There are a lot of things to consider when moving or relocating to a new area. If you’re reading this, you’re probably looking to move to Fairfax County. Fairfax County is one of the best places to live in Virginia that provides its residents a suburban feel. From Fairfax County’s public school system and employment rate to its weather and traffic, here are the pros and cons you should definitely know about before choosing to live in this area.
#1: Public School System
At pro number one, we have the public school system. Fairfax County is home to one of the top-rated public school districts in the country. In fact, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, the only Magnet School in the county, was named the number one high school in the entire country for two consecutive years now.
While TJ is the only Magnet School in the area, Advanced Placement programs are available at most schools beginning at the elementary school level. Certain schools even offer full-time Advanced Placement programs.
Also, there are some schools starting with lower elementary that offer foreign language immersion programs. Clearly, you’ll be more than pleased with what the area’s public school system has to offer.
#2: Low Crime Rate
At number two on the pro list is the low crime rate. Another great thing about choosing to live outside the city and in the suburbs of Fairfax County is its lower crime rate. The crime rate in Fairfax County is relatively lower compared to the nearest major city, which is Washington D.C.
Moreover, Fairfax County’s crime rate is also lower than its neighbors to the north, in Arlington County, and to the east, in the city of Alexandria. According to BestPlaces.net, the violent crime rate in Fairfax County is at 11.2, while the property crime rate is at 26.3. In comparison, the US average is 22.7 and 35.4 respectively.
#3: Employment Rate
At pro number three is the strong job market. One really good thing about living in Fairfax County is its incredible job market. Being the first county in the United States to reach a six-figure median household income, Fairfax County is home to 11 of the 17 companies based in the Washington D.C. region and has more Fortune 500 headquarters than 35 states and the District of Columbia. The military and federal government are also the area’s largest employers in the D.C. metro area.
The pre-pandemic unemployment rate in Fairfax County is about 2.3% that is about 1.4% lower than the national average. In addition, Amazon announced Arlington County, which is Fairfax County’s neighboring county to the north, as the location of its second headquarters in 2019.
#4: Public Transportation
At number four on the pro list, we have public transportation. Fairfax County comes with various public transportation modes that serve Northern Virginia residents.
Firstly, we have the yellow, blue, orange, and silver lines that all run throughout Fairfax County, which criss-cross and connect Northern Virginia to Washington D.C. and Maryland. A large number of Northern Virginia commuters depend on the metro to go to and from work.
Secondly, we have the Fairfax Connector, which is the largest public bus in the Northern Virginia region with stops throughout every part of the county. It runs 91 different routes and transports roughly 30,000 passengers daily. Additionally, the Department of Defense shuttle bus also makes stops throughout the county and takes passengers directly to and from The Pentagon.
Lastly, there’s this thing called “slugging.” In definition, slugging is a term for a unique way of commuting wherein strangers hop in other people’s cars to commute to work together. The best part? It’s free. This is because Fairfax County has HOV lanes that are free to use when you have a certain number of passengers riding in your car, and slugging allows you to load up your car to meet those passenger limit requirements.
At pro number five is proximity. Fairfax County having close proximity to so many attractions is a definite plus. For starters, you can visit three major cities for the day and return home by dark.
Fairfax County is only miles away from Washington D.C. and all it has to offer between its world-class free and paid museums, national monuments, the Kennedy Center, and three professional sports teams. Also, you can get from your front door to Baltimore, Maryland Inner Harbor in just about an hour. And if you’re up for a slightly longer drive, you can make it to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in two hours.
If you love going to the beach, Fairfax County has got that covered as well. The area is just a few hours from a number of beaches including Virginia Beach, Ocean City, Maryland, and Dover, Delaware. As for people who are into outdoor activities, it only takes 75 minutes to travel to Shenandoah, or go a little further out to the Blue Ridge Mountains in two to three hours.
#6: Things to Do in Fairfax County
And at number six on the pro list, there are so many things to do. There is absolutely so much to do in Fairfax County. Fairfax County alone is home to 10 regional parks inside its borders, and several of the county parks include their own water park.
Another attraction along the southwestern side of Fairfax County is Mount Vernon, which is the home of the nation’s first president, George Washington. His estate can be visited to tour its grounds and mansion.
On the western side of Fairfax County in Centerville, one Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is located. While Smithsonian museums are advertised as free, you will have to pay a $15 fee for parking if you plan to visit this museum.
In the D.C. area, you have your pick of different local or state parks, well-known historical sites, award-winning museums, highly-rated restaurants, wineries, and big-name festivals.
If you’re a wine lover, Fairfax County is also home to two historic and beautiful wineries, namely Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton and The Winery at Bull Run in Centerville, which many consider being the gateway to Virginia Wine Country. These wineries are also the closest to Washington D.C. and are home to a selection of some wonderful award-winning Virginia wines.
As for festival-goers, you don’t have to leave Fairfax County to take part in the Kite Festival, Revolutionary War Weekend, Spring Wine Festival, and Wolf Trap Summer Blast Off.
Now, moving on to the cons, we have traffic at number one. You might be thinking that traffic is only at its worst during rush hours. Sadly, not in Fairfax County. You see, this area also has something called “weekend traffic.” Yes, you heard it right. Weekend traffic is usually reserved for beach towns in the summer, but it is evident in Fairfax County.
As already mentioned above, there are so many things to do in Fairfax County with all the attractions nearby. Well, during weekends, residents also visit those places at the same time to either travel or just unwind. Once you start to live in this area for a while, you’ll get the hang of the patterns when it comes to traffic.
The downside of living in Fairfax County is it doesn’t have master-planned cities, which means that there’s no grid street plan, and there’s no cutting through neighborhoods to get to your destination faster. The neighborhoods may be a little choppy, but you’ll get used to it soon enough. Just get comfortable using your Google Maps.
At con number two is the weather. This is not necessarily a con because the weather in Fairfax County is pretty much predictable. The summers are warm and humid, and the temperature can reach up to the high 90s.
As for the reliability of the weather, it sometimes snows in the area. There are some years where there isn’t any snow at all, while there is an occurrence of a real blizzard every 5 to 10 years. This means that in order to combat the elements of winter effectively, you need to be well-prepared in terms of gearing up for the all-around chill that the season brings. When moving to this area, buying a winter coat, which is not to be confused with a fall jacket, would be best.
Speaking of fall, bearing through the summer and winter seasons will give you a reason to appreciate the fall and spring seasons. A few hot days in the summer and a little extra snowfall every few years are all worth it just to be able to enjoy fall in Fairfax County. In October, the trees come alive, all the leaves agree to turn the most beautiful hues of red and orange, and the temperature is just right for nature walks.
#3: Cost of Living
Finally, at number three on the con list is the cost of living. The cost of living in Fairfax County is about 53% higher than the rest of the country. A huge chunk of that difference comes from the area’s housing market. There’s no getting around it.
Just to give you a little perspective about housing prices, there’s almost a $300,000 difference between the median sales price in Fairfax County and the national average. Aside from housing and transportation, other costs in the area for things like groceries, health care, and utilities are roughly the same.
Now that you know the real pros and cons of living in Fairfax County, it’s time to pick your perfect location. Check out the Best Places to Live in Fairfax County for more information.
Overall, you have learned about the real pros and cons to be taken into consideration when choosing to live in Fairfax County.
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