Located just five miles from the heart of the nation’s capital, Arlington is a world-class community and tourist destination that tops Niche.com’s “Best Cities to Live in America” list for five consecutive years in 2020.
Although categorized as the second-largest principal city of Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area, Arlington is actually a county in the Commonwealth of Virginia with about 237,000 residents.
Originally called Alexandria County, Arlington is home to The Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, The Iwo Jima War Memorial, and several Fortune 500 companies.
There are several factors to determine the top city, and Niche.com uses a weighted system to rate cities across the country with information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census data, the Brookings Institute, the FBI, and surveys from its users.
Comparisons are made of criteria like education, employment, housing markets, recreation activities, and more.
Now, let’s take a look at why Arlington has repeatedly become the number one best city to live in America over the last few years.
Arlington Public Schools
Primarily, Arlington comes with higher education. In fact, Arlington is one of the most highly educated places in the country.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 75% of Arlington residents hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, which is more than twice the national average of 31%.
Besides that, 40% of Arlington residents have a master’s degree or higher, while just 12% of the rest of the nation can say the same.
Arlington is close to several well-respected universities, including Marymount University. From the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington and just across the Francis Scott Key Bridge, you can also conveniently reach Georgetown University.
As you may realize already, education is pretty important in Arlington. This applies to public schools in the area as well.
In Arlington, public schools have been ranked the number one or second-best public school district in Virginia for a few years now. They have high attendance rates, test scores, and graduation rates.
Moreover, the teacher-to-student ratio in Arlington is at 15:1, which is lower than the national average. Arlington also spends about $10,000 more per student than the national average.
As for schools that service Arlington residents, Niche.com has given these schools an A overall rating.
Some of the highly-rated public schools that serve the area include:
- Arlington Traditional Elementary School
Address: 1030 N McKinley Rd, Arlington, VA 22205, United States
Phone: +1 703-228-4210
Arlington Traditional Elementary School has an A-plus overall rating on Niche.com and a 9/10 summary rating on GreatSchools.org.
- Arlington Science Focus Elementary School
Address: 1501 N Lincoln St, Arlington, VA 22201, United States
Phone: +1 703-228-7670
Arlington Science Focus Elementary School has an A overall rating on Niche.com and a 9/10 summary rating on GreatSchools.org.
- Jamestown Elementary School
Address: 3700 N Delaware St, Arlington, VA 22207, United States
Phone: +1 703-228-5275
Jamestown Elementary School has an A overall rating on Niche.com and a 9/10 summary rating on GreatSchools.org.
- Glebe Elementary School
Address: 1770 N Glebe Rd, Arlington, VA 22207, United States
Phone: +1 703-228-6280
Glebe Elementary School has an A overall rating on Niche.com and an 8/10 summary rating on GreatSchools.org.
- McKinley Elementary School
Address: 1030 N McKinley Rd, Arlington, VA 22205, United States
Phone: +1 703-228-5280
McKinley Elementary School has an A overall rating on Niche.com and a 7/10 summary rating on GreatSchools.org.
- Yorktown High School
Address: 5200 Yorktown Blvd, Arlington, VA 22207, United States
Phone: +1 703-228-5400
Yorktown High School has an A-plus overall rating on Niche.com and a 6/10 summary rating on GreatSchools.org. U.S. News rates them as the number 1 public high school in Arlington County.
- Washington-Liberty High School
Address: 1301 N Stafford St, Arlington, VA 22201, United States
Phone: +1 703-228-6200
Washington-Liberty High School has an A-plus overall rating on Niche.com and a 5/10 summary rating on GreatSchools.org. U.S. News rates them as the 2nd best public high school in Arlington County.
Arlington Cost of Living
The next reason has to do with Arlington’s cost of living, which accounts for 12.5% of Niche.com’s analysis. Many things come into play when calculating the cost of living. You have to factor in housing, food, medical transportation, utilities, and taxes.
Typically, higher education means higher-paying jobs, and that naturally comes with high living expenses. Hence, the cost of living in Arlington is pretty high, which is just the case for the entire D.C. metro area.
The cost of living in Arlington is actually 68.7% higher than the national average. This number may seem high, but it is offset by the higher salaries paid in the area. In 2019, the median household income in Arlington is about $120,000.
Arlington Home Types & Sales Price
When it comes to housing, Arlington offers a wide variety of property types. Many would consider Arlington as a suburb of Washington D.C., and they’d be correct.
However, there’s also a large concentration of condominiums and high-rise condos in the area. The condos, shops, and restaurants in Arlington neighborhoods like Rosslyn, Ballston, and Clarendon give the county the feel of a big city.
For those looking for more space, Arlington offers townhouse communities and single-family homes as well. The county has a very healthy real estate market.
According to MLS data, the average sales price in Arlington is $703,000, which is 6% higher than the previous year. Note that this includes all property types, so we’re talking about everything from condos to large estates.
Just to give you a better understanding of the market, the average sales price of a two-bedroom property is just under $530,000, three-bedroom townhomes are about $823,000, and four-bedroom single-family homes are around $1.2 million.
Arlington Employment Opportunities
Now, it’s time to talk about the employment opportunities in Arlington. If you’re looking to live in an area where you can thrive in terms of your career, this place is ideal for you.
The military and federal governments are the largest employers in the D.C. metro area, including three bases in Northern Virginia alone. With that said, The Pentagon is the closest military base located on the southeastern side of Arlington.
Furthermore, the D.C. metro area is home to 17 Fortune 500 companies. Some of the largest companies in Arlington include Freddie Mac, Booz Allen, and Northrop Grumman, not to mention the number of opportunities in the technology and IT space.
Additionally, Amazon has selected Arlington as the site for its second headquarters, HQ2 in 2019.
Arlington Public Transportation
Another factor is the availability and ease of use of Arlington’s public transportation. The D.C. metro area consistently has high-ranking public transit systems. As a matter of fact, Business Insider ranks the area as the 4th city with the best public transportation in the country.
The D.C. metro rail system stretches throughout most of Northern Virginia, which makes daily commute simple for those hoping to avoid the crazy metro area traffic. The blue, orange, silver, and yellow lines all make stops in Arlington.
In addition to the metro rail system, the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) runs through Arlington and stops in the Crystal City neighborhood.
Also, if you’re working at The Pentagon, you’ll be happy to hear that the Department of Defense has shuttle buses that make stops throughout the county and take passengers directly to and from The Pentagon.
Things to Do in Arlington
Finally, there’s a lot of things to do in the Arlington area. This includes nightlife, restaurants, shopping, entertainment, and outdoor activities.
Keep in mind that no matter where you live, the majority of people in Northern Virginia will spend most of their time within the same community.
If you’re wondering what type of recreational activities you can get in Arlington, there are actually a few of Washington D.C.’s famous landmarks and monuments in the area.
For starters, there’s the most obvious one, which is Arlington Cemetery. Aside from this, you’ll also find several famous memorials in Arlington such as the United States Marine Corps War Memorial, Air Force Memorial, and National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial. The Reagan National Airport is located in the county as well.
There are several beautiful parks and trails in Arlington. One of my personal favorite spots is Gravelly Point Park, which is located right next to the Potomac River where you can watch planes take off and land.
Another great spot to mention is the Theodore Roosevelt Island that is technically in D.C., but its parking lot is in Arlington and just outside of Roosevelt. Visitors can take a short footbridge from the parking lot and walk across to the island.
If you’re into the great outdoors, you’ll definitely love the Virginia park system. There’s the Mount Vernon Trail that you can take and walk right on to D.C. and there’s also the W&OD Trail, which is one of my favorite paths.
Arlington is the closest thing you’ll have to a city or a downtown area in Northern Virginia, so it also has the best nightlife. If you’re into bars and happy hours, you’d do well checking out the Clarendon and Courthouse areas.
As for those whose idea of a good time is catching a show, you can check out the Synetic Theatre, which is a nonprofit theater that offers shows for all ages.
Lastly, another personal favorite of mine is The View of DC. It has three stories of floor-to-ceiling glass windows, an open-air bar, and a cafe. This place offers the best-unobstructed views of Washington D.C. and the surrounding areas.
The View of DC
Address: 1201 Wilson Blvd #214, Arlington, VA 22209, United States
Phone: +1 703-423-0600
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 Arlington area.
Hopefully, when you’re searching for properties online, you’re using our website as well.
Overall, you have learned why Arlington is the top-rated city to live in the country with what it has to offer.
Do you agree with Niche.com’s assessment of Arlington?
We’d love to hear your thoughts.