Author Topic: Places to live near McLean, VA  (Read 34752 times)

jrhampt

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Places to live near McLean, VA
« on: February 18, 2013, 12:14:02 PM »
I recently had some promising job interviews in the DC area and was researching housing costs.  It appears to be a discouragingly expensive area to live, but maybe some of you have some insights into Mustachian living near McLean, VA, if such a thing is possible. 

I currently live with my husband and a cat in a pleasant CT suburb near hiking trails and the library, and I have a 20 minute commute to work three days of the week, telecommuting the other two.  Our current home value is around $250k for a 3 bed, 2.5 bath 2200+ sq ft house.   It is in a bad school district, but we don't have kids and don't care about this.

Contrast this to the northwest suburbs of DC, which seem to be endless strip malls and terrible traffic, in addition to much higher housing costs.  If I end up working in McLean, I don't want to have a giant commute or a huge housing expense, but I'm not sure what is the best way to avoid this.  I would try for a modified work week and/or a partial telecommuting arrangement with my employer, but it's too early to say what we could hash out.  I assume we would probably rent for a few years before moving to a less expensive area to buy when I am no longer working in the DC area.  There's no way we would find comparable housing to what we have now for a reasonable cost, but we don't need this much space anyway.  We'd look for an apartment close to work, or at least in a somewhat walkable neighborhood where the commute wouldn't be too bad.  Again, school districts don't matter.  Any of you have experience with the area and have recommendations or areas to stay away from?

bo_knows

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2013, 12:35:23 PM »
I live in Fairfax, VA and commute to Springfield, VA for work.

Congrats on the job prospect.  You are correct in that some of the DC suburbs are absurdly expensive. You are also correct in prioritizing commute (I commute ~25min each way, and it's the shortest I've had since I moved here 9 years ago).

Areas close to Mclean:

-Mclean - A very woodsy, and highly expensive area to live.  Executives from a lot of local companies reside here.  Not very bike friendly, as some of the local roads are sort of rural-ish with no shoulders and no sidewalks.  Very pretty place to live, but really expensive.

- Tysons Corner - I highly recommend you stay the hell away from living here.  It is a clusterfuck of malls, stores, and traffic.  There are condos in the area, which may make it tempting since it's essentially the closest neighborhood to your job.

- Vienna - This area has an "old town" sort of feel, while still being out in the suburbs. There are a lot of smaller shops to frequent, and it has prime access to one of the areas largest and well-kept bike trails (the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD)).  This is the end-point for one of the Metro train lines, and can be convenient for getting into the city when need be.  Depending on where in Mclean you'd work, you can either take backroads or the beltway to get to work. Shouldn't be more than 20-30mins usually.  I like Vienna.

- Dunn Loring / Merrifield - These neighborhoods are more filled with apartment buildings and light industrial, but are close to the beltway and metro stops.  Not a very interesting place, but cheaper.

- East/West Falls Church - Older neighborhoods, close to Metro stops, smaller/older homes with some apartments. To me, these neighborhoods give me the "old rundown strip mall" sort of feeling.  But, they're inside the beltway, convenient, and generally cheaper to live in.

- Fairfax - "Old town" Fairfax is the intersection of Main St and Chain Bridge Rd.  There is a recently renovated area with a nice public library, nice little restaurants, and often lots of local festivals.  We live right on Main street here, and there are 2 shopping centers within 1mi of us, and it's pretty family friendly.  I like the proximity that we still have to major transportation, while staying out of the majorly "high priced" areas.


Any other further neighborhoods, and you start looking at a 45min commute I think. I'd be more than happy to answer any other questions.


jrhampt

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2013, 12:49:52 PM »
Thanks, bo.  From your description, I like the sound of Vienna (bike trail!) the most, but I've also seen recommendations for East Falls Church elsewhere.  What about Cherrydale?  Also, any idea what's the lowest I could expect to pay for a 1 bedroom apt in any of the areas you've listed?  I think I've seen $1300-$1600/mo, but not sure if that's typical, or one the low or high ends.  And would you look on Craigslist?

bo_knows

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2013, 12:57:24 PM »
Thanks, bo.  From your description, I like the sound of Vienna (bike trail!) the most, but I've also seen recommendations for East Falls Church elsewhere.  What about Cherrydale?  Also, any idea what's the lowest I could expect to pay for a 1 bedroom apt in any of the areas you've listed?  I think I've seen $1300-$1600/mo, but not sure if that's typical, or one the low or high ends.  And would you look on Craigslist?

Cherrydale is really close to what is considered the Ballston/Clarendon area.  That area is pretty nice, with lots of shops/bars, has been big time developed in the last 10 years, and have many metro stops.  It's a nice area.  Cherrydale looks like it's the neighborhood just outside of the hustle and bustle of Clarendon, which I'm guessing has older homes.   That area is right on the metro line too, and is closer to the city. If you prefer being closer to DC for whatever reason, it would be worth renting there.  I lived in Ballston for 1 year and it was a blast.  It is also close to an off-shoot of the W&OD trail, so you can bike there too.

I don't think I'd mind using craigslist, but I've been out of the rental market for awhile.

Here's the thing about prices in most of DC, but particularly Ballston/Clarendon since it is so built up... prices will vary wildly depending on how "nice" and new the apartment is.  It all depends on whether you want granite countertops and a pool on the roof, or if you're willing to rent out a basement apartment in a 1950's rambler in the quiet part of town.




mc6

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2013, 02:08:24 PM »
Hi, I'm in the area too.  I moved to NoVA 10 years ago from the Midwest and still have sticker shock. 

If I had it to do over again, I would definitely avoid the Dulles Toll Rd suburbs (Reston, Herndon, Chantilly, Centerville). The toll goes up up up and back roads are clogged with others who want to avoid these tolls.  I would second the advice to avoid living in Tysons at all costs.  I stayed there in temporary quarters and it was just too much congestion.  The metro is coming to Tysons however, if that matters to you.  You may have to drive through Tysons to get to Vienna if I recall, though. 

There are some apartment buildings in Mclean proper but I don't know much about them.  Mclean is pretty froufrou for my taste. 

alaithea

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2013, 07:28:39 PM »
I've lived in the DC area for three and a half years, and my advice would be to avoid this area like the plague if you want to be mustachian. We just got rated as having the worst commutes of any metro area in the country. The place is not built up densely enough (thanks, DC height limits) to support all the population that wants to live here, and many, many people here are paid very well, so you have to really cough up the moula to get a halfway decent commute. Of course, working in McLean, you could have an advantage, since you won't need to be commuting into the city. You might even be able to reverse commute from a reasonably priced place on the south side of Arlington. Check out Penrose and the newly revitalized Columbia Pike area... there are some good deals to be had down there.

But again, my family is hoping to get out of here as soon as we can. I have a good job, but DC is sucking the life out of us and our wallets.

bo_knows

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2013, 05:24:34 AM »
I've lived in the DC area for three and a half years, and my advice would be to avoid this area like the plague if you want to be mustachian. We just got rated as having the worst commutes of any metro area in the country. The place is not built up densely enough (thanks, DC height limits) to support all the population that wants to live here, and many, many people here are paid very well, so you have to really cough up the moula to get a halfway decent commute. Of course, working in McLean, you could have an advantage, since you won't need to be commuting into the city. You might even be able to reverse commute from a reasonably priced place on the south side of Arlington. Check out Penrose and the newly revitalized Columbia Pike area... there are some good deals to be had down there.

But again, my family is hoping to get out of here as soon as we can. I have a good job, but DC is sucking the life out of us and our wallets.

Eh, it all depends on what your field is.  Relative to the rest of the country, tech jobs are more stable here and get paid better, especially if you're willing to get a security clearance.  As long as you keep your spending in check, and pay "whats reasonable for the area" when it comes to housing, you can still get ahead, a la mustachian.

Mountainman75

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2013, 06:56:48 AM »
Having grown up in Fairfax County and seen it slide into the abyss of gridlock and hell, I'd say avoid like the plague.

That said, it does have job opportunities and great schools.
If you are working in McLean/Tysons it will suck for you. The commute will be terrible, a reverse commute from inside the beltway marginally better, and it will cost a lot.
McLean and Tysons is not a walkable or bikeable area at the moment, and won't be until after the finish the Silver Line Metro and the Tysons redevelopment efforts.

A wee bit further out is Reston/Herndon with the strip malls etc, but they do have walking paths and bike paths. You can take the WO&D trail from there to McLean, and on into DC. Its not perfect, but it beats Chantilly, Fair Oaks, and the rest of Western Fairfax County. It does have the toll road issue, but when the silver line opens this year (?) there will be 4 stops in McLean and 3-4 spread across Reston and Herndon. This line will join the Orange line tracks at West Falls Church and continue into DC.

Where exactly is the office going to be?

DoubleDown

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2013, 12:29:52 PM »
Adding to the votes for Vienna and Falls Church. Next in preference would be renting in McLean itself. Keep in mind that the Town of Vienna proper (inside the town limits), has an additional property (and sales too, I believe) tax to pay for its own police force and trash collection, etc. But many people have a Vienna address without living strictly within the town limits. Same goes for the City of Falls Church, I'm pretty certain.

mc6

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2013, 04:23:38 PM »
Hi jrhampt, I feel the need to say some welcoming, positive things now!  I hope if/when you move here you will enjoy it. 

Positives:  All of the places I've lived in NoVA have been within a short walk of groceries and other necessities.  I can have just about any kind of cuisine I could imagine.  On the days that I take the metro to downtown DC and stomp around the Smithsonian, it is pretty impressive. 

Splashncash

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2013, 04:42:29 PM »
I've lived in the DC area for three and a half years, and my advice would be to avoid this area like the plague if you want to be mustachian.

Eh, it all depends on what your field is.  Relative to the rest of the country, tech jobs are more stable here and get paid better, especially if you're willing to get a security clearance.  As long as you keep your spending in check, and pay "whats reasonable for the area" when it comes to housing, you can still get ahead, a la mustachian.

I agree with bo_knows.  You can be mustachian in the DC area but it really does pay to either live near where you work or live close enough to commute by bike.  I agree with others who say stay away from the Tysons area.  In 18 years of living in the DC area (we just moved last August), I went there once and said never again.  It truly is like one of the circles of hell.

The Cherrydale neighborhood you mention is in north Arlington.  It is a very nice place and close to the border with McLean.  Another poster asked a good question - where exactly would you be working?  That could help us name some neighborhoods. 

The sticker shock will wear off eventually.  It took 2 or 3 years for us to get over the housing prices.   

alaithea

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2013, 09:32:56 PM »
I've lived in the DC area for three and a half years, and my advice would be to avoid this area like the plague if you want to be mustachian.

Eh, it all depends on what your field is.  Relative to the rest of the country, tech jobs are more stable here and get paid better, especially if you're willing to get a security clearance.  As long as you keep your spending in check, and pay "whats reasonable for the area" when it comes to housing, you can still get ahead, a la mustachian.

I agree with bo_knows.  You can be mustachian in the DC area but it really does pay to either live near where you work or live close enough to commute by bike.  I agree with others who say stay away from the Tysons area.  In 18 years of living in the DC area (we just moved last August), I went there once and said never again.  It truly is like one of the circles of hell.

...

The sticker shock will wear off eventually.  It took 2 or 3 years for us to get over the housing prices.   

I do work in the tech field. Yeah, the pay is better than in some areas of the country. My salary jumped by almost 30% when we moved here. But so did all the living expenses. Don't own a car, commute by metro, employer subsidizes transit fees. Still sucking the life out of us. But that's with one of us in school full time and a kid in daycare.

That said, there *are* nice things about the area. The grandeur of the architecture is pretty cool. Free museums are great. But after three years, I'm pretty ambivalent about this place. Meh.

freelancerNfulltimer

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2013, 04:02:45 PM »
You couldn't pay me enough to move back to NoVa. I don't know what your town is like where you live now, but if you like it I would stay put unless your new employer offers you a huge pay increase.

The expense of living in NoVa/DC Area quickly eats away at what might sound like on paper a high salary.

Beyond the expense people are generally in bad moods, not friendly, traffic is horrendous (on par with LA and New York City), and everything is a giant pain in the ass to do.

BUT there are some nice things. Ballston, Clarendon, Downtown Arlington is great if you are young and want lots of bars and restaurants to have fun at. The hiking trails are amazing. Being able to hop on the Metro and visit DC whenever you have time is amazing but when you live there you tend to only do that when family comes to visit.

I recommend living as close to a Metro stop as you can afford. Definitely prioritize commute.

Also another thing to keep in mind, the winters are really cold, and the summers are scorching.

bo_knows

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2013, 05:26:53 AM »
You couldn't pay me enough to move back to NoVa. I don't know what your town is like where you live now, but if you like it I would stay put unless your new employer offers you a huge pay increase.

The expense of living in NoVa/DC Area quickly eats away at what might sound like on paper a high salary.

Beyond the expense people are generally in bad moods, not friendly, traffic is horrendous (on par with LA and New York City), and everything is a giant pain in the ass to do.

Also another thing to keep in mind, the winters are really cold, and the summers are scorching.

Not for nothing, but this is some major complainypants here.  You're generalizing an entire metro area as being in bad moods? Saying that "everything" is a giant pain in the ass to do?  Talk about generalizations and hyberbole.

And, having grown up in Western NY, I'd say that the winters are not that cold in VA... it's all obviously relative. Compared to SoCal? Yeah, our weather sucks.

There is no doubt that the traffic sucks here, but I've managed to avoid this by living/working in the suburbs, and not taking jobs that will be a 2hr commute each way (which a lot of people acquiesce to).   

To each their own though.

jrhampt

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2013, 08:43:20 AM »
All interesting stuff here.  I'm not sure exactly where in McLean I would end up as there are a couple of possibilities at this point.  On the weather - I'm not so much concerned about the cold winters since I'm in New England now.  I do think that financially, moving would be a set back specifically in regard to housing - - salary-wise I don't think it would be much better than now - no more than a 15-20% increase.  That's why I'm torn on the idea...the job opportunities are quite interesting, and I do love all the free museums in DC,  although financially I'd be better off staying where I am.  I didn't know that there were hiking trails around the area, so it's nice to know that I wouldn't have to give that up.  I did see, Bo, that you posted in another thread that you and your wife have managed to avoid daycare, which I find quite impressive for a couple living in such a high cost area!  So I am encouraged to hear that mustachian living is still an option, although it sounds like it would have to be a deliberate decision from the outset.

Mountainman75

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2013, 08:57:14 AM »
My brother works in downtown DC.
Bought a short sale in Old Town Alexandria, a nice 4 BD, 4 BA 1950's ranch on a large lot.
Walking distance (1 mile) to King Street Metro, so he doesn't have to drive.

He rents out two rooms to folks he knows for $900 a month. Pays about half the mortgage.
He's gonna add a detached garage with a small apartment over the top out back. All done DIY.

It can be done, you just have to make sure you don't get cornered into driving everywhere.
Traffic is terrible during the week, and worse on weekends because everyone is out shopping.
Its a heavily car dependent area.

mmmj

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2013, 12:49:59 PM »
I actually used to live in McLean/Tysons and still have a condo there that I rent out.  I would try and get as close as possible to your job location if you will be driving to work.  Traffic in the area is absolutely horrible (especially if your job is in Tysons).   

mm1970

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2013, 08:43:58 PM »
Ah, the memories.

I can't really give you advice.  I lived in the DC area in the 90's (was in the Navy).  I worked and lived inside the beltway, and did my best to do it on the cheap. I was an ensign to start, had no choice.

I would try to live as close as possible to work.  I took the metro for awhile (45 mins door to door, including 10 min walk at each end), then carpooled, then moved to 1 mile from work.  Traffic sucks really.  Did back then too, probably worse now.

bo_knows

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #18 on: February 22, 2013, 07:36:39 AM »
Traffic sucks really.  Did back then too, probably worse now.

In the 9 years I've been here, it has fluctuated between #1 and #2 worst traffic in the country.  Though, I would think that the majority of that is self-imposed.  In all the offices I've worked in, there are always a handful of people who live way beyond the outskirts of the metro area because "housing is cheaper".  Yet, they spend 1.5hrs commuting, each way, on a good day... and have the occasional 4-5hr nightmare commute because one of the major thoroughfares has an accident.

I've kept my commute to between 25-45mins the whole time I've lived here.  I highly recommend avoiding the major commuting paths  (For morning commutes, you do NOT want to be driving from the south and coming up 95N, or coming from the North in MD and coming down 270S, or coming from the West and driving down 66E... that is madness.)

OP would be just fine living pretty much anywhere inside the beltway on the NoVA side, and probably wouldn't have that much trouble in towns like Vienna or Fairfax.  Though, living close is paramount.  Go for Cherrydale.

DoubleDown

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #19 on: February 22, 2013, 11:31:15 AM »

In the 9 years I've been here, it has fluctuated between #1 and #2 worst traffic in the country. 

You can blame me and the law of jinxes for that. My wife and I moved here from Los Angeles in 1996, and we marveled (aloud) together at "How awesomely little traffic there is here compared to LA!!!"

Oh and I like your stories about coworkers and their outrageous commutes. So far the worst I've seen at my work is a dude who commutes every day from Gettysburg, PA to NoVa!

bo_knows

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #20 on: February 22, 2013, 12:14:00 PM »
Oh and I like your stories about coworkers and their outrageous commutes. So far the worst I've seen at my work is a dude who commutes every day from Gettysburg, PA to NoVa!

Ha! When I first moved here, I read in the Post about a town in PA being built specifically as a "DC commuter town". I really thought I was in another universe or something, but I have known people to commute from there, or from south of Richmond, which is equally insane.

theglidd

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2013, 09:48:08 AM »
I live in North Arlington (8 years now)(right on the boarder of McLean). One of the best things about the DC area is easy access to great trails and out door activities. I whitewater kayak at Great Falls and its only a 15 min drive. The whole Potomac River area from Great Falls to Georgetown is one big hiking, mountain climbing, river rafting, fishing playground.

My wife and I both work in the city, (20 min commute via 66). Everyone complains about commuting, but you just have to be smart about it and its not a big deal.

It's also doable to live the mustache life, even though the area is expensive. You just have to be smart about it.

HawkeyeNFO

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #22 on: February 25, 2013, 10:40:06 AM »
I live in McLean, about a block or 2 north of the Arlington line, and I really like it.  Have been here less than a year.

For bike enthusiasts, Arlington is especially bike-friendly, McLean is not.  Trails are numerous around the entire DC area, and I know a few folks who commute daily by bike.  Yup, housing is not cheap, but if you can get into most of McLean or N Arlington and wait a short while, you should come out ahead, even if the outer suburbs suffer price drops.  Housing bubble-collapse from late last decade was not much of a problem for most areas inside the Beltway.  Outer suburb values did take a pretty good hit.

- Cherrydale is a great area, the older rambler homes are often bought and replaced within a year by much larger homes, then sold for a big profit.  This is frequent in my McLean neighborhood, and some parts of Falls Church. 
- Schools: McLean schools are top-notch, Alexandria is generally not so good, and Falls Church is good, but reportedly is declining.  N Arlington, including Cherrydale, is very good.
- Traffic: if you can use the GW parkway and stay off I-66 like I do, you won't have any traffic problems.  I've lived in MD and VA and travelled extensively around the area during rush hour, and McLean traffic is actually not bad at all so long as you don't get on 66.  Because the surface streets in N Arlington / McLean / Falls Church are confusing, we don't get a lot of people trying to just pass-through and avoid 66, so mostly just locals on our roads.

Feel free to PM me if you need more info.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2013, 10:53:14 AM by HawkeyeNFO »

twinge

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #23 on: February 25, 2013, 10:57:22 AM »
I've lived in several locations around the DC area.  North Arlington was my favorite and is close to McLean--good schools, easy access to metro, someone mentioned Great Falls and that's a great draw--you can go rock-climbing, kayaking, hiking etc. with a short drive.  The Potomac River and Roosevelt Island are also nice natural getaways.  Others have mentioned the amazing bike trails.  There are also a lot of day/weekend trips out of the city where you can go to the Shenandoah mountains and caves etc.

These are the things I've done to improve my quality of life here:
1) Live close to my work.
2) Built up a habit of using cultural resources (Our family with young kids now only goes into DC for fun 2-3x a month, other weekends are around the area or at home--but it feels like a good amount).  Make a point of constantly exploring and discovering what's available (there's a lot!) that you enjoy.
3) Tried to develop a social network of people nearby.  One of the hardest things is to have a lot of friends all over the area and never get to see them because it's a pain to drive anywhere.  I'm working on this one because I knew a lot of people before I moved here and they are scattered all over.


shadow_dave

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2014, 08:01:46 AM »
I am reviving this topic, as it answers some of my questions and didn't want to do a whole new post.....hope that is ok?

Now it just so happens that I lost my job of 22 years due to restructuring. Locally I am not having much luck.   Some job possibilities are out there, but they would require a move.  Ideally, I would not have to couple a move of my family with a job change.  But it may come to doing just that.

That said, one goal I have had is that I have wanted to move from the city suburbs to a more rural situation. 

Nothing fancy, house wise, but would like a few acres and some space.  I prefer the rural area to city.     Ok....I hate the city.  Parts of me clench up tight when I am in the city. We do not care about going out on the town and prefer to ride our ATVs or play in the woods instead.

A job in McLean, VA came around through the job boards......  Not sure of the pay or anything, but the job description suits me and is in an industry I would enjoy.  I know that's close to DC and all the traffic headaches that come with that area.

Is there anything around McLean where I could find the rural, reasonable cost living I am looking for within a 45 min commute? My wife also works in a hospital and so we would need to have a place where she could find work too.

Thanks for any insight!


mc6

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2014, 10:22:32 PM »
Hi Shadow Dave.  Sorry for you job loss.  There is no rural-ness/acreage anywhere close to McLean that I know of, but there are lots of great hospitals in the region. 

El Gringo

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #26 on: February 01, 2014, 11:25:21 PM »
This is somewhat of a non-sequitor, but since this thread has a lot of DC locals who have posted in it, I figured I'd post: did all of you know we have a DC Mustachian google group? It's http://groups.google.com/group/dc-mustachians.

17 of us got together last night for pot luck and had a great evening! Join the group if you haven't already! Hopefully we'll get together again sometime soon!

mm1970

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #27 on: February 02, 2014, 08:50:16 AM »
So, I used to live in the DC area (in the 90's), where I met my husband and got married.  I lived in Arlington, hubby lived in Alexandria, but we were renters.

It is an expensive area to live, and I would really want to avoid a commute if at all possible.  We lived metro/ walk/ bike distance from the office.

I have done some looking into housing and such because my husband's company has an office in Sterling, VA, and they keep trying to lure him out there. 

Now, Sterling is actually reasonably priced, and about 18 miles from McLean.  No idea of the traffic these days.  Note: I live in Coastal Southern California, and an equivalent house in Sterling would be about 1/3 the value of our current house (though it's hard to find homes so small there), so my perspective is different.

One reason we haven't solidly considered moving is my own job prospects.  While I could always try going back to my old job - it's in DC, and I will NOT do that commute.  I would have to accept that I would be unemployed for a long time, maybe forever, due to my desire to not commute.

GodlessCommie

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2014, 02:23:45 PM »
mm1970, if you live and work in Sterling, you will never see any traffic worth mentioning. Even Rt.7, the main east-west artery, is reasonable, and you can always take smaller routes. Areas to the north of Rt.7 have a lot of hiking/bike trails, so mustachian commute is very feasible. Less bike trails in the old Sterling (Sterling Park), but a lot of small streets with a low speed limit. Crossing Rt.7 on bike may be a challenge. Lowes Island and Cascades are the most upscale areas, Countryside less so, Sugarland probably the least. There are two big public parks, Algonkian and Claude Moore.

All in all I do enjoy living here. Cost of living is not as high as in areas closer to DC, and now there are a lot of job opportunities that don't require a long commute - a lot of companies moved into Herndon-Reston area. Most schools are good. Lots of shopping/dining choices, including Costco smack in the middle, and Harbor Freight Tools. It may not be important to everyone - but it is an extremely diverse area, with people from all around the world, and no particular group really dominating. If you are looking for your vote to make impact - it's in the swingiest county of the swingiest state. Biggest nearby attraction is probably Udvar-Hazy Center, an extension site for the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Amazing place with more unique machines than I can mention in a short post. Having an international airport in 10 minutes, and two others in an hour of driving can't hurt, either - but then again may not be important to everybody.

On the flip side, Ivy League Preschool Syndrome is rampant. Your average car is a BMW. Area is apparently very bad for people with allergies. Summers are very humid, making heat less tolerable. Spring and fall are gorgeous, though. HOAs are everywhere, and can be a big pain. Oh, and we are apparently a Ground Zero for Lyme Disease.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2014, 02:26:33 PM by GodlessCommie »

pipercat

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #29 on: February 02, 2014, 03:41:09 PM »
DH is from NOVA, and I am from the Richmond area.  When we decided where to live, we were choosing between those two areas.  I will say that every time we are up there, we are so glad  that we opted for Central Virginia instead, mostly because of traffic and overall COL.   HOWEVER, I will say, there are lots more opportunities for biking (more bike lanes), and there are plenty of walking trails.  It's still a really expensive area, but my point is that there are at least some mustachian opportunities.

HattyT

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #30 on: February 03, 2014, 02:56:26 PM »
I can't help you with rural, affordable, with a minimized commute anywhere in the DC metro area. 
I have had co-workers commute in from West Virginia.  You could get rural and affordable there, but that'd be a monster commute.
If you want to minimize the commute, look for something on the Metro.  I lived in a 500 sq foot apartment in Arlington for $1000 a month (2 years ago).  I like neighborhoods with good walk scores (http://www.walkscore.com/)  but you'd definitely lose rural points the higher the walk score.

oldtoyota

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #31 on: February 03, 2014, 03:01:06 PM »
I probably would not move here unless you are getting paid A LOT of money.

Everywhere in NoVA is pricey these days.

prodarwin

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #32 on: February 03, 2014, 03:13:20 PM »
FWIW, a lot of the walk-scores are borked in FFX.  I lived somewhere with a walk score of 8/100.  I could hop on my bike and get almost anywhere in fairfax without touching a road.  Fairfax is absolutely saturated with bike trails.  Once you've ridden them you realize its a staggering amount.  One thing I wish I took much more advantage of when living there.  I'd consider a move back only if commute conditions were extremely favorable.

Rural, yet still near Mclean is not possible.  Closest you could get is western Loudoun, where prices are still astronomical (although there is strong appreciation, so its not all bad), and property taxes are nuts.

GodlessCommie - your perception of traffic is skewed from living in the area.  I lived there for 28 years.  Once I moved down here, my perception changed.

average Rt. 7 traffic in Sterling = Heavy Traffic here
average 66 traffic between Rt. 50 and 495 = OMG TRAFFIC APOCALYPSE!! here.

shadow_dave

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #33 on: February 03, 2014, 04:49:12 PM »
Thanks all for the replies!

My current commute is 45 minutes to an hour, and that is for just under 20 miles each way.  Traffic around here stinks. The roads were built in the 50s and just cannot handle todays' traffic,

So if I move, I do not want to move into something worse....but 45 minutes on the highway would be fine by me even if its more miles.

I do not want to live metro or suburbs....I want rural.   I need peace and quiet and realize that I will have to pay for that in the way of a commute no matter where i go....

GodlessCommie

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Re: Places to live near McLean, VA
« Reply #34 on: February 04, 2014, 08:04:51 AM »
GodlessCommie - your perception of traffic is skewed from living in the area.  I lived there for 28 years.  Once I moved down here, my perception changed.

average Rt. 7 traffic in Sterling = Heavy Traffic here
average 66 traffic between Rt. 50 and 495 = OMG TRAFFIC APOCALYPSE!! here.
You are probably right, and my "commuter senses" are somewhat dulled by the life in NoVA. That said, I stand by the assertion that if you live and work in Sterling, traffic will not be a factor. That was mm1970's scenario. Sterling is only 6 miles East to West, all office parks are either in the central part or towards the west, so even if you don't take a bike, and have to take Rt.7, you are going against traffic, or driving a very short distance.

Now, living in Sterling and commuting towards DC is definitely not something I would advocate for.