Northern Virginia Lifestyle - 3/5/2010
I have lived in the Northern Virginia area for most of my life--about 39 years (excluding 6 years away for college & grad school). I have also traveled a great deal all over the country (and outside of the country) during my 15-year career. In my opinion, Northern VA lacks the charm and uniqueness I've found in so many other places. That's not to say it is a bad place to live per se, quite the contrary. It totally depends upon what you are looking for. If you are looking for a place to easily make friends, charming neighborhoods, decent cost of livng, focus on extracurricular life, and ease in commuting this is definitely not the place for you.
NoVA is very transient. It can be very snobby if you aren't "from here". It is very expensive to live here. McMansions are everywhere! There is a lack of sense of community in most areas (unless you live in towns like Vienna, Herndon, parts of Arlington, etc). You'll be lucky if you don't fall prey to "keeping up with the Jones'". There is a heavy focus on competition....your kids, clothing, accessories, cars, salary, house size, you name it. The culture is very work-oriented. People here spend a lot of time commuting and working. The first question people will probably ask is "what do you do?" i.e. where do you work. The traffic is terrible. Unless you live near your office, expect to spend a great deal of time on the road. Because it is less expensive to live further out, the congestion getting into areas like Reston, Herndon, Arlington is just awful.
The great things about NoVA? Great restaurants. Shopping. Tons of options (not cheap) for schooling, daycare, etc. Lots of government work. You can get to the beach in about 3.5 hours in no traffic and the "mountains" in an hour or so but it is nothing like the beaches and mountains in other areas of the country I've been. The sad thing I've noticed is 90% of my friends who have moved away from NoVA, absolutely love where they are now and would never willingly return here. These folks have moved to areas including Charlotte, Raleigh, Seattle, Denver, Austin, San Francisco, Boston, NYC, etc. They find that other areas have more focus on living and having fun rather than working. They also find it much easier to make and keep friends. To summarize, I think everyone has to choose a place that makes them happy, enriched and fulfilled. I think NoVA is perfect for lots of folks and far from perfect for others. It totally depends upon what you are looking for and your[read more...]