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Old 01-21-2009, 10:03 PM
 
22 posts, read 64,878 times
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Hi all -

Very new to this site, and new to the idea of moving to DC. My husband just got a job in Reston, and we'll be moving to the area in just a few weeks. We'll be in temporary housing (corp apartments, hotels, etc) for a few months, and then settling down more permanently. Having been a part of the San Diego housing bust, I'm hesitant to even look at buying right now, so we will likely rent for a year to give us time to get a better lay of the land, anyway.

So to my questions: We'd like to live closer to DC than Reston (I'm hoping to do some work in the city), but also want to be very cognizant of the commute and overall car time (door to door). McLean seems like a very appealing area - can anyone give me opinions on the area, and has anyone done the commute from there to Reston during peak hours, and/or during slightly off hours?

We're late 20's/early 30's, two young kids. Could afford a fairly pricey house, but don't really feel the need to spend that much and it seems that rent vs buy ratios in the area are still pretty heavily weighted towards renting.

Ok - that's about it - thanks for reading. Am open to any and all comments, suggestions, etc, and will hopefully be posting more questions in the future as well.
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Old 01-21-2009, 10:45 PM
 
229 posts, read 673,326 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sc_alum View Post
Hi all -

Very new to this site, and new to the idea of moving to DC. My husband just got a job in Reston, and we'll be moving to the area in just a few weeks. We'll be in temporary housing (corp apartments, hotels, etc) for a few months, and then settling down more permanently. Having been a part of the San Diego housing bust, I'm hesitant to even look at buying right now, so we will likely rent for a year to give us time to get a better lay of the land, anyway.

So to my questions: We'd like to live closer to DC than Reston (I'm hoping to do some work in the city), but also want to be very cognizant of the commute and overall car time (door to door). McLean seems like a very appealing area - can anyone give me opinions on the area, and has anyone done the commute from there to Reston during peak hours, and/or during slightly off hours?

We're late 20's/early 30's, two young kids. Could afford a fairly pricey house, but don't really feel the need to spend that much and it seems that rent vs buy ratios in the area are still pretty heavily weighted towards renting.

Ok - that's about it - thanks for reading. Am open to any and all comments, suggestions, etc, and will hopefully be posting more questions in the future as well.
McLean is probably the most prestigious areas in NoVa with the best schools, the best retail, is centrally located, convenient to parks/playgrounds, and has great neighborhoods.

Great Falls has the highest median price (~1.1 mil) for homes, but McLean (~650k) provides the best mix of everything that Great Falls does not offer. For a newer SFH around 3,500 sq. ft. (1st & 2nd floor), expect to pay about 1+ mil in McLean.

If you move to McLean, your husband would be going against traffic when commuting to Reston in the AM. That should take him roughly 20 min. For you, you can take the subway into DC or drive. McLean is convenient to West Falls Church Metro station.

McLean is also convenient to all the major road/highways (495, 66, Dulles Toll Road, and GW Parkway).

If you find something nice in McLean, you should buy. The real estate prices/values are holding strong in McLean b/c of the aforementioned reasons and because it's inside the DC Beltway.

Another area to consider also is Vienna.

Good luck.
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Old 01-22-2009, 06:01 AM
 
2,462 posts, read 8,055,058 times
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With a job in Reston, you could consider living in either McLean or Vienna. McLean is closer to DC, but you'll pay for that location with slightly higher housing prices. Nothing in McLean is really cheap, but some neighborhoods are more affordable than others. You can expect to pay about $700-800K for a standard, non-updated 4-5 BR home built in the 1960s-1970s on a 1/4-1/3 acre lot in neighborhoods inside the Beltway, and then it goes up from there. For $1 million, you can get a very nice but not spectacular home. There has been some price softening in recent months, but nothing like the freefall experienced in other parts of the country (and in other parts of the DC Metro area). There are many rental options in some neighborhoods (like the one I used to live in) as McLean attracts a sizable number of State Department employees who rent out their homes when they are posted overseas. Most people who live in McLean drive into DC, but there are two Metro stops near Falls Church that are relatively convenient, if you can get there in time to get a parking space.
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Old 01-22-2009, 09:35 AM
 
5,071 posts, read 8,638,408 times
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If you can afford it, you may want to consider the Great Falls neighborhoods north and northeast of Reston that are part of the Langley HS pyramid. Many consider these schools (those that feed into Cooper Middle and Langley High) to be among the best in Fairfax County.

McLean and Vienna are also good options. Vienna is closer to Reston and McLean is closer to DC. Keep in mind that, if you decide to buy in McLean, you will pay a premium for its proximity to Washington DC. Some of the neighborhoods in McLean are absolutely beautiful, but other areas in McLean often prompt "sticker shock" on the part of prospective residents that an older, smaller home in so-so condition could be so expensive. Some also dislike the fact that McLean lacks a clear, or charming, central area, but is instead more of a collection of suburbs.

For the same amount of money, you can get a larger and/or newer house in Vienna and the commute to Reston will be shorter. The schools may not be quite as "prestigious" as those in McLean, but they are part of the same county-wide school system and also highly ranked. Vienna is as close to the top shopping at McLean (Tysons Corner lies between Vienna and McLean), and has its own, little town center with additional shopping options.
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Old 01-22-2009, 09:48 AM
 
22 posts, read 64,878 times
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Thank you, everyone, for all the information - we really appreciate it!

I see a lot of recommendations for Great Falls - does Great Falls have a viable inbound DC commute?

Are Langley/McClean HS's considered equivalent, or is one more desireable than the other?

Since our kids are 3.5 and 1, Elementary school is probably of more immediate importance, though certainly keeping in mind the middle and high schools that they feed into. Are there Elementary schools in either McLean, Great Falls, or Vienna that we should try to target or avoid?

I may post this in a separate topic, but I'll start it here - the Fairfax county system, from what i've seen, seems to have a lot of "wrangling" that goes on in terms of people positioning themselves as early as kindergarten, 1st, 2nd grade for ultimate high school attendance, GATE participation, etc. I'm a little overwhelmed - how best to jump in and start navigating those waters?
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Old 01-22-2009, 09:55 AM
 
Location: -
488 posts, read 1,585,075 times
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Quote:
I see a lot of recommendations for Great Falls - does Great Falls have a viable inbound DC commute?
Yup
Georgetown Pike - 495 - GW Parkway.
I commute that way few times a week.
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Old 01-22-2009, 09:58 AM
 
22 posts, read 64,878 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VEIK View Post
Yup
Georgetown Pike - 495 - GW Parkway.
I commute that way few times a week.
How long does it take you, door to door, with traffic, morning/evening, etc?
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Old 01-22-2009, 10:06 AM
 
5,071 posts, read 8,638,408 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sc_alum View Post
Thank you, everyone, for all the information - we really appreciate it!

I see a lot of recommendations for Great Falls - does Great Falls have a viable inbound DC commute?

Are Langley/McClean HS's considered equivalent, or is one more desireable than the other?

Since our kids are 3.5 and 1, Elementary school is probably of more immediate importance, though certainly keeping in mind the middle and high schools that they feed into. Are there Elementary schools in either McLean, Great Falls, or Vienna that we should try to target or avoid?

I may post this in a separate topic, but I'll start it here - the Fairfax county system, from what i've seen, seems to have a lot of "wrangling" that goes on in terms of people positioning themselves as early as kindergarten, 1st, 2nd grade for ultimate high school attendance, GATE participation, etc. I'm a little overwhelmed - how best to jump in and start navigating those waters?
Many Great Falls residents take Georgetown Pike (Route 193) or Old Dominion Drive to Route 123, and then get on the GW Parkway, which has exits to the main bridges to DC (Key, Roosevelt, Memorial). This takes longer than the commute from central McLean, but then you are starting out closer to Reston.

Langley and McLean are both excellent schools. The test scores at Langley are higher than at McLean, which has a more diverse student body, but both schools have been recognized as "Gold Medal" schools by US News and World Report. The bottom line is that your children, if properly motivated, will do well at these and many other Fairfax County schools.

There are many excellent elementary schools in all these areas. By way of example only, you will repeatedly hear good things about Colvin Run, Great Falls and Spring Hill in Great Falls, Churchill Road, Franklin Sherman, Kent Gardens and Haycock in McLean, and Louise Archer, Stenwood, Westbriar, Wolftrap, and Vienna in Vienna.

There was recently a separate thread on what schools, public or private, are good choices for parents trying to angle for their childrens' later admission to TJ, the county's math/science magnet school. It has a lot of information, so you may want to check that out before you start a new thread. Here it is:

Top Private Elementary/Middle School
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Old 01-22-2009, 10:36 AM
 
229 posts, read 673,326 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JEB77 View Post
Many Great Falls residents take Georgetown Pike (Route 193) or Old Dominion Drive to Route 123, and then get on the GW Parkway, which has exits to the main bridges to DC (Key, Roosevelt, Memorial). This takes longer than the commute from central McLean, but then you are starting out closer to Reston.

Langley and McLean are both excellent schools. The test scores at Langley are higher than at McLean, which has a more diverse student body, but both schools have been recognized as "Gold Medal" schools by US News and World Report. The bottom line is that your children, if properly motivated, will do well at these and many other Fairfax County schools.

There are many excellent elementary schools in all these areas. By way of example only, you will repeatedly hear good things about Colvin Run, Great Falls and Spring Hill in Great Falls, Churchill Road, Franklin Sherman, Kent Gardens and Haycock in McLean, and Louise Archer, Stenwood, Westbriar, Wolftrap, and Vienna in Vienna.

There was recently a separate thread on what schools, public or private, are good choices for parents trying to angle for their childrens' later admission to TJ, the county's math/science magnet school. It has a lot of information, so you may want to check that out before you start a new thread. Here it is:

Top Private Elementary/Middle School
Springhill ES is actually in McLean.

Also, Langley (76) does have higher scores, but McLean (55) was ranked higher as a gold medal school on Newsweek's list. Take that as how you will as I think their positions were flip flopped on Jay Matthews's list.

Of course, Thomas Jeff. was #1.
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Old 01-22-2009, 10:46 AM
 
Location: TX
3,029 posts, read 10,660,917 times
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if you can afford it..McLean hands down great schools from preschool to HS. Close enough to DC that if your have to commute for work you won't kill your self. Great parks and activites for kids and young families.
Great Falls is beautiful I would actually give it an edge to Mclean but...being in your 20's with small kids I think Mclean has a lot more to offer.

Vienna would be more afforable than the other 2 and has great schools as well, it's a bit further from DC than Mclean But has easier Metro acess.
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