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Old 08-20-2013, 02:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TyBrGr View Post
I don't think NoVa life is for everyone. The pace is very fast, lots of diversity, very expensive, and everyone here has money making material thing important. Living in NoVa I see more luxury vehicles than any other region of the country. Loudoun is the wealthiest county in the US but most people there don't flaunt their money like people in Fairfax seem to. Loudoun has yet to realize all the money they have and so the areas still have a very rural feel in most parts. But Leesburg and Ashburn are beginning to look like the wealthy areas of Fairfax. Personally I would choose Leesburg. Although a 40 minute drive from DC, it feels like a real town unlike Ashburn which feels fake to me. But I wouldn't go west of Leesburg because then you get into the rural areas that don't have much shopping and dining.
I disagree that Loudoun is wealthier than Fairfax. If we go by median income or average income, or even average wealth, then the statistics will definitely favor Loudoun. But Fairfax enjoys the presence of some large ultra-rich neighborhoods that simply do not exist in Loudoun. Loudoun is much more uniform and doesn't have older established urban centers that drag down the average like they do in Fairfax. For example, Fairfax has numerous census tracts that have median household incomes above $200k, but there are none for Loudoun. Only one census tract in Loudoun comes close, at about $190k, the rest are all in the $150k range.

That said, Potomac MD is even more impressive. with census tracts that have 250k median household incomes. This is why we see so many HUGE homes flanking River Rd and the neighborhoods nearby.
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Old 08-23-2013, 08:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by NovaOne View Post
I disagree that Loudoun is wealthier than Fairfax. If we go by median income or average income, or even average wealth, then the statistics will definitely favor Loudoun. But Fairfax enjoys the presence of some large ultra-rich neighborhoods that simply do not exist in Loudoun. Loudoun is much more uniform and doesn't have older established urban centers that drag down the average like they do in Fairfax. For example, Fairfax has numerous census tracts that have median household incomes above $200k, but there are none for Loudoun. Only one census tract in Loudoun comes close, at about $190k, the rest are all in the $150k range.

That said, Potomac MD is even more impressive. with census tracts that have 250k median household incomes. This is why we see so many HUGE homes flanking River Rd and the neighborhoods nearby.
Loudoun in wealthier over a larger land area. In Loudoun you go from town to town and they are all pretty wealthy. In fairfax, you can go from one rich town and drive 10 minutes into a poor town
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Old 08-23-2013, 08:43 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TyBrGr View Post
Loudoun in wealthier over a larger land area. In Loudoun you go from town to town and they are all pretty wealthy. In fairfax, you can go from one rich town and drive 10 minutes into a poor town
There is a difference between wealth and median income.

If you compare median incomes, Loudoun will be higher because there are fewer low-income residents than in Fairfax. But if you look for indicia of wealth (net worths), they point towards more of it in Fairfax. For example, if you look at real estate transactions in 2013 over $1 million in Great Falls, you'll find over 10 times as many as in Ashburn, even though more people live in Ashburn than Great Falls. That's what I think NovaOne was describing.
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Old 08-24-2013, 05:05 PM
 
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Jeb77 is exactly right. I was initially surprised that Loudoun would be richer than Fairfax, because while Loudoun has some nice areas with large and expensive homes, but nothing compared to what exists in parts of Mclean, Great Falls, or Oakton.
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Old 08-24-2013, 06:20 PM
 
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Default A few thoughts on NoVA

Having been in and out of NoVA over the past two decades, I mostly agree with what people have said on this topic. The region has an affluent,educated, transient, career-oriented population. You won't find many people who resent you for coming from somewhere else, because they usually did, too. You'll also find a lot of smart, talkative people. Not many bohemians, though.

A few other points:

1. Philadelphia and Washington have very different immigration histories. Philadelphia attracted large numbers of European immigrants during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Washington attracted few. It wasn't a port city and it didn't have many manufacturing jobs. Government jobs usually required some education, while DC's working class, both white and black, tended to have Southern roots.

But over the past generation, the roles have reversed. Philadelphia is no longer a major immigrant destination, but Washington is. So migrants usually complain about the quality of DC's pizza or bagels, but they can help themselves to some awesome pho, kebabs, or Peruvian chicken.

2. Not only is the federal government a huge employer, but different agencies have their own distinctive subcultures. There are Pentagon people, State people, CIA people, NIH people, and so on.

3. I don't know if Philadelphia has anything like Arlington or Alexandria -- "suburbs" that feel much more like gentrified urban neighborhoods.

4. The cultural offerings in DC easily surpass what's available in Philadelphia, especially at the higher end.

5. The District is on something of an upswing. Just like I find Arlington almost unrecognizable compared to the 1990s, the same could be said for many DC neighborhoods. Places that I thought as "edgy" are now upscale, those that I saw as "dangerous" are now fashionable. Even if you have no intention of living or working in the District, going into DC for cultural fun can be appealing. Outside of Center City, I don't think suburbanites go into Philadelphia for much.

6. Compared to the rest of the nation, there is little white working-class presence, at least within a hour's drive of the District.

7. Also no local accent or local foods (although MD and VA have both).
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Old 08-24-2013, 06:31 PM
 
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I would also say that the housing stock in NoVA is generally newer than in the Philadelphia suburbs. Until World War II, NoVA was still quite rural (with the exception of Arlington and Alexandria). And then -- explosive growth that hasn't really stopped. NoVA feels more Sunbelt-ish than the suburbs of other Northeast cities. But it's still much more like the Northeast Corridor than the South.
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:29 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JEB77 View Post
There is a difference between wealth and median income.

If you compare median incomes, Loudoun will be higher because there are fewer low-income residents than in Fairfax. But if you look for indicia of wealth (net worths), they point towards more of it in Fairfax. For example, if you look at real estate transactions in 2013 over $1 million in Great Falls, you'll find over 10 times as many as in Ashburn, even though more people live in Ashburn than Great Falls. That's what I think NovaOne was describing.
All you are describing to me is that there is a larger number of wealthy people in Loudoun with few poor people. But Fairfax has an extreme wealth gap, which extremely wealthy people and extremely poor people. Lets do a ratio here, does it matter if Fairfax has 15 millionaires when they have 20 homeless? On this ratio scale Loudoun would have 10 millionaires, but only 1 homeless. Loudoun has less of an income inequality gap than Fairfax, so on average the citizens of Loudoun are wealthier.
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Old 08-25-2013, 01:15 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TyBrGr View Post
All you are describing to me is that there is a larger number of wealthy people in Loudoun with few poor people. But Fairfax has an extreme wealth gap, which extremely wealthy people and extremely poor people. Lets do a ratio here, does it matter if Fairfax has 15 millionaires when they have 20 homeless? On this ratio scale Loudoun would have 10 millionaires, but only 1 homeless. Loudoun has less of an income inequality gap than Fairfax, so on average the citizens of Loudoun are wealthier.
You could hypothesize to your heart's content (the ratios you have conjured up bear absolutely no resemblance to reality, of course), but all the evidence reflects is that the median (not average) income in Loudoun is higher than in Fairfax, and that there are more people with substantial net worths, or total assets, in Fairfax, as signalled by their purchases of more expensive real estate.

Now Loudoun is also smaller and trends younger than Fairfax, so the wealth disparity should dissipate over time, as more Loudoun residents work longer and build more wealth. Of course, over that same period, it is also possible that median incomes in Loudoun could decline if, for example, lower-income residents start moving into car-dependent older townhouse complexes in Loudoun and higher-income residents move back into closer-in parts of Fairfax that have been redeveloped and/or have better access to public transit.

In a forum ostensibly dealing with "data," it always helps to know the difference between average and median, or between income and wealth, even if the topics being discussed are as insignificant in the grand scheme of things as the differences between two of the country's most affluent counties.

Last edited by JD984; 08-25-2013 at 01:33 PM..
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Old 08-26-2013, 05:44 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JEB77 View Post
and that there are more people with substantial net worths, or total assets, in Fairfax, as signalled by their purchases of more expensive real estate.
You are basing sheer number of wealthy people on what real estate they've recently purchased? The ultra-wealthy of Loudoun county (and they are numerous) aren't purchasing a lot of real estate; because they are living in estates that have been in their families for generations. You are trying to compare Great Falls and McLean to Ashburn. The super wealthy are on the horse farms in Western Loudoun.
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Old 08-26-2013, 07:21 AM
 
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Originally Posted by spencgr View Post
You are basing sheer number of wealthy people on what real estate they've recently purchased? The ultra-wealthy of Loudoun county (and they are numerous) aren't purchasing a lot of real estate; because they are living in estates that have been in their families for generations. You are trying to compare Great Falls and McLean to Ashburn. The super wealthy are on the horse farms in Western Loudoun.
Of course there are some wealthy people in western Loudoun, but their numbers are small in absolute terms compared to the number of people with substantial net worths in more populous parts of Fairfax. You can often get a house with 75 acres or more out there, and similar properties frequently go on the market, for the price of a house on an acre or less in Great Falls and McLean.

And, if you truly have successive generations living on the same properties, it begs the question as to whether and how the later generations are able to maintain their wealth, when the land use policy restricts their ability to monetize what may be their primary asset. Are they running wildly successful farms and vinyards, running dot-com empires out of the guest house, or renting out the properties to TV producers looking for the American version of Downton Abbey? Some of these people have enough money to live off their investments; others are land-rich and cash-poor.

Don't get me wrong, I love the look of Western Loudoun. But if the OP's question goes to the larger feel of this region, one defining characteristic is that this generally is not an "old money" area compared to other East Coast cities, including Philadelphia.

Last edited by JD984; 08-26-2013 at 08:04 AM..
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