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Advice about Fairfax, Va.

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Old 06-24-2009, 12:40 PM   #1
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Default Advice about Fairfax, Va.

I know this is pretty off topic from lifting but...I need some advice.

DH is being interviewed by a company in Fairfax, VA. The prospect looks pretty good. However, we would need to relocate before the end of the summer.

Any suggestions as to which communities are best for relocating a family? DS1is beginning 6th grade and has been ID as academically gifted since 1st. Schools are going to be a huge concern for us as I'm sure they are for most relocating parents. Any suggestions as we begin to learn a new city?

Man, I thought I was busy before... This all came to pass within the last five days.
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Old 06-24-2009, 01:01 PM   #2
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Write a letter to : Chamber of Commerce , Fairfax , Va and ask for info on the area. Do the same for any cities you might be interested in. They will send you a packet with info on their city. Should be some schools info or at least an idea of what you can find.
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Old 06-24-2009, 01:09 PM   #3
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Umm a lot of depends on the $$$ equation.

How much is DH willing to commute? How much money is your family prepared to spend to buy a home/rent?

I don't know much about schools and what not in Fairfax but prices in VA for housing have dropped quite a bit but they are still fairly high. I personally love MD but commuting to VA (on 495) from MD can be a pain as the Potomac river blocks alternate routes. Also the communities closer to the VA border in MD are some of the most expensive in the country.

If you go west or south from Fairfax, you will find more affordable areas to live. In the south you have Annandale, Springfield and Burke. Burke is pretty good, my DH grew up there and the school system was pretty good but I also think Burke is one of the pricier communities to the south.

In the west you have Centreville and Gainesville beyond. I do have to say that 66 traffic can be horrid and although those 2 communities are pretty good, its a bit too far out for my liking. My DH wanted to live in Centreville when we thought we were going to be working in VA.

To the North, you have Herndon and Sterling.

To the east, you have burbs closer to DC and thus pricier.

To the NE of Fairfax, you have Vienna which is a nice little community but it is very pricey and the traffic is really bad. That is where my bike shop and I like to visit when we go but I just don't like the traffic.

(And a lot of this is just rambling, if you start looking, I can provide some info on the areas and ask people I know. )
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Old 06-24-2009, 01:27 PM   #4
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Oh and created another post for this but apparently Forbes ranked Loudoun county fairly high for cost of education versus education received although looks like they are going by graduation levels?
http://www.forbes.com/2007/07/05/sch...schools_2.html

Loudon county would be a hike from Fairfax and would rely mostly on a toll road for commuting. Ashburn is a nice city on the eastern border of Loudon county although I was a bit surprised by the lack of sidewalks when I went to visit
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Old 06-24-2009, 02:04 PM   #5
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I live in Fairfax and grew up in Vienna (part of Fairfax County). The school system is good, but it's a bureaucracy and huge. You'll have to be fairly involved to get individual attention for your kids. All the schools at every level are big. That being said, all schools have a lot of money and there is a lot of opportunity. The teachers tend to be good--a LOT of teachers want to teach in Fairfax County, so the schools get some good picks when it comes to hiring.

If I had kids in school, what I'd be most worried about in this area aren't the schools (which are all pretty good, even the worst of them) but drugs, gangs (especially in Reston), and money. To echo what Nelie said, housing prices are high--Northern VA hasn't been hit by the housing crisis the way most of the country has--and traffic is horrible.

My advice (for what it's worth) is look at the quality of life you want for your family. Is your husband willing to spend an hour or more commuting each way to and from work? (Long commutes--1 to 2 hours each way--are normal for a lot of people here.) If not, start looking at houses near where his job is. I'm guessing that he's interviewing at a company along the Dulles corridor, in which case you might think about Loudon County. I don't know much about Loudon County schools, but I know that there's a lot of money in that county and a lot of young families, so it stands to reason that those schools would be good.

If you're stuck with Fairfax proper, you might want to look at northern Reston (fewer gangs), Fairfax, Herndon, and Chantilly. A good realtor can help you identify good communities. I'd stay away from McLean and Vienna (WAY too much traffic), but if your husband is interviewing in Tyson's, you'll really want to have a home nearby. Traffic in and around Tyson's is brutal.
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Old 06-24-2009, 02:50 PM   #6
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Oh and one thing to think about is 'off hours' do help somewhat with traffic but I'd say traffic is pretty heavy in the DC metro from 6am to 10am, depending on where you are and then from 3:3pm to 7pm. When we first moved here (again MD, not VA), we lived a mile from work and now live about 6 miles.
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Old 06-24-2009, 04:15 PM   #7
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Nelie and Mags. THANK YOU SO MUCH! A lot of great information for us to consider. He's going to be in Fairfax proper. His thought was also it might be better to live closer to work.

It's going to be an interesting week...

Thanks again for the posts ladies!
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Old 06-24-2009, 09:44 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Lydia227 View Post
Nelie and Mags. THANK YOU SO MUCH! A lot of great information for us to consider. He's going to be in Fairfax proper. His thought was also it might be better to live closer to work.

It's going to be an interesting week...

Thanks again for the posts ladies!
Thought I'd add my 2 cents as a former Fairfax County student and teacher. Fairfax proper has one of the best high school's in the country (Woodson High School). The feeder school, Frost middle (7th-8th), has a Gifted center (these are slowly being phased out) and is a good middle school. Also in Fairfax proper is Lanier Middle which feeds into Fairfax high school. Robinson and Lake braddock secondary schools are also good, but they are 7-12th grade and very large. In those districts, around 7-9 elementary schools feed into them. Just about every high school/middle school in Fairfax county has good and not as good areas that feed into it (only real exception being Langley H.S. in Great Falls). I think that most of the time that is an advantage others may disagree, but like the other poster said most of the schools in the county provide an excellent education.

All DC area people tend to be partial to their state, so i of course feel VA is a much better place to live than MD. In the end, they are really probably one in the same!
fcps.edu/deptarea.htm

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Old 06-24-2009, 10:45 PM   #9
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Lydia - we can finally meet!!! You can train me!!! I can get access to the gym in our building in McLean!!! Wow!

Anyway, I have a friend from a parenting forum (99'ers, so close to your ds1's age) who lives in Fairfax proper. She's a New Englander, so she's all over education and very well versed, having done co-op preschools and that whole deal. She echos that in Fairfax proper you will do very well with schools. I think the whole area there is nice and very upscale. Traffic is bad, but that's just the way it is here, so it's a non-issue. Better to be in close than far away if there's traffic. I would get on Realtor.com and see what you can get for your price range. I know that in Fairfax the homes are older, 1930s-1960s mostly. Anything newer than that tends to be a teardown and rebuilt on the land, making it well over 1mm, according to said friend.

Hilton and VW have relocated there, so even in this time of economic doom, the economy there is still doing well comparatively. It's a good place to live.
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Old 06-24-2009, 10:50 PM   #10
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High marks for both Alexandria and 2 in McLean:

http://www.usnews.com/articles/educa....html?PageNr=1
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Old 06-24-2009, 10:55 PM   #11
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I actually live in Lorton in Northern VA. This is a pretty easy commute if the job is in Fairfax City (approx 20 mins. give or take 10 depending on lights and such) and the area has grown tremendously the last few years. The HS is only a few years old (my daughter was the 1st graduating class in 07) and it still has a little bit of a country feel to it, but you're close to everything.

Fairfax County is known for it's schools so there really are no worries there and they will shuttle to a school with a gifted program if necessary. So, basically you'd have to come check out the area to decide for sure.
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Old 06-24-2009, 11:49 PM   #12
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I will also say I love living where I live and I love the DC metro. What ladeeda says is true that people tend to have loyalty for their area/state even if we are only miles away from other areas

VA is nice but its no Maryland!!! Of course you can always come visit the great state of Maryland
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Old 06-25-2009, 08:53 AM   #13
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You ladies are amazing! I can't tell you enough how much this information is helping our family.

Ladeeda20: Thank you for your inside view of the schools. Really! This is the kind of thing we need to know. Like every parent I have concerns about the academics, peer influences, etc.

Fran: Too funny, I got you out of lurker mode. I would love to work out with you. I'm looking at gyms with the same amount of scrutiny as schools.

Melwolfe: Lorton? I had not seen that. It will be Fairfax proper so an easy commute would be best for how DH and I live. I'll let him know about this too. Last night he drove out to Alexandria and found it took him about 30 minutes one way without a lot of traffic. After that he decided he wanted to be a lot closer.

Thanks so much for all of this wonderful advice. What a great group we have here.
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Old 06-25-2009, 09:44 AM   #14
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Oh and Fairfax Station (used to be Lorton but changed the name) is also very close. Straight up Route 123 and you're in Fairfax city proper.
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Old 06-26-2009, 10:02 PM   #15
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Ugh Lydia, I'm not even lurking these days! Just never here, busy busy with work. When I do get on, I post! So, when will you find out for sure?
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