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Old 04-23-2009, 05:41 PM
 
4 posts, read 5,855 times
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Hi all, first post on this forum, I have used the search functions but am trying to get a running start. I would really appreciate some suggestions of where to live in Virginia; I think northern VA is where we are probably oging to end up. My wife recently was given notice that her job (pediatric dentist) will end late this year; I am finishing law school (1-yr left).

We currently live in Ann Arbor, MI. We have a 6-month old daughter. While we could generate a pretty high combined income, we prefer to live well within our means and work less (probably more an option for her than me). We hope that the area we move to will have as many of the following as possible:

1) outstanding school system
2) MUST be w/in 1 hr drive of an INTERNATIONAL airport
3) racial/ethnic diversity (we are white...she lived in Brazil most of her life)
4) homes with at least 1/2 acre, some neighbors, $225k range
5) we would each like our commute to be a half hour or less
6) a Whole Foods (or similar) close enough for regular shopping
7) a good state university within an hour or so's drive

Except for item #1, these are my wife's requirements. I lived in NC for three years, otherwise in MI my whole life. I would prefer a location with MUCH more land, even a farm, so any kind of nearby outdoors activities (great parks, open land, mountains) would be great. I have no desire to ever walk on a salt-water beach, but my wife would like it. As I remember from visits to VA, it's fairly easy to do mountains-beach trip in short order.

I am an avid shooting sports enthusiast (not a 'gun-nut'). I know VA has liberal individual gun ownership legislation in place. Any info on ranges or the amount of land one must own or where it must be for construciton of a personal firing range would be appreciated, too.

So, if you made it through my admittedly cumbersome post and you know of a place that fits some of the listed items, please post a reply. Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-23-2009, 05:56 PM
 
427 posts, read 973,357 times
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How many bedrooms and bathrooms will you need? Do you care how old your home is? Do you mind taking on a fixer-upper, or would you prefer something in move-in condition?
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Old 04-23-2009, 06:09 PM
 
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Maybe I should move to Ann Arbor if I could get all of that for $225K.

Assuming you will work in DC, you'll probably have to spend more like $800K+ to meet your needs in NoVA. Basically North Arlington, parts of McLean, and maybe parts of the City of Falls Church within walking distance of Metro would meet your needs (except for cost). If you stretch out the commute to an hour, you'll start to hit Vienna, Oakton, Fairfax, Burke, and West Springfield for more affordability. But getting a 1/2 acre for less than $500K is going to be very difficult.

I'm looking for the same things, but I've already determined I'd settle for 1/6 of an acre, 45 min. to 1 hr. commute, a semi-modern house in good shape, and an outstanding public school. I'm struggling to find anything good for less than $600K.

Are you thinking of moving here to spend your 3L at George Mason or a DC law school? Anyways, I would just rent until you get a decent job, then look to buy.

Last edited by slim04; 04-23-2009 at 06:24 PM..
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Old 04-23-2009, 06:32 PM
 
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1st reply: 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, around 2000 sq feet minimum, also need a full basement and at least 2-car garage. I don't mind an older house, but would prefer it already renovated, professionally and completely. We need 'modern-sized place' if that makes sense. She is 5'10", I am 6'4", we are both athletic. Higher cupboards, ceilings, doorways, windows, mirrors, showerheads, etc. is a huge difference in quality of life. Thanks.

2nd reply: Yeah, I figured in NoVa...that's higher than I expected, though...sheesh! Even with our 'lofty' education status that seems ridiculously high. I guess I'm just used to lots of farmland around.

I am sure we will rent for at least a year before buying. I doubt I will transfer to finish, but it is a slim possibility. I really wanted to stay away from the fast-paced high-cost areas, but my wife will love that. She's somewhat accustomed to high living. The better the balance between the two that we can find, the better off we will both be. Thanks for the reply.

Another question - are salaries commensurately higher with the cost of living? And are jobs plentiful, or constricted like the rest of the country (esp. MI)? As stated in original post, wife will be pediatric dentist, I hope to work for the gov or NRA, or anywhere, really, for starters. BTW - I also have a Master's in Social Work from U of M Ann Arbor.

Closing on a million bucks for a 1/2 acre. Outrageous. And you're having trouble with the sacrifices you've made to your want list at $600k?Wow. We have 1/4 acre lot here, built a 2,000 sq foot house in '02, we have an acre of woods attached to our property, 600-acre nature preserves right across the road, 15 minutes from Ann Arbor and it's incredible park system. Could buy our house now for $150k (due to economy).
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Old 04-23-2009, 06:37 PM
 
427 posts, read 973,357 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by furioso View Post
1st reply: 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, around 2000 sq feet minimum, also need a full basement and at least 2-car garage. I don't mind an older house, but would prefer it already renovated, professionally and completely. We need 'modern-sized place' if that makes sense. She is 5'10", I am 6'4", we are both athletic. Higher cupboards, ceilings, doorways, windows, mirrors, showerheads, etc. is a huge difference in quality of life. Thanks.
In that case, slim04 laid it out pretty well. You *might* be able to keep within your budget if you purchased a total reno, but of course financing that would be more challenging, and the thought of trying to rebuild a home with a 6-month old in the house isn't pretty.

You'll get a better feel for the area after you've rented here for a while. Besides just figuring out where you can afford to live monetarily, you'll figure out where you really want to live. This area's huge and diverse, so it'll pay off nicely to have educated yourself via immersion before you buy.

Best of luck with your move! I hope you love your new hometown.
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Old 04-23-2009, 06:40 PM
 
Location: Town of Herndon/DC Metro
2,282 posts, read 5,570,810 times
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I know you mentioned that you and your wife had some higher education but you should be warned that this area is one of the most over-educated in the nation. It seems like everyone has their law degree and many many people have at least a masters. It will make you somewhat average here I'm afraid. Good Luck!
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Old 04-23-2009, 06:51 PM
 
Location: Fredericksburg, VA
738 posts, read 3,560,738 times
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While not the nicest area, Sterling Park might be your answer. you'll be able to get a single family home in your price range, on a decent sized lot... though the home will probably be 40-50 years old. You'd be very close to Dulles International Airport. There is racial and ethnic diversity. There are some large employers in the area, and two parks. There is a WholeFoods nearby in Reston.

Not too sure about the schools, or how close a good university is. I know GMU would easily be within an hour.

I'm sure some people who live closer to this area will be able to help you further. Good luck!
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Old 04-23-2009, 06:52 PM
 
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If you are talking about the National Rifle Association, which is located in western Fairfax County, that's a different story and opens a lot more possibilities (thinking parts of Loudon county).

However, if you are working on K St. in NW DC, there just isn't many properties that are a 1/2 acre within a 1/2 hour commute. And the ones that exist are just super expensive, often $1M+, if its in an outstanding school district (i.e. not South Arlington or Alexandria).

I think government attorneys start at $70K or so and make $130K within 4 or 5 years. I would think an association that is well funded like the NRA would pay more, but probably would mostly hire laterals from law firms.

The law firms are paying about $125K to $160K to start, but just aren't hiring at all unless you are already part of their summer program. Everyone is nervous about getting layoffs because they haven't been as bad as in DC or California, but the hammer might come down anytime. It's probably going to be that way for a while, so government or association work seems pretty attractive to a lot of folks right now.
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Old 04-23-2009, 07:09 PM
 
7,966 posts, read 18,041,228 times
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The job market in the DC area, particularly in Northern Virginia, has been traditionally strong, thanks primarily to the Federal Government and the many companies and organizations that find it beneficial to be near them. It's sort of like Las Vegas in the boom years except instead of casinos you have contractors. This drives up salaries but not enough to keep pace with the cost of housing. People who move here learn to adjust their expectations by buying a small, close-in property or a larger property that includes an hour-plus commute.

As it's not uncommon to pay $225K for a 1B condo, there will definitely be tradeoffs to find a detached home with land, short of a drastic foreclosure. Sterling Park was a good suggestion. So would parts of Woodbridge. However, that comes at a different sort of "price" that has been discussed in many threads.

I'd imagine that the cost of housing in Michigan is skewed in a different direction. The unfortunate reality is that $225K just isn't going to get you very far around here... or rather, it will get you far from where you want to be.
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Old 04-23-2009, 07:16 PM
 
2,462 posts, read 8,042,400 times
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Given your list, you should probably rule out working in DC. There is no way you can find a place within 30 minutes (or 45) that meets your criteria for anything close to $225K. The previous posters are right about that. Three times that is more like it.
With one year of law school left, you should have already lined up a summer position. If you haven't, then it will be extremely difficult for you to find a decent position in the DC area, which has always been one of the most competitive markets for new attorneys. Most firms hire through their summer associate programs; for government positions, you will be competing with top students from the best schools across the country.
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