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Old 01-26-2010, 02:34 PM
 
Location: Basehor, KS
49 posts, read 99,954 times
Reputation: 36

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Hello, I just wanted to thank all the posters on this NoVA section of the forms. You guys are invaluable in outsiders quest to objectively categorize and think through our moves to the area. Everyday it seems like I learn something good and something bad about the area that helps shape my ever changing mental picture of what life will be like out there... so again thanks for all your guys time spent.

My questions relate to understanding what I don't know thus far from Googling and reading these forms. Things that can only come to you as a "feeling" and probably filled with non-objective bias'.

My family (wife and two twin daughters) and I will be moving from the midwest (Kansas City area) sometime in the late summer or early fall to work at a company in the Reston area (my wife and I's choice, we love what we see in the area and the east coast in general). We are looking at renting a a townhouse for $2000 or less, which does not seem to be a problem in the Reston/Herndon/Ashburn area. I currently make just under 100k a year and anticipate making around 110k or so after moving to the Reston area. I grew up in Little Rock AR until I was 13 and have lived in KC until now (I'm now 30) and my wife is originally from the Omaha NE area.

Aside from the "rude people" (especially as it relates to aggressive driving), and high cost of living, and awful traffic does anyone have any tips, surprises and/or "gotchas" they may have run into moving from the Midwest? I'm particularly interested in culture shock that other Midwesterner's may have been surprised by upon moving to the area.

Other then the culture shock, let me try and paint a picture of what I expect from NoVA:

  • Well educated, liberal attitudes and culture.
  • Much better mass-transit systems (as compared to KC and most other Midwest cities, including the bus system). This does not apply necessarily to the Reston area, but the NoVA/DC area in general. Even the bus system in KC is bad. It does not help that the general attitude that 'the bus is for poor minorities' is prevalent in the area, but the schedules and stops make most mass-transit options in reality a non-option.
  • Better education options for children as a whole for High Schools and definitely collages. This is not to say education is all sunshine and roses, but I get the impression that education, culture and overall worldly experiences are more valued by parents etc; therefore these values are better instilled to children. I also realize there are plenty of bad schools everywhere you (like there are some great schools around KC too), but I believe just by having once child grow up in an area such as DC metro their odds of being more cultured and educated increase which would be my goal for my daughters.
  • Much much better shopping and restaurants (again refering to the DC-NoVA metro, not specific to Reston).
  • Living in a state that bumps against the Ocean/Bays. Within 4 hours of driving to access lots of great summer time beaches (Ocean City, Virginia Beach etc etc).
  • Within 8 hours drive (most much closer) of many many of the most incredible, historic, and top notch cities and destinations in all of America. In KC the only cities of hug significance within 8 hours drive are St Louis and Minneapolis (Chicago just slightly longer).
  • Excellent for building careers / Tons of jobs.
  • Awful commute times. In KC we have a huge road infrastructure, with only 2million people to use it all (that's where all our potential mass-transit dollars are going I suppose) so there just really isn't any "real" traffic.
  • Cost of living is awful, but it appears to be almost exclusively housing. Things like gas etc is certainly more expensive then KC but over all not going to break the bank.
  • Slightly warmer then KC and less overall snow... but not by all that much.
  • Very humid in the summer (miserable?).
  • People are not really unfriendly and rude in NoVA. People may not make the aggressive attempts and smiling, helping, shaking your hand and initiating small talk like they would in the Midwest or the south, but they are still plenty of friendly people. The busy lifestyles of people in the area are not conducive to making friends quickly, but that does not mean they are rude and unfriendly. * Note this actually summarizes a lot of how my wife and I are as people.
  • Area is actually very receptive of outsiders because there are so many transplants and short-term relocation's in the area.
  • Many very interesting, historical and tight-knit neighborhoods throughout NoVA and DC; some with very good mass transit and 1700's-1800's architecture.
  • I potentially will be looked down upon for not having a Collage degree. Self taught in my field (Network Engineering) and I like to think I am not a complete dummy, but I know how these things can be go.
Anyway, please feel free to alter, dissolve or reinforce in any way my illusions of NoVA/DC area. If you actually read all this thanks for taking the time
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Old 01-26-2010, 04:38 PM
 
Location: Arlington, VA and Washington, DC
23,626 posts, read 33,408,180 times
Reputation: 32335
Quote:
Originally Posted by datbird View Post
Hello, I just wanted to thank all the posters on this NoVA section of the forms. You guys are invaluable in outsiders quest to objectively categorize and think through our moves to the area. Everyday it seems like I learn something good and something bad about the area that helps shape my ever changing mental picture of what life will be like out there... so again thanks for all your guys time spent.

My questions relate to understanding what I don't know thus far from Googling and reading these forms. Things that can only come to you as a "feeling" and probably filled with non-objective bias'.

My family (wife and two twin daughters) and I will be moving from the midwest (Kansas City area) sometime in the late summer or early fall to work at a company in the Reston area (my wife and I's choice, we love what we see in the area and the east coast in general). We are looking at renting a a townhouse for $2000 or less, which does not seem to be a problem in the Reston/Herndon/Ashburn area. I currently make just under 100k a year and anticipate making around 110k or so after moving to the Reston area. I grew up in Little Rock AR until I was 13 and have lived in KC until now (I'm now 30) and my wife is originally from the Omaha NE area.

Aside from the "rude people" (especially as it relates to aggressive driving), and high cost of living, and awful traffic does anyone have any tips, surprises and/or "gotchas" they may have run into moving from the Midwest? I'm particularly interested in culture shock that other Midwesterner's may have been surprised by upon moving to the area.

Other then the culture shock, let me try and paint a picture of what I expect from NoVA:

  • Well educated, liberal attitudes and culture.
  • Much better mass-transit systems (as compared to KC and most other Midwest cities, including the bus system). This does not apply necessarily to the Reston area, but the NoVA/DC area in general. Even the bus system in KC is bad. It does not help that the general attitude that 'the bus is for poor minorities' is prevalent in the area, but the schedules and stops make most mass-transit options in reality a non-option.
  • Better education options for children as a whole for High Schools and definitely collages. This is not to say education is all sunshine and roses, but I get the impression that education, culture and overall worldly experiences are more valued by parents etc; therefore these values are better instilled to children. I also realize there are plenty of bad schools everywhere you (like there are some great schools around KC too), but I believe just by having once child grow up in an area such as DC metro their odds of being more cultured and educated increase which would be my goal for my daughters.
  • Much much better shopping and restaurants (again refering to the DC-NoVA metro, not specific to Reston).
  • Living in a state that bumps against the Ocean/Bays. Within 4 hours of driving to access lots of great summer time beaches (Ocean City, Virginia Beach etc etc).
  • Within 8 hours drive (most much closer) of many many of the most incredible, historic, and top notch cities and destinations in all of America. In KC the only cities of hug significance within 8 hours drive are St Louis and Minneapolis (Chicago just slightly longer).
  • Excellent for building careers / Tons of jobs.
  • Awful commute times. In KC we have a huge road infrastructure, with only 2million people to use it all (that's where all our potential mass-transit dollars are going I suppose) so there just really isn't any "real" traffic.
  • Cost of living is awful, but it appears to be almost exclusively housing. Things like gas etc is certainly more expensive then KC but over all not going to break the bank.
  • Slightly warmer then KC and less overall snow... but not by all that much.
  • Very humid in the summer (miserable?).
  • People are not really unfriendly and rude in NoVA. People may not make the aggressive attempts and smiling, helping, shaking your hand and initiating small talk like they would in the Midwest or the south, but they are still plenty of friendly people. The busy lifestyles of people in the area are not conducive to making friends quickly, but that does not mean they are rude and unfriendly. * Note this actually summarizes a lot of how my wife and I are as people.
  • Area is actually very receptive of outsiders because there are so many transplants and short-term relocation's in the area.
  • Many very interesting, historical and tight-knit neighborhoods throughout NoVA and DC; some with very good mass transit and 1700's-1800's architecture.
  • I potentially will be looked down upon for not having a Collage degree. Self taught in my field (Network Engineering) and I like to think I am not a complete dummy, but I know how these things can be go.
Anyway, please feel free to alter, dissolve or reinforce in any way my illusions of NoVA/DC area. If you actually read all this thanks for taking the time
Quote:
-Well educated, liberal attitudes and culture.
Lots of schooling (different from well-educated), hyper-liberal attitudes and materialistic culture.

Quote:
[*]Many very interesting, historical and tight-knit neighborhoods throughout NoVA and DC; some with very good mass transit and 1700's-1800's architecture.
Only applies to Arlington and Alexandria. Most other spots in NoVA are young vanilla McMansions and other assorted boring housing.

Quote:
[*]Area is actually very receptive of outsiders because there are so many transplants and short-term relocation's in the area.
True, as long as you aren't from another part of Virginia and think that everywhere else in the Non-NoVA Virginia is full of dumb poor folks.

Quote:
[*]Much much better shopping and restaurants (again refering to the DC-NoVA metro, not specific to Reston).
Mostly a whole bunch of chain resturants except for Arlington and Alexandria which has SOME decent non-chain resturants.
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Old 01-26-2010, 04:55 PM
 
Location: South South Jersey
1,652 posts, read 3,407,862 times
Reputation: 734
ROFLMAO. That's all I have to say. "Much much better shopping and restaurants." You will find that, per capita, KC has WAY better shopping and restaurants than DC Metro. Yes, DC is a huge city, so the downtown area will have some excellent restaurants (nothing like Chicago or NYC, though) - but the suburbs are just kind of... weird. Outside of Old Town Alexandria and Bethesda, MD, you'll be surprised at the lack of upscale retail and dining, particularly considering that this area has something like the highest average income in the country. Coming from a (mid-sized, I'm not arguing otherwise) restaurant town like KC (yup, I am dead serious), there may be whole genres of restaurants that you'll miss having near your home... casual little local New American fusion places where you can get a salad with creative components and a freshly-baked cookie. Local coffee shops. (I never really realized how much this was a Midwestern, in addition to Western, obviously, phenomenon, until I moved here.) Then again, if you're not a foodie (i.e., think the Olive Garden's fine dining), you might not notice. (People will mention that there's halfway decent 'ethnic' cuisine here - and that's mostly true. My theory on that is that many recent immigrants noticed the restaurant vacuum and wisely decided to take advantage of it.)

As for shopping, where are all the funky little gift shops that you'd expect towns (excuse me, census-designated places) like McLean, Fairfax, etc. to have dozens of?

A big part of it, I suppose, is that the DC suburbs and entrepreneurship don't mix - unless you're a first-generation immigrant. And I'm beyond thankful for that group, 'cause without them, we'd have nothing.
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Old 01-26-2010, 05:42 PM
 
2,462 posts, read 8,053,303 times
Reputation: 995
I think that you have pretty much nailed what it's like to live in the DC area.
We made the reverse move a year or so ago. Never thought that DC folks were rude until I got here and had pleasant and unhurried conversations with just about everyone -- the folks at the BMV, the guy who cuts the grass, the Starbucks crew, the cable guy, the dry cleaning guy (who DELIVERS), the grocery checkout clerks....There is a completely different mindset here that takes some getting used to, but I imagine that dealing with the perceived rudeness and busy-ness in DC is even more of a shock.

And the humidity is indeed awful in the summer. Don't miss that AT ALL. I'll take the six feet of snow in the winter that we get in return.
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Old 01-26-2010, 05:44 PM
 
372 posts, read 1,012,010 times
Reputation: 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by datbird View Post
Other then the culture shock, let me try and paint a picture of what I expect from NoVA:

  • Well educated, liberal attitudes and culture.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alanboy395 View Post
Lots of schooling (different from well-educated), hyper-liberal attitudes and materialistic culture.
All true, except the liberal attitude part, or do you mean socially liberal? You have to around here because of the competition, Either dominant or be dominated.

I know plenty of Republicans.
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Old 01-26-2010, 06:20 PM
 
Location: Virginia
18,717 posts, read 26,895,868 times
Reputation: 42861
Quote:
Originally Posted by datbird View Post
[*]I potentially will be looked down upon for not having a Collage degree. Self taught in my field (Network Engineering) and I like to think I am not a complete dummy, but I know how these things can be go.
This might happen, but you seem to be very well-spoken, and in my experience that's all you really need to belong. FWIW I didn't get my degree until my 30s. Before that time I went to parties and found that as long as I spoke intelligently I fit in quite well. Occasionally I met a "degree snob" but not as often as you might think. (But be prepared, people will regularly ask what school you went to, or what sort of degree you have. Don't lie, just be proud of yourself and confident and usually nobody will hold your lack of a degree against you. It's just a topic of conversation.)

Last edited by Caladium; 01-26-2010 at 06:36 PM..
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Old 01-26-2010, 06:31 PM
 
845 posts, read 2,070,881 times
Reputation: 296
Do people in KC do the "warsh" and put ketchup in their chili? NoVa isn't really liberal minded. Many people are very suspicious of people who simply work a non day shift job.
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Old 01-26-2010, 06:53 PM
 
372 posts, read 1,012,010 times
Reputation: 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by adolpho View Post
many people are very suspicious of people who simply work a non day shift job.
rofl :d
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Old 01-26-2010, 07:21 PM
 
1,369 posts, read 2,002,398 times
Reputation: 770
Quote:
Originally Posted by adolpho View Post
Do people in KC do the "warsh" and put ketchup in their chili? NoVa isn't really liberal minded. Many people are very suspicious of people who simply work a non day shift job.

Do people around here put ketchup in their chili? I don't think I've ever seen anyone put ketchup in their chili in my life.
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Old 01-26-2010, 08:17 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,568 posts, read 12,663,611 times
Reputation: 8332
I'm not a Midwesterner, but from another big East Coast City (Philadelphia) and I think you did a very good job of figuring out what this area will be like. There aren't as many mom and pop restaurants like we had in Philadelphia - there were a plethora of them there but there are still plenty here. There are so many sections of the city and plenty of suburbs that you can go town to town and find lots of good places to eat. And the international choices are superb. I live in Vienna and we probably have at least 4 Thai restaurants in my small town of 15,000 - not to mention Indian, Afghani, Chinese, Greek, and others. Italian food is not this area's specialty, but I'm spoiled coming from Philly which has a huge Italian population - not sure how it is in KC. Visit Adams Morgan, Bethesda, other parts of DC, Arlington and you'll find plenty of restaurants to keep you happy.

There are lots of shopping malls - many with chain stores but there are unique, independent stores, too. Again, if you are exploring the whole area - city and suburbs, you will find plenty to keep you busy. And we're just a short train ride up to NYC for the best shopping!

I'm guessing this area is more fast-paced than KC. I'm used to walking fast, moving fast, getting anxious waiting in lines, etc., coming from Philly. When I visit the south, like Mississippi, for example, I find myself sometimes getting impatient because everything is a bit slower. And the checkers there are friendlier, more talkative, too. When I visited the Midwest, this was true, too. It's not that people aren't friendly here. We just are more fast-paced - we don't take time to slow down and smell the roses. And because it's a big city, we don't know each other or see each other repeatedly like we do in smaller towns, so we don't invest as much time in getting to know the guy who checks us out - I'm speaking in generalities, of course. That is the one thing I love about Vienna - it is like a small town in a big city. And I have gotten to know people around town more than any other area in DC that I have lived.

Overall, the area is moderately liberal. The Maryland side has more Democrats and left-wingers than here in NOVA. There are plenty of conservatives here, too. But there's not a conservative vibe here as I'm guessing there is in MO/KS. You will see Pro-Choice stickers on cars as well as Pro-Life ones, for example. In the recent presedential election, there were many more Obama signs than McCain ones, but still a healthy minority of McCains. No matter your political persuasion, you can find others like you, but they may not be the majority.

Education is important to many residents. And this area does have one of the highest percentage of college graduates (second to Boston, I believe). As long as you are not self-conscious about not having a degree, it shouldn't matter. You will hear talk of what colleges people went to, and you will meet many with advanced degrees. That's just the way it is. Since you value education, I think you'll like it here. It definitely has a different vibe than less educated cities. I notice it when I go back to Philly.

This is a great area for accessing the East Coast - 3 hours to the ocean, 4-5 hours to NYC, 3 hours to Philly, 1 to Baltimore, 2 to Richmond, 8-9 hours to Boston. You will never run out of places to take your children with regards to early US history.

The area is very international. You will see a lot of Diplomatic license plates and meet people from all over the world - some who just move here for a short time. There are also lots of American families who work for the State Department or something similar who move abroad for 2-3 years and then come back. My daughter's school constantly has kids moving in from Korea, the Middle East, etc. They stay two years and then leave. There are also American kids whose families move to India, China, Thailand for a few years and come back. It's a very different atmosphere than where I grow up, and different than KC in that regard, I suspect. This is probably more evident in certain parts of the city than in others. In addition to the business international crowd, there are many immigrants and foreigners from other countries who move here to stay. You will hear many people describe their children's schools as a little United Nations. Our school and many others have "International Night" where kids have a table with food, displays, and info. about their home country. It is amazing to see - people from all over the world live here! You won't feel like an outsider because most people you meet are not from here.

Summers are hot and humid - some years better than others. Winters are usually not terrible, but there are always a few weeks of bad cold and some years with some real snow storms. Generally, we get a few "snows" per year of a few inches at a time. It starts to warm up in March/April. Fall comes about the beginning of November.

Housing is the worst part about the cost of living here. Food is more expensive than some areas; less than others. Taxes aren't horrible compared to other places on the East Coast - not sure compared to KC.

Traffic? Sucks. No other word for it.

Honestly, I think you did a good appraisal of the area for not having lived here. I don't think you will be in for a rude awakening when you come. Welcome!
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