Living in Northern Virginia offers outstanding quality of life options. With its developed education systems, powerful economy and jobs market, and just about any amenity to satisfy even the most discerning resident — it’s a great place to live.
Together with my family, we proudly call Northern Virginia home. I can honestly say that we’re having an overwhelmingly positive experience. I have three teenagers in the public school system, we are junkies for taking in the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall, and enter as many fun runs as we can fit on our calendar. Your experience will be very different, but there are thousands of activities to build your quality of life around.
This brief list is by no means exhaustive. Comment below and share your best and worst experiences when living in Northern Virginia.
Northern Virginia has some of the best public schools in the State. The schools are extraordinarily well supported by the community. More than half of property tax revenue is directed to support the public schools in Northern Virginia.
Fairfax County Public Schools alone are particularly strong. Fairfax is the most populous county with over 13% of the State’s residents calling this district home. The school system currently has 188,000 students and maintains a 15:1 student to teacher ratio.
The Virginia Department of Education has developed the Purple Star Program in response to the multitudes of military families that move to the region every year. Not every school qualifies for this designation, but the ones that do are able to offer a higher level of service to the special needs of military families.
Schools that earn the Purple Star program have a designated military liaison officer on site. This individual is trained to respond to the unique challenges that the military lifestyle presents to families.
It can assist in the accelerated assimilation into the school, coordinate graduation and class credits that apply differently from state to state, connect with social and support groups, and iron out the hard to see quirks such as drivers licensing requirements or immunizations. It’s a valuable resource.
The cost of living in Northern Virginia is around 50% greater than the national average. Many households depend on two incomes to make ends meet. Northern Virginia is a great place to seek that second household income.
At time of recording, the local unemployment rate was 1.9%. This was lower than both the Commonwealth and National unemployment rates. The economy has a broad service and technology base and presents the prospective job seeker with many fun and challenging options.
The Northern Virginia economy is protected to a degree by its close proximity to the nations capital. The Government activity and supporting agencies and departments reduce the magnitude of economic downturns. Also, the local economy is well developed, experiencing lower than average unemployment, higher wages, and greater equality that the national average.
The transportation networks are efficient and work to distribute people from the outer suburbs and surrounding areas to the employment centers and Metro hub of Washington D.C., Arlington Virginia, and Alexandria Virginia.
There are broadband arterial roads funneling commuters east and west, supported by public bus alternatives. The Metro rail system offers a great alternative to driving and offers the freedom of not having to park in the city. The metro system is a light rail network that connects major suburban areas with the metro area. It’s affordable, and reliable.
There’s so much to do in this area. Whatever your interests, you can probably do it in and around here. The Washington D.C. Metro area is very accessible and many of the Smithsonian institutions and surrounding museums are free. There historical nature of the city can easily be explored on foot and enjoyed by groups small and large.
This is a richly diverse area which offers amazing cuisine from all over the world. You could almost eat at a different restaurant every meal for a year and never run out of new taste sensations.
Outdoor recreation offers year round possibilities and both the ocean and mountains are within reach. Each neighborhood has its own personality. For example, Fairfax City offers the strawberry festival, the chocolate lovers festival, free monthly concerts in the town center, and hosts one of the biggest Independence Day Parades in the entire country.
There’s so much to do. Get after it.
Fairfax County offers a wide range of housing options. There are mostly suburban neighborhoods, with some urban and rural pockets at just about every price point.
The median residential property value is in the mid five hundred thousands at the time of recording this video. Owing to the robust local economy and the healthy demand compared to the limited supply of housing units available, property values have appreciated around 2–4% on average for the past decade. This growth is extraordinary. How does it compare to your market?
While housing prices may appear elevated when moving here from a less expensive market, they are relative to the higher than average incomes earned in the local economy. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns.
The traffic can be a rude shock to the system when you first move here. With more than 1.15 million people living in Fairfax County alone, just moving this volume of people each day is a coordinated challenge.
One local joked with me that they measure their local trips in hours per mile and not miles per hour! That’s not as crazy as is sounds.
Once you get the feel for the flow of traffic at different times of the day, and during different seasons, you can better plan your trips without being late to everything. Take the Metro if you can!
The weather will get you in the mid to late summer. It’s not that the ambient temperature is overly hot, but the humidity will get you — it’s relentless and energy sapping. Make sure you have access to some quality air conditioning to get over this hump. Otherwise, the weather is generally pretty mild throughout the year. January and February can be cold, as you would expect.
There’s a lot more positive reasons to live here in Northern Virginia than not. I live and work here with my family, and we’re having a good experience. Please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions — use me as a resource when planning a trip or a move here, and I look forward to seeing you here.