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Hey everyone.

I have been presented with an opportunity to transfer within my current company to th Northern VA(Loudon, Fairfax), DC Metro area. This would also be an excellent job market for my wife.

Now, throwing everything else aside for the moment, my main concerns are the increase in cost of living and traffic. Exactly how bad is it on a day to day? I grew up in Richmond. My dad pretty much refused to drive north.

Weighing my pros and cons here...


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What would your (and your wife's) commute be? Going into the District, versus staying in NOVA or going to Maryland or (?) makes a significant difference.

I've never lived in the the area, so I should leave that part of the conversation to the better-informed.

Culturally, I'd have to say that I survive mainly based on the offerings in the District and rely heavily on the generally good Metro service for access to intellectual stimulation.

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impossible: it really depends on your particular commute.

I grew up in NoVA, but am currently living in SoCal. Honestly, traffic in NoVa can be worse, especially if you need to drive 95, 66, 270, or the 495 (beltway) between certain points at the wrong time of day.

As for Loudoun, (I'm assuming Eastern Loudoun) it is the very definition of suburbia and quite removed from DC, but good schools, safe, and an excellent choice if you or your wife need to travel a lot (e.g., easy access to Dulles).

As for Fairfax, McLean/Arlington/Vienna are very nice, but pricy. I would definitely advise living in Loudoun and/or Northern or Central Fairfax County if that is where you'll be working. If your wife's best prospects are downtown DC, living on a Metro line--either the Orange line in Arlington or the Yellow line in Alexandria--is a must. That being said, the Metro is expanding soon to Tysons, which may open up other possibilities.

I would definitely advise having to travel the beltway against traffic, if you can. It is literally soul-crushing.

I'd be happy to answer more questions, if you have any.

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impossible: I'm glad we were able to help with your decision.

Living in DC can be a tough choice -- I grew up there, and thus will always have fond memories. I LOVE certain areas, such as Arlington, Alexandria, McLean, Vienna, and Shirlington. The access to cultural events and history is nonpareil. Rooster's new job at the building museum is great -- and frankly, there are dozens of other wonderful museums in DC, most of which are free of charge.

I was also a regular patron/subscriber of the Kennedy Center Jazz Club, where I caught dozens of incredible shows (Sonny Rollins, Jason Moran, McCoy Tyner/Savion Glover, Kenny Barron, Jacky Terrasson, Kurt Elling, etc. etc. etc.), and an occasional, if not semi-regular at other jazz venues such as the Blues Alley and Twins. My firm had great tickets to the sporting events, so I would catch about 35-45 Nats games (2nd row behind first base), 20 Bullets (15 row slight off center), and 15 or so Caps (10 row center) games each season. All VERY close since we lived right on the Metro in Arlington.

It's expensive, but not outrageously so, and the public schools are among the best in the country, which can help mitigate costs. In fact, it's the only real downside is the traffic. I left one job because I had to drive the beltway and 270 into Gaithersburg, MD for 8 months. My wife could literally see a physical change in me due to the stress of driving on the beltway. For several months before moving to Arlington, I commuted 20 miles into DC, which took 90 minutes. Despite all the other positives, these commutes can drastically impair your quality of life.

Living now in CA, the weather can't be beat, and the traffic is much better. I definitely miss the cultural opportunities, however.

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It really did come down to the traffic. Dealing with that piece became the conversation. We have two daycare-aged kids. The logistics of commute and daycare drop off and pickup and amount of time we would spend in the car instead of the backyard, park, or BEACH really made the decision.

Not to mention, literally every person I have spoken with about living up there has had the exact response that you gave me.

It's a bummer. I want to be excited about the opportunity, and am grateful for being considered. I just can't bring myself to do it.

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Guess I'm late the party here. I've lived in Fairfax now for about 18 years. Traffic can be bad, but I don't know that it is significantly different than other major metropoli (e.g. Chicago). We live within walking distance of Metro (which is how I get to my DC job in the Penn Quarter), and know that there are destinations that are "far away" due to traffic (e.g. we've been to the Eastern Shore only two or three times). But there also is plenty interesting that is accessible (esp. when you let Metro do the driving). An important distinction is that we have no children, so no big issue if the ride sometimes stretches out due to traffic/train problems.

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I just came back from a week of renting an apartment on U Street and absolutely loved my visit. Of course it makes a big difference getting to walk or Metro around and not be working. From what I see of your posts here & on FB I think you're in a very good place for you & your family. And you're reasonably close now to DC for when it comes time to expose the youngsters to the arts, museums and Good Humor trucks parked just outside of such places. :)

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I've never driven in DC hardly -- we live in Columbia Heights, about a 5-minute walk from the Metro (in a pretty small, 1BR apartment, 630 sq-ft total I think). Honestly, I can't imagine having to drive much in and around DC, and neither my wife or I own a car anymore -- we sold both of ours before moving out here two years ago.

We love it here, but the cost of living is pretty high (to put it mildly). Still, living in the District itself is great - something I'm loving more and more all the time. Add an hour+ one-way communte to it, though, and I'd probably change my tune.

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I lived down there for a bit over two decades.

The beach: no contest! I would never go back to D.C., even though I like D.C. itself.

One reason (apart from what everyone else has mentioned); the terrible air quality. It got exponentially worse during the last 5 years that I lived there (late 90s-early 00s) and even though I don't have asthma, there were smoggy days during the summer when I found it difficult to breathe outdoors. (Only in the last 2-3 years I lived there, though.)

A few years ago I had a hotel room in an area with comparable air quality during an August heatwave, and it brought back everything about D.C.-area smog with a vengeance.

Between that and trying to drive in Beltway-type traffic, forget it!

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