A Military Family’s Guide to Living in Northern Virginia
Are you looking for a Military Family’s Guide to living in Northern Virginia? If you are planning a military move because of a duty assignment or are simply looking to move to the Northern Virginia area because of its strong military population and large federal workforce, I highly recommend looking in Fairfax County, Arlington County, and Alexandria City. I also recommend that you work with a Military Relocation Professional (MRP) who understands your needs. The MRP certification provides REALTORS® with the know-how to make the transfer to a new home fast, easy and less stressful. As an MRP, I have completed the comprehensive MRP core course, and received additional training in VA home purchase financing options for disabled service members and veterans, as well as VA compromise sale transactions.
About Northern Virginia
As a Navy Commander’s daughter and MRP certified agent, I can tell you that there is a lot to love about Northern Virginia—and its 200,000+ veteran population! Our strong military culture is attractive to military personnel and families from all over the county. Northern Virginia features great schools, museums, culture, events, and an excellent dining and entertainment scene. Northern Virginia also is unique because of its excellent proximity to some of the most prominent military bases in the world, including Andrews AFB, Fort Bevloir, Fort Detrick, Fort McNair, Fort Meade, JB Anacostia – Bolling, JB Myer – Henderson Hall, Marine Barracks, Naval Medical Center, Naval Research Laboratory, Navy Yard, NRO Chantilly, Quantico, The Pentagon, and Walter Reed. When moving to Northern Virginia, there are a number of important things to consider about proximity and population density. Northern Virginia is densely populated and convenience comes at a premium price. In other words, the closer to Washington D.C., the more expensive the housing. To help you out, here is our Military Family’s Guide to living in Northern Virginia.
Northern Virginia Proper
When planning your move to Northern Virginia, “sort out” Northern Virginia county. The true boundaries of “Northern Virginia,” (also locally referred to as NOVA or NoVA) are Fairfax County, Arlington County, Alexandria City, and Falls Church. “Greater Northern Virginia” is Fairfax County, Arlington County, Alexandria City, Falls Church, Loudoun County, and Prince William County. Statistically, Northern Virginia encompasses everything mentioned above and stretches out to Spotsylvania County, Fauquier County, Winchester City, and Culpeper County. Moreover, the "statistical metro area" stretches from King George County, to Baltimore, and all the to Winchester West Virginia. But let us be real here, there is a vast difference between living in Spotsylvania County and Arlington County--and driving to Baltimore from Arlington is no joke, but all these references can make it challenging to search online for real estate. True Northern Virginia or Northern Virginia Proper a highly sought after place to live in, especially inside the 495 Capital Beltway, because of its proximity to Washington D.C. Townhomes and condos are popular options because detached single family homes tend to be quite expensive, usually starting at around $750K. Loudoun County is also popular but is further west meaning your commute into the city will be much greater. You will find more new construction homes and mixed-use properties in Loudoun. Prince William County is south of Washington D.C. and offers better affordability but the commute is a major trade-off. Travelling to and from work can be quite difficult and commuting rush hour windows are wide in comparison to other parts of the United States.
Purchasing a property in Northern Virginia offers you access to the Metro, Metro Buses, and VRE commuter train, however, the variety of options will depend on where you choose to live in Northern Virginia. The further outward you sprawl, the fewer commuter options you will have. The VRE is a popular option for urban sprawlers because the lines run to Spotsylvania County and Prince William County. The major highways are I-95 and the I-495 Capital Beltway, both of which feature variable toll express lanes (you are not required to use the express lanes), but the variable rates are indicative of the traffic volume. I-66 is the other major highway and features HOV lanes with plans to implement express lanes. If you plan to drive a lot, I recommend signing up for an EZ Pass.
What all this means is that you have to factor the cost of commuting which can include metro cost, tolls, VRE, parking, buses, and gas versus the price of the home, plus how much time you are willing to spend commuting. Commuting is the primary factor to consider and you will want to talk to people and use a great Realtor who really knows the area.
Choosing a Neighborhood
If you are looking to live in a military-friendly community in Northern Virginia, there are a few that are particularly popular with veterans. Some of those towns, neighborhoods, and subdivisions (in alphabetical order) include but are not limited to the below: