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Old 01-12-2010, 09:16 PM
 
33 posts, read 95,368 times
Reputation: 13

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Budget per month 5K (ideally a 3 bed, 2 bath rental...not sure if we want to buy right away)

Wish List:

Top Three
- under 30 minute commute (by car or metro to downtown DC)
- excellent schools (2 young kids, the oldest will enter 1st grade)
- neighborhood with very low crime

Great to have
- excellent town library
- strong community/recreation programs for children (sports/art)
- YMCA or large gym (like the SportsClubLA in DC)
- Starbucks
- WholeFoods or Wegmans within 10 minutes
- Target within 15 minutes

I know the last few sound silly, but we are temporarily in NY for the year and I took those last items for granted in our former home. Any help would be appreciated. A few folks have suggested McLean, but I know nothing of the area (other than what I have read on this great board). Thanks to all of the local contributors!!
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Old 01-13-2010, 05:13 AM
 
2,462 posts, read 8,043,542 times
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For $5K, you can easily find everything on your list. In fact, you could probably spend less. The 30 minute commute thing will be the biggest challenge.

Parts of McLean might work, but the 30 minute commute by car might be iffy (closest metro stops are in Falls Church area, several miles away at least). From my house in McLean, right off the GW Parkway, you can get downtown in about 15 minutes, but during "rush" hour it can take 45, depending on traffic, weather, construction, accidents, etc. If you can leave really early in the morning, 30 minutes might be realistic.

North Arlington is closer, and there are Metro stops along the Orange Line. But unless you are living within a 5 minute walk of the station, you have to factor in the time it takes to get to the station, to park there if you have to drive, to wait for a train that is not packed full, and to walk to the office at the other end. When I lived in Arlington, near the East Falls Church metro, the trip downtown to my office near McPherson Square took nearly 50 minutes door to door.
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Old 01-13-2010, 05:22 AM
 
Location: Falls Church, VA
722 posts, read 1,752,398 times
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There is no Wegmans within 30 minutes of DC. They are all far out in the suburbs. Unfortunately! There are tons of Whole Foods around, though. Trader Joes, too.

The closest Target on the Virginia side is in Falls Church, right near the Arlington border. There are several Targets further out, too.

Starbucks will not be a problem just about anywhere here (I have 2 in walking distance from my home in Falls Church City). Neither will large gyms. Certainly if you're willing to spend up to 5K, you will get in a Starbucks-friendly area

Last edited by athousandlogins; 01-13-2010 at 05:32 AM..
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Old 01-13-2010, 07:00 AM
 
7,966 posts, read 18,044,996 times
Reputation: 2588
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane09 View Post
Budget per month 5K (ideally a 3 bed, 2 bath rental...not sure if we want to buy right away)

Wish List:

Top Three
- under 30 minute commute (by car or metro to downtown DC)
- excellent schools (2 young kids, the oldest will enter 1st grade)
- neighborhood with very low crime

Great to have
- excellent town library
- strong community/recreation programs for children (sports/art)
- YMCA or large gym (like the SportsClubLA in DC)
- Starbucks
- WholeFoods or Wegmans within 10 minutes
- Target within 15 minutes

I know the last few sound silly, but we are temporarily in NY for the year and I took those last items for granted in our former home. Any help would be appreciated. A few folks have suggested McLean, but I know nothing of the area (other than what I have read on this great board). Thanks to all of the local contributors!!
You can probably find most of what you're looking for in the Old Town or Del Ray neighborhoods in Alexandria. Granted, if you're looking for a detached single family home with copious amounts of land, you won't find either in Old Town and not much of the latter in Del Ray.

Old Town tends to be populated by those who can appreciate and maintain the historic value of their homes and, in some cases, enjoy the riverfront views. Del Ray is popular with young families and those 30+ who consider themselves at least mildly progressive/liberal.

By Northern Virginia standards, Alexandria schools don't have quite the reputation of those in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties but involved parents are increasingly placing their motivated kids into the system with success. There's a lot of activity between the elementary school in Del Ray and the Barrett branch library next door. I would say the library system as a whole is top-notch.

Lots of alternative health/yoga places in Del Ray. Two gyms (Sport & Health Club, Snap Fitness) as well as a few other yoga establishments in Old Town.

There's a Target in Potomac Yards just east of Del Ray, north of Old Town and south of Arlington's Crystal City area. Trader Joe's is in North Old Town while Whole Foods is in "SW" Old Town near the King Street Metro station.

No Starbucks in Del Ray but at least two or three local cafes. Perhaps two Starbucks in Old Town with several more regional/local options.

And yes, Wegman's apparently requires more land than is available in the usually high density close-in areas here.

Old Town is served by three Metro stations: Eisenhower Ave, King St. and Braddock Road. Del Ray is served by Braddock Road. On a good (and early) day, a commute up Washington St./George Washington Parkway would get you into DC in much less than 30 minutes. However, as you can imagine, the relatively narrow road is rather popular.
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Old 01-13-2010, 07:12 AM
 
3,378 posts, read 3,235,208 times
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I agree with most of what Tone said. There is also a Starbucks in the Potomac Yards complex (which also has a grocery store, best buy, Target, movie theter, etc.) There is also a nicer neighborhood just west of Del Ray, which has mostly detached homes with decent sized yards. The zip code is 22302.
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Old 01-13-2010, 09:23 AM
 
2 posts, read 5,152 times
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I know the others are referring to areas a little closer to DC, but I think you have to check out the Fairfax (Fair Oaks) - Chantilly area. We moved here from Alaska five years ago and I still rave to this day how fortunate we were to end up in such a wonderful area. In Fair Oaks, there is a very nice mall, Wegman's, Target, Starbucks, Fairfax Corner, Whole Foods........all of them in a 10 minute radius. Not to mention this area does not have a lot of crime at all. It has easy access to I-66 and a metro stop about 10 minutes down I-66.
I work in Alexandria....don't move there unless you really like the Old Town lifestyle. It isn't really a place for kids. More so for the young couples with no children, or the retired......and it seems like the "bad" areas of town are always right around the corner here. Probably because it is so close to route 1.
The Fairfax County School System is one of the best in the nation and you truly get a sense that they really care for your child. The children in Fairfax County are achievers. We are facing some pretty serious FY2011 budget cuts.......but I think that is nation wide. Old Town Fairfax just built a brand new library and it is truly beautiful. As far as recreation is concerned, you will be amazed. We have the NVRPA-Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, and the Fairfax County Park Authority. These parks all have pools and mini golf and camping areas, christmas lights, corn mazes, fall festivals....... I really think after reading your post, that this is the area for you. I could go on and on but will stop there. Check it out and best wishes
[url=http://www.fairfaxcorner.com/]Welcome to Fairfax Corner - 4245 Summit Corner Dr. #254 Fairfax, VA 22030[/url]
[url=http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/]Fairfax County Park Authority[/url]
[url=http://www.nvrpa.org/]Welcome to NVRPA[/url]
[URL="http://www.shopeastmarket.com"]www.shopeastmarket.com[/URL]
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Old 01-13-2010, 09:46 AM
 
Location: Reston, VA
2,005 posts, read 3,528,323 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SOCCERMOM79 View Post
I know the others are referring to areas a little closer to DC, but I think you have to check out the Fairfax (Fair Oaks) - Chantilly area. We moved here from Alaska five years ago and I still rave to this day how fortunate we were to end up in such a wonderful area. In Fair Oaks, there is a very nice mall, Wegman's, Target, Starbucks, Fairfax Corner, Whole Foods........all of them in a 10 minute radius. Not to mention this area does not have a lot of crime at all. It has easy access to I-66 and a metro stop about 10 minutes down I-66.
I work in Alexandria....don't move there unless you really like the Old Town lifestyle. It isn't really a place for kids. More so for the young couples with no children, or the retired......and it seems like the "bad" areas of town are always right around the corner here. Probably because it is so close to route 1.
The Fairfax County School System is one of the best in the nation and you truly get a sense that they really care for your child. The children in Fairfax County are achievers. We are facing some pretty serious FY2011 budget cuts.......but I think that is nation wide. Old Town Fairfax just built a brand new library and it is truly beautiful. As far as recreation is concerned, you will be amazed. We have the NVRPA-Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, and the Fairfax County Park Authority. These parks all have pools and mini golf and camping areas, christmas lights, corn mazes, fall festivals....... I really think after reading your post, that this is the area for you. I could go on and on but will stop there. Check it out and best wishes
Welcome to Fairfax Corner - 4245 Summit Corner Dr. #254 Fairfax, VA 22030
Fairfax County Park Authority
Welcome to NVRPA
www.shopeastmarket.com
All good things . . . but FairOaks/Chantilly is an hour or more commute to DC! A 30 minute commute was at the top the original posters list. I-66 is a very problematic road!
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Old 01-13-2010, 09:55 AM
 
Location: TX
3,029 posts, read 10,643,172 times
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OP...Where in DC is the job. That would be key in getting a 30minute commute. (the hardest part of your request!)

If you are going to Federal Triangel say L'Enfant you have more options because that's close to metro hubs where many lines stop.

Arlington for metro travel and McLean for car travel. but I still doubt that you can do it 30 minutes all the time. 45 minutes would be more realistic.
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Old 01-13-2010, 09:55 AM
 
5,330 posts, read 6,123,043 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SOCCERMOM79 View Post
I work in Alexandria....don't move there unless you really like the Old Town lifestyle. It isn't really a place for kids. More so for the young couples with no children, or the retired......and it seems like the "bad" areas of town are always right around the corner here. Probably because it is so close to route 1.
I disagree very much. There are many playgrounds all around Alexandria, and they are typically full during peak playtime in good weather. I don't know the particulars about Old Town itself, but I do see lots of children at Marina Park (between Lee and Union).

Del Ray and Rosemont in particular have many children. There are community activities for children. They close off Mt Vernon Ave on Halloween so the kids can parade down it. There is a fall festival, outdoor kids' movies in the summer, school festivals, and more.

What I've found is that there may or may not be children in the homes immediately surrounding your own, so in that case it isn't like the subdivision cul-de-sac experience of my childhood where it seemed every single family had children. But there are plenty of children in the communities, and school friends to be made who are neighbors (your kid's best friend in school probably won't be a bus rider to a community miles away, but rather, live a few blocks away from you).

As for bad areas, there are a few pockets of them, but not around every corner. Some of the rowhouses in some areas may look a little shabby and perhaps that's giving you a feeling of "bad area". Outside of Arlandria, crime in Alexandria is low. As low as Fair Oaks? No. Crime-free? No.

After all this defense of Alexandria - I do have to acknowledge that Alexandria public schools don't have the high performance or reputation of some Fairfax County schools, particularly western ones. This stems from having a higher ratio of disadvantaged children, which you probably don't have in places like McLean.
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Old 01-13-2010, 09:57 AM
 
7,966 posts, read 18,044,996 times
Reputation: 2588
Quote:
Originally Posted by SOCCERMOM79 View Post
I work in Alexandria....don't move there unless you really like the Old Town lifestyle. It isn't really a place for kids. More so for the young couples with no children, or the retired......and it seems like the "bad" areas of town are always right around the corner here. Probably because it is so close to route 1.
I respectfully disagree with this portion of your post. Old Town is not inexpensive, for sure, but families do live and frequent the neighborhood. Very few undesirable areas in Alexandria; you may be referring to the parts of the unincorporated portion of Alexandria located in Fairfax County. Even then, there are lots of desirable neighborhoods within a mile of the "infamous" Route 1.

Alexandria is a small city so it has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on one's situation. But given the OP's generous budget and preference for closer-in locales, it might be worth looking into.
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