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Old 03-11-2011, 03:15 PM
50 posts, read 120,195 times
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A newbie with yet another question.

Can the locals share their views on how Oakton compares Vienna?

Price of homes, sense of community, value, peace and quiet, convenience to basic shopping, etc.

I realize Oakton will have a longer commute as I will work in Falls Church.

We have elementary age kids and are looking for a good place to raise the kids.

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Old 03-11-2011, 04:50 PM
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
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Vienna and Oakton are often lumped together as they are right next to one another. First, there is the Town of Vienna. It is one of the few incorporated towns in Fairfax County. It has a downtown business district with stores and restaurants as well as residences. The homes in the Town were mostly built between the 1950s and 1970s or 1980s. So there is a lot of older housing stock - many 1950s ranch homes, 60's splits, and some 70's or 80s colonials. There are also a lot of new, large homes built on lots where they knocked down the older homes.

Once outside the Town of Vienna there is the unincorporated area of Vienna. The unincorporated areas of Vienna right near the town tend to have newer homes than the Town built from the 1970s until 1990s. Vienna extends pretty far up near Wolf Trap and the Toll Road and Route 7. Getting out that way there are newer, bigger, more upscale homes.

Traveling west of the Town of Vienna is the unincorporated area of Oakton. There are smaller older homes in Oakton but there is mostly bigger homes and lots of big estate-type homes in Oakton in wooded lots. There is a main shopping center in Oakton with a supermarket, some restaurants, and stores. There is also a strip shopping center across the street with some more restaurants and a new, big, beautiful library right down the street. There is a Fairfax County Recreation Center (Oakmarr) that straddles the Oakton/Fairfax border but it's not really near the heart of Oakton.

I live in Vienna so I may be biased but I try to present fairly as best I can. There is a much greater sense of community in Town of Vienna than in Oakton. In fact, I would go so far as to say that residents of Oakton and unincorporated Vienna come to Town of Vienna for the sense of community. Because of the Town status, there are a lot of activities put on by the Town that simply aren't done in unincorporated areas such as the Halloween Parade, Viva Vienna (a fair), July 4th fireworks, and a Holiday stroll, and other activities. There is also a community center in Town of Vienna which offers classes and has activities. They have their own police and fire department as well as a Town Hall. And Vienna has its own sports league (Vienna Youth Incorporated).

It is my experience that people who live in unincorporated Vienna or in Oakton tend to do community activities in the Town of Vienna so they may feel part of that community. I don't know if they necessarily feel a separate sense of community of Oakton since there is no Town Hall or other town activities in Oakton. Having said all that, the resdients of Oakton do come together for issues important to them. They were instrumental in having a library built in Oakton and trying to get historic status for a building or moving/not moving a historic building. There just is no town-like atmosphere there as there is in Vienna.

I think either place is a wonderful place to raise children. Both are quiet, safe communities. You can get to shopping easily from either place. There is food shopping (Giant) in Oakton, although Vienna is probably slightly more convenient with 3 (soon to be 4) supermarkets and a bit closer to Tysons but not by much.

I wouldn't hesitate to move either place. It would just depend on my priorities. Oakton tends to have larger, more secluded lots. So if that is a priority, you'd probably have more choices there. Although you could find plenty of that in Vienna outside the town limits, too (and even a few inside the town limits). Town of Vienna is smaller houses, more walkable, centrally located. Both have good schools. One negative of parts of Oakton, in my opinion, is the middle school that some areas feed into is Jackson Middle School in Falls Church (on Gallows Rd). It's not very convenient to Oakton at all. In addition to the far locale, some people also do not like that school which tends to be lower income than Oakton and Vienna. A gifted and talented program was recently put in place there, and students in the Town of Vienna who are in the GT program are now assigned there for GT (if they choose to go). And there was a bit of an uproar from Vienna residents about this new assignment. Reputation aside, I think it is a strange school assignment for Oakton residents because it seems pretty far away.

Overall, either is a good place to live, and as I said before they two areas are usually lumped together so many people think of them in a similar way - good schools, nice family area, relatively high-income, etc. You cannot go wrong either place.
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Old 03-11-2011, 05:21 PM
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I'll just add a few thoughts to Michgc's post:

1. There are substantially more large houses on big, multi-acre lots in Oakton than Vienna. There are some big houses in Vienna, but with some exceptions they'll tend to be on lots of an acre or less.

2. Most of the houses in Oakton, though, are similar to houses in the 22181 and 22182 zip codes of Vienna outside the Town of Vienna, and probably a bit less expensive than their Vienna counterparts (as they are further from Tysons/DC). A lot of 22181 in Vienna feels very similar to 22124 in Oakton.

3. The issue as to Jackson MS for some Oakton parents isn't that lower-income kids go there, so much as that it's primarily a feeder into Falls Church HS, whereas the Oakton kids go on to Oakton HS. They don't like the idea that their kids will be separated from most of their middle-school classmates when they hit high school. In comparison, there's a larger cohort of Oakton students living a bit further west who go to Franklin MS and then Oakton HS. I'm not sure one can really complain about the distance to Jackson MS: the distance that some of the Oakton kids travel to Jackson MS is actually considerably shorter than the distance that some Oakton HS students living in the western part of the county travel to that school.

4. In any event, school boundaries in Fairfax County can be weird. When we lived in Vienna outside the Town, we were assigned to a high school that was further away from our house than two other high schools. In general, the school boundaries for the Vienna-area schools have been more stable than the boundaries for the Oakton-area schools, which have been redistricted multiple times over the past 10-15 years to reflect growth in Western Fairfax. That may be less of an issue now that the county is essentially built out.

5. There's no problem with taking advantage of Town of Vienna events like Viva Vienna if one lives in Vienna outside the Town or Oakton. Passport control at the Town of Vienna border is fairly lax, and you would probably see plenty of neighbors there, though folks in Oakton may also take advantage of some of the City of Fairfax events.

6. Being as this is NoVa, you're never too far from a mall. Vienna is closer to Tysons and Oakton is closer to Fair Oaks. I don't think there are too many restaurants in Oakton compared to the number of restaurants in Vienna along Maple Avenue and Church Street.

Last edited by JD984; 03-11-2011 at 05:51 PM..
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