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Old 08-19-2009, 05:59 AM
 
10,596 posts, read 12,090,790 times
Reputation: 6458

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajzjmsmom View Post
I want to chime in and say that everyone here is real big into test scores for the schools, but after having researched NOVA for the last year I know that even their worst schools are ten times better than alot of the "best schools" in other parts of the country.

As I have mentioned before my hubby has a friend that lives out in Woodbridge and rides the commuter bus into DC everyday and says the commute is not that bad.

I would agree with renting for the first year, rent in PWC and see how you like the commute.

Everything you say is true. It is all in what you get used to also. Most of the people saying that the Woodbridge commute is awful or ridiculous or many of the other adjectives used don't actually make the commute. I'm guilty of this myself. Plenty of people commute from far-off Fredericksburg and are sane and happy. I would probably come on this site and tell you how God awful that commute is. It's all your perspective and what you can live with. For me, there were only a few instances in my life that the Woodbridge commute has been "regrettable" and that was when I had no flexibility with my childcare and I was forced to be a single commuter during peak rush hour due to my work schedule. That was a painful 4 months but it was not permanent for me. Sure, being in Springfield would have been a LOT better but, really, it hasn't been too bad.

I agree also with the test scores. People and live and die by them. I have always felt that the test scores aren't really a reflection of how well the schools are doing/teaching. I think PWC and Fairfax are almost identical in their curriculum and their requirements for teachers. What differs between the two school systems is affluency. And anywhere you have more "priviledged" children, you are going to see higher scores. It then becomes up to the parent as to whether they want to subject their children to some of the diversity and economic differences that are present in the school systems outside of Fairfax County.
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Old 08-19-2009, 06:09 AM
 
2,728 posts, read 7,348,949 times
Reputation: 1060
Quote:
Originally Posted by live_strong28 View Post
Keep in mind that generally speaking, the lower cost of the homes/area, the lower the test scores.
That's not true. The schools in all areas are 100x better than anywhere we've lived.

Quote:
Originally Posted by live_strong28 View Post
Areas around NoVA are more expensive for a reason, and they include better schools, closer to jobs, closer to retail, closer to DC, and closer to public transportation.
That's not true. There's a lot of retail out in PWC, more jobs are springing up here and we also have the VRE and busses too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by live_strong28 View Post
I'm sure the schools would be fine overall, but just not as good as the more expensive areas.
Again, that's not true. Have you tried spending more time with your kid on their homework?


Quote:
Originally Posted by live_strong28 View Post
If you buy in PW County, and since you will be working in DC, for sure, you will be hating life during the commute.
That's not true. 14,000 people ride the VRE into the city daily on the VRE and don't hate life.
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Old 08-19-2009, 06:30 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,555 posts, read 12,620,837 times
Reputation: 8315
I think a lot depends on where you are coming from and what your expectations are. If you are used to a 10-minute commute to work, then a one-hour commute is going to be rough. If you are used to living in a nice-sized house in an inexpensive city, you might get frustrated at what you can find here for $300,000.

On the other hand, if you currently have no job or are losing a job, then having a job and home will be most important to you, with commute and size of home secondary.

Having said that, to me $80,000 doesn't sound impossible. I don't think we were living on much more than that even a few years ago. But we bought our home before the housing skyrocketed, and while prices have come down some, they haven't come down anywhere near the year 2000 level when we bought. So housing IS still pretty expensive here. But there are bargains to be found, too since there are some people anxious to get out. And with this area being transient, there are always people moivng.

I think you need to write up a budget and be realistic about costs to see if you can make it work here. And be prepared to buy an older or smaller house for $300,000 or one farther out and have a 1-hour commute to work. Feel free to ask any other questions or perhaps give us more info. and we can guide you better.
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Old 08-19-2009, 06:31 AM
 
Location: Arlington, VA and Washington, DC
23,566 posts, read 33,292,659 times
Reputation: 32125
Quote:
Originally Posted by Angel713 View Post
I hear that the Maryland suburbs of DC are usually cheaper, though the schools may not be as good. Depends on where you buy.
Maryland's suburbs are a lot cheaper but there are serious trade-offs.

Prince George's County- cheap housing but auto insurance rates are high, crime level is very high, and PG County schools are the second worst system in the DC area.

Montgomery County- Has widespread problem with illegal aliens, school system is very overrated, not much cheaper than NoVA and traffic can be a problem

Howard County- Has argubably the best school system in Maryland, pretty safe, problem is commuting to DC even worse to Northern VA

Charles County- school system is so-so, Commuting to DC is not easy, crime has been rising following a exodus from PG County
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Old 08-19-2009, 06:32 AM
 
5,330 posts, read 6,121,958 times
Reputation: 2624
Quote:
Originally Posted by CaseyMac View Post
First, congrats on the new opportunity. You must be very excited.

$80,000 is tough for a family of four in this area.
This just boggles my mind.

I lived in a 2BR condo in Alexandria City, with my family of 3, on under $55,000 a year.

6 years ago, a new job, $75K salary, and now a family of 4, and I bought a SFH in Alexandria City, at the height of the housing boom. I now make just under $90K.

In no way am I struggling. I don't send my kids to private school, though, and I don't have a house full of things I don't need, and my car cost under $20K. I do scrimp when on vacation, and my wife and I are very budget-conscious when it comes to purchases. Maybe others would think I live in squalor, compared to a stereotypical Fairfax County-McMansion-Audi-BMW lifestyle, but I sure don't feel that way.

I am not writing to brag. I am writing because my jaw drops when people say it's tough here on $80K. Define tough.
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Old 08-19-2009, 06:34 AM
 
Location: Falls Church, VA
722 posts, read 1,752,211 times
Reputation: 316
We are in a similar situation, but my husband makes around $100K. We're doing okay, financially (or we were until one of my kids had an unexpected hospital stay...). But we pay too much in rent. If we were living in PWC, we'd be doing a lot better I think $80K is doable, as long as you're careful with your money and don't have a lot of debt.

But I agree with those that say you might want to rent first to see exactly what the commute is like, and exactly how far your money will stretch out here. It's hard to decide from a distance exactly what tradeoffs you should make. But as someone who travels in stay-at-home mom circles, I can tell you that the vast majority of one-income families live far away and have far commutes, because this is what they can afford. But they do it; I'm SURE that my friends' husbands aren't all filthy rich...
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Old 08-19-2009, 06:36 AM
 
Location: Ashburn, VA
577 posts, read 1,784,143 times
Reputation: 299
Quote:
Originally Posted by bjohn209 View Post
Good questions:

1) We have the down payment for a house and are imagining paying $300,000, hopefully for a SFH, though a townhome might need to be a transitional option.
2) My wife doesn't work.
3) 2 young kids--a 3-year-old and a nearly one-year-old.
4) Would accept the trade-off of living further out--say in Prince William County.
You can do this in Loudoun County as well. As another poster said, if you don't have a lot of credit card or other big debts you can get by on that salary if you choose to be frugal. You also have HOV lanes you might be able to take advantage of on your commute if you ride share or have a qualifying hybrid (or motorcycle) vehicle. A townhome is a perfectly reasonable choice in this area and very common for people with young families - we did it ourselves and a few years later moved into a single family home in the same area.

There's no guarantee that your salary will increase over the years but more than likely it will so that will help. There's also the opportunity for your wife to get a part time job if times get tight. I know many families with "stay at home" moms who augment with part time work. Retail a few hours on the weekend, swimming instructor, Mary Kay, etc.

Congratulations on the new job and come on over to Virginia!
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Old 08-19-2009, 06:42 AM
 
Location: Ashburn, VA
577 posts, read 1,784,143 times
Reputation: 299
Quote:
Originally Posted by robbobobbo View Post
This just boggles my mind... Define tough.
I agree that it can be done - if you live within your means. If someone is making payments on more than one vehicle (especially if it's an expensive one), has debt, champagne tastes, likes expensive vacations, or tries to keep up with the Joneses it's going to be tough on that salary in this area.

Frugal living doesn't equal suffering!
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Old 08-19-2009, 06:46 AM
 
Location: somewhere
4,264 posts, read 8,138,890 times
Reputation: 3143
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristineVA View Post
Everything you say is true. It is all in what you get used to also. Most of the people saying that the Woodbridge commute is awful or ridiculous or many of the other adjectives used don't actually make the commute. I'm guilty of this myself. Plenty of people commute from far-off Fredericksburg and are sane and happy. I would probably come on this site and tell you how God awful that commute is. It's all your perspective and what you can live with. For me, there were only a few instances in my life that the Woodbridge commute has been "regrettable" and that was when I had no flexibility with my childcare and I was forced to be a single commuter during peak rush hour due to my work schedule. That was a painful 4 months but it was not permanent for me. Sure, being in Springfield would have been a LOT better but, really, it hasn't been too bad.

I agree also with the test scores. People and live and die by them. I have always felt that the test scores aren't really a reflection of how well the schools are doing/teaching. I think PWC and Fairfax are almost identical in their curriculum and their requirements for teachers. What differs between the two school systems is affluency. And anywhere you have more "priviledged" children, you are going to see higher scores. It then becomes up to the parent as to whether they want to subject their children to some of the diversity and economic differences that are present in the school systems outside of Fairfax County.

This is very true, in my husbands line of work he works long hours and always has. So I am very used to dealing with the kids by myself. So for us living in PWC won't be a big deal. DH says at least he won't be doing the driving unless he choses to. When we lived in Silver City, NM he drove 86 miles a day to work and there was no VRE or commuter bus for him to take. He says he would take Woodbridge and the commuting options over that anyday. We have learned to enjoy his 2 days off and understand quality over quantity. That's not to say somedays it sucks to be the one taking care of everything. You can make anyplace work it you CHOSE to.

Anyway to the OP you are the only one who knows your budget, just look at the websites for rentals and sales, there are lots of posts on here about average costs for utilities, just crunch your numbers and see if it is doable for your family. Gov't jobs are pretty hard to turn down since there is job security there and pretty decent benefits. Good luck to you and your family.
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Old 08-19-2009, 06:47 AM
 
Location: Arlington, VA and Washington, DC
23,566 posts, read 33,292,659 times
Reputation: 32125
Quote:
Originally Posted by robbobobbo View Post
This just boggles my mind.

I lived in a 2BR condo in Alexandria City, with my family of 3, on under $55,000 a year.

6 years ago, a new job, $75K salary, and now a family of 4, and I bought a SFH in Alexandria City, at the height of the housing boom. I now make just under $90K.

In no way am I struggling. I don't send my kids to private school, though, and I don't have a house full of things I don't need, and my car cost under $20K. I do scrimp when on vacation, and my wife and I are very budget-conscious when it comes to purchases. Maybe others would think I live in squalor, compared to a stereotypical Fairfax County-McMansion-Audi-BMW lifestyle, but I sure don't feel that way.

I am not writing to brag. I am writing because my jaw drops when people say it's tough here on $80K. Define tough.
k

See what living in your means does?
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