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Old 04-12-2009, 01:23 PM
 
21 posts, read 67,235 times
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Hi,

There's a chance my husband could be working in DC and I'm looking around at places to live in the Northern Virginia area. We'd be moving down from the Boston area, but my immediate family is in Charlottesville. I'd love to live in a place that has a historic feeling down town where we can walk to many things. Right now we can walk to playgrounds, the post office, library, schools, the beach (not expecting to be able to walk to the beach in VA!), etc. I somewhat like the feel of Charlottesville's downtown, so something like that would be nice.

However, we have a two year old and a baby on the way, so we're looking for decent schools for the future. And, as of the birth of this baby, I won't be working anymore for a while, so we need a house that's fairly affordable (under 350,000, closer to 300,000 would be better). We don't necessarily need to be in a new house, but we're not looking for a fixer upper like we have now.

Is it possible to live within a nice walking distance of downtown Manassas and/or other amenities in the area and still have access to decent public schools? I've heard they're not too good. If not, is there another town with a similar set up/decent schools/somewhat affordable that you would recommend?

Thanks!
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Old 04-12-2009, 01:30 PM
 
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,400 posts, read 25,821,439 times
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Manassas is nice, if it's near your husband's job.

It cannot be said enough: Tell us where the job is and then we'll be better able to recommend a neighborhood. In NOVA you always want to live as close to the job as possible. Your quality of life will be so much better with a short commute.
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Old 04-12-2009, 02:04 PM
 
21 posts, read 67,235 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by normie View Post
Manassas is nice, if it's near your husband's job.

It cannot be said enough: Tell us where the job is and then we'll be better able to recommend a neighborhood. In NOVA you always want to live as close to the job as possible. Your quality of life will be so much better with a short commute.
Of course that's a concern for us, but I can't be specific about it since he is looking at more than one job right now. He would be downtown in DC, not one of the surrounding areas. We definitely know we want to live on the VA side due to my family. He would like to have a commute no more than an hour/hour 15 min. and anything less is a bonus.

I have no idea about commute times from any areas, so what is the commute from Manassas or surrounding areas? We live about a ten minute bus ride/drive from Boston's subway here and his overall commute door to door would be 45 minutes if it was absolute record time, usually it's around an hour and ten minutes.
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Old 04-12-2009, 02:31 PM
 
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,400 posts, read 25,821,439 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by northsouthnorthsouth View Post
Of course that's a concern for us, but I can't be specific about it since he is looking at more than one job right now. He would be downtown in DC, not one of the surrounding areas. We definitely know we want to live on the VA side due to my family. He would like to have a commute no more than an hour/hour 15 min. and anything less is a bonus.

I have no idea about commute times from any areas, so what is the commute from Manassas or surrounding areas? We live about a ten minute bus ride/drive from Boston's subway here and his overall commute door to door would be 45 minutes if it was absolute record time, usually it's around an hour and ten minutes.
I hope I don't sound rude, it's not at all my intent--but really, wait until he knows which job he has and you find out where the job is before you start thinking about neighborhoods. If the job is in downtown DC you do not want to live in Manassas. You'll want to live close to DC. I'm not sure how long the commute from Manassas to DC would be but it would definitely be at least an hour, probably longer.
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Old 04-12-2009, 02:43 PM
 
Location: Clifton
4 posts, read 9,796 times
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When my oldest son (who is now 6.5) was 1 we lived in a townhouse off of Liberia in Manassas. It was awful. We moved out after only being in the house a year. Neighborhood crime was crazy... there were always people throwing parties late at night, there were even shootings on Liberia. The whole area there seemed run down and it was such a strange mix of people since the cost of living in all of NoVa is so crazy. You'd have people that had been in their homes forever and they were run down and crappy and then people that had just paid a ton to move in to the house next door so they'd try to fix it up... weird mesh when you're looking down the street.
I'm sure there are some nice areas in Manassas but overall I hated it and would never recommend it to someone with a family if there were other options available.
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Old 04-12-2009, 02:54 PM
 
Location: Clifton
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Just wanted to add - nice places with that type of town feel that you could walk around in are City of Falls Church and Old Town Alexandria. Housing costs will definitely be higher than in Manassas though.
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Old 04-12-2009, 02:59 PM
 
Location: Virginia-Shenandoah Valley
6,583 posts, read 10,890,459 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by normie View Post
I hope I don't sound rude, it's not at all my intent--but really, wait until he knows which job he has and you find out where the job is before you start thinking about neighborhoods. If the job is in downtown DC you do not want to live in Manassas. You'll want to live close to DC. I'm not sure how long the commute from Manassas to DC would be but it would definitely be at least an hour, probably longer.
I've lived in Manassas since the early 80's and I can't wait to get out. I'm close to Old Town. If your husband wants a commute an hour or less I'd suggest either taking VRE which is in Old Town or moving closer to DC. As far as walking to schools you've only got Osbourn HS and Baldwin Elem. My kids went to both. Both did well but they both referred to Osbourn as Ghetto High. They got a good education and as long as the kids stay away from the bad element they'll do fine. Old Town is okay but it has a long ways to go IMO.
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Old 04-12-2009, 03:02 PM
 
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When I lived in Manassas, my neighbor left before me and got home after me--she worked in DC. I also had 4 hours off in the middle of the day, and was still getting paid for 7+hours per day as a school bus driver.

How someone could spend 12.5 hours, door to door to get paid for 8 is beyond me.
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Old 04-12-2009, 05:21 PM
 
Location: Falls Church, VA
722 posts, read 1,755,993 times
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If your husband does end up working in DC, then Manassas probably won't fit his commute criteria. Taking VRE from Manassas to L'Enfant Plaza (the most direct, easiest way to do it) is a little over an hour just on the VRE itself. Never mind the time it will take your husband to get from home to the train station in Manassas and from L'Enfant Plaza to his office in DC. Unless he's living and working right next door to both train stations, you're looking at a good 90 minutes plus.

The City of Falls Church, zip code 22046 (a distinct entity from the bigger area called Falls Church in Fairfax County) would absolutely meet your criteria, as someone else suggested. But finding something to buy there in your price range would be a distinct challenge - 2 bedroom townhouses are listing in Falls Church City for the low 300s, but I imagine you want more space than that with 2 kids.

Burke might fit the bill - there is a VRE station there and the ride is shorter than from Manassas. Schools are excellent. Townhouses are relatively reasonably priced, for the area. Schools are fantastic. You'd still be pushing the upper limit of your husband's commute, though, and much of Burke isn't as walkable as you might like.

Fairfax City could do the trick, as long as you're near the Old Town area there. The commute would be okay, and the schools too.
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Old 04-13-2009, 02:06 PM
 
21 posts, read 67,235 times
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Thanks very much for the suggestions. I was thinking that Manassas would be as far out as we could possibly go, depending on where he ends up. I will check out Falls Church and some of the other areas. Thanks for the zip codes!
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