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Old 05-25-2009, 08:29 AM
 
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We have been in the burbs of New England and are excited to be close to a major city and lifestyle. We love Alex Old Town but want to make sure the high school experience is really excellent and we think we should probably look in Fairfax County. Happy not to own land but want a nice house. Our preference is older but townhouses are cool too. Kids are musical/dance oriented. No commute issues really. Any suggestions? - I'm scared of subdivisions and never making friends too!
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Old 05-25-2009, 08:40 AM
 
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What price range are you looking for and where will you be commuting to?
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Old 05-25-2009, 08:42 AM
 
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If you're loooking for "more urban than suburban," why not focus on Arlington rather than Fairfax? Schools are very good, the housing tends to be older and on smaller plots, and you're less likely to feel isolated in a subdivision.

If that doesn't work, I'd look at older houses or townhouses in McLean; despite its expensive reputation, prices are coming down there, too.

I'm sure posters could give you other suggestions if you were more specific as to your budget and other requirements; I focused on these areas because they are close to DC, more densely populated and less suburban than other parts of NoVa, and have good schools.
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Old 05-25-2009, 09:24 AM
 
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If you can afford it, Arlington, Bethesda, or Chevy-Chase. NOVA is very sub-division-y in general.
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Old 05-25-2009, 09:43 AM
 
715 posts, read 1,869,212 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steviez View Post
We have been in the burbs of New England and are excited to be close to a major city and lifestyle. We love Alex Old Town but want to make sure the high school experience is really excellent and we think we should probably look in Fairfax County. Happy not to own land but want a nice house. Our preference is older but townhouses are cool too. Kids are musical/dance oriented. No commute issues really. Any suggestions? - I'm scared of subdivisions and never making friends too!
First of all, the high schools in Alexandria aren't considered excellent.

Two "urban" areas with townhomes:

The Town of Vienna and the City of Falls Church. Both have the better schools in NoVa.

For Vienna, there are plenty of lower prices townhomes and apartments in the town itself and within the nearby outskirts. Also, the shopping strip along maple ave. will remind you of urban. An eclectic mix of yuppie (eg. Whole Foods) with dumpy (Popeye's Chicken).

The City of Falls Church has less shopping, and clearly less congestion (wider Broad St. vs. clogged Maple Ave.), but there are shopping options on opposite ends of the spectrum too (Long John Silver's and a few decent brew pubs like the Dogwood Tavern & Ireland's 4 Provinces). Slightly west of the City is Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and other upscale shopping options.

I think they are trying to remake the City of Falls Church into more upscale though, with a Harris Teeter coming soon. One good piece of news is that they're considering putting in a BJ's there. That would alleviate the need for people who live in the general area to have to trek out to Fair Oaks, Sterling, Fairfax, or even Arlington for their bulk purchasing.
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Old 05-25-2009, 10:24 AM
 
Location: Town of Herndon/DC Metro
2,289 posts, read 5,584,513 times
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Originally Posted by live_strong28 View Post

I think they are trying to remake the City of Falls Church into more upscale though, with a Harris Teeter coming soon. One good piece of news is that they're considering putting in a BJ's there. That would alleviate the need for people who live in the general area to have to trek out to Fair Oaks, Sterling, Fairfax, or even Arlington for their bulk purchasing.
Where is all that going?
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Old 05-25-2009, 11:33 AM
 
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There are some nice newer townhouses in the City of Falls Church, which has an excellent school system.
But most of Falls Church is single family homes, on smallish lots.
If you really love Alexandria, check out the T.C. Williams HS before you give up on that area. It serves a very diverse student body, and there have been some gang/violence issues in the past, but the very top students there seem to thrive. If you don't have stellar, self-starting students, however, it is probably not the best choice.
Arlington is much more urban than most of Fairfax County, but the neighborhoods in the highest-rated high school (Yorktown) are predominantly suburban-ish.
There are some nice townhouses in McLean, but they seem to attract a lot more empty-nesters than families with teenagers. And most of them aren't really within walking distance of anything but small shopping areas.
If the commute isn't an issue, you might consider Bethesda, in Montgomery County, especially the neighborhoods near the Bethesda Metro stop.
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Old 05-25-2009, 11:47 AM
 
5,071 posts, read 8,636,362 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by live_strong28 View Post
First of all, the high schools in Alexandria aren't considered excellent.

Two "urban" areas with townhomes:

The Town of Vienna and the City of Falls Church. Both have the better schools in NoVa.

For Vienna, there are plenty of lower prices townhomes and apartments in the town itself and within the nearby outskirts. Also, the shopping strip along maple ave. will remind you of urban. An eclectic mix of yuppie (eg. Whole Foods) with dumpy (Popeye's Chicken).

The City of Falls Church has less shopping, and clearly less congestion (wider Broad St. vs. clogged Maple Ave.), but there are shopping options on opposite ends of the spectrum too (Long John Silver's and a few decent brew pubs like the Dogwood Tavern & Ireland's 4 Provinces). Slightly west of the City is Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and other upscale shopping options.

I think they are trying to remake the City of Falls Church into more upscale though, with a Harris Teeter coming soon. One good piece of news is that they're considering putting in a BJ's there. That would alleviate the need for people who live in the general area to have to trek out to Fair Oaks, Sterling, Fairfax, or even Arlington for their bulk purchasing.
To be clear, the City of Alexandria has only one public high school - T.C. Williams. There are other high schools in Fairfax County with Alexandria addresses. One of them - Thomas Jefferson - is a magnet school (selective admissions) widely considered the top public school in the country. The remaining county schools with Alexandria addresses have test scores in the lower half of Fairfax County schools, although the test scores at some of these schools are above state and national averages.

Most would indeed consider the "Town of Vienna" and "City of Falls Church" schools to be very good. The Town of Vienna does not have its own school system, whereas the City of Falls Church does. Students from the Town of Vienna attend elementary schools that are located both within and outside the Town limits, Thoreau or Kilmer Middle, and James Madison High. Students in the City of Falls Church all attend Mary Ellen Henderson Middle and George Mason High. With the possible exception of a couple of the elementary schools located in the Town of Vienna, where some parents or prospective residents have recently expressed concerns, all these schools are very highly regarded. Even so, there may be some disagreement as to whether they are, in fact, "better" than a number of other schools in, for example, Arlington, Burke, Fairfax, McLean or other parts of Fairfax County with Falls Church or Vienna mailing addresses.

Based on the information the OP has supplied to date, Arlington still seems like the best bet for a quasi-urban experience, but it's interesting to know that the City of Falls Church may be attracting additional businesses. It wasn't too long ago that a poster suggested that McLean-area residents wouldn't tolerate a big-box retailer like BJ's anywhere in their vicinity!

Last edited by JD984; 05-25-2009 at 12:21 PM..
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Old 05-25-2009, 12:00 PM
 
5,071 posts, read 8,636,362 times
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Originally Posted by claremarie View Post
There are some nice newer townhouses in the City of Falls Church, which has an excellent school system.
But most of Falls Church is single family homes, on smallish lots.
If you really love Alexandria, check out the T.C. Williams HS before you give up on that area. It serves a very diverse student body, and there have been some gang/violence issues in the past, but the very top students there seem to thrive. If you don't have stellar, self-starting students, however, it is probably not the best choice.
Arlington is much more urban than most of Fairfax County, but the neighborhoods in the highest-rated high school (Yorktown) are predominantly suburban-ish.
There are some nice townhouses in McLean, but they seem to attract a lot more empty-nesters than families with teenagers. And most of them aren't really within walking distance of anything but small shopping areas.
If the commute isn't an issue, you might consider Bethesda, in Montgomery County, especially the neighborhoods near the Bethesda Metro stop.
I would think any prospective resident who'd consider TC Williams in Alexandria would also consider Washington-Lee in Arlington. It serves a more diverse student population than Yorktown, and its attendance area also includes some of the funkier, more urban neighborhoods of central Arlington, such as Lyon Village and most of Cherrydale, that have plenty of neat bungalows and other interesting older houses. Its test scores are lower than Yorktown's, but higher than the other traditional Arlington high school (Wakefield), and would be squarely in the middle of Fairfax high schools (comparable to Westfield) if W-L were located in Fairfax rather than Arlington.
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Old 05-25-2009, 12:03 PM
 
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,400 posts, read 25,817,519 times
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Does anyone know what high school services the Marymount University area near Ballston? That might be a fun area for your family, if the schools are at all decent. Unfortunately I don't know anything about the schools in that part of the county--but I'm sure someone else here does. There's no escaping subdivisions in Nova, but in some areas you don't notice them as much.
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