Moving to Alexandria Virginia Ultimate Guide (Top Fairfax County Suburb)

Alexandria Ultimate Guide

Contrary to what the residents of the City of Alexandria believe, it is not the only “Alexandria” in Northern Virginia. There’s also Alexandria, Fairfax County, which is larger than the City of Alexandria.

 

Besides being larger, Alexandria, Fairfax County was actually here first.

 

The City of Alexandria seeded to the District of Columbia and became Alexandria County of the District of Columbia. Then, it reseeded and became the City of Alexandria.

 

All the while, Fairfax County existed and so did Alexandria, Fairfax County, or Alexandria in short.

 

So, we’re going to talk about Alexandria and everything you need to know about it. Let’s dive right in.

 

Different Places to Live in Alexandria

 

Alexandria is located right outside of the Beltway in the southeastern part of the Fairfax County region.

 

In Alexandria, you can find all types of properties such as condos, townhouses, and single-family homes with prices ranging from low three hundred-thousands to multiple millions of dollars.

 

The first area we’re going to talk about is the northern part of Alexandria, which consists of neighborhoods like Wilton Woods, Jefferson Manor, and Huntington.

 

Wilton Woods

 

The first neighborhood in the northern part of Alexandria is Wilton Woods, which mostly features larger single-family homes that were built in the mid to late 90s. These places are huge.

 

Although there are a couple of newer neighborhoods with mostly larger homes on pretty big lots in this surrounding area, some of these properties have been usually renovated when they come on the market.

 

As a matter of fact, we just had a client who purchased a property in the Wilton Woods area, and they moved from a townhouse in Kingstowne to a single-family home in the Wilton Woods area.

Basically, Wilton Woods is like an advancement for someone who started their life in either a condo or townhouse and is looking to move into a larger home.

 

This community is especially great for families who want to secure a bigger house with a bigger lot and bigger bedrooms as their kids move from the early parts to the later parts of elementary school or go into middle school.

 

Having larger lots, Wilton Woods provides more space for kids to play outside and you can even get different types of outdoor grills all on one deck.

 

Jefferson Manor

 

The next community on the list is Jefferson Manor, which is the exact opposite of Wilton Woods. Jefferson Manor is mostly composed of duplexes with two to three bedrooms and two to three levels.

 

Despite having smaller properties, this area comes with a nice size yard and usually a decent size front and back yard.

 

Actually, we even had a client that purchased a property in Jefferson Manor, and they liked the size of the yards. It’s all about adjusting to the fact that the units in Jefferson Manor are smaller.

 

Nonetheless, this neighborhood is super convenient, and you can easily access the metro station.

 

As for things to do in the area, there are a couple of restaurants and smaller restaurants that are more like takeout or carryout places rather than traditional sit-down spots.

 

All in all, it’s a great place, particularly for commuters. In fact, Jefferson Manor and Huntington, which is the next area we’re going to talk about, are the kinds of areas we probably would have lived in before my wife and I had kids.

 

Huntington

 

And the last neighborhood in the northern part of Alexandria is Huntington, which is the only area in all of Alexandria where you can find high-rise condos. As a condo type of person, I would love to live in one.

 

But you see, I have two kids, and living in a place with a lot of green space where they can explore makes more sense for our family. Thus, this community is more geared towards younger families or younger people in general.

 

Early last year, one of our clients actually purchased a house in Huntington, and kid you not, their backyard is directly close to the metro station, so they could just walk straight into it.

 

With the Huntington metro station being close by, a lot of people will actually just walk or bike to get there rather than driving and parking, so it’s extremely convenient.

 

Getting a quick commute is definitely one of the advantages of living in the Huntington area.

 

Additionally, Huntington is the closest part of Alexandria, Fairfax County to the City of Alexandria, and it’s just right by the Carlyle area, which has a lot of businesses like restaurants and a movie theater.

 

Kingstowne

 

Now that we have covered the areas in the northern part of Alexandria, it’s time to talk about its western part, which includes Kingstowne and Franconia.

 

First up, we have Kingstowne, which is the area my family and I live in. So, when people talk about Kingstowne, they’re really talking about the greater Kingstowne area. Kingstowne is the second-largest planned subdivision in Fairfax County, Northern Virginia.

 

In Kingstowne, there are all kinds of property types such as condos, townhouses that are either large or small, single car or two-car garages, and single-family homes with two, four, or five bedrooms.

 

There are also these things called “duets,” which are basically single-family townhouses that have one common wall. So, there’s really a wide variety of housing types in Kingstowne.

 

Furthermore, in Kingstowne proper, there’s a 55-plus senior living community wherein there are plans about having additional townhomes, including a double-decker townhome design, which is causing a lot of uproar in the HOA.

 

But then again, what would the HOA be if it did not have conflict?

 

So, Kingstowne is not only great because of the variety of homes available in the area but also because of its many offerings as far as entertainment, dining, and shopping options go.

 

When it comes to things to do in the area, there’s Kingstowne Towne Center, which has all big-box stores like TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, and World Market.

 

Kingstowne also has every supermarket you could possibly need including Walmart and Wegmans, which people are really serious about here.

 

And recently, the area just got an Amazon Fresh Grocery Store, which is amazing, super quick, and has a great produce section.

 

Technically, Amazon Fresh is located in Franconia, but it’s just right outside Kingstowne and only three blocks from our house, so we still claim it.

 

Amazon Fresh has these baskets that you could just drop your items in and push through this little area to checkout, and it’s so convenient that you could return Amazon items while getting groceries as well.

 

Franconia

 

As mentioned above, Franconia is the other neighborhood in the northern part of Alexandria, which has properties that were built in the 1950s to early 2000s. Franconia may have properties that are a little bit older than Kingstowne, but they both offer the same housing types.

 

In Franconia, you’re going to see garden-style condos with no more than two to three levels. There are older townhouses built in the 70s to 80s and small or large newer townhomes built within the last 10 to 15 years as well.

 

Also, Franconia has different types of single-family homes from small ramblers all the way to huge estates, which are significantly more than what you can find in Kingstowne.

 

Mount Vernon

 

Moving on to the southern part of Alexandria, we have Mount Vernon. You may have heard of George Washington’s Mount Vernon since he used to own all the land in Mount Vernon, so just like his estate, that’s the name of the area.

 

In Mount Vernon, you’re mostly going to find various types of single-family homes from ramblers starting in the low six hundred-thousands all the way to huge multimillion-dollar estates on and near the Potomac River.

 

Needless to say, these huge estates having monster sizes also cost monster prices.

 

Hollin Hills

 

As for the southeastern part of Alexandria, we have Hollin Hills, Belle Haven, and Fort Hunt which all mostly have single-family homes on a pretty good size lot.

 

In Hollin Hills, there are a lot of older homes with midcentury modern styles, single-level open concept homes, and large single-pane windows, which my wife absolutely loves.

 

Belle Haven

 

Next up, we have Belle Haven, which has riverfront homes, low-rise condos, large homes, and single-family homes with three, four, or six bedrooms.

 

Many of the older homes in the area were built in the 1920s, but there are newer properties as well. These period homes typically include features such as high ceilings, hardwood flooring, and crown moldings.

 

Fort Hunt

 

Out of all the places on the list, Fort Hunt is the most expensive part of the Alexandria region. In Fort Hunt, there are some beautiful homes and some of which are on very large lots, but the only catch is they all come with a hefty price tag.

 

Similar to Mount Vernon, you can expect to find some riverfront homes in Fort Hunt that are a little bit more expensive.

 

Most of Fort Hunt may be on the pricier side, but you can still find some smaller and older single-family homes within the $700,000 price range in the area.

 

Things to Know Before Moving to Alexandria

 

Now that we have finished covering all the different communities in Alexandria, it’s time to talk about the commute time, schools, new construction, parks and trails, recreational centers, restaurants, and diversity in the area.

 

Alexandria Commute Time

 

When it comes to living in Alexandria, your commute time will vary depending on which part of the area you’re in.

 

Technically, there’s only one metro stop that’s actually in Alexandria, which is the Huntington stop, but there are other two metro stops just right outside the area, namely the Van Dorn stop and the Franconia-Springfield stop.

 

So, there are a total of three metro stops that you have access to in Alexandria.

 

Although, if you live in the southern part of the Alexandria area, you are most likely to just use the George Washington Parkway to either travel up to the King Street stop, instead of weaving through the area to get to its other three metro points.

 

In addition to having access to the metro, you also have access to the Springfield Interchange, aka the Mixing Bowl, if you live in the northern part of Alexandria.

 

The Mixing Bowl will give you access to all of the interstates that service the Northern Virginia area, minus the I-66 and the Dulles Toll Road.

 

Also, you have access to an easy on-ramp to the HOV lane, which I personally love and use regularly.

 

Alexandria Public Schools

 

If you’re moving to the Fairfax County area with your family or thinking of starting one, you’re probably going to be interested in knowing what type of schools are available in the area. So, here’s what we found.

 

There’s a lot of contradictory information about the schools online, especially if you’re looking at Niche.com or GreatSchool.org. Despite the fact that these websites supposedly use the same stats to come up with their rating systems, the numbers still differ.

 

Nonetheless, the whole of Fairfax County has a high graduation rate, and the high schools in the area that do really well also have better-rated elementary schools.

 

In Alexandria, schools have a Niche grade of A-minus to B-minus and a GreatSchools score of 1, 7, or 8, which vary from each other.

 

In terms of ratings, schools in the northern part of Alexandria tend to do a little better. Edison High and Hayfield High are both rated higher than the other two high schools in the Alexandria area, which are Mount Vernon High and West Potomac High.

 

Even though many of the parents who live in the areas that are zoned for Mount Vernon High and West Potomac High choose to put their kids in private school for middle and high school, there are still people we know who have made it to great universities after attending these schools.

 

As parents in the Alexandria area ourselves, we are pretty pleased with the overall experience we’ve had with the schools that our kids have attended. Having two kids with one going into the eighth grade and the other going into the sixth grade, we have dealt with both elementary and secondary schools, and we’ve been pleased so far.

 

Our peers, friends, and clients have also pretty much echoed this experience, so it’s best to not put too much weight on what you find online. A great way to do this is to find more resources online, search for online forums, and get insights from other parents that have personal experiences with the schools in the area.

 

Just bear in mind that every kid is different, and their experiences are going to be different as well.

 

Alexandria New Construction

 

If you’re interested in new construction, you’re really not going to have a lot of options in Alexandria since everything in the area is kind of built out already.

 

Occasionally, there is new construction, but it’s either just a builder that purchased a preexisting farm or somebody who tore down an existing property.

 

Recently, we actually had a client that was looking for a new construction home in the Mount Vernon area, and all it had were three McMansions along with a slew of Cape Cods and bungalows.

 

So, if you prefer new construction and you don’t mind being a part of neighborhood revitalization, it’s best to look in the Mount Vernon, Belle Haven, and Fort Hunt areas.

 

Alexandria Parks and Trails

 

Next up on our list are parks and trails, which people really love in Northern Virginia.

 

One of the biggest surprises, when we moved to Kingstowne, is how often you see your neighbors out walking, jogging, running, and biking. Now, we’re one of those people.

 

To be fair, there are trails everywhere, and people are just super active here. In Kingstowne, we have trails that weave through our neighborhood and our community that you can use in the mornings as well as evenings. As for me, I walk with my boys to the trails in the mornings.

 

In Mount Vernon, there’s also the Mount Vernon Trail, which is one of the most popular trails that is 17 miles from George Washington State all the way to Theodore Roosevelt Island in D.C.

 

There’s a bunch of connecting trails throughout different areas that will lead you to the Mount Vernon Trail. The trail travels along the side of the GW Parkway, all the way to D.C., through Crystal City, through the City of Alexandria, and by the National Airport.

 

In addition to the thousands of miles of trails, we have a number of regional parks such as Fairfax County Parks and neighborhood parks. People that live here really enjoy the outdoors.

 

One of our favorite parks for years now is Huntley Meadows Park, which is located in the Hybla Valley neighborhood of Fairfax, Alexandria. This park has a total of three entrances where you can see a beautiful meadow, a pond for birders, and an entire boardwalk. It’s definitely one of the most breathtaking views in Alexandria.

 

Alexandria Recreation Centers

 

On top of the parks and trails, there are nine recreation centers in Fairfax County, and three of which are located in Alexandria, namely Lee District RECenter in Kingstowne, George Washington Rec Center in Mount Vernon, and Mount Vernon Rec Center in Fort Hunt.

 

Basically, a rec center is a community center for your neighborhood where you can go out, hang out, and do all types of different activities.

 

The rec centers in Fairfax County include tennis courts, football fields, soccer, indoor basketball, ice skating rink, full gyms, indoor swimming, and a whole lot more.

 

All of the rec centers also offer a number of different camps like summer camps, winter camps, spring break camps, and they even have daycare centers.

 

Moreover, there are gyms you can join as a Fairfax County resident in all of the nine rec centers, especially if your HOA doesn’t have one and you’re looking for a full gym experience.

 

As for those interested in ice skating, Fairfax County also has Mount Vernon Ice Arena, which has a warming room, locker rooms, skate sharpening services, and an NHL official size rink. If you have a little one who’s into ice skating or hockey, they have leagues for that as well.

 

In Kingstowne, we have the Lee District RECenter, which has some really great trails. This rec center has a kid center nature trail with a sculpture garden and some musical instruments.

 

The Lee District RECenter also has Chessie’s Big Backyard splash park, which is one of the best play areas in Alexandria that our kids used to love when they were little. It’s a really great place for families to hang out.

 

And right next to Chessie’s Big Backyard, there’s Lee District Park that has a carousel and a family picnic area.

 

Alexandria Restaurants

 

Here in Alexandria, you are in the suburbs. With that information, you can expect to find what you’ll find in most suburbs across the U.S., which are lots of chain restaurants.

 

When it comes to restaurant options, Alexandria has your typical fast-food favorites and fast-casual places you probably see throughout the country. It may not be as much as what’s found in the City of Alexandria or D.C., but there are some locally-owned spots and a lot of diversity in the types of food that’s available in Alexandria.

 

Regardless of what you’re looking for, you can find nice family-owned or small-owned restaurants in the area.

 

Along Richmond Highway, there’s Su Pollo restaurant that serves great Peruvian chicken, which is our favorite chicken spot.

 

Su Pollo
Address: 8741 Richmond Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22309, United States
Phone: +1 703-799-6577

 

Another small business in the area is Ruby’s Jamaican Kitchen that obviously offers Jamaican Food and there’s also Mamma’s Kitchen, which is a family-owned Italian restaurant.

 

Ruby’s Jamaican Kitchen
Address: 2817 Schooley Dr, Alexandria, VA 22306, United States
Phone: +1 703-269-0881

 

Mamma’s Kitchen
Address: 7601 Fordson Rd, Alexandria, VA 22306, United States
Phone: +1 571-312-6690

 

In addition, there are a lot of strip malls along Route 1. Each strip mall has small restaurants that are packed with a lot of people despite having relatively small spaces. That’s how you know it’s a pretty good spot to eat.

 

As I’ve already mentioned, we have Kingstowne Towne Center in Kingstowne that offers several restaurants and different ethnic foods to choose from.

 

One of the main restaurants that people remark about here is Bonefish Grill, which is more of an upscale chain.

 

Bonefish Grill
Address: Center, 5920, Alexandria, VA 22315, United States
Phone: +1 703-971-3202

 

Also, Kingstowne Towne Center has a lot of small-owned restaurants like Pasara Thai Restaurant, Aditi Indian Dining, and Osaka Japanese Steakhouse & Seafood.

 

Pasara Thai Restaurant
Address: 5926 Kingstowne Center, Alexandria, VA 22315, United States
Phone: +1 703-921-5220

 

Aditi Indian Dining
Address: 5926 Kingstowne Blvd #150, Alexandria, VA 22315, United States
Phone: +1 703-922-6111

 

Osaka Japanese Steakhouse & Seafood
Address: 5860 Kingstowne Center #180, Alexandria, VA 22315, United States
Phone: +1 703-313-9000

 

Furthermore, in Lansdowne Centre of the greater Kingstowne area, there are also a lot of different restaurants including taco spots and every type of Asian food like Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Thai all in one little strip mall.

 

On top of that, Lansdowne Centre has an Olympians Family Restaurant, which provides delicious Greek, Mediterranean, Italian, and American cuisine as well as great portions, great food, and friendly service.

 

We’re familiar with this family restaurant because my wife is a former PTA president, and what she really likes about this place is it’s so supportive of the area schools, and they even do fundraisers for the elementary schools in our neighborhood every school year.

 

Olympians Family Restaurant
Address: 6430 Landsdowne Centre Dr, Alexandria, VA 22315, United States
Phone: +1 703-550-5003

 

One more spot we have in Lincolnia is the Foxfire Grill, which is a great American casual-style restaurant that brings a bit of the city into the suburbs. Another cool thing to mention about this neighborhood restaurant is dogs are welcome on their pet-friendly patio where they can enjoy some frozen treats.

 

Foxfire Grill
Address: 6550 Little River Turnpike, Alexandria, VA 22312, United States
Phone: +1 703-914-9280

 

Last but not the least, one of my favorite bakery cafés in the Fort Hunt area is called Bread & Water Company, which serves fresh-baked bread and pastries during breakfast and lunchtime.

 

If you’re going to visit this bakery café, they have these amazing must-try Miami Rolls that are only available for a limited time, so it’s best to get them in the morning. But if you’re going for lunch, they also have a delicious pork sandwich that you can pair with their house-made baguette that we really enjoy.

 

Bread & Water Company
Address: 1512 Belle View Blvd, Alexandria, VA 22307, United States
Phone: +1 703-768-0100

 

Diversity in Alexandria

 

One of the things that come up often when we’re talking to our clients is diversity. Based on the statistics, Alexandria is one of the most diverse areas in Fairfax County.

 

Recently, the new census stats just came out, and it showed that Alexandria is actually more diverse than it was ten years ago.

 

The most diverse areas in Alexandria include Kingstowne, Franconia, Groveton, and Mount Vernon, while the least diverse one is Fort Hunt, which is not surprising at all considering it’s the most expensive area.

 

Hence, the least expensive areas are going to be more diverse, while the more expensive areas are going to have the least diversity. This pattern is evident all throughout Fairfax County.

 

If you want more information about the diversity in Alexandria, you can check out City-Data where you can input a specific ZIP code, and it’ll give you a breakdown of the diversity numbers for a certain area.

 

One leading indicator for the diversity in a neighborhood is its schools, so it would be helpful to know the demographics of each individual school.

 

Hopefully, when you’re searching for properties online, you’re using our website as well.

 

The next step is to not make a decision on where you’re going to move inside of the Fairfax County area before checking out this playlist that covers its different locations and everything you need to look out for.

 

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 Alexandria area.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Overall, you have learned everything you need to know before moving to Alexandria, Fairfax County.

 

Which area were you most interested in?

 

We’d like to hear from you.