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Old 03-01-2014, 12:19 PM
 
20 posts, read 68,828 times
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We're moving our family to the DC area and could use some insight. We've lived in NOVA twice before, so we do know the typical things about the area. This time will be our final move and we really want to settle in the right place for our family. We'd like to focus in on Oakton, Vienna, Falls Church, Great Falls and McLean. We lived in Fairfax the last time we were in NOVA. It is still an area for consideration, but we already know all about the feel of that area unless things have changed in the last 6 years. My husband will be commuting (driving) to DC and while that is a consideration, we feel that family quality of life is the deciding factor.

What is the feel of each neighborhood? Pros, cons and family friendly? Note: our budget is $850,000-$1.1. McLean would be our choice for driving and school ratings, but even at the top of our budget, we'd be at the low end of McLean. We don't want our kids to grow up with a sense of entitlement or feeling like the poorest kids in their school. I'll be a SAHM. Any advice? We also really like the Oakton, Vienna, Great Falls and Falls Church areas.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 03-01-2014, 01:23 PM
 
5,071 posts, read 8,635,379 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyTrish View Post
We're moving our family to the DC area and could use some insight. We've lived in NOVA twice before, so we do know the typical things about the area. This time will be our final move and we really want to settle in the right place for our family. We'd like to focus in on Oakton, Vienna, Falls Church, Great Falls and McLean. We lived in Fairfax the last time we were in NOVA. It is still an area for consideration, but we already know all about the feel of that area unless things have changed in the last 6 years. My husband will be commuting (driving) to DC and while that is a consideration, we feel that family quality of life is the deciding factor.

What is the feel of each neighborhood? Pros, cons and family friendly? Note: our budget is $850,000-$1.1. McLean would be our choice for driving and school ratings, but even at the top of our budget, we'd be at the low end of McLean. We don't want our kids to grow up with a sense of entitlement or feeling like the poorest kids in their school. I'll be a SAHM. Any advice? We also really like the Oakton, Vienna, Great Falls and Falls Church areas.

Thanks for your help!
That budget is pretty typical for many neighborhoods in McLean south of Route 123 as well as areas in Falls Church/22043 that feed into either McLean or Marshall HS. Arlington isn't out of the question, either.

Except for Great Falls, the other areas you mention are more affordable and very nice, and may have more SAHMs, but they are longer commutes to DC. We lived in Vienna, and really liked it, but the commute to DC can start to wear, particularly if you're commuting daily by car. Great Falls works best if you want to live somewhere that feels decidedly more pastoral and the longer commute is an acceptable trade-off to you.
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Old 03-01-2014, 01:35 PM
 
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You're worried about spending a million dollars and your kids being picked on for being 'poor' at McLean or Langley? Now I've heard it all. All those areas are nice and have great schools, but do have different vibes. I'd just tour a bunch of homes and see what you like the best.

I live in Vienna now. It's very family friendly and nice. Used to be somewhat affordable too compared to other areas but housing prices have gone wacky.

I lived in Falls Church City before. It has great walkability if you're near the route 29/7 intersection. Closer to DC than Vienna. More expensive. Outside FC city limits there are nice parts that resemble McLean, and there are parts of Falls Church that are considered not as nice.
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Old 03-02-2014, 09:36 PM
 
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So I may not have worded my concern about the schools and my kids the best way... I know that bullying is present in every school, some more than others, but I don't need one more thing that would make my son a target. He has Aspergers... is smart, geeky, not very athletic and lacks some social skills. He already has experienced some bullying and he's only in the 4th grade. We currently live in a solid middle to upper middle class area with a few spots of high income homes.

I have heard a few remarks in the past about the McLean area schools and the lots of money vs not as much money talk in the schools among the kids. McLean would be a great area due to the school ratings and the easier commute for my husband, but I wanted to know more if it's a family friendly feel. For kids, what are the pros and cons?
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Old 03-03-2014, 08:43 AM
 
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If I were to pick out of all the options, it would be East Falls Church.

Close to DC, lots of activity, Metro access, close to excellent ethnic dining options.

Thats just me though.
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Old 03-03-2014, 08:47 AM
 
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If you've got that kind of coin, you're better off slumming in McLean, or living large in Falls Church. Oakton and Vienna are too damn far out, unless you think 2+ hour daily commutes are the bees' knees.
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Old 03-03-2014, 09:34 AM
 
5,071 posts, read 8,635,379 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyTrish View Post
So I may not have worded my concern about the schools and my kids the best way... I know that bullying is present in every school, some more than others, but I don't need one more thing that would make my son a target. He has Aspergers... is smart, geeky, not very athletic and lacks some social skills. He already has experienced some bullying and he's only in the 4th grade. We currently live in a solid middle to upper middle class area with a few spots of high income homes.

I have heard a few remarks in the past about the McLean area schools and the lots of money vs not as much money talk in the schools among the kids. McLean would be a great area due to the school ratings and the easier commute for my husband, but I wanted to know more if it's a family friendly feel. For kids, what are the pros and cons?
One thing you might want to do is look at the "capacity dashboard" on the FCPS web site.

FCPS - Department of Facilities & Transportation Services - Design & Construction Services - Dashboard

If you explore this site, you can see the different types of programs offered at different schools. Some schools, for example, have dedicated classes for kids with autism or developmental delays. I'm not suggesting your child would be in such a class, but the culture at those schools may be more accepting of kids across a wider spectrum.

My sense is that Falls Church or McLean will be better places for you than Oakton and Vienna. I've lived in all of them but Oakton. Oakton and Vienna are great, but probably more sports-oriented communities than Falls Church and McLean, and they are further from DC. All these places are family-friendly in the sense that people move there to raise their families and aren't remotely geared towards bar-crawling 20-somethings.

Some of the good things about McLean include the fact that it has a community center, library and teen center all close to each other. If you end up in the less expensive part of McLean south of 123, there's also a good chance all the assigned schools will be pretty close to both your house and each other. It is not a super-fancy area compared to some parts of McLean north of 123 and out towards Great Falls, which may be what comes to mind when you think of McLean (and, to be clear, there are some neighborhoods in the northern part of McLean that look very similar to traditional suburban neighborhoods in Vienna and Oakton, and there are also parts of Oakton with homes as grand as Great Falls).

You might also want to look at the City of Falls Church, which is separate from the Falls Church part of Fairfax County and has its own school system. That system is quite small and some people think it's personal and friendly compared to FCPS, which is obviously very big but does have more programs.

Last edited by JD984; 03-03-2014 at 09:57 AM..
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Old 03-03-2014, 10:12 AM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
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I think the OP raises a legitimate point about not wanting the kids to be the poorest ones at the school. Sure, their housing budget is high, but keep in mind there are people living in $10 million homes in some of the named areas.

My secondhand take on each:

Falls Church: Affluent but not the super-rich, with some remnants of the middle class. A mix of prewar and postwar houses, including some McMansions.

Vienna: About like FC but with almost no prewar houses. Very family oriented and substantially progressive, according to reports. Driving through, I noted almost nothing but ramblers and McMansions. A little more sprawly feeling to me, since FC has an old downtown.

McLean: More heavily conservative than the above two; ranges from merely affluent to extremely wealthy (e.g., Prince Bandar) in the eastern portions (esp. NE). Cheapest houses here are '50s ramblers or split-levels for $750K. If you are a golf-playing Republican, this is your home turf. (That said, we know a couple in McLean who don't fit that description.) Far North Arlington would be similar.

Great Falls: Demographically like the wealthier portions of McLean but more rural and woodsy. Based on car-window observation alone, I suspect there are quite a few of the "hidden wealthy" here--people who live on 2-acre wooded lots and have millions but drive old cars--versus McLean, where everyone wants the Biggest House Imaginable. This may be changing, however, as more developers cut down all the trees on a lot to build a tacky, ginormous House of the Eleven Gables.

And yes, these are all generalizations--so for those about to say "I live in X and am not X," let me concede there are exceptions to every pattern.

Last edited by Carlingtonian; 03-03-2014 at 10:40 AM..
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Old 03-03-2014, 10:50 AM
 
5,071 posts, read 8,635,379 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlingtonian View Post
I think the OP raises a legitimate point about not wanting the kids to be the poorest ones at the school. Sure, their housing budget is high, but keep in mind there are people living in $10 million homes in some of the named areas.

My secondhand take on each:

Falls Church: Affluent but not the super-rich, with some remnants of the middle class.

Vienna: About like FC but with almost no prewar houses. Very family oriented and substantially progressive, according to reports.

McLean: More consistently conservative than the above two; ranges from merely affluent to extremely wealthy (e.g., Prince Bandar) in the eastern portions (esp. NE). Cheapest houses here are '50s ramblers or split-levels for $750K. If you are a golf-playing Republican, this is your home turf.

Great Falls: Demographically like the wealthier portions of McLean but more rural and woodsy. Based on car-window observation alone, I suspect there are quite a few of the "hidden wealthy" here--people who live on 2-acre wooded lots and have millions but drive old cars--versus McLean, where everyone wants the Biggest House Imaginable.

And yes, these are all generalizations--so for those about to say "I live in X and am not X," let me concede there are exceptions to every pattern.
Good try with the disclaimer, but I still think this is indulgent snow-day prose and not particularly helpful to the OP. On the whole, McLean trends somewhat more Democratic than Republican, although it is home to some well-known Republicans (north of 123) like Newt Gingrich, Antonin Scalia and Dick Cheney. It's more Republican than Falls Church, less Republican than Oakton or Great Falls and probably similar to Vienna if you include all three Vienna zip codes.

The people who buy $800K houses in McLean neighborhoods like Potomac Hills and El Nido are not necessarily seeking the Biggest Houses Imaginable, just a nice place to raise a family with a decent commute to the office. But, if you do want the "BHI," McLean is probably a better place for it than Arlington County, where your neighbors will go ahead and build an equally large house on a lot that's 1/2 or 1/3rd the size, which has more of an impact on the neighbors and probably results in some "interesting" block-party conversations.
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Old 03-03-2014, 10:56 AM
 
2,185 posts, read 2,655,219 times
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I would like to know from people at McLean or with kids at McLean if that actually happens. Seems kind of crazy to spend 900k and worry your kids will feel 'poor'. Do HS kids even care about property values? They're more likely to get picked on for their clothes, so just make sure they're in name brand stuff and I think they'll be ok at McLean or Langley.

In terms of likelihood to be bullied, I really doubt there's much difference between any of the places you listed.
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