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Old 11-15-2007, 09:52 PM
96 posts, read 406,285 times
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Hi-My husband just started a job in DC..we live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. My husband has an apartment in Alexandria, VA and comes home on the weekends. We have a 5 yr old and this is hard on him...Me too. I am a single mom M-Fri.

Anyway, while I have a stable job in PA and have always lived in PA, I think by end of summer we need to move down to DC area so my family can be together again. BUT, I have no idea where to move. I understand everything is SO expensive. I want to move to an area with excellent schools. In a nutshell, I am Jewish and want to be able to send my son to Sunday school as well...are there any Jews in Northern VA-DC area living near great schools? I would love to find a place to live that is near the metro (yellow line) and I can belong to a synagogue and have my son attend excellent public schools. Don't get me wrong-I don't want my son to go to school with ONLY JEWISH kids, I just want a nice mix so of ALL kids, including Jewish. Any luck in the DC /metro area and surrounding suburbs?
Sorry to ramble-just need lots advice.
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Old 11-16-2007, 04:58 AM
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My wife and I did the long-distance thing for a while as well, and it's tough. Fortunately, we didn't have any kids at the time and knew it was a short-term arrangement. With a 5-year old, I can certainly see a sense of urgency in getting things resolved.

Otherwise, I don't think there's very much overall difference between the cost of living here and that in Philadelphia. The federal locality-pay adjustment factors for the two cities are almost identical, for instance, and as of July, the CPI's for the two (1996=100) were 134.8 for DC and 134.4 for PHI, an insignificant difference. Moreso than PHI, the DC area has a pretty steady stream of folks coming into town from what are sometimes referred to as 'the hinterlands', where the economics associated with major population and financial densities are less familiar, and it is usually these folks who are agog at the 1500+ that a 2-BR apartment near a Metro station might go for.

Speaking of Metro, is there a reason why you want to be on the Yellow Line other than that your husband's current apartment is in Alexandria? It doesn't really go anywhere else (without a change of trains).

Otherwise, by the numbers, there is a smaller overall Jewish presence in the DC-Baltimore area than in the Delaware Valley area. According to wikipedia, the former includes about 165,000 Jews out of a population of 8.2 million, while the latter has some 285,000 Jews out of a population of 5.8 million people. That works out to about one in fifty in the DC area versus about one in twenty in the Philly area, certainly enough of a difference to be noticeable. Still, 165,000 people is a pretty sizeable community, so while it may be more difficult to find nearby schools and synagogues that fit your needs in DC, there are such facilities in the area. Locales that would have a Jewish population proportion that exceeds that in PHI (Bucks County, in this case) would include the areas around Falls Church City and Fairfax City in VA and Montgomery County in MD. Alexandria and the District itself would be just below.

There are some excellent public schools in the area, virtually none of which are in DC. The city school system has a great deal of work to do. Most city folks try to send their kids to private schools. Alexandria schools tend to run at least into the very good range (with perhaps a couple of exceptions), while the schools in Fairfax County and Falls Church City tend to earn consistently excellent marks. The same to some degree can be said for Montgomery County on the MD side of the river.

So that's some general stuff. Hope it helps for a start...
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Old 11-16-2007, 06:02 AM
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There is an enormous Jewish synagogue in the Falls Church/McLean area. Temple Rodef Shalom It is located in between two excellent Fairfax County public schools -- Haycock Elementary (which houses the area's gifted and talented center) and Longfellow Middle School. Longfellow sends more students to the Thomas Jefferson science magnet high school than any other Fairfax middle school, though I believe that the neighborhood demographics have a lot to do with that statistic. There is also an Orange Line Metro station (West Falls Church) nearby. Housing in the immediate area includes some relatively modest townhome communities, a brand new high end townhouse/sfh development that is still under construction, and older sfh homes, some quite affordable (again, relatively) because they are on the small side. Most of the population in this area is either white or Asian, though there are a significant number of foreign diplomats/World Bank/IMF folks in the mix.

Having said that, you should be aware that, notwithstanding the presence of the synagogue, the Jewish population in this part of northern Virginia is pretty small. I spent years working at a predominantly Jewish law firm in DC, and all of my Jewish colleagues lived in DC or Montgomery County. My kids have attended Haycock and Longfellow, and had few Jewish classmates. There are many more Jewish synagogues, preschools, day schools, and other Jewish institutions in Montgomery County, and if you're coming from a community with a sizable Jewish presence in PA, you might feel more comfortable living in MD. Montgomery County public schools, for example, are closed for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; Fairfax County schools are not. If you're looking for an Orthodox Jewish community, you will definitely find more choices in MD.
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