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Old 02-25-2010, 02:37 PM
 
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We are moving to NoVA from an upper middle class suburb of Ft. Lauderdale, FL and have two kids in elemenatry school. I have to drive to Seven Corners but want to live in an upper middle class neighborhood with good schools and w/o an hour and a half commute each way. Any suggestions? Looking for houses in the $450-$500K range...thanks
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Old 02-25-2010, 02:50 PM
 
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Lots of options; trade-off is generally between length of commute and size of house, as there will be more newer, larger houses as you travel further west and southwest from Seven Corners. If you have a bit of time to look, I think you could find something in your price range in Annandale/22003 in, for example, the Canterbury Woods ES district, which is considered pretty good. I think that commute would only be about 20 minutes. Unfortunately, just getting in and out of the immediate - and congested - Seven Corners area chews up a bit of time.
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Old 02-25-2010, 03:26 PM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
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Wow, I don't think you have to suffer through an hour and a half commute to get what you're looking for! I personally think Falls Church is quite nice, and is very convenient to 7 Corners. I don't have any children, so I can't comment on the quality of the schools there, but as a general rule of thumb the schools in this area are ALL above average (some are just "very good" while others are "amazing")
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Old 02-26-2010, 09:00 AM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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The schools in the City of Falls Church tend to be more sought-after than those in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County, but your budget is very low for a single-family house in the city, unless you want a smaller house. Falls Church High School, JEB Stewart HS, and Annandale HS are average districts for the area, overall.

If you want a great district, and perhaps a 20-25 minute commute, I would look to eastern Fairfax/western Annandale, in the Woodson HS District. Your budget would be in line with some of the homes in the aea, as long as you're flexible as to age and style, i.e., a 5BR colonial with a 2-car garage is not going to be had in the $500k range, but a 4BR split level should be around that price point. Woodson begins just outside The Beltway, near NOVA Annandale and extends west along Little River Turnpike, which would facilitate an easy commute on side streets to Seven Corners.

The easiest way would be to take Little River Turnpike east, across The Beltway; L on Hummer Road; straight to Annandale Road (name changes); R on Kerns; L on Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow ends at Route 7 in Seven Corners, and depending upon which area you'd need, you could turn right, but if you need to head west on Route 7 at Seven Corners, you would take the last right before Route 7 (Castle Pl) and then a L at the stop sign to a stop light where you would be able to head east or west on Route 7, or proceed straight into Seven Corners Shopping Center. The only major delays on that route are waiting for a left turn at Hummer Road, and where Hummer meets Gallows Road, and then only during rush hour. In the afternoon/evening, the delay would be at Gallows/Hummer again, and some slow traffic leaving The Beltway on Little River Turnpike. It would be a pretty easy commute, though, for this area.
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Old 02-26-2010, 09:03 AM
 
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There is a nice stretch of neighborhoods along Rt 50 (Arlington BLVD) between W. Arlington and the 7 corners area. Also, North Annandale and parts of Falls Church have plenty of good homes that might interest you. There are many nice neighborhoods all throughout Arlington, but N. Arlington tends to be higher priced than S. Arlington.
If you want to keep your commute short then you will want to stay W/I 5 miles of 7 corners because that area is very congested.
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Old 02-26-2010, 09:11 AM
 
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Originally Posted by bmwguydc View Post
The schools in the City of Falls Church tend to be more sought-after than those in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County, but your budget is very low for a single-family house in the city, unless you want a smaller house. Falls Church High School, JEB Stewart HS, and Annandale HS are average districts for the area, overall.

If you want a great district, and perhaps a 20-25 minute commute, I would look to eastern Fairfax/western Annandale, in the Woodson HS District. Your budget would be in line with some of the homes in the aea, as long as you're flexible as to age and style, i.e., a 5BR colonial with a 2-car garage is not going to be had in the $500k range, but a 4BR split level should be around that price point. Woodson begins just outside The Beltway, near NOVA Annandale and extends west along Little River Turnpike, which would facilitate an easy commute on side streets to Seven Corners.

The easiest way would be to take Little River Turnpike east, across The Beltway; L on Hummer Road; straight to Annandale Road (name changes); R on Kerns; L on Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow ends at Route 7 in Seven Corners, and depending upon which area you'd need, you could turn right, but if you need to head west on Route 7 at Seven Corners, you would take the last right before Route 7 (Castle Pl) and then a L at the stop sign to a stop light where you would be able to head east or west on Route 7, or proceed straight into Seven Corners Shopping Center. The only major delays on that route are waiting for a left turn at Hummer Road, and where Hummer meets Gallows Road, and then only during rush hour. In the afternoon/evening, the delay would be at Gallows/Hummer again, and some slow traffic leaving The Beltway on Little River Turnpike. It would be a pretty easy commute, though, for this area.
George Mason is the City of Falls Church high school. It's very hard to find a SFH in the City of Falls Church for under $500K. It's not to say it's impossible, only that it's difficult and the houses in that price range may be pretty small.

There are a number of different high schools that serve students who live in the county with Falls Church addresses: McLean, Marshall, Stuart (not Stewart) and Falls Church. There are kids with Annandale addresses who are zoned to Stuart and Falls Church, but not kids with Falls Church addresses who are zoned to Annandale. In terms of test scores, McLean and Marshall are comparable to George Mason (scores at McLean a bit higher and scores at Marshall a bit lower), and the scores at Stuart and Falls Church - which draw from considerably more diverse student populations - are a good bit lower. George Mason, McLean and Marshall are all "above average" for "this area," and Stuart and Falls Church are "below average" for "this area," but as has been noted many times the schools in this area are well above state and national norms. There are plenty of students (some from families who can afford houses that cost considerably more than $500K, and some from families who cannot) who do great at Stuart and Falls Church. The neigborhoods that Guamanians mentions in his post near Route 50 are primarily in the Falls Church HS district, although a few that are closer to Seven Corners are in the Stuart HS district.

However, it seemed like, with the repeated references to wanting an "upper middle class" environment, the OP indeed might want to focus on some of the outside-the-beltway Annandale/Fairfax areas that are zoned to the Woodson HS district. It's a nice area, and a very reasonable commute to Seven Corners.

Last edited by JD984; 02-26-2010 at 09:28 AM..
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Old 02-26-2010, 10:09 AM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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Originally Posted by JEB77 View Post
George Mason is the City of Falls Church high school. It's very hard to find a SFH in the City of Falls Church for under $500K. It's not to say it's impossible, only that it's difficult and the houses in that price range may be pretty small.

There are a number of different high schools that serve students who live in the county with Falls Church addresses: McLean, Marshall, Stuart (not Stewart) and Falls Church. There are kids with Annandale addresses who are zoned to Stuart and Falls Church, but not kids with Falls Church addresses who are zoned to Annandale. In terms of test scores, McLean and Marshall are comparable to George Mason (scores at McLean a bit higher and scores at Marshall a bit lower), and the scores at Stuart and Falls Church - which draw from considerably more diverse student populations - are a good bit lower. George Mason, McLean and Marshall are all "above average" for "this area," and Stuart and Falls Church are "below average" for "this area," but as has been noted many times the schools in this area are well above state and national norms. There are plenty of students (some from families who can afford houses that cost considerably more than $500K, and some from families who cannot) who do great at Stuart and Falls Church. The neigborhoods that Guamanians mentions in his post near Route 50 are primarily in the Falls Church HS district, although a few that are closer to Seven Corners are in the Stuart HS district.

However, it seemed like, with the repeated references to wanting an "upper middle class" environment, the OP indeed might want to focus on some of the outside-the-beltway Annandale/Fairfax areas that are zoned to the Woodson HS district. It's a nice area, and a very reasonable commute to Seven Corners.
I was focused on the OP's budget and neighborhood preferences. For example, Lake Barcroft would be a great fit in the immediate Seven Corners area, but not at $500k, since anything decent is going to be well above $500k. $500k in McLean HS is virtually impossible for anything decent, as is the City of Falls Church. I know people who sold marginal houses well above the OP's price range in both areas -- small houses with issues, and not during the peak of the bubble. For a condo, it would be possible, but even a townhouse would be a stretch in those districts, realistically.

I don't believe that I said anyone in Falls Church had an Annandale district, rather I was running down nearby districts in the vicinity because Annandale is relatively close to Seven Corners and would have houses in the preferred price range.
__________________
All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.
~William Shakespeare
(As You Like It Act II, Scene VII)

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Old 02-26-2010, 10:53 AM
 
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Originally Posted by bmwguydc View Post
I was focused on the OP's budget and neighborhood preferences. For example, Lake Barcroft would be a great fit in the immediate Seven Corners area, but not at $500k, since anything decent is going to be well above $500k. $500k in McLean HS is virtually impossible for anything decent, as is the City of Falls Church. I know people who sold marginal houses well above the OP's price range in both areas -- small houses with issues, and not during the peak of the bubble. For a condo, it would be possible, but even a townhouse would be a stretch in those districts, realistically.

I don't believe that I said anyone in Falls Church had an Annandale district, rather I was running down nearby districts in the vicinity because Annandale is relatively close to Seven Corners and would have houses in the preferred price range.
The school systems in NoVa can be difficult for newcomers to navigate, since we have a mix of county-wide school systems (e.g., Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and PWC), city school systems (Alexandria and Falls Church), and towns without their own school system (such as Vienna). You can have kids with Falls Church addresses going to McLean HS, kids in Annandale going to Falls Church HS, etc. I did find part of your post at least ambiguous, and tried to provide some additional details to clarify.

I do disagree with the implication that George Mason HS in the City of Falls Church, or its feeder schools, are considered more desirable than schools that many students who live in Fairfax County with Falls Church mailing addresses attend. But there are definitely more schools in the county in or near Falls Church than there are in the City of Falls Church itself, so perhaps those considering the county schools might feel a need to do more research.
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Old 02-26-2010, 04:56 PM
 
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George Mason HS is definitely more "sought-after," to use the real estate agent phrase, than schools such as Stuart, Annandale, and Falls Church. They are simply not in the same category with regard to the demographics they serve, and that fact is reflected in both test scores and housing prices.

The bottom line is that $500K will not buy an "upper-middle" class house in the City of Falls Church, North Arlington, or McLean. If the budget is fixed, and the OP wants a large home on a decent-sized lot with a 2-car garage and the usual amenities, then he might have to go with the longer commute. That gives him communities such as Burke and Springfield to consider as well. Most folks coming from other parts of the country aren't particularly impressed with what $500K buys in a close-in NoVa neighborhood.
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Old 02-26-2010, 05:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by claremarie View Post
George Mason HS is definitely more "sought-after," to use the real estate agent phrase, than schools such as Stuart, Annandale, and Falls Church. They are simply not in the same category with regard to the demographics they serve, and that fact is reflected in both test scores and housing prices.

The bottom line is that $500K will not buy an "upper-middle" class house in the City of Falls Church, North Arlington, or McLean. If the budget is fixed, and the OP wants a large home on a decent-sized lot with a 2-car garage and the usual amenities, then he might have to go with the longer commute. That gives him communities such as Burke and Springfield to consider as well. Most folks coming from other parts of the country aren't particularly impressed with what $500K buys in a close-in NoVa neighborhood.
Let's assume you are correct with respect to these three schools. The situation would still be different with respect to McLean (which primarily serves students from McLean, Falls Church and Vienna) and Marshall (which mostly serves students from Falls Church, Vienna and Dunn Loring). Test scores at Mason are considerably lower than those at McLean, and somewhat higher than those at Marshall, but the differences are not huge. And some people don't want their kids to be at George Mason, which is quite small. If your kids are on sports teams at Mason, they'll spend hours on the bus they wouldn't spend if they attended a county school traveling to rural counties in Virginia that have similarly small schools. That is a negative for some families.

I agree with you as to the limits on what $500K will buy in the City of Falls Church, North Arlington and McLean. Fortunately, there are other areas the poster can consider with lower prices. Many parts of Annandale and Fairfax (including some in the Woodson HS district, which I'm guessing meets your approval) fall in that category, as do parts of other areas further out, such as Burke.

Moreover, some families ascribe less significance to school boundaries with gold-plated demographics than you do, and you'll find plenty of families who in many instances pay considerably more than $500K to live in homes in the Annandale, Falls Church and Stuart districts. I have no doubt that, if you took a Lake Barcroft house, and plunked it down in the middle of Franklin Park, it would cost more, but there are also plenty of folks who'd take Lake Barcroft over an similarly priced, but bland, house in the Langley or McLean districts (and there are such properties) in a heartbeat.

Last edited by JD984; 02-26-2010 at 06:00 PM..
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