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Old 04-29-2009, 10:25 PM
 
3 posts, read 3,737 times
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Currently my family and I live in central Texas, in a little town near Ft. Hood. Yet, I'm in the process of trying to obtain government employment in the DC area. However, I'm not too sure where to live!

My family is a family of four. My two small children are 8 and 6. Where we live now...we don't have major crime or violence, the people where I live in Texas are friendly and warm. The schools are clean and very protective. Sounds like a movie, but it's true. While researching locations in north Virginia, I'm looking to find a warm down to earth environment that is at least a 25 to 45 min commuting distance from DC and a safe place for my family to live.

I would say that the main concerns are:
Safe & clean School districts
Community safety
Small town culture
Low crime
Affordable housing areas
Entertainment for couples and families

I was told that areas like Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Fredericksburg, and Stafford, were all pretty safe areas. Is this true? Feedback on this subject would be very appreciative and beneficial to my search.

Thank you,
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Old 04-29-2009, 10:33 PM
 
Location: -
488 posts, read 1,583,363 times
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If you want a 45 minute commute, I would not look at Fredericksburg or Stafford, unless you plan to commute via commuter bus or slug to work to downtown DC.
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Old 04-29-2009, 11:20 PM
 
24 posts, read 57,269 times
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Stafford and Fairfax have the best schools among the choices you listed. Stafford is a safe area for the most part, as are most areas of Fairfax, though not all...

For a small town community, you might take a look at Reston. It's a community within a community, and that is probably about as close as any to 'small town' feel. Everything is solidly built up throughout northern VA, so if you really want small town, you're going to have to go an hour and a half out or so.

As for affordable housing, it really depends, but nothing in the nicer areas of Northern VA is inexpensive.
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Old 04-30-2009, 06:29 AM
 
Location: DMV/Bos/NYC?
183 posts, read 614,956 times
Reputation: 109
Coming from Texas, what size house are you wanting to move into? The reason that I ask is that it will greatly affect where you are able to live (depending on your budget). 25-45 minutes commute to DC in an area with good schools is going to cost you, especially if you are looking for a single family.
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Old 04-30-2009, 06:59 AM
 
2,688 posts, read 5,952,779 times
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Really we would need to know your housing budget to give any useful advice.
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Old 04-30-2009, 10:16 AM
 
1,182 posts, read 2,537,230 times
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Safe & clean School districts Fairfax, Virginia.
Community safety Burke/Fairfax...relatively safe. If you're from the south, no where will feel as safe as what you're used to.
Small town culture None really. We are transplanted southerners. While people will tell you that some areas have a "small town feel", I haven't experienced that at all.
Low crime Again, Fairfax/ Burke has relatively little crime. All of the DC suburbs have crime that is higher than what you're used to at Ft. Hood/Killeen. I'm assuming Killeen is the small town you refer to?
Affordable housing areas None compared to the southeast. The problem is that if you find "affordable housing", it likely won't be in an area that you want to live in.
Entertainment for couples and families Really, anywhere in the area offers that.

Fredericksburg is a hell of a commute. Lots of people do it, and you can take the train in. But everyone I know that does it complains about it.

I would stay out of Springfield, VA as well as the Germantown/Gaithersburg areas of Maryland.
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Old 04-30-2009, 10:25 AM
 
6,226 posts, read 6,826,964 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mississippimagnolia View Post
Safe & clean School districts Fairfax, Virginia.
Community safety Burke/Fairfax...relatively safe. If you're from the south, no where will feel as safe as what you're used to.
Small town culture None really. We are transplanted southerners. While people will tell you that some areas have a "small town feel", I haven't experienced that at all.
Low crime Again, Fairfax/ Burke has relatively little crime. All of the DC suburbs have crime that is higher than what you're used to at Ft. Hood/Killeen. I'm assuming Killeen is the small town you refer to?
Affordable housing areas None compared to the southeast. The problem is that if you find "affordable housing", it likely won't be in an area that you want to live in.
Entertainment for couples and families Really, anywhere in the area offers that.

Fredericksburg is a hell of a commute. Lots of people do it, and you can take the train in. But everyone I know that does it complains about it.

I would stay out of Springfield, VA as well as the Germantown/Gaithersburg areas of Maryland.
I live in Springfield, in a very nice area. Been living here for 20 years and is very safe. Now, of course there is a pocket that may not be the best but even there crime is a small amount. And, like everyone says, location, location, location and that is what Springfield has that many others don't.
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Old 04-30-2009, 10:31 AM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
30,107 posts, read 67,215,654 times
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I'll second the nod for Reston. I have just signed a lease for an apartment that is within walking distance of the quasi-urban Reston Town Center in one direction and to quaint Lake Anne in another direction. I can take a pedestrian tunnel underneath a busier parkway and emerge near to a shopping center that is home to a Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, etc. Even though Reston doesn't have many sidewalks, it has a very extensive trail network linking various neighborhoods and apartment complexes to shopping areas, parks, and municipal services. You'd be under a 45-minute commute into DC. Also bear in mind that employment options are very dispersed geographically in our nation's capital due to the height restrictions for new development. You may be referencing DC as your "home base", assuming that most of the jobs are there, but you'll soon learn that there are various major employment centers throughout Northern Virginia and Maryland as well (Dulles Tech Corridor, Tyson's Corner, Bethesda, etc.)

I'm unsure of the reputation of the public schools, but considering roughly 2/3 of adults in Reston have at least a Bachelor's Degree (with many more having terminal degrees), I would assume that such highly-educated parents would beget generally well-performing children. Housing is very expensive in NoVA, but bargains can always be found. A friend of mine just leased a place in Parc Reston, around the corner from my own complex, for $1,098/month. I'm leasing a 960-square-foot one-bedroom on a golf course for $1,135/month. Two more friends of mine are rooming together in Centerville and are only paying about $550/month each for rent for a two-bedroom unit. You may wish to rent for your first year in NoVA until you get a better "lay of the land." I've already decided that as my income level rises I'll be able to more aggressively begin saving to leave the suburbs and forge right into the more densely-populated, "hipper", and more pedestrian-friendly Arlington or Alexandria.

Welcome to the Reston Town Center.

lakeanneplaza.com (http://www.lakeanneplaza.com/lap_site_/lap_idx.htm - broken link)

In my neighborhood (Archstone at Charter Oak along North Shore Drive), young children will attend Lake Anne Elementary School, which supposedly has a very good reputation:

https://www.fcps.edu/LakeAnneES/

I really didn't find much fault with anything in Reston. My two top complaints would have to be the lack of sidewalks (which is mitigated by the extensive trail system) and the fact that seemingly every other person my age (22) besides me was driving around in an Audi or BMW, making me feel very insignificant and leaving me wondering how they could afford them.

If nothing else consider an investment in Reston to be a very solid investment in your future. I didn't realize it when I signed the dotted line for my lease, but when the Metro's Silver Line finally becomes operational in about five or six years I'll be within a very short walk of a station, giving me ease of access to DC via a transfer to the Orange Line. I think people who own single-family homes today near to proposed Silver Line Metro stations will see their property values SOAR once the new line is in place.
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Old 04-30-2009, 11:00 AM
 
1,182 posts, read 2,537,230 times
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The thing about Springfield is that you really have to know the area. There are some good parts of Springfield. But at the same time, there are some horrible areas. *sigh. I remember when all of Springfield was really nice.
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Old 04-30-2009, 11:58 AM
 
6,226 posts, read 6,826,964 times
Reputation: 3098
Quote:
Originally Posted by mississippimagnolia View Post
The thing about Springfield is that you really have to know the area. There are some good parts of Springfield. But at the same time, there are some horrible areas. *sigh. I remember when all of Springfield was really nice.
Explain horrible. To me horrible is an area with drug dealers on the corners blasting guns at each other, drive bys etc. Boarded up row houses etc. 3 legged dogs digging into trash cans spewing garbage all around. You seem to explain Springfield as half good the other half is bad. Unless you are referring to the mostly hispanic area in downtown Springfield which isn't crime ridden, aint the best but is still a small part of Springfield. I just don't see this horrible thing.
If you think about it, a town that is center of 495, 395 and 95, Springfield, instead of being downtrodden, is the opposite in a perfect area to reach many spots in the Metro area.
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