It costs more to live in Fairfax County than average. In fact, the cost of living in Fairfax Virginia is 53% higher than the United States average. But, costs are not uniformly more expensive in Fairfax. While most costs are clearly more expensive, surprisingly, others are lower than the national average
Fairfax County is situated directly to the West of the Washington D.C. — Arlington — Alexandria metro area, and is a popular destination for commuting workers. With a population of 1.2 million people Fairfax County is the most populous, and densely populated district in the State of Virginia. Thirteen percent (13%) of the Virginia population call Fairfax County home.
With a thriving economy, Fairfax County hosts many Government Agencies. Several major Intelligence Agencies are headquartered here, including the FBI, NGIA and others.
Currently ten (10) Fortune Five Hundred companies have their headquarters in Fairfax County Virginia: Freddie Mac, General Dynamics, Capital One Financial, Northrop Grumman, DXC Technologies, Leidos Holdings, Hilton Worldwide Holdings, NVR, Beacon Roofing, Booz Allen Hamilton.
Fairfax County was the first in the nation to have median household income exceed $100,000. Median household income in Fairfax County is currently the sendon highest in the United States, behind neighboring Loudoun County directly to the North West.
There are many housing options in Fairfax County. The majority of available housing in Fairfax is suburban. However, the metro areas do offer multiple urban housing in Fairfax. Plus, the less densely populated western areas offer rural hosing in Fairfax. There’s wide range of housing options in Fairfax.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that it costs 53% more to live in Fairfax County than the United States average. This is also significantly more expensive than the average Cost of Living in Virginia. Virginia statewide cost of living is just 3.7% above the national average. Again, the elevated cost of living in Fairfax County is uniformly distributed. Some expenses are much higher, and others are less than the national average.
Housing is by far the driving factor elevating the cost of living in Fairfax Virginia. At the end of 2019 average home sale prices were $546,100. This is more than double the national average of $231,000. Fairfax County home values are significantly higher than the Virginia State average of $258,400.
There are many reasons driving the strong home values in Fairfax Virginia. It basically comes down to strong demand and limited supply. This region enjoys 2–4% property value growth annually, on average. Even in times of national economic decline, the local hosing market is less volatile.
Transportation is 29% more expensive in Fairfax County compared to the United States average. Lengthy commute times are a contributing factor, but significant transportation alternatives also add to the cost. Despite efficient infrastructure, there are substantial costs associated with using public transportation for daily commuting.
Groceries are 14% more expensive than the national average. The following categories are 21% more expensive than the U.S. average: clothing, restaurants, repairs, entertainment, and other services. It’s an expensive place to live.
Not everything costs more in Fairfax Virginia. Utilities cost three percent (3%) less than the national average, and Healthcare is one (1%) less expensive expensive.
Given that the cost of housing is much greater in Fairfax and other expense categories are a little more or less. What does that mean in terms of how much money is required to live comfortably?
The Economic Policy Institute helps to put this in perspective for us. As of late 2019, the monthly costs for a household of two (2) adults and (2) children are detailed in the chart above.
The monthly total income to live in Fairfax Virgina of $9,509 is significant and requires this household unit to earn more than $114,000 per year. It is important to consider that these numbers are required to afford the lofty price of housing here. This is balanced by the healthy economy and job market which compensates employees and business owners proportionately to meet these expenses.
Also consider that these are the averages. No household is ever average and your personal financial needs may be far lower depending on the housing choices you make.
Another important consideration is that this financial cost information covers just that — the costs. A better household financial plan will include reserves for retirement savings, rainy day funds, and vacations. You will need to earn more if you are truly planning for a sustainable financial future and your costs meet the averages as laid out by the Economic Policy Institute.