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Old 03-14-2007, 11:24 AM
 
2 posts, read 14,537 times
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Smile Considering relocating to Virginia



My husband and I are considering relocating to VA but need help in choosing a good location. We currently reside in NY in subburbs but things are getting quite expensive. We are looking for excellent schools for our two boys and an area that would provide great extra cirricular activities for them. We also want to be near a city but not life within the city. We've been to Richmond before but I can't say I was impressed. Any suggestions. By the way my kids are elementary school age with the older one approaching middle school age. We are also looking for an area with a favorable job market as well.
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Old 03-14-2007, 12:47 PM
 
Location: Apex, NC
1,341 posts, read 4,230,193 times
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I've been called the unofficial mayor of the Roanoke Valley as both a compliment and a (grin) criticism on this site, so I'll not surprise many people with my suggestion of the Roanoke metro area.

What was it that gave you a bad vibe with regard to Richmond? Was it larger and more urban than you want? Was it unnattractive? I've heard it's much improved of late, and I think with any city of course you need to visit "from different angles" to get the right impression. I've gone through Richmond via the Interstate and thought "yuck" but I've been through the downtown and it's a pretty happening place. A bit large and hectic for my tastes but again I'm a small town boy at heart.

I live in Boones Mill, a rural area south of Roanoke is not quite a "happening" place but it's full of good folks, mostly native but with a dramatically growing number of yankees, including this Vermonter and what seems like a huge contingent from New England and Florida. Most jobs are in Roanoke, a 20-25 minute commute North, while an increasing number of construction, manufacturing, finance and retail jobs are being added in Franklin County to support the growth around Boones Milll and Smith Mountain Lake. Of course, you'd want to job search first if you've got family and no cash reserve. There is job growth in the Roanoke Valley but the unemployment is low even by Virginia standards and more working people want IN to the Roanoke Valley then there are jobs for, so one has to be rather competitive. If you are competitive then the job market is good, and the pay is relatively good while the lower cost of living relative to NY and VT is really just awesome. Plus you get mountain views galore without being IN the mountains but of course you can live on a mountainside also if that's your thing.

Other locations that jump to mind include Blacksburg, which is the largest town in Virginia and is home to Virginia Tech. Housing prices for middle income folks is quite high though because of the college. But it offers lots of family resources and activities. We lived there for almost a year before settling in Boones Mill. It's a nice town, I had no complaints really, other than the lack of a civic center and the lack of enough cultural events to keep us engaged.

Another town is Charlottesville, it's a very pretty town with lots to do. The buzz here about Charlottesville is the high cost of homes there but that may or may not be true depending on who you ask and where you're looking to buy.

As far as big cities in VA go I can be of no assistance, but there are lots of big city folks here that are very helpful and I'm sure they'll throw out some suggestions. If you have any specific questions about the Roanoke Valley you can PM me or ask me here.

Hope this helps,

Sean
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Old 03-14-2007, 10:23 PM
 
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Well, in a perhaps eerily similar response to Sean's, I'll recommend the Fairfax County area in Northern Virginia, in part because that's where I live, and in part because it's about three and a half hours closer to NYC than Roanoke if you want drive up to visit friends or family still there. We've got trains and planes too. Real ones. Not those little toy things they have in Roanoke. :-) That said, aside from taxes, not so much would be cheaper in a typical NoVa suburb than in a typical NYC suburb, but we do have all the other stuff. Very good schools and tons of extra-curricular opportunity. Nearby Washington DC is a cornucopia of big city delights, and we've got Baltimore just up the road to boot. But many live perfectly well in our well-appointed suburbs without ever venturing into either city at all. Well, maybe to see the Nats or the Orioles. Easy to get tickets for both, btw. As for the job market, we've got two very large hi-tech corridors and enough else to assure that the Fairfax County unemployment rate is under 3%...well under, actually. Hard to beat really, except for two things -- horrible rush-hour traffic and that rather high cost of living. But if you know the NYC area, then you've been there and done that. You will get a tax break, and maybe a small break on housing depending on where you are now, but it just plain ain't cheap to live here. Fun, though....
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Old 03-15-2007, 07:09 AM
 
2,439 posts, read 5,692,491 times
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If you want a favorable job market and great schools/activities, you can't do better than northern Virginia. The federal government and its private sector tentacles provide many opportunitites for professional employment. However, it is probably just about as expensive as the NYC metro area. That said, I think that northern Va is far more "livable" than metro NYC. If you are living on Long Island, you might even find that traffic here is more manageable, particularly if you can live in the close-in suburbs such as Arlington, Falls Church, McLean, or Alexandria. It is MUCH easier to zip into DC on the weekend than it is to get into Manhattan, and access to area airports is much more convenient than in NYC.
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Old 03-16-2007, 06:45 AM
 
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The fact is the best schools are in the most expensive areas. And Northern Virginia does have the best job market, housing market and schools, but you do pay for it. Good job market, cheap to live and great schools do not usually exist together. You get what you pay for.
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Old 03-16-2007, 08:55 AM
 
Location: Apex, NC
1,341 posts, read 4,230,193 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashbrn4 View Post
The fact is the best schools are in the most expensive areas. And Northern Virginia does have the best job market, housing market and schools, but you do pay for it. Good job market, cheap to live and great schools do not usually exist together. You get what you pay for.
Yes and no. Often what you're paying is driven by market conditions. There are great schools in my neck of the woods which is Franklin County, Bedford and Roanoke County. I'm sure there are countless examples of good schools in more affordable rural and suburban counties throughout Virginia. In Roanoke there are even many private schools, and the one where my children attend (North Cross) has a tuition of +/- $9,000 a year. Compare that to a friend of mine who lives in Alexandria and sends a child to a private school there and pays $26,000/year. Is that private school in Alexandria any better than North Cross? I'd argue they're comparable, especially since seniors in North Cross are all heading to the same desirable colleges as those kids with the $26,000/year education. And getting back to market conditions, my friend is in a senior analyst's position with a big military contracting company and makes > $160K a year. Down here, he'd make about $135K a year doing the same thing, but of course you have different market conditions down here and most things cost less and make $135K "feel" like the $160K up north.

Another thing I find interesting about school choices are that we as parents tend to look at statistics as the end all be all. I've been guilty of this in the past but I've been reconsidering my assumptions lately. Take Roanoke City; schools in the city have lower scores than schools in Roanoke County. But that's largely due to socio-economic factors and has less to do with the county having "better schools". There are more poor folks in the city than the county. Alot of lower income parents have to work two jobs, or they're living in single parent households and it's sometimes harder to provide adequate support for your kids in that tough situation. So those kids have a tougher go of it in public school and weigh the numbers down. But children of supportive parents in good financial condition are probably doing great at the city schools. Anyway, that's just a thought that popped into my head as I typed my first paragraph.

Sean
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Old 03-16-2007, 11:35 AM
 
268 posts, read 1,184,704 times
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Both of my boys graduated from No VA public schools. One from Thomas Jefferson HS for Science and Technology and the other from our local HS. One just graduated from UVA and has a great job and the other is a JR in college. The major issue is that the job market in NO VA is really good. Alexandria has it's own issues. Loudoun and Fairfax overall have great schools and the majority of HS graduates go on to college. There are lots of issues to weigh and someone who sends their child to private school has made a choice for that regardless of whether it's to live in a particular area or just because they prefer it.
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Old 03-16-2007, 11:56 AM
 
Location: Apex, NC
1,341 posts, read 4,230,193 times
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True Ashbrn4, real life gets more complicated I even think it goes a bit further in retrospect with a $26,000/yr tuition. I think it's a way to ensure only those of a certain tax bracket even consider sending their kids to the school. Sort of a way to bar the door and allow only the children of movers and shakers through. In one conversation about that school, I was told that James Carville sends his children there, that he and other famous folks are seen at school events, etc. I guess for some it's a class and influence thing, and the ability to rub shoulders with important people.

My friend in Alexandria may be moving out; he'd love to find work in Roanoke or in your neck of the woods but his skills are so specific to the military and mapping industries that it makes relocating less flexible.

Sean
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Old 03-16-2007, 03:06 PM
 
19,178 posts, read 18,931,372 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seanpecor View Post
In Roanoke there are even many private schools, and the one where my children attend (North Cross) has a tuition of +/- $9,000 a year. Compare that to a friend of mine who lives in Alexandria and sends a child to a private school there and pays $26,000/year.
And I can get a very good bottle of wine in NoVa for under $20, and I'm sure I could drive down to Roanoke and spend $60 on a very good bottle of wine if I felt like it. One of the best known private schools in Alexandria is Bishop Ireton. It's a fine school. Absent any scholarship aid, tuition there for diocesans is $9,800 with a discount of about $2,500 for second and third children. Tuition for atheists would be about $5,000 higher. So it all sort of depends on whether you want to talk about apples or oranges...
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Old 03-16-2007, 03:20 PM
 
Location: TX
3,025 posts, read 7,302,052 times
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If you want the amineties of NOVA but lower cost look in Loudoun county. Great schools, good job market and close enough to get into DC for sightseeing and Tysons for the serious shopper.

Ashburn, south riding, leesburg& purceville are all great family places with amienties and tons of family activites etc....
But taxes are less and overall housing is less than Fairfax county.
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