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The Best Places to Live in Northern Virginia for a Family

Moving to Northern Virginia

My family and I moved to Virginia from the Midwest a year ago. We have two preschoolers, so we were looking for an affordable, family-friendly area that was close to my husband's work.

We were repeatedly told that the D.C. area had awful traffic, and they were right. We also found that homes cost around three times the amount of homes in the Midwest.

Living in Virginia, we found that there is so much to do in the area. We are close to Washington D.C., beaches and the mountains.

There are three counties in Northern Virginia: Loudon County, Fairfax County and Prince William County. We also have the City of Manassas and the City of Fairfax, which are their own entities.

I was very excited to find that there is not just one Smithsonian Museum, but a whole network of them. It's great, free and educational fun for the family!

Fairfax County Facts

  • Fairfax is the largest county in Virginia.
  • It lies inside and outside the Capital Beltway, which makes it very close to D.C.
  • The metro goes out to the Vienna/Fairfax area from D.C.
  • They have just completed building a new extension of the metro out to Reston.
  • Fairfax County is a desired location for the high-income population.
  • It is also very expensive! You might be able to get a townhouse for $500,000.
  • The schools are great. They have tons of shopping, restaurants and fun things to do, but it comes with a high price tag!

Loudon County Facts

  • Loudon County is the richest county in the United States.
  • It has great schools and is very family-friendly, but it is also very expensive.
  • The Dulles airport is located in Loudon county.
  • Ashburn is beautiful and family-friendly but very expensive.
  • Sterling is a little less expensive, but you have to watch the areas because you can go from neighborhood to neighborhood and see a huge difference.
  • Leesburg is the furthest from D.C. and a little more affordable, and they also have a huge outlet mall.

Prince William County Facts

  • Prince William county is around 20 miles from the closest Metro station in Vienna. It is the least expensive of the three counties.
  • This is where I live. Rt 66 is the main artery that brings Prince William residents to the D.C. area.
  • Most people told me to avoid the Manassas area when looking for a place to live because of the school ratings and the crime rate.
  • Bristow, Gainesville and Haymarket are very family-friendly.
  • Haymarket is more country, but it is closest to the mountains.
  • Bristow is like a large neighborhood with a few grocery-anchored plazas.
  • Gainesville is affordable and has tons of shopping. They have a huge shopping plaza, BJ's, Wegmans, tons of preschools and a movie theater there too.
  • Gainesville is the fastest-growing when choosing between Gainesville, Bristow and Haymarket.
  • Bristow is the closest to D.C. of the three.

Living in Bristow, VA (In Prince William County)

Where to Live?

I have found that the traffic is horrendous around here. Yesterday, it took me 2 hours to get to the metro station from my house, which is 20 miles away.

On the way back, it only took 30 minutes. You never know what is going to happen when you get on the road.

Route 66, which goes through Prince William County, Fairfax county and into D.C., gets very congested.

Rush hour lasts around 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the evening; Rt 66 usually turns into a parking lot during rush hour.

You have to decide if you want a short commute and a larger mortgage or a smaller mortgage and a longer commute.

We moved to Prince William County to have a smaller mortgage. We are 22 miles from my husband's work, and it takes him anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours to get to work.

Most of the people who live in Prince William county work near D.C. and do the drive. The homes with the highest value are along the metro line.

The closer it is to a metro station, the more the home will be worth.

One tip that my real estate agent taught me was to look at the cars in the neighborhoods that you are considering looking at.

If the cars are nice and well taken care of, it will be a family-friendly area. If the cars are falling apart, it will most likely not be as safe.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: We are a military family moving to the area where my husband will be working in the Chantilly area. There are two schools that we are looking at for our children but they are in Herndon and Fairfax. Any suggestions on areas to live to accommodate both my husband and our children? We prefer less crime and less traffic! If that's even possible.

Answer: Fairfax is expensive has good schools and there is a lot of traffic. Herndon is less expensive, has less traffic, but the schools are better in Fairfax. Chantilly has many neighborhoods with good schools and the traffic is not as bad as Fairfax.

© 2012 Melanie Casey


Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on April 30, 2019:

Amanda B, Great Falls is beautiful. There is a huge park along the river and it feels like Great Falls is an extension of that park. Reston has tons to see and do including the Reston Town Center.

Robert Sacchi on April 27, 2019:

They are very nice areas. There is a Metro stop in Reston.

Amanda B on April 27, 2019:

Thinking about the Great Falls/Reston area with a commute to crystal city. Anyone familiar with those areas?

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on April 23, 2019:

Hi Sarah, By car, the best route would be 267 East to 66 East. It should take about 45 minutes. If you wanted to go by Metro, drive to the Vienna/Fairfax Metro station and take it into D.C.

Sarah on April 22, 2019:

Im moving from Florida to VA. I will work in DC and plan to live in Sterling. What is the best way to deal with traffic?

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on September 26, 2018:

Thanks Brandy!

Brandy Williams from Alexandria, Virginia on September 22, 2018:

Hi Jasmine, the median home price is Chantilly is around $562,000. 80% of properties in Chantilly are owner-occupied. I'd be happy to give you more information about Chantilly or the surrounding areas. Feel free to contact me.

Brandy Williams from Alexandria, Virginia on September 22, 2018:

Hi Nitish, I would recommend Arlington or Alexandria. Both are easy commutes to DC but still have great schools systems. You should be able to find a rental within your budget without any issues. I place tenants all the time for the same amount in both places. feel free to email me if you need any information on either location or to see whats available.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on August 27, 2018:

Hi Jasmine,

Chantilly is a nice area near the airport. There are a lot of communities that are affordable and the schools are good. For commuting, you will need to go around the airport if you are going towards D.C.

Jasmine on August 25, 2018:

What can you share about Chantilly? Is it expensive? Commute? Relocating to NoVa and any info is helpful. Thank you!

Robert Sacchi on August 23, 2018:

You're welcome.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on August 23, 2018:

Thanks Robert!

Robert Sacchi on August 22, 2018:

There is the Metro option, If they don't offer free parking where she works that would be another incentive to consider the Metro.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on August 22, 2018:

Hi Nitish, I do not know much about D.C. A good resource for you to use would be You could look up the ratings and reviews for the schools in the area. Good Luck!

Nitish on August 22, 2018:

Hi, My wife landed a job in DC. As of now office is located near union station but soon will be moving to L'Enfant Plaza. I will be traveling to Columbia SC every week and we have a kid going to 3rd grade. Which area do you recommend? I don't want my wife to get lot of stress due to traffic. At the same time i want my daughter to get good education. We will be renting and can spend around 2200.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on May 30, 2018:

Hi Ray, Here is a list of affordable areas around Alexandria: Eisenhower Avenue, Seminary Hill, Fairlington-Bradlee, Alexandria West and Landmark-Van Dom. Good Luck with the search!

Ray on May 30, 2018:

My son is a recent college grad and will be working in Alexandria. He's hoping to live as affordably as possible (gulp). Any suggestions? Thanks!

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on May 29, 2018:

Hi Melissa, My kids are still in Elementary school, so I do not know much about Bishop O'Connell High School, but there are a few nice areas nearby with houses. Arlington Ridge/Aurora Highlands, Broadmont, Country Club Hills. Franklin Park, Lake Barcroft, Langley Forest, Lyon Village, Maywood, Williamsburg are great neighborhoods nearby for raising families.

Melissa C. on May 27, 2018:

Hi we will be moving to the area soon. I will be taking a job offer at Bishop O'connell High school. Can you tell me what you may know of this school. I see it has very excellent reviews. my son also will beginning at CUA -Catholic University of America. We are deciding to probably rent a house would be best since we live in one now the transition to apartment living would not be benfeficial We currently are looking for a quiet suburban area not too far from Bishop any suggestions? Thanks,


Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on April 25, 2018:

Hi Sloanelizabeth,

I would look in areas around Gainesville, Haymarket and Aldie. They are a bit further, but you will get more land in good school districts. Good Luck with your move!

sloanelizabeth on April 24, 2018:


Moving to the area in August and my husband will be working between McLean and the river. Have an 18m old and one on the way. Biggest thing is distance for him to work. Would like less than 45 minutes, but closer would be better! Also want good schools for the kiddos. Would like to buy and stay under 600k, but be on at least an acre of land. Suggestions?

I love your post btw!

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on March 29, 2018:

Loudon is another great location!

Robert Sacchi on March 29, 2018:

What about Loudoun?

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on March 29, 2018:

EPadilla72, It sounds like Fairfax, Falls Church and Vienna may be some good choices for you.

EPadilla72 on March 29, 2018:

Help! Moving to NoVa (is that what we call it?) by summer's end and have a daughter about to start high school. Is there some kind of idyllic forest town with a good high school and great food and an amazing dance school?

Featherstone01 on July 02, 2017:

We moved to NOVA about 15 years ago. Due to work we go overseas and come back every few years.

We lived in Arlington twice, renting because we couldn't afford a property there.

In 2013 we had to come back for a few weeks due to some training and our school aged kids started public school in Arlington. It was the same school our older son attended kindergarten during the year 2009.

During those 4 years that we were living at a different country, the same ES school went from 350 students to almost 600.

The teachers were over stressed with the problem that many new students did not speak English and that situation was keeping the curriculum from advancing normally.

In 2013 we decided to buy a property in NOVA, did not look much because we did not have the time to drive arround for weeks and when we are living in the US is for a couple of years, then go overseas again. The property would remain rented most of the time but we wanted a good school district.

Woodbridge wasn't part of our top choices but we found an area that is affordable, has good school districts and has many commuting options. It's name is Lake Ridge.

Lake Ridge has the second largest HOA in the US. Not my favorite HOA to be honest but still is a good place to raise a family, have easier commute and save money for vacations.

You can find a 2500 SF single family home for about $450K with a good school district and amenities within the community; pools, playgrounds, golf course, basketball, volleyball courts, soccer fields and tennis courts.

Look for 22192 zip code, also check out 22025, 22026.

There is a couple of commuter lots nearby where parking is free and direct DC buses are scheduled every few minutes.

VRE has two stations within 5 to 7 miles from Lake Ridge and those trains are reliable, my husband loves to go to work using the VRE, parking is free there too.

There is also the slug lines that move very fast in the mornings.

There is I-95 and Route 1. You can also access Fairfax by driving on Route 123.

There are parts of Woodbridge that we wouldn't live at all but as many towns in the US, after a couple of blocks you'll find nicer neighborhoods. The entire area is growing, renewing its face, building tons of brand new homes, bringing more business and opening new schools.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on June 29, 2017:

Most homes in Vienna and Tyson will be close to or over 1 million dollars. Tyson is more of a rental area with a plentitude of apartments and the traffic is more congested.

Sunny Deal on June 29, 2017:

What about Vienna or Tyson? Are they still relatively expensive? My husband and I want to be near cities where there are things to do. This is going to be a major change for us.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on June 29, 2017:

Sunny Deal,

Burke, Centreville, Sterling and Chantilly would be relatively close and more affordable. Town homes are less expensive than single family homes.

Sunny Deal on June 28, 2017:

Moving from Atlanta to take a job in northern VA - Falls Church. where is the best place to live that's reasonable and will not have me stuff in a lot of traffic for a long period of time. I will be teaching so changing my work hours is not possible. Hours are 8 - 3:30 pm.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on June 23, 2017:

Cristie, Areas around Leesylvania State Park in Woodbridge are near the Potomac and have more affordable housing.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on June 23, 2017:

Catherine, from my experience, Bristow and Gainesville are two great options. There are a lot of families, it's more affordable and there are good schools.

Cristie from Ephrata, PA on June 22, 2017:

Hello caseymel and thanks for all the info. My husband and our family are going to be moving to the Manassas area in the beginning of Aug and I was hoping you would know of some nice areas with affordable housing and good schools as close to the water as we can get. I was hoping to be by the beach, but a lake will work for now :) are there any beach/lake towns you could recommend for us to look into? We will be coming down in the next couple of weeks to check out the area.

Thanks so much!

Catherine on May 30, 2017:

I live in Alabama and I want to move to Virginia, I am a single mother and want to live some where there are kids and the schools are great. I am in the process of looking for a job before I come, any advice

Miranda on May 20, 2017:

If you are looking for good schools, stick with Fairfax or Loudoun counties. I grew up here and these areas are safer and (sorry, but it's true) won't have the riff raff you will find in Manassas or Woodbridge, which are NOT desirable areas (sounds harsh, but I'd want to know). If you must do Prince William County stick with Bristow, Haymarket or Gainesville. For slightly less expensive housing, western Fairfax county is good . Check out Centreville and Clifton, which are very close to 66 and the Fairfax County Parkway. Fairfax , Annandale and Burke are nice and a fairly quick commute (for here) to D.C.

Kristen on May 10, 2017:

So glad this post has continued over the years!

Moving to NOVA and looking for a safe neighborhood, great schools, and access to VRE. Thinking either Burke/Annandale/Fairfax/Fairfax Station/West Springfield or Manassas. Any insights? Is Manassas still considered less safe with worse schools?

Mitch on April 29, 2017:

Looking for a high qualty school district that features diverse student population in Fairfax, Prince William or Manassas area.

classyoptimist on April 29, 2017:

Hey There! I have lived here for about 1.5 years now and I still live with my mother because I can't decide where to move. I have a munchkin who will be beginning kindergarten this year and it has come time for me to make a decision. The problem I am having is the schools. I work in Lorton now and hate the schools in Woodbridge. Although I understand a child's education is not totally dependent on what they learn in school, but also how parents reinforce the knowledge, I feel my niece would be a lot further along in her education if her school had a more solid baseline of teaching their students. I am specifically talking about Benita-Fitzgerald Elementary. My nephews are in high school now and all I hear from them is complaining about how unprofessional their teachers are (foul language to students; teachers walking out of classrooms because of stress; no assistance when asked about assignments, etc.) As an auntie, I find this disturbing, and vowed to not put my son in the same situation. Sure it is affordable in Woodbridge and it looks nice, but I don't believe a parent should have to sacrifice their child's education to live in an affordable area. Woodbridge is also very congested/overpopulated in my opinion. I have taken a lot of time, obviously, to try and figure this out. Does anyone have any suggestions? I really like Stafford, but will be traveling with traffic to and from work. One thing I have learned during the time I have lived in the DMV is that going against the traffic is the best and most ideal situation. Nobody wants to sit in traffic for hours, and for us single parents with small children who have cut-off times with daycares and kindergarten schedules, we need something a bit more accommodating. Is there something I have not considered? If anyone can offer some insight I would greatly appreciate it. I am looking to move in June at the latest. Thanks in advance!

Rin Byrd on April 25, 2017:

Housing in Virginia is great. I work with the marketing department for D.R. Horton America's Builder and they currently have homes coming soon to Front Royal, Northern Virginia. If you're in the market for a home check it out. You will love the homes here!

Robert Sacchi on April 19, 2017:

The quality of schools here vary greatly. I've seen situations where there is a disparity between schools that are very close to each other.

Libby on April 19, 2017:

This is a great article! My husband and I are also relocating from Cleveland, OH within the next few months and have been looking in the Fredericksburg area. He will be working from home and calling on customers all over the NOVA area with a trip into D.C. only once in awhile. I have heard Stafford and others have "good schools," but I'm a little concerned with their ratings... many of the cities have 3/10- 6/10 star ratings. We are in Rocky River schools here with 10/10 schools across the board so I'm not sure what to expect! Any insight into the disparity in ratings between Ohio schools and VA schools? My son is in 1st grade. Thanks!!

John on April 02, 2017:

I have been stationed in Fort Belvoir but lived in Frederick, MD. Due to traffic we have to move closer to VA. We planning around the Burke, VA neighborhood due to their good schools. We have 10byear old, 9 year old and a 4 year old. Any other places to look at? Any suggestions will be appreciated

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on March 30, 2017:

RRFIT2015 - Stafford and Fredricksburg would be good places to start looking. They are safer than Woodbridge, but the traffic will be a bit worst. Traffic is bad everywhere though.

rrfit2015 on March 29, 2017:

Hello and thanks for continuing to reply thru the years. I am moving to the area in July with my 13yo son. I will only be there for a year and will work at Quantico. I am getting mixed feelings about renting an apartment with crime, school access to entertaiment... I had been looking at Woodbridge but the more I read the worse it looks (hoodbridge, not my description). I would love sone input with commute considerations in mind also. Thanks

Robert Sacchi on March 20, 2017:

Hey Brooklyn, what you may want to do is figure how much you want to spend on housing. Then go west until you meet your price. Caseymel is right Fairfax is nice. Keep in mind areas that aren't built up probably will be in a few years. The rail system here isn't anywhere near as good as the one in NYC.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on March 20, 2017:

Hi Bklynmade! I would highly recommend Fairfax. It has everything you are looking for: shops, restaurants, etc. Fairfax is a safe and well-to-do area. As an added bonus, The Metro has a stop in Fairfax that will make your commute so much easier!

Bklynmade on March 19, 2017:

Hey Casey I have been thinking about moving to the NOVA and working in DC. I have a friend that lives in Woodbridge I visit and I fell in love with the area. All of the restaurants, stores, shopping malls and hotels are on the Prince William Pkwy very convenient for a guy coming from a big city like NY where everything stays open all night lol. Anyway Im just not sure on what town to live I want something affordable but not a high crime area not really worried about the commuting traffic kinda got used to it being a New Yorker lol any advice is definitely appreciated... Thanks

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on November 02, 2016:

Steffeney, Manassas Park, Manassas and Prince William County are nearby and less expensive.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on October 25, 2016:

Thanks for the link Shawn! You can find D.R. Horton communities in the Northern Virginia area.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on October 25, 2016:

Hi Laura! Town homes are a bit cheaper than single family homes. A lot of people live in them. We had a roomy, brand-new townhouse in Bristow for the low 300k's. Bristow and Gainesville both have great schools. It took me 30 minutes to drive to the Dulles airport when it was not rush-hour(s).

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on October 19, 2016:

Hi Michael,

Falls Church, Lorton, Vienna, Kingstowne, Mount Vernon, Mt Zephyr and Springfield would be close by and have good schools.

Michael on October 18, 2016:


Great post...very informative!! Can you please help to give me some suggestions in areas to live in NOVA. I recently accepted a job position in Alexandria- off of Duke Street. I'm looking to rent with my family at the moment but not looking for anything too pricey. We will later decide to buy if we love the area. I don't mind the commute to be about 25 mins to the job in Alexandria. Also looking for great schools. Would love an area that is diverse and things to do with small kids. Thank you.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on September 27, 2016:

Sam, is a great source for finding more in-depth information on different schools.

Robert Sacchi on September 27, 2016:

There are many Indians in the Ashburn area, but it tends to be expensive here. They are building and do have some smaller houses and condos so you may want to at least give it a look.

Deepesh on September 27, 2016:


Could you please help me to decide. Actually I am getting an offer from Freddie, McLean location and not able to think which place I should move which is not so expensive. Currently I am living in Harrisburg with my wife and 2 years old son. I only work in my house so wife will be at home and may be after a year my son can join kids care school.. So please recommend me some good locations near by markets and all. We are Indians and if you can tell us some places where we can find some more Indians will be good for my wife in her free time..

Thanks a lot for your help !

Deepesh Gupta

Sam on September 23, 2016:

We are looking at places around PWC and Fairfax county however, we live in a joint family and need bigger space. if the prices are good, the schools are bad and if the schools are good, the prices kill you here. My question is when zillow shows schhol rating of 5-7, does that mean its horrible school? we are new to the country and dont know much about school system. thanks for the help

Robert Sacchi on September 16, 2016:

It's at least an hour drive with no traffic. On a work day there will be heavy traffic at least part of the way going and coming. You may want to get online directions during the times you would be going to and from work. That will give you an idea of the commute. Enjoy your stay.

Lynn on September 16, 2016:

I recently accepted a position in Farifax County. I am moving from the midwest and the realize the cost of housing is more then what I am used to. I learned much from your blog. I am not looking to spend much on a home, due to it will be a transition for my family. Kids are grown, so schools are not a concern, but want to live in a safe community. I am looking at a variety of different communities. How far is Fort Royal from Fairfax? I am open to drive an hour to work. Thanks

Robert Sacchi on August 27, 2016:

That area is not as bad as Alexandria. The Route 50 traffic is still heavy. There is housing along Route 50. You may want to consider looking west rather than east. There is also Route 29 Lee Highway, the same west rule applies. Good luck with housing and the job.

Kim Hamrick on August 27, 2016:

Hi. I may accept job with labcorp at 8505 arlington blvd, Fairfax. I had interview at alexandria going in was not bad but going out, traffic was horrible! This would be my first time to area and looking for a nice, safe easy commute to job area to live in. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on August 23, 2016:

mjking2001, I would look around the Friendship Heights or Georgetown area. While everything in D.C. is expensive, you might find an affordable rental in one of those areas and they are close to Downtown D.C.!

Robert Sacchi on August 22, 2016:

You may want to check a metro map. Fair warning the metro system in the DC metro area has many problems. They have been working at fixing the problems recently.

mjking2001 on August 22, 2016:

Hi there. Thanks for posting this informative post and all the great comments. I've read through them all. I wondered if you might have some advice for my particular situation. We are possibly relocating to the area from Colorado with a job transfer for my husband. I work from home and homeschool so the main focus on where we live will be my husband's commute. He would be taking the train over driving. We definitely cannot afford the higher priced areas AT ALL, but I'm wondering what areas you might suggest for someone not focused on schools, but strictly commute to downtown DC, near the mall, and time frame there? We would definitely prefer to live more rural, but again, I would like to keep his commute as low as we can afford house pricing wise. We will also be renting only as we probably will not be in the area over a few years. Any advice/info you can share will be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!

Robert Sacchi on August 11, 2016:

You're welcome. Enjoy your time in Northern Virginia.

Lorie Anderson on August 10, 2016:

Thank you so much. I will look into that area.

Robert Sacchi on August 10, 2016:

There is the Fairfax Health Center, which is in Fairfax, so you don't have to go to Ft. Belvoir for your basic health care needs. In Sterling, Virginia they have River Bend Middle School, Potomac Falls High School, and Algonkian Elementary school right next to each other. Good luck.

Lorie Anderson on August 10, 2016:

What a great source of information. We are relocating from Oahu in six weeks, my husband was transferred to Reston, Va. We have been looking for a home between Reston and Fort Belvoir, because he is retired military. My kids have particular medical needs and we have gotten great referrals from Tripler AMC to the hospital there. I am so frustrated because it seems when I find a house that I really like, the schools are awful. I have three children and need to find an area with a good elementary, good middle and good high school. Any advice would be appreciated, but I will have to say that this information along with everyone's comments has been super helpful already! Mahalo for taking the time and providing the info.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on August 05, 2016:

Cesar Morales, it sounds like Mannassas or Manassas Park would be perfect for you. There is a large Mexican-American population and the homes are less expensive. Manassas Park is closer to Alexandria. The Manassas Battlefield is huge and full of history and walking trails. Good Luck!

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on August 05, 2016:

Asadad, Tysons corner is a very busy and expensive area. During rush hour(s), multiply your commute by 3. We worked twenty miles from our house. Some days it would take 40 minutes, some days it would take 2 hours. If you will have a flexible schedule, try leaving your house before rush hour and then leave your work before or after rush hour. With a flexible schedule, you could live further out where homes are less expensive. For the most part, Fairfax county is the most expensive, Loudon county is less expensive and Prince William area is the least expensive. Good luck!

Cesar Morales on August 04, 2016:

@Caseymel Great information in this post and in the comment thread. I may also be working in Alexandria soon and so I'm starting my research into the area. Do you have any different advice for choosing a family/wallet friendly area to live considering the commuting/traffic situation in relation to Alexandria? I would also like to find areas where my Mexican-American family will live as comfortably as we did in the diversity of Southern California.

We are hoping to find a larger house/townhouse preferably with a decent yard or at least walking distance to parks/preserves. Also, we have preschool/elementary age children so distance to good schools matters.

Robert Sacchi on August 02, 2016:

I don't think there is a practical way to get around the traffic or the high prices. Are you looking for a house or an apartment?

asadad on August 02, 2016:

We are moving to NOVA in the next a few months and I am going crazy trying to figure out where to live. I have small children, and do not want to keep moving them from place to place. We have been searching google maps, and everything says 48 mins with traffic, is that completely inaccurate? Is it really two hours of commute if you live 30 minutes away? The new job is close to Tysons corner, and everything is ridiculously expensive. I am feeling very overwhelmed, so if you would please help me out with answering these questions that would help a lot. I loved your post and was considering Gainesville, but a two hour commute would just not work. Thank you.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on December 27, 2015:

Hi Mopoke2, Fairfax is a nice area, but very expensive. Anywhere in Northern Virginia, you will find that traffic practically comes to a standstill during rush hour (which last a few hours). During rush hour(s), multiply your driving time by 4 or 5 and that's how long it will take you to get anywhere. During rush hour, it could take you over an hour to go from Gainesville to Fairfax. Ashburn would only be better if you used the toll roads, but that could get expensive. Ashburn is a very nice area though. Reston wouldn't be a bad commute, but it would be expensive. Most people who have flexible schedules plan their workday around rush hour and go in before rush hour starts and leave early or go in after rush hour and leave late to decrease commute time.

Mopoke2 on December 27, 2015:

Hello! We're moving to the area for a new job in the fairlakes area in Fairfax. I've been interested in Gainesville for the house affordability and schools. Google maps says that a best case drive in to Fairfax is about 20 minutes. How big is that swing in rush hour to that area? And how does that compare to living somewhere like Ashburn? Thanks!

Maike on September 23, 2015:

If you're looking for a very family friendly area with not much traffic, check out the are around Thurgood Marshall E.S. in Prince William County. Technically we're considered Manassas, but we live mid-county, so more the Independent Hill area. The school is outstanding, and so is the Middle School (Benton). Plus, a brand new highschool with competition pool is scheduled to open in the Fall 2016. We LOVE living here! We have all three schools within 5 minutes from our home, little traffic, plenty of grocery stores within 5-10 minutes from our house, and many mature trees. Good luck!

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on July 31, 2015:

I am so glad I was able to help! Gainesville is a wonderful place. Nice schools and homes, access to the freeway and close to a Wegmans.

Tomas on June 12, 2015:

Thank you so much, because of your information, we moved to Gainesville and we love it.

JT on May 08, 2015:

My family & I are returning to the DC area after being away for over 12 years. I've visited a few times, but not lived there. While we lived in Dumfries the last go around, we're certain we want to live closer to DC. And there in lines the challenge. We shop schools which is generally a good indicator about the neighborhood. We've found some very affordable rentals within our budget, but the schools are rated low using some of the websites like great The job is taking me near the Pentagon so Arlington, Alexandria, Annandale and Springfield are all ideal. And the schools are at least 7s. Fairfax is another option, but too far west or south and the commute turns into a nightmare. I know we'll eventually find something, but any assistance would be great. To our credit, we know the area. 25 mins max for a commute, 5 min drive to rail and family friendly community.

Cathy from Gainesville VA on May 06, 2015:

@runmom and others ... I moved to Gainesville 10 years ago from Massachusetts. We landed here because the homes prices were more affordable the further west we went. And, we were very concerned with schools, I did a lot of research. Since we have lived here we have seen an explosion of new development including 8 new schools built right within Gainesville and surrounding Haymarket and Bristow. We have also watched the monumental VDOT I-66/Linton Hall road construction project develop and it is nearing completion. It has really opened up traffic and will improve it even more once done. We have also now have a plethora of new retail development including the upscale Virginia Gateway shopping center with movie theater, a Wegmans supermarket (yeah!), many diverse restaurants, the beautiful Hylton Performing Arts Center and more. What's nice about this area vs. Fairfax and Loudoun County is it's more affordable, has everything you need, and we're closer to points west which is uncrowded for trips to wineries, 'Hunt Country", Skyline Drive, etc. And, the schools are great. My experience with the schools - volunteering and living here - prompted me to start a personal Blog with CrazyCollegeMom. My daughters had a great experience in Battlefield High School and Patriot High School. Both are now attending UVA. I can go on and on but if you are interested in more information about this area, I work on a community blog, Haymarket Homeowner too with all kinds of information. I know this site is not for promoting other sites so just feel free to contact me if you want more information.

runmom on April 27, 2015:

Very insightful. My family and I are planning a move to the DC area within the next couple years. We do have some time between now and then to careful consider where we end up. One of the main things we are looking for is great schools. We have a 12 and 16 yr old so we would be looking at high schools. We are moving from NC where housing/cost of living is very affordable but the schools are not so great. We have lots of family scattered in the DC area including Fairfax, Alexandria, and even Germantown, Md. What are your recommendations for affordable areas close to family that have great schools in safe neighborhoods that will not be a huge shock to this North Carolinians bank account? We will be moving and paying for college all at the same time! Walking districts are great as we will have driving teens and the thought of DC traffic terrifies me. Any help would be appreciated. This is overwhelming for me as it is our first move.

momof2 on March 24, 2015:

We live in Gainesville and I love it here. People are nice, still feels a little country with the back roads, great schools, and great preschools. There are ways around 66 if there is traffic, I go to GMU and take back roads because I know that it's more reliable. My husband works all over Northern VA and it can be bad but it's near a major city, you can't avoid the traffic. I would look at Gainesville/Haymarket and if you look at Bristow make sure you look at the high school they'll go to, it's split in half. Some go to patriot and some go to stonewall in manassas. Gainesville houses/townhouses can run anywhere from millions to 250,000.

K.D. on March 12, 2015:

Having lived here for 10 years, I find it interesting that speaking about Prince William County only encompassed I-66, Bristow, and Haymarket. There is another side which is Woodbridge and Dumfries and I-95 south.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on January 11, 2015:

Stafford and Fredericksburg are nice and more affordable than anything you can get closer to D.C. There are many jobs in the Fredericksburg and Woodbridge area. The only drawback is that they will take longer to get to D.C. when you do want to go there. 95 gets backed up very easily and getting through the Woodbridge area would be a pain. There is a large military base in Quantico nearby.

msclaylaw on January 11, 2015:

Thanks! Have you heard any information about Stafford or Fredericksburg? I am going to definitely going to look at Warrenton, Burke and Bristow. I am a Realtor in NC and hope to get my license in VA if we move. I hope to find my husband a job outside of DC to avoid all the traffic somewhat, however still reside in NoVa area where the vibe is the same as the closer areas.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on January 10, 2015:

Hi msclaylaw,

Mixed families have no problems here. Everyone is from everywhere and is a little bit of every nationality. It truly is a melting pot. You will not have a problem at all.

I have not lived in Maryland, but I do have experience with Virginia. If you want acreage, you may want to try places like Warrenton, Burke or the old area of Bristow (all in Virginia). They are affordable, have acreage and are slightly under an hour from D.C.

msclaylaw on January 08, 2015:

Hi caseymel, I have been thinking to move our family of 5 to NoVa for some time now. We currently live in NC and it is a tough decision but I think a needed one. I am hoping to land a job for my husband there by June. We do have 3 kids who are in elementary, middle and high school and it scares me to switch because they are well adjusted here. So, I have heard over and over again that Northern VA is a melting pot and great for mixed race families. Do you think this is true? It is not horrible in NC but I hear NoVa is the best place for a family like mine. I am looking for the very best place to raise biracial children and the area there that will not be outrageously expensive. We thought of moving to California or Seattle but all of our family is in NC for the most part. They are coming from great charter schools and I read that the public schools there in NoVa are really good. We stayed in Fairfax for a week last March to get an idea of what it would be like to be there. It was very culturally diverse for sure, especially when we rode up to Tyson's Corner mall. I have read so many blogs about this topic, I am a little confused. Some say to go on the MD side even over to Columbia MD area. We live in the country now on 2 acres and I am kind of hoping to find an outskirt area that works so the kids can still have some land to play on. I realize this may be a difficult task, which is why we have not moved yet. So, from living in the area, which area would you say might have more mixed race families and also, possibly affordability? Thanks for any feedback!

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on October 23, 2014:

kellyw, look around the Nokesville/Warrenton area. It is not far from Manassas, the home prices are reasonable and you could find acreage. The farther you get from 69, the more rural and less expensive it will be. A few famous people own ranches in Warrenton to "get away from it all".

kellyw on October 20, 2014:

Very helpfully hub, but I still have a few questions. We are a family of 5 looking to move from So. California to the nova area. 3 kids-preschool, elementary school and middle school. My husband will be working in Manassas. We would like a sizable house in the country with acreage, and possibly water access OR a nice neighborhood where the kids can walk to school and friends houses. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on September 27, 2014:

Hi taycay2! I am not as familiar with 94 as I am with 66, but I hear it is also a nightmare. Everywhere in the Northern Virginia is usually bumper to bumper and slow going from around 6:30am to 9 am and then again from 4pm to 7pm. A lot of people have pretty flexible schedules and work is usually able to work with people's schedules because of the traffic. If you start driving to work at 6am, it will not be too bad (for Northern Virginias standards). You will be leaving when the traffic is just starting to really build up.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on September 27, 2014:

Hi Robert! My husband was able to adjust his time and go in early and it did make a huge difference. His problem is getting out of work before rush hour begins again. He usually waits until 7pm to leave work so the roads aren't as busy. He almost gets home at the same time whether he leaves during rush hour or leaves at 7, but at least if he leaves at seven, he doesn't have to sit in traffic for so long.

taycay2 on September 27, 2014:

We have been looking all over the last week and are now in stafford. We are heading out to go check out the bristow area today. Can you tell me how hwy 94 is during the day? I have heard horror stories about it but when are the worst hours of the day? I will need to be to work in arlington at 7.. Thanks!

Robert Sacchi on September 27, 2014:

Great article! It covers a lot of ground. Your spouse might want to see if he can adjust his work hours. Sometimes 30 minutes earlier can make a big difference. Naturally if there is an accident on the road all bets are off.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on September 10, 2014:

No problem taycay2! Good Luck and if you have any other questions, let me know. I would be happy to try to answer them!

taycay2 on September 10, 2014:

thank you for your feedback! We leave from Colorado next week so I really appreciate your insiders opinion!

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on September 09, 2014:

Manassas and Manassas Park aren't too bad, price wise, But the schools are not as good and the crime is a bit higher. Bristow, Gainesville and Haymarket are excellent choices. Great schools, close to amenities and Rt 66 and reasonable home prices. If you are planning on staying long-term, definitely check out or .org to get the ratings on the public schools. We ended up in a brand-new townhouse in Bristow and love it!

taycay2 on September 09, 2014:

okay great! and you had originally said when you first were looking you were told to stay away from Manassas, do you still feel that way? is that the same for Manassas Park? I am liking the looks of Bristow and Haymarket!

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on September 08, 2014:

We thought about those places too, but came to find out that the commute would be at least two hours each way. I wouldn't go past Leesburg if you go in that direction.

taycay2 on September 08, 2014:

What are your thoughts about moving into west Virginia? We were looking into Charles town and Harper's ferry also, looks liKe they have great schools! It's that commute any better?? Thank you for your insight I really appreciate it!

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on September 08, 2014:

For affordability and good schools, I would choose places like Chantilly, Centreville, Bristow or Gainesville. We were in Bristow and it took us about 45 minutes to get to Fairfax alone and Arlington is a little bit further than that (that was on a good day). We thought about Winchester or Front Royal before we moved to Virginia and we were glad we chose not to move there. They would most likely be a two hour commute or so each way. The traffic is awful out there and it never stops. One time, it took me 20 minutes to get to the corner in my car. I could still see the building I left 20 minutes before! Try to get as close as monetarily possible (and good schools).

taycay2 on September 08, 2014:

This is just the hub I needed! My family and I are moving to NOVA here soon and I am in desperate need of help! The job of course has to be in Arlington which we most definitely are not willing to pay for the housing there. We have elementary school aged kiddos so we want an affordable, low crime, great school area (the whole package!) I know that the commute is going to be rough but I will be working only three days a week so I am willing to go out a bit farther. I was actually looking at Woodbridge until I saw your comment, is there anything south of Arlington that is decent or are we best to go West? We were even looking in the Winchester, Front Royal areas? Any insider info would be awesome!