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Old 12-01-2007, 10:51 PM
 
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We are long time residents of Chesapeake, VA with children ages 8 to 17 and may be relocating to Northern Va after a 20 year military career. Our children are all very different with varying interests. One has Aspergers Syndrome, a mild form of autism, and several are highly gifted academicallly. Our 17 y.o. is interested in pursuing cuilinary arts after graduation this spring.

Of course we're interested in great schools that would meet the needs of our children who need to be challenged as well as for our special ed child whose interest is in computer science/programming.

We also need advice on good neighborhoods with a relatively easy commute to the Navy Yard/Anacostia. We'd need to buy or rent a home with at least 4-5 bedrooms and want a neighborhood that is condusive to active children.

Thanks so much to anyone who can help us out!
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Old 12-02-2007, 10:30 AM
 
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You left out the most important element -- how much you can afford to spend on housing.
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Old 12-02-2007, 10:38 AM
 
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We'd probably look at homes to buy in the 600k range...of course we have a home to sell here first so we'd anticipate having to rent for awhile.
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Old 12-02-2007, 10:41 AM
 
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Also, if we were to rent then we'd want to spend not more than 3k monthly...is that within reason???....for a 4-5 bedroom home in a safe neighborhood within good commuting distance from the Navy Yard? Or are we going to run into problems finding something to rent that will accomodate the size of our family?
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Old 12-03-2007, 06:09 AM
 
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You can certainly rent a 4-5 BR home for $3000 or so in Fairfax County. There are several homes of that size for rent in my close-in McLean neighborhood, at prices from $2500-3500. Two of those homes have been on the rental market for many months, and there is probably room for negotiation. If it really needs to be under $3000, I found 19 rental homes in that price range in the McLean 22101 zip code on a realtor's website. Fairfax County schools can meet the needs of all of your children; there are MANY special ed programs, some in your neighborhood school and others in special centers. Ditto for gifted education. Arlington County would offer you a shorter commute, but most of the communities are older with smaller 3 BR homes not suitable for a large family. It's also more expensive, and the school system, though excellent overall, is smaller and may not have the programs that would best serve your children's needs. For example, Arlington does not offer special centers for the education of highly gifted children, as Fairfax does.
I don't know what you consider a "reasonable" commute, nor have I ever driven to the Navy Yard during rush hour, but you should expect a commute of at least 45 minutes, maybe more. There are no Metro stops in McLean, but the East and West Falls Church stations are within a ten minute drive.
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Old 12-03-2007, 06:39 AM
 
Location: Orange, California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redsox fan View Post
We'd probably look at homes to buy in the 600k range...of course we have a home to sell here first so we'd anticipate having to rent for awhile.
ALWAYS a smart idea to rent first, even if you were able to quickly sell your existing house. In a place as big as NOVA, you should really spend time to check out the neighborhoods and areas you might want to live in, explore commute times, and make sure you want the move to be relatively long term (otherwise, you could lose money if you need to sell your house in 1-3 years).

As for your renting question, I think you will find a lot of reasonable rental options in the outer NOVA suburbs (Ashburn, Leesburg, etc) where there are TONS of houses for sale and many desperate homeowners are turning to rent their properties when they realize they can't get the sale price they want. The inner suburbs will still be fairly expensive from a rental standpoint, based on desirability and the fact that there are not nearly as many people trying to unload there houses in places like Arlington, as compared to Ashburn.
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Old 12-03-2007, 08:33 AM
 
Location: Hampton Roads, Virginia
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Having left NoVa and moving to Hampton Roads - I can tell you that you are in for a BIG change!! As far as schools go, Fairfax County overall has a fantastic school system. My son was in Special Ed for reading and they did a fantastic job (at least in Centreville) - far, far superior to Portsmouth schools. Fortunately, when we moved (he was in the 6th grade) he had already gotten the extra help in those early years when it was most important and he really enjoys his high school now. The schools in Fairfax also offer alot of educational opportunities that are not offered other places. Things like additional foreign languages and specialized class offerings. My daughter look Criminal Justice and loved it.

I definitely think renting is a good idea. The area is so large and very congested, that it will take time for you to find the right area to settle more permanently. How you deal with the traffic will also infuence your decision.
Traffic is a 24/7 fact of life in NoVa (the whole DC area actually). When you move you will wish you were sitting in tunnel traffic!!! I laugh when I hear people complain about traffic here in HR - HA, just travel 66 or the Beltway and there will be no more complaining. OTHER than the traffic and the ridiculous housing pricings, you will like having more shopping opportunities and cultural activities at your fingertips.

The newspapers also focus on politics - not crime and weather. Might be a nice change of pace.

I left because I was stressed out for all of the reasons listed above, but that was me. For others, it may be the perfect environment.
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Old 12-03-2007, 12:02 PM
 
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thanks so much for the comments and helpful info!

sorry my first post didn't provide all the info needed...I had just returned home from the hospital after our 17 year old had been in a skateboard/car accident...going to be fine, but broke his jaw in 3 places and now has mouth wired shut....NOT what we were planning on but thank God he's ok. Please bear with me in my sleep deprived state.

Alittle more background, then more questions: my husband travels up to Fairfax tomorrow to meet with his new prospective employer. Their office is actually in Vienna but lots of the work is done in Anacostia/The Navy Yard. There may be a possiblity of him working between Vienna and The Navy Yard for awhile, or having to commute between those points at various times. He's from the Boston area originally and LOVES public transportation...one of his major complaints about Hampton Roads! He does hate to be stuck in traffic in his own vehicle...so question 1 is if we were to pick a home near one of the metro stations, would he be able to commute between Vienna and the Navy Yard w/o a car? I'm thinking probably not, but if anyone has suggestions that's why we're here.

Also, I'm excited to hear about the Fairfax County schools being able to serve all our our children's needs!!! But I'm confused about which towns would be considered within that district...is it limited only to Fairfax; does it include McLean, Falls Church, Vienna, etc??

I saw on someone elses thread a mention of a great girl scout troop...my daughter has become involved here in Brownies and would be in Juniors next year, but we would definitely want to keep that up. Also, two of our 5 kids enjoy swimming very much and have indicated they would like to try out for a swim team, but have no formal/competitive experience thus far. Any recommendations on a good location to get involved at a beginner level?

As far as a commute goes, my husband currently has a 20 minute commute and yes, gets stuck in tunnel traffic at times, making it 40 minutes or so. I don't think 45 is what we'd call unreasonable, but what type of commute would he have if we lived a little further out in those other locations and took VRE or metro. Having been in the military for 20 years, he has no trouble rising by 5 a.m. and getting out the door...beauty sleep apparently not required!!

One more question, we are considering having him rent a small apartment or a room for awhile if he starts this job immediatley. Wondering what the price comparisons would be and your thoughts about renting or sharing close to dc versus an outside location like some of the ones mentioned above so that he could get a taste for the commute. Thanks again for all of your help!
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Old 12-03-2007, 01:24 PM
 
Location: Hampton Roads, Virginia
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I cannot help on the rent question, but there are alot of posts here about that. One thing to keep in mind, the further away from DC you get, the newer the subdivisions and apartments. If you were looking in Falls Church, you would probably get an older apt/TH but the rent might be the same as a newer place in Centreville. Houses in Arlington and Falls Church can be 60+ years old, but Chantilly and Centreville are 15-20 years old (some newer). While Gainesville and Western Loudoun are the newest sprawl areas.

Fairfax County is HUGE - you have Vienna, McLean, Springfield, Centreville, Chantilly and probably one or 2 I missed. I seriously doubt you will go wrong in most of the schools in Fairfax. The opportunities for your children will make the move worthwhile. You will like the schools much better.

Vienna is the furthest subway station to the area you are looking. So anything west will involve a drive to the station. The subway is clean and safe, but definitely crowded as so many commuters into DC use it.

Traffic will definitely be worse than you can imagine. Even leaving before 6 - many, many people do that to avoid traffic. That is why traffic is so bad all the time. Even traveling the beltway during the day is busy. You just have to be prepared - and it will be bad during snow. Many things close in the snow in DC, but due to the increased traffic, plowing makes things difficult.
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Old 12-03-2007, 01:30 PM
 
Location: Hampton Roads, Virginia
1,123 posts, read 4,799,606 times
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Oh, swimming - many of the schools have swim teams and you find that most of the communties have wonderful health/athletic centers. Also, some of the bigger subdivisions have swim teams for the residents. I don't think I have seen that down here. Until I read that, I had forgotten.

Whatever you want to do, you will find it in Northern VA. Fairfax also has an incredible adult education program where you can learn anything from computers to cake baking for reasonable fees - THAT I miss.

If you are thinking about hubby getting a small place for awhile, you will be surprised at the cost - probably $1100-$1300+ for a 1 br close to work.
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