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Old 08-06-2009, 11:52 AM
 
16 posts, read 45,519 times
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My husband and I lived in Arlington near the Courthouse Metro for a year and loved it. We're now out of state and considering a move back. We would want the same feel as that neighborhood, but we also want to buy a home and don't really have the budget for that area. We also need to be in an area with good schools, as we have two young children. We both need to commute into DC for work - near the L'enfant plaza metro stop.

We would be ok with a drive to the metro, but we want the neighborhood where we live to be very safe, family friendly, and have a lot to do, in terms of parks, grocery shopping to walk to, restaurants, etc.

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-06-2009, 12:48 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
10,915 posts, read 31,190,334 times
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Depending upon budget, and overall feel of each of the areas to you, I would seriously look at Vienna and Fairfax City. They share the Metro at Vienna-Fairfax-GMU which is at I-66 & Nutley Street, so it would require a drive there or a bus, but each community has what you seek in the downtown area. Vienna has more diverse housing, however, that's clustered around a larger commercial area as Fairfax is a little more spread out outside of the immediate environs of "Old Town."
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Old 08-06-2009, 12:49 PM
 
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My wife and I currently live in Courthouse and, as you mentioned, we LOVE it. We love the walkability, convenience, etc, etc. However, now we have a child and need more than our 1bdrm apartment. We've been looking for much the same thing and have really struggled to find it for any reasonable amount of money (hence my post on Ashburn/Broadlands vs. Burke/Springfield as these are the options we have on the table at present). Seems as though everyone is searching for those criteria.

The one area we did find, however, that is slightly out of our price range (but perhaps within yours) is the Kingstowne portion of Alexandria/Springfield. While it definitely doesn't compare with Courthouse, it does have some walking trails, a large shopping center (some parts of the neighborhood can walk to it, others cannot), pools, families, and decent schools. It's a 10min drive or a slightly longer bus ride to the Franconia/Springfield metro. It's very "suburbia", which my wife and I both abhor, but it's the price you pay when you're looking for good schools and family friendly communities. That being said, I prefer a busy "suburbia" feel to a lot of the sleepy, no sidewalk, drive 10min to get anywhere older neighborhoods that make up most of the region (Vienna, Oakton, Annandale, Burke, etc).
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Old 08-06-2009, 01:17 PM
 
16 posts, read 45,519 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrWaylandSmither View Post
My wife and I currently live in Courthouse and, as you mentioned, we LOVE it. We love the walkability, convenience, etc, etc. However, now we have a child and need more than our 1bdrm apartment. We've been looking for much the same thing and have really struggled to find it for any reasonable amount of money (hence my post on Ashburn/Broadlands vs. Burke/Springfield as these are the options we have on the table at present). Seems as though everyone is searching for those criteria.

The one area we did find, however, that is slightly out of our price range (but perhaps within yours) is the Kingstowne portion of Alexandria/Springfield. While it definitely doesn't compare with Courthouse, it does have some walking trails, a large shopping center (some parts of the neighborhood can walk to it, others cannot), pools, families, and decent schools. It's a 10min drive or a slightly longer bus ride to the Franconia/Springfield metro. It's very "suburbia", which my wife and I both abhor, but it's the price you pay when you're looking for good schools and family friendly communities. That being said, I prefer a busy "suburbia" feel to a lot of the sleepy, no sidewalk, drive 10min to get anywhere older neighborhoods that make up most of the region (Vienna, Oakton, Annandale, Burke, etc).
Thanks for the response -- where exactly is Kingstowne?
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Old 08-06-2009, 01:17 PM
 
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Prices for those types of places are all over the map. Usually ranging between expensive and very expensive.

I don't like huge property tax bills. Therefore, I would select 22150. I always check www.walkscore.com You can still get a SFH for under 200K in there on a 10,000sf lot. You could slug to 12th St. very easily.

West Springfield is 40% more and probably less walkable.

For more urban, I would go with the 7 Corners area of Fairfax County--22042, 22044.
A big factor will be whether or not you require a yard. Good luck.
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Old 08-06-2009, 01:25 PM
 
Location: Orange Hunt Estates, W. Springfield
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West Springfield
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Old 08-06-2009, 01:31 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly NoVA and Phila
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I have to chime in and give a vote for Vienna. While I never lived in Arlington, I lived in downtown Bethesda and loved being able to walk everywhere. When I moved to Northern Virginia, I wanted the same environment, but Arlington was out of the question (my dh works in Manassas). We found Vienna and fell in love with it. When I searched for houses, I only considered those that were walkable to the downtown area. You can live on either the north side of town (north of route 123-Maple Avenue) or south of 123 and be able to walk most places. There are three grocery stores in town - Giant, Whole Foods, and Magruder's. The public library is in the center of town. The W & OD goes through the center of town. The community center along with numerous baseball fields are just on the south side of town. Church Street with some restaurants, ice cream parlors, bread stores, thrift stores, and a few other cutesy stores are one block north of 123. There are tons more restaurants and other stores on 123. There are playgrounds on both sides of town.

In general the houses closest to the center of town are the oldest - lots of 1950's ramblers as well as some 1960's split levels on both sides of 123. There are a few fill-in neighborhoods of newer homes and of course knockdowns with large new homes that are also walking distance to the downtown. As you get farther away from the town center, the housing gets newer, especially on the north side of town. The metro is on the south side of town - probably about 1 1/2 miles from where the library is. You could potentially live on the south side of town and be about 1 mile from the metro but only a few blocks from 123, giving you the best of both worlds - easy commute via Metro and the walkability factor to the downtown.

I moved here almost 9 years ago, and we walk everywhere about town - the library, classes at the community center, Whole Foods, playgrounds, preschool, etc. We absolutely love it. Route 123 won't "wow" you when you drive into it - it's pretty busy and congested, but they've done a good job of making Church Street look very quaint. And when you get past the busyness factor of 123 (which is frankly very hard to avoid in the DC area), you'll find a very liveable town.

The bonus to Vienna is that it's very family-oriented. There are always events going on for children. And there is the annual Halloween parade, Viva Vienna (festival on Memorial Day weekend), fireworks on July 4th, a holiday stroll the Monday after Thanksgiving on Church Street, as well as many other smaller small-town events. The schools are very well-regarded. I truly love it here, and would have a hard time finding many faults with this town, other than it's not necessarily quaint looking and the housing stock is generally old. But for the DC area, I don't think you can do much better.
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Old 08-06-2009, 01:33 PM
 
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There are a few pockets of affordable homes in Arlington, in areas with good schools. But, for under roughly $7/800,000, your house will be much smaller than those of new developments out in Loudon County, Fairfax, et al. The neighborhoods near Westover Village in No Arlington have a wide variety of housing styles, from very large "colonials" on large lots to very, very modest homes (usu 3 bedrooms and only a second level bathroom). The school pyramids there are among the best in Arlington: generally Mckinley, Swanson, W-L HS, or Mckinley, Swanson, Yorktown HS. The schools are within walking distance of many homes. (Yorktown is a bit far however--in Arlington I believe secondary schools still have a 1.5 mile walking radius, but its a short bike ride!) Many local shops, parks and a new library, as well.

Vienna, as a previous poster mentioned is also an excellent area, with houses that range from modest ranches and split levels to large, historic Victorians. Good schools, and pedestrian friendly as well. Vienna elementary, an attractive, old schoolhouse in the center of town is one of the oldest in Northern Virginia.
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Old 08-06-2009, 02:36 PM
 
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Kingstowne is the 22315 zip code. Take the beltway around the Van Dorn St. exit. Head south on Van Dorn for about 2mi. until you get to Kingstowne Blvd, turn right. That will put you right through the middle of the shopping center area, the surrounding neighborhoods are considered "Kingstowne". Be careful of listings, however, since the 22315 zip code is not exclusive to Kingstowne and a lot of less-than-honest sellers will put "Kingstowne area" or something of that nature when the homes are not in Kingstowne proper. Access to gyms, pools, etc. is restricted to residents, so it does make a difference.

Is it Arlington? Definitely not (but nothing is, hence the reason Arlington costs a God awful furtune).

If you're looking for an "in town/main street" feel, Vienna is probably a good choice but it is very expensive to be within walking distance of 123. I can't imagine it being any cheaper than Arlington. You might get more yard/house for the buck, but keeping it under 7-figures would be tough. The cheapest 4+ bedroom I found doing a quick search is $650k...and that was the only one under $1M.

Falls Church is another option. There are some sections of it that are very small town walkable and somewhat affordable.

Another option is old-town Alexandria, but again, you're looking at very Arlington-like prices. We've had much the same struggle over the last year...finding something Arlington like that we could afford. Right now we've widdled it down to:

Kingstowne - Could probably afford a 2bdrm or a fixer-upper
Near Kingstowne - (Runnymeade, Van Dorn Village)...no access to amenities, but somewhat walkable, close to the metro, and cheaper
Burke/West Springfield - Considerably less "walkable", but family friendly with a bearable commute and nice ammenities (parks and pools)
Ashburn/Broadlands - Long commute, but a gorgeous neighborhood that is very walkable, packed with ammenities, and tons of kids/families

You probably already know this from living in Arlington, but I will disagree with a previous poster and say the 7-Corners area is not somewhere I would feel safe walking or raising a family.
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Old 08-06-2009, 03:28 PM
 
2,688 posts, read 6,645,643 times
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I'll second Kingstowne:

Kingstowne Residential Owners Corporation

Wherever you look in Fairfax County, you can enter the address at FCPS Home Page Redirect Page to see which school your children will go to and then check the school profile.
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