As the United States Army installation in the D.C. metro area, Fort Belvoir is the largest employer in Fairfax County, which sits on over 8,500 acres in Northern Virginia.
With twice as many employees as The Pentagon, Fort Belvoir is home to 9 different Army Commands, 16 different Department of the Army (DA) agencies, 8 Army Reserve and National Guard elements, and 9 Department of Defense (DoD) agencies.
In addition to the U.S. Army forces, Fort Belvoir also houses the U.S. Navy construction battalion, a Marine Corps detachment, one U.S. Air Force unit, and an agency of the Department of Treasury.
Things to Know Before Moving to Fort Belvoir
If you’re a member of the military community who has received your Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders into Fort Belvoir, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about the base.
Fort Belvoir Location
First up on the list is location. Fort Belvoir is located in the Washington D.C. area or in the collective area known as the DMV, which stands for D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Fort Belvoir is on the western side of the DMV in Northern Virginia.
Distance-wise, Fort Belvoir is 22 miles southwest of the White House, 90 miles north of The Pentagon, and 24 miles south of Quantico.
Fort Belvoir is comprised of three main sections, namely the main base, Davison Army Airfield, and Fort Belvoir North.
You can access the base through one of the 6 gates such as Tulley, Lieber, J.J. Kingman, Pence, Telegraph, and Farrar Gate (Davison Army Airfield).
There are 7 access points that lead to Fort Belvoir such as the Tulley Gate, Pence Gate, Telegraph Gate, J.J. Kingman Gate, Walker Gate, Farrar Gate (Davison Army Airfield), and the new Lieber Gate.
Note that Tulley, Pence, and Farrar are the only gates open seven days a week, while the J.J. Kingman Gate is open from Monday through Friday with limited hours. As of this writing, the Telegraph, Walker, and Lieber gates are closed until further notice.
Another tip is to do your best to avoid the Tulley Gate since it’s the only one that allows non-DoD ID cardholders and commercial vehicles to access the base.
Fort Belvoir Traffic
Next, let’s talk about the traffic in Fort Belvoir or the Northern Virginia area as a whole. Aside from having great schools, Northern Virginia is also known for its traffic. Generally, the drivetime in Northern Virginia and the D.C. metro area can be pretty crazy.
Fort Belvoir has close proximity to the Springfield Interchange or the Mixing Bowl wherein three major highway systems connect at one location.
While the Mixing Bowl makes getting on the interstate convenient, this also means that the area around Fort Belvoir is constantly exposed to traffic.
In fact, the urban area report says that the average resident spends about 102 hours a year in traffic. The only instances when traffic is a nonissue are during the middle of the day after rush hour and sometimes on weekends.
Yes, you heard it right. You see, Northern Virginia also has something called “weekend traffic.” Weekend traffic is usually reserved for beach towns in the summer, but it is evident in the area.
Between traffic jams and near-constant construction, folks are always trying to find a way to shorten their commute. Unfortunately, since the advent of cell phones with navigation systems, there’s no way around the traffic.
The easiest way to manage traffic is by living as close as possible to Fort Belvoir.
Living in Fort Belvoir
Now that you have a better understanding of the traffic in Fort Belvoir, it’s time to talk about what it’s like to live in the area. Since Fort Belvoir is located in Northern Virginia, it’s important to keep in mind that this area is huge.
Northern Virginia covers over 1,300 square miles and has more than 3.1 million residents.
Don’t be surprised if you never know where you are the entire time you’re stationed in this area. Northern Virginia includes the counties of Fairfax, Arlington, Loudon, and Prince William as well as the independent cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas, and Manassas Park.
Due to its proximity to the nation’s capital, Northern Virginia has one of the highest costs of living in the country. For that reason, its Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is considerably higher than many other posts.
Fort Belvoir’s BAH is ranked as the 11th highest out of all army bases. The BAH rates in the area have increased by 5.3 percent as compared to the previous year. In 2021, soldiers with dependents receive 7.7 percent more BAH than soldiers without dependents.
For an E6, with dependents is $2,700, while without dependents is $2,493. As for an O4, with dependents is $3,384, while without dependents is $2,877.
In addition to the high BAH, you also have the nation’s highest VA entitlement for a VA loan. In 2020, the VA entitlement maxes out at $765,000.
Different Places to Live in Fort Belvoir
So, now that we have finished covering all of the things you need to know before moving to Fort Belvoir, let’s take a look at some of the places you’ll most likely live around the area.
The first community with the shortest commute and most amenities is Kingstowne in Alexandria, which is 15 to 25 minutes north of Fort Belvoir. This subdivision is located in Fairfax County and is very popular among servicemen.
Kingstowne is the second-largest planned subdivision in Northern Virginia. Some of the great things about Kingstowne are its quick access to the metro, the interstate, shopping, restaurants, grocery stores, and entertainment options.
Although Kingstowne is predominantly a townhouse community, you also have the option of living in a condo or single-family home in this neighborhood. Home prices start in the high threes and go up to a million dollars.
As a resident of Kingstowne since 2013, my opinion about the place may be a little biased, but my family loves living here.
The next neighborhood in the southernmost part of Fairfax County called Lorton, which is 12 to 25 minutes to the west of Fort Belvoir. Unlike Kingstowne, Lorton isn’t a subdivision but an unincorporated section of Fairfax County.
In Lorton, you’ll find older single-family homes, townhomes, and very few condos. Home prices start in mid two hundred-thousands and go up as high as two million dollars.
The prices are a little less than in other parts of Fairfax County due to the area’s distance from the district and major employment bases.
Springfield, Fairfax Station, & Burke
Next, when you hit 25 to 40 minutes northwest of Fort Belvoir, you’ll enter Springfield, Fairfax Station, and the Burke area of Fairfax County. The only catch to living in these areas is losing quick access to the interstate, multiple public transportation options, amenities, and entertainment options.
Nevertheless, you’ll be able to have a larger lot, less street traffic, more green space, and an increased chance of having a garage when living in these areas.
While you still have the option to purchase a condo, townhouse, or single-family home in these areas, condos are few and far between. Home prices in these areas start in the low three hundred-thousands and go up as high as two million dollars.
Lastly, if you head 25 to 50 minutes to the south of Fort Belvoir, you’ll enter Woodbridge in Prince William County. Even though you will have a longer commute in Woodbridge, the homes in the area are cheaper and more affordable than the ones in Fairfax County.
In Woodbridge, there are condos, townhomes, and single-family homes. You can find a large single-family home on a quarter-acre lot between $475,000 and $550,000 in this community.
If you don’t mind the commute, your housing options expand drastically in Woodbridge since only 20 minutes to the east of the base is a city called Alexandria. Living in the city of Alexandria puts you closer to D.C., which means home prices increase along with your access to amenities.
It’s important to note that the city of Alexandria is the place to be if public school ratings are not a priority. However, this area is great for people who like having fun as it offers a lot of hotspots.
Just keep in mind that the city of Alexandria is densely populated, which has its own sets of challenges and opportunities. In this area, you have the option of living in a condo, townhome, or single-family home. Home prices start in mid three hundred-thousands and go up as high as three million dollars.
Buying a Home in Fort Belvoir
Now that you have an idea of where to live, the next decision will be whether or not you purchase a home before you move to the area or after. When considering whether to buy before or after your PCS, there are a couple of options available.
If you plan on purchasing a home before you move to the area, I recommend planning a house-hunting tour 45 to 60 days before your report date.
Once you secure your home during the buying trip, you can go back to your old home and finish preparing to move while I handle everything else remotely, including the inspections, appraisals, and the closing itself.
There’s no need to worry if you’re not able to find a house during your buying trip. I can continue searching for homes that match your criteria.
One great tool I use for buyer clients that are not able to physically see properties is a 360 camera, and I use 360 walking tours. The 360 walking tours give you the ability to see every aspect of the house without physically being there.
Most buyers that are buying homes remotely prefer 360 walking tours versus FaceTime or video calls because it gives them the ability to see every angle of the property as if they were there. Plus, it has a nice feature that lets you spin around and see as much as you would like inside of the video.
The main benefit of buying a home before you PCS is that when you report, you can move directly into your new home. Alternatively, you can find a home after you report.
Conveniently, Fort Belvoir has temporary lodging facilities that you could move into while you’re looking for a home. One of the advantages of this option is you can get acclimated to the area and figure out where exactly you want to live. The only downside to this strategy is that you’re going to be moving two times in a relatively short period.
If you’re interested in working with us, fill out our Perfect Home Questionnaire, and we’ll schedule a time to meet online and answer any questions that you have about moving to the Fort Belvoir area.
Hopefully, when you’re searching for properties online, you’re using our website as well.
Overall, you have learned everything you need to know before moving to Fort Belvoir.
Which area were you most interested in?
We’d like to hear from you.