the first year of ownership decided we needed to sell. A year later we were able to.

When commuting to Leesburg (right at 7 and 15) we left at 4:45 and I was to work by 6am - but, this is also when traffic started to get heavy on 7, so if we were a bit behind or others were a bit early, it would add 15 minutes easy to go just 1 mile. On the way home, we had to be on 7 before 4pm, any later and traffic was much worse - the commute home was always longer averaging about 90 minutes. We did this for 1 year and hated it quickly.

When commuting to Tysons (literally right next to the mall) we left at 4:45 and I was to work by 6:30. The way home I was picked up at about 4 and it was a 2 hour drive home. We did this for 1 year also and hated it even more.

My advice is to live as close to work as you can. We heard of lots of people living in Winchester, but quickly realized one parent was a SAH. Think about being an hour away from your child if an emergency comes up. What will you do for daycare - drop off and pick up times? If you do go for Stephenson, think about driving in weather - we had all wheel drive for the bad weather. If you can pay a bit more to be in Lovettsville and cut your commute in half I would do it. Maybe you can figure out the difference in gas and maybe this would be close to the mortgage payment difference in the two areas.

If you want to get to work by 8am, I think you would need to leave no later than 6:30am. If you left work by 4:30pm, I don't think you could be home before 6pm. Throw in an accident either way and that is a 12 hour day. NOT WORTH IT!
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