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Old 03-12-2008, 01:34 PM
Location: New Orleans
2 posts, read 5,209 times
Reputation: 10


Good afternoon,

We are an active duty military family of three that will be transferring to the Arlington area this July. We are currently stationed in New Orleans, LA and due to our military schedule will not be able to physically house hunt until the beginning of June. We have no idea where to begin our search but just from browsing home prices in and around the Arlington area it is apparent there is nothing in our price range in the immediate area. I am looking for advice / feedback on areas with single family detached homes with 3+ bedrooms, 2+ baths and amenities such as a fireplace, large fenced in rear yard, and a garage. If a garage is not available we at least need space for 2 vehicles. Our max price is $215,000 but would like to stay in the $185,000 to $200,000 range if possible (we have to live on military pay for goodness sake ) . We have a middle school aged child who is active in sports so schools and areas with extra-curricular sport options are on the top of our list. We want to live in a safe family friendly area where there are many job options without much of a commute for myself. Currently we commute 1+ each way to work and we would like to stay within / under that commute time (spouse will be working in the downtown Arlington area). Thank you for any advice / feedback in advance.
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Old 03-12-2008, 03:41 PM
2,462 posts, read 8,057,684 times
Reputation: 995
Arlington is out of the question. So is Fairfax County. There seem to be plenty of listings in Manassas in your price range, and that would put your spouse about an hour, give or take, from Arlington.
Whether these areas are safe, or family-friendly, I'll leave to those who are more familiar with Manassas. There are plenty of youth sports activities all over northern Virginia, and there are several well-regarded Catholic schools in Manassas. The public schools in that area are another issue.
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Old 03-12-2008, 03:46 PM
Location: Maine
2,017 posts, read 2,711,809 times
Reputation: 2789
With a little online research and prioritizing your wants and needs for housing/schools/commute, you should be able to secure a home to rent or buy before you arrive in June. Coming into this area, there will be trade-offs.

Unless prices in this area drop a lot, you will not find a single family home for sale with 3+ bedrooms and a garage for under $215,000. For a modest SF home with no garage in Springfield that's not on a very busy street, you are probably looking at prices around $400,000. There are a few for under that, but not much under. The closer in you get to DC, the more expensive the price.

You might look on military by owner and get a feel for what prices in various areas are right now. Some people bought at the height of the bubble and they are asking too much (for rent or purchase).

You should be able to find something affordable to rent within one hour's commute of Arlington in an area that has good public schools.
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Old 03-12-2008, 06:52 PM
Location: Chesterfield, VA
1,218 posts, read 4,567,524 times
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My question is how long do you think this tour will be? If it could be as little as 2 years and if you do not want to deal with the stress of selling your home in such a short period of time, you may want to consider renting. Honestly I think the market is still going down in northern VA and I am not sure when it will stabilize. And the military by owner website is a great resource. You might also check Craig's List. Good luck!
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Old 03-12-2008, 07:18 PM
Location: Alexandria, VA
11,419 posts, read 20,279,418 times
Reputation: 16495
I'm sorry to say - but that price range will not get you anything in the area. Not many homes have garages (depends on neighborhood) - but pretty much will have to double that for what you want.
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Old 03-12-2008, 07:34 PM
Location: Clarksville, TN
54 posts, read 169,175 times
Reputation: 23
Thank You for your service. Now for the housing needs. I am sure the housing office there in New Orleans has some info you could use to help in your move. In the mean time. You could also make use of the following.

For more information, please visit or contact the housing office. We are located at 228 Sheridan Avenue, Building 416, Fort Myer, Virginia 22211. Call us at 703-696-3558/3557/3559.

FMMC Military Community • Housing

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Old 03-12-2008, 07:36 PM
Location: Arlington, VA
1,430 posts, read 3,492,786 times
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Your price range will exclude Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax County, and most likely eastern Loudoun County. As previous posters mentioned you probably be able to find a home in your price range in Manassas but it will be older and will most likely be in need of some repairs.

If you were willing to look into a 3 bdrm townhouse then I would suggest checking out the Dale City/Woodbridge area of Prince William County however several people who live down there mention just make sure you check the neighborhood out before hand as posters on here frequently discuss petty crime problems there..
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Old 03-13-2008, 09:09 AM
Location: TX
3,029 posts, read 10,665,252 times
Reputation: 1362
I too am interested in how long you wil be at this duty station. If under 5 years, I seriously would not buy. We made the mistake on a 2 year govt job of buying and lost all the equity we had in vested and then some. (we were hoping to just "park" the equity for 2 years and take the tax break....we lost that gamble)

The market isn't going to baounce back any time soon.

There are a TON of nice houses for rent right now alot from fellow service members. as others have suggested militaryby owner is a great site as well as craigs list.

IF this is a long haul transfer and you are going to be here over 5 years....
For your budget I would forget a SFH right now. If you find one the public schools will not be the greatest (and as a fellow govt employee...I know private school is not in the finances) And it will more than likely need bunches of work.

Look at TH 3 bedroom 2.5 bath TH in the area may be bigger than what you can get in SFH. lots have a 1 car garage + assigned parking. many will have a small yard.

Look in Burke, West Springfield, Fairfax (fair oaks area etc) for closer in look at Vienna, and Oakton. Depending on where the office is you could use the metro in Vienna into Arlington.

Good luck, this move is a tough financial one for military and govt.
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Old 03-13-2008, 07:48 PM
Location: New Orleans
2 posts, read 5,209 times
Reputation: 10
josdegr50, no thanks are needed but it is very much appreciated. It's nice to hear someone say that from time to time so thank you. I have contacted both the Housing Officer locally and for the Capital Region so hopefully they will be of some assistance but we can't wait and rely on them so we are moving forward ourselves to be as eductaed as possible with rergards to this transfer.

I want to thank everyone for their replies thus far. We were not planning on this move at all but you go where the needs of the service are. This is going to be a 3 year tour BUT it is going to put my careeer over the 20 year mark which means I can choose to retire if I wish. I am not saying that I am going to but I have to examine the private employment sector as a viable option (esp. pay wise) when that time is near. It is very very possible that if I like this new assignment I will able to extend it to another 3 year tour. Our DS will be entering HS at the end of the first tour so we will most likely be staying put. And 5stones you are so right that #1 this is going to be a tough move financially for us and #2 we will not be able to send him to private school on government pay. Don't let me get me started on the latter subject. Even with both my wife and I working it's not going to happen.
I have already checked militarybyowner and craig's list but am am seeing the same prices as on the realty websites. And townhome will not work long term for our family and we can't justify spending that much money on rent when we can live farther out and own. Frustrating yes, but we are confident it is all going to work out. We have added Dumfries, Stafford, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania to our list. Even through they are farther out we have no choice affordability wise for what we want.
Speaking of being farther out, would anyone be able to tell me what "rush hour" is in NOVA? I am expecting to be on the road for work by 5:00 or 5:30am and leaving for the day around 2:00pm. Thanks again for everyone's input.
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Old 03-14-2008, 11:15 AM
Location: TX
3,029 posts, read 10,665,252 times
Reputation: 1362
If you are going to be leaving around 5am and returning at 2pm that put you way better off and you will miss all hte AM rush. Traffic will be heavier at 2pm being midday but nowhere near what it's like at 5pm. Heavist traffic is 7am-8:30am and the again 5-6:30pm.

So that put some areas more in your reach. (depending on where you wife will work) I'd look in Sterling. (search here there is alot of good info on schools and neighborhoods) Cascades is nice and Countryside as well. you might be able to get a SFH in some of the other areas of sterling.
out futher is the Ashburn area but that tends to be pricier. Extremely family friendly and safe and excellent schools. But you will probably only be able to get into a TH.
Leesburg about 10min futher up was hit VERY hard in the housing slump so there are some great bargins there. you are looking at about an hour into Arlington via 267 at 5am (maybe under) I have made it from Arlington to Leesburg in an hour at 4pm via 267(toll)

OK I know you say a TH is out for your family. (we said the same) But our SFH was actually smaller and had a smaller yard than alot of the TH. ONE THING NoVa does well is TH. They are spacious and ALOT have garages, so just think about it.

Fredericksburg is very nice (one of my favorite towns) but I-95 is a nightmare. Everyone says how bad rt7 is (in Loudoun county) but I don't think it can hold a candle to I-95 It is aLWAYS bad.

Don't rule out Manasas for your budget, again search here for neighobrhoods. There are some bad one but there are some good ones as well.

**rant warning***
Again, I don't mean to "harp" on renting etc... I know everyone has prefernces. But this market drop isn't over. I've been there, stressing over every house in the neighobrhood that goes up for sale and the prices keep getting lower and lower...you realize that you are not going be able to sell your house for what you paid for it, despite all the improvements etc.. Then 2 years go by and you have LOST ALL your downpayment and then some. add insult to injury you have to pay money at closing to unload it. We would have been finacially better off renting. +25k is wayy better than -10k. (that's not counting the 75k downpayment)

Also remember for futher out you will pay in gas and maintence on your car. The gas bill hit us hard $500 a month! for everyday from Leesburg to Tysons.

So if going out... look for places along the VRE so you can take the train in most of the way But scheduling (home might be a problem) Station Map
It goes out to Manasas and also to Frederickburg. If you are working at the Pentagon you will get VRE passes and Metro passes. something to consider. (I don't think they reimburse for the toll on 267 though)

OK off my rant and soap box... just keep all your options open...and search search search!

good luck.
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