My husband will be working out of Merrifield, VA. What cities should be consider? We are looking for a very low crime, family oriented community

Asked by Tony Jung, Kansas City, MO Thu Sep 10, 2009

within a 30 minute or less commute.

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27
James Ryan, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Leesburg, VA
Fri Sep 18, 2009
Just wanted to weigh in a bit, with just a few caveats for the Washington marketplace and interest rates. Obviously, renting for a year will get you very familiar with the area, I agree with that. However, I see some potential pitfalls too...first and foremost, potential interest rate increases and secondly, home price increases. The latter certainly can be argued either way....however, most homes are now receiving multiple offers, and that is usually a sign prices may be poised to increase. As to the former, I think most "experts" believe that inflationary pressure will soon begin to increase interest rates, the lag time typically 6 to 18 months from the beginning of the big government spending. Perhaps a short term rental to get familiar with the area and moving toward a purchase sooner rather than later...Just a thought! Jim
0 votes
Vivianne Rut…, , Fairfax County, VA
Thu Sep 17, 2009
N
I think you made a good decision - one that will allow you to make a better decision regarding a home purchase in the long run.

Let me know if you need help with finding a rental home, if you haven't found one already.

You can search all area lisings - including rental homes - directly from the local MLS on my website:

http://www.realtorviviannerutkowski.com/cgi-bin/aa.fcgi?go=s…

Let me know if there is anything I can do to make the relocation process more enjoyable for your Family.

Best Regards,

Vivianne Rutkowski
REALTOR
KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY
Toll-Free: 877-765-3799
Mobile: 540-229-5429
E-Fax: 888-864-3374
E-mail: VivianneRutkowski@MRIS.com
Website: http://www.RealtorVivianneRutkowski.com
BLOG: http://VivianneRutkowski.WordPress.com
0 votes
Tony Jung, Home Buyer, Kansas City, MO
Thu Sep 17, 2009
Thanks for all of the information from everyone. Given that we will be moving up there in a couple of weeks, we may go ahead and rent around Merrifield for a year versus trying to hurriedly buy a home. The thought of moving again isn't ideal but at least we can really get to know the area.

I appreciate all of the assistance.
0 votes
Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Sat Sep 12, 2009
Hi:

Blunt answer: Unless you want to consider going after a foreclosure or short sale, your price range is far too low for the house you're looking for. The amount you can afford for rent is fine. But you're several hundred thousand dollars short if you want to buy.

As some of the other answers say, Haymarket, Gainesville, and Leesburg are way, way too far away. The commute would be absolutely horrendous. Without becoming overly technical, working in Merrifield--right off the Beltway and 66--means going through lots of congestion. Route 66 in the morning can be terrible. It may be manageable from Fairfax (though there's invariably an accident at Nutley), but I wouldn't tackle it from any farther away than Centreville. The other routes into Merrifield--such as Route 50 and Lee Highway are slow but OK unless 66 gets backed up. Then all the traffic spills over onto them. Also, the inner loop of the Beltway (from the direction of Springfield and 95) backs to a crawl all the way to Braddock Road...about 6 miles from Merrifield. And you can't even get to Merrifield directly from the Beltway--you take Route 50, then Gallows Road. The road designers deliberately did not build an interchange from the Beltway to Lee Highway.

Also, you don't want to live out in the direction of Leesburg (in which you'd have to take Route 7 in). Sitting right smack in the middle of your commute is Tyson's Corner. It's a mess at any time, but you don't want to go through it in the morning.

As some others note, we're not supposed to comment on the crime rate. You can pull those statistics up easily enough. And just pull them up for Fairfax County--again, you don't want to go to Loudoun or Prince William because of the commute. Still, you'll find many areas that will meet your needs regarding crime.

Family-oriented? Again, we're not really supposed to comment. However, just in general, you won't have much problem finding areas that'll meet your needs in Fairfax County. There are only a few areas I can think of that probably wouldn't.

So, what does that leave? We'll rule out the really pricey areas nearby--McLean, for example. Falls Church would be good regarding commute (and location in general), but it's probably above your price range and most of the homes there are older. So, look a bit farther out. I'd suggest the Fairfax area. Do some research on the Burke and Lake Braddock areas. They're newer than Falls Church, but may not be new enough for you. They're also reasonably affordable, comparatively speaking. There's newer construction--but mostly townhouses in your general price range--in the Fair Oaks and Fair Lakes area. They're a little bit farther out and may not have the community feel you're looking for, but you should consider them. Moving a bit farther out in a slightly different direction, you might consider Reston. I'm not a particular fan of Reston, and out there you'd be running into commuting issues, but it might be what you're looking for.

Someone offered a good piece of advice: Unless you're really sure where you want to be, consider renting for a year. Get a feel for the areas. Then make a decision.

Hope that helps.
0 votes
Vivianne Rut…, , Fairfax County, VA
Sat Sep 12, 2009
N,

The best recommendation in the world is only that, a recommendation.

What is the best recommendation to me may still not satisfy your objectives simply because I am NOT as aware of the priorities in your life as you are.

You need to experience Northern Virginia for yourself before you purchase.

You can do that by 1) renting for a few months or 2) come for several days and do an extensive research before purchasing.

Yes, relocating is hard.
I welcome the opportunity to help you with that process.
0 votes
James Ryan, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Leesburg, VA
Sat Sep 12, 2009
Hi Nicole, you are very welcome...Happy to try and help, as you might be able to tell, I do love it here in Northern VA. I did commute for years to Merriefield, but I am now working in Centreville. I agree with your map estimates, Lessburg to Merriefield during rush hour in 30-40 minutes sounds hard to believe, just Rte 7 to Gallows Road down to Merriefield can take 15 minutes in rush hour...in terms of recommending Haymarket over Lorton, no real preference...Lorton is better situated perhaps if you are going to avail yourselves of the Washington, DC attractions, as it is only 15-20 miles from the city, however, it tends to be less open areas as it was developed much earlier than out Haymarket way, although there is a fair amount of development here too. I keep going farther out...I started in Alexandria, then moved to Capitol Hill, then Arlington, West Springfield, Vienna, Lorton, and now very happy in Haymarket. Each area has its benefits, and since I have done the attractions in DC, I do not mind being 30 some miles from them...save when I want to visit them again, or I am hosting out of town visitors. I think West of Merriefield also may offer you the potential of a bit more yard for your dollar. Distressed sales seem to be fairly widespread in the entire market right now, I do think that Prince William County (West including Haymarket) has been harder hit than Fairfax County, however, Haymarket % wise is probably similar to the overall Fairfax county rate. That is not a scientific assessment, by the way, just my impression. There is some data suggesting that values are levelling out now, in both counties, as many sales are receiving multiple offers. Again, I hope these comments help! Jim
0 votes
Vicky Chrisn…, Agent, Purcellvile, VA
Sat Sep 12, 2009
I deleted this really long post when I saw your price range and expectations. Haymarket/Gainesville/Bristow or Leesburg will fit your price range and expectations, but even that's going to be tough. I commuted from various points in No Va to that Vienna/Tysons area for years. Leesburg was more manageable for me, I think it's twice as long from Haymarket/Gainesville/Bristow. Traffic there just seems unbearable to me, and it seems like every time I show houses in that area theres a concert at Nissan Pavillion and I get stuck on 66 for 2 hours to make a trip that should take 15 minutes. I've never had that experience in Leesburg, where I live now. When we first moved here I was commuting to Vienna (right next to Merrifield), and it was about an hour - and when I have to make that trip now during rush hour, on a normal day, I find it is still about the same traffic pattern. Plus, if you can adjust your hours you can avoid a lot of the traffic and it's not too bad.

Hopefully this is helpful. My website has a link where you can search for homes, and unlike Trulia, it is a live link from our local MLS (and that's the entire metro region - anywhere you'd consider moving). Feel free to use it. You'll also see "About the Area" with links to info on the local schools and such. Once you think you have an idea of where you want to be, I can supply info on crime statistics and schools... I can't interpret it for you, but I can give you the information.

Also, I have a couple of blogs - the front page of my web site references them. One is about the local real estate market, and talks about REOs and Foreclosures - you'll surely encounter these in your house hunt. The other is more personal and talks about the experiences of my family living here in Loudoun.

Hope something here is helpful!

Best!
Vicky
Web Reference:  http://www.vickychrisner.com
0 votes
Tony Jung, Home Buyer, Kansas City, MO
Sat Sep 12, 2009
Vivienne,

I remembered your restrictions, but as it is a prime concern, wanted to post it as a consideration. You may not legally be able to provide this information, but when making recommendations can point clients in the right direction. Also, these questions can be answered by others in the area as well. Thanks for clarifying the point!

Nicole
0 votes
Tony Jung, Home Buyer, Kansas City, MO
Sat Sep 12, 2009
Thanks Jim. It is nice to hear from someone who works in Merrifield and has commuted from different points. Some of his colleagues do live in Haymarket. I will have to get more information on the commute using the HOV lane from those who do. (We were told from Leesburg it is a 30-40 min commute in HOV which just seems short to me when I look at the map in light of traffic issues.) Is there any reason that you would recommend Haymarket over Lorton (or vice versa) having commuted in from both places? Also, someone suggested Brambleton (sp?). Lastly, just wondering if the bargains in housing you mentioned were primarily short sales...

Thanks again for taking the time to provide advice. I am looking forward to living there, although it will be hard to leave Florida.

Nicole
0 votes
Vivianne Rut…, , Fairfax County, VA
Sat Sep 12, 2009
>>>We are looking for a very low crime, family oriented community<<<

N,

As REALTORS. we cannot, by law, give you crime statistics or decide what community is "family" oriented.

NOR can we guarantee that no crime will happen in a seemingly "safe" neighborhood.....

I suggest that you contact local POLICE departments for the crime rate in any given community. You can also order school reports on my website: http://www.realtorviviannerutkowski.com/schoolinfo.shtml

I hope you'll find it helpful in your search for an ideal home here in Northern Virginia.

Good luck!
0 votes
James Ryan, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Leesburg, VA
Sat Sep 12, 2009
Hi N, and an early welcome to the Northern Virginia Area. It is hard to argue with any of the advice you have received so far. David hit the nail on the head with his comments regarding "sticker shock". Dunn Loring is a great little community and very close to Merriefield, and there are even some cute neighborhoods in Merriefield, but somewhat above your stated price range. Reston is great too, but prices there are also on the high side. To my mind, some of the best values available to you are a bit West...and South. Beginning in Centreville and going to Prince William County, the prices are very low comparatively speaking. These communities are West and feature commuting on 66, and there are HOV lanes during rush hour to help speed up that commute. I live in Haymarket, and there are some steals around if you hunt....and I am NOT able to use the HOV often, but I find Rte 29 to be a most pleasant alternate route. South of Merriefield, you have Fairfax, Springfiled, West Springfield and Lorton, all not to be over looked. I used to live in Lorton, and commuted for years to Merriefield. There are virtually ten different ways to get to Merriefield from Lorton depending on traffic....trust me when I say your husband (fortunately or UNfortunately...LOL) will learn EACH one if you choose that area. I also agree with the fact that most areas of Northern Virginia are rather blessed with low crime rates. I might also suggest your husband ask some of his new co-workers about their commutes, since Northern Virginia can be ALL about the commute! You may have noticed I did not comment much on North and East. That is simply because of Pricing issues. Those areas, although lovely, are priced at a premium when compared to the West and South. I hope these comments help you, and again, welcome to the region. I think you will find living here to be exciting and very worthwhile for both you and your family! Jim
0 votes
Monika Kumar, Agent, Reston, VA
Sat Sep 12, 2009
Dear Tony,

I understand moving again and again can be very harsh on kids sometimes so consider looking into Townhouses with 3+ BR & decent size might be very fruitful in this price range or an older rambler but you dont want to live in an older neighbirhood as I read your response.
So try to make some time drive around and sit down to narrow.

AND Thanks David on elaborating my 1st response. I kind of had a feeling about cost of housing and Living Shock in our area"
Heres what I mentioned ' Hi Tony, like Kim mentioned these are all good areas. What is your Price range for buying will define or undefine many of the areas. people moving to our area are somethimes shocked by pricing" what they are use to pay and what here actually it is costing. "
HOW TRUE!
----
Tony we are trying to help you as much as we can thru this portal. Good Luck :)

Monika
703 626 3327
Web Reference:  http://www.Realtygeeks.com
0 votes
Tony Jung, Home Buyer, Kansas City, MO
Fri Sep 11, 2009
Thanks David--your information was a big help. My husband would be able to utilize the HOV lane. Would suggest any of the cities you mentioned off of Route 66 over the others? We may rent. I am just hesitant to uproot the kids after a year, as we have already moved twice this year.
0 votes
David Acup, , Dunn Loring, VA
Fri Sep 11, 2009
Hi Tony - What I think these agents who have replied to your question have not said is that Northern Virginia is expensive. Very expensive. Your price range will limit your choices and put you out rather far. Commuting in on Route 66 from Haymarket, Chantilly, Centreville, etc can be very challenging. Unless your husband drives a hybrid and then he could use HOV (High Occupancy Vehicles) lanes which move much more quickly. Reston is really nice and he could commute down Fairfax County Parkway, but that is a series of stoplights and is also busy during rush hour (and I know of no single families homes in that area for your price range - at least nothing as nice as what you seem to have now). Honestly, I would rent for a year - and for what you are willing to pay, you could get a house or very large townhome in Dunn Loring or Vienna. These locations would provide you a very short commute (I can get to Merrifield in 5 minutes during rush hour). Renting would allow you to check out various areas and make a much more informed decision. Just be prepared to be completely shocked at home prices. I moved here from the midwest and nearly had a heart attack... Hope that helps.
0 votes
Vivianne Rut…, , Fairfax County, VA
Fri Sep 11, 2009
Tony,

Given that you are NOT familiar with the area, I would take it slowly, very slowly.
You do not want to purchase a home and then regret that you did, because you realized it was not the best decision.

Can you afford to take one week off from work to come here and get acquainted with the area?
Perhaps drive early in the morning to get the taste of the traffic .... See different communities and what they have to offer.... We are here to help you, however some of the decisions you'll simply have to make on your own - because only you know what is best for you.

If you'd like to become more familiar with this area, you can search all area listings by County, by Town and by Zip Code on my website: http://www.RealtorVivianneRutkowski.com

Latest real estate statistics for the Northern Virginia area is on my blog: http//:VivianneRutkowski.WordPress.com

Let me know if you have any additional questions.
0 votes
Tony Jung, Home Buyer, Kansas City, MO
Fri Sep 11, 2009
Monika,

I will be contacting an agent shortly, but would like to search initially on my own to get a feel for the area and houses available in our price range. I need help, however, in narrowing down a city/neighborhood.

Thanks
0 votes
Tony Jung, Home Buyer, Kansas City, MO
Fri Sep 11, 2009
Our ideal home is over 2700 square feet, four bedrooms, an open floorplan, larger kitchen, master on same level as other bedrooms, a nice size yard, great community with children, close to parks,activities, shopping, and again with a decent commute. Pre-qualification in our price range is not a problem for us. Again, we recognize that is an ideal and are willing to compromise on some of these wants.

Right now we are living in a beautiful planned city (Weston, Florida). Sidewalks set far away from street with landscaping. Park on almost every housing development's corner (that are covered with sunshades), no crime, guard gates on communities (although a guard gate is not a neccesity for us). Anything similar?
0 votes
Monika Kumar, Agent, Reston, VA
Fri Sep 11, 2009
Tony,

I feel smart way to handle this can be
You may want to chat with an agent without signing a representation agreement for a little while but who you feel comfortable with and then tell them all the details Needs and Wants, your qualifications to support you.Send you listings and researches.. Come here go out and see some places. If you like the way your move is helped then hire them to complete the job.
But this is something an educated advisor agent can do very well. It will be easier on you looking at market conditions, and your needs.

Hope to be helpful...

Monika
703 626 3327
http://www.Realtygeeks.com
info@realtygeeks.com
Web Reference:  http://www.Realtygeeks.com
0 votes
Tom Sklopan, Agent, Alexandria, VA
Fri Sep 11, 2009
Hi Tony:

Almost any neighborhood in Northern Virginia will satisfy your desire for a low crime family oriented community. I would suggest you start your search by adding some additional criteria (i.e. what is your #1 priority in a new home). Are there any special needs or wants your family desires? Please be aware that the under $325 price range is a very competitive segment of the market at this time. So arranging your financing in advance will be extremely beneficial. If I can be of any further assistance, please call or check our our website at http://www.c21accenthomes.com for lots of great area information. Happy house hunting.
0 votes
Andy Krumholz, Agent, Reston, VA
Fri Sep 11, 2009
Can you provide some of the specifics about the home you would ideally want. For example:
- # of bedrooms
- # of bathrooms
- size of home in sq ft if you have feel for this
- any special requirements

The 30 minute commute will certainly eliminate a number of communities. Looking at foreclosures in the communities you narrow your search to might offer you some good values as well, but the good ones go fast.

Regards,
Andy
0 votes
Tony Jung, Home Buyer, Kansas City, MO
Fri Sep 11, 2009
Our price range is between 325-400 if we buy. If we rent we are looking for something for 1 year and about 3,000-3,500.

80's and up is fine. I noticed in a quick search that some areas were much older. We also like the idea of community amenities.
0 votes
Kim Darwaza, Agent, Fairfax, VA
Fri Sep 11, 2009
Tony,
Chantilly, Centreville and Haymarket are nice areas but the commute is longer. If you want new construction that is reasonably priced and in more of a planned community setting you will have to look further out in Loudoun (Ashburn and Leesburg have new communities) and Prince William Counties (Gainsville, Haymarket, and Manassas have new construction communities). There are many planned communities in Fairfax where the houses are older but have been renovated. I live in Fairfax in a community called Penderbrook which was built in the 80's but people are renovating. We have a golf course, pool, work out facility, etc. in our community. To search the most accurate MLS for our area go to http://www.homesdatabase.com/kimdarwaza. Homes Database is linked directly to our MLS and is more accurate that realtor.com and some of the other home searches. I hope this is helpful.
0 votes
Andy Krumholz, Agent, Reston, VA
Fri Sep 11, 2009
Hello Davie Florida,

Welcome to Northern VA. Centreville and Chantilly are not too bad for the commute, but I would eliminate Haymarket and Leesburg. I think your best bets will be Vienna, Oakton and Reston. Reston is the most successful planned community in the country. It was started back in the 1960's and was just completed recently. There are lots of trees, walking paths, shops, restaurants, and parks as well. It is a very low crime area.

As Monika says below, a lot depends on your price range and what you want in a house. You should have plenty of choices of nice neighborhoods though. Most agents have websites you can do home searches on, mine is listed below. Since you don't know the area yet, I would recommend that you connect with a Realtor that can build you a search that will automatically send you listings on a daily basis, of home that meet your criteria.

I do a lot of work with people that relocate to the area, as your needs are different from someone who is familiar with the area. If I can be of help to you, please feel free to contact me, my information is below.

Good luck to you and your husband.

Regards,
Andy Krumholz, GRI, CDPE
Keller Williams Realty
Top 5% of Agents Nationwide
(703) 599-4755 - cell
ajkrumholz@yahoo.com
http://www.utopianhomes.com
References available upon request.
0 votes
Monika Kumar, Agent, Reston, VA
Fri Sep 11, 2009
Hi Tony, like Kim mentioned these are all good areas. What is your Price range for buying will define or undefine many of the areas. people moving to our area are somethimes shocked by pricing" what they are use to pay and what here actually it is costing.

You can cut your limit with highest price by visiting http://www.realtygeeks.com
... and even do map search might help..

Hope to be helpful..

Rgds
Monika
K. Williams
703 626 3327
Web Reference:  http://www.Realtygeeks.com
0 votes
Tony Jung, Home Buyer, Kansas City, MO
Fri Sep 11, 2009
Kim,

I saw Fairfax, Vienna, and Oakton on the map. We were given Chantilly, Centreville, Haymarket, and Leesburg as locations that would be good. I am a little worried about the commute though.
0 votes
Tony Jung, Home Buyer, Kansas City, MO
Fri Sep 11, 2009
I should have also said that we prefer newer construction and like planned communities. "Cookie cutter' houses are fine with us.
0 votes
Kim Darwaza, Agent, Fairfax, VA
Thu Sep 10, 2009
Vienna, Fairfax, and Oakton will be the closest to you. Please feel free to give me a call if you would like to set up an appointment to discuss your real estate needs further. You can search the internet for listings at my website http://www.kimdarwaza.com.

Kim Darwaza
RE/MAX Allegiance
703-856-2254
kim@kimdarwaza.com
Web Reference:  http://www.kimdarwaza.com
0 votes
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