Arlington vs Alexandria: What Homeowners Need to Know

September 28, 2023 | Lifestyle & Community | By: The Goodhart Group

When it comes to finding the perfect place to call home in Northern Virginia that offers a quick commute into DC but with their own walkability, two cities often come to mind: Arlington and Alexandria. These neighboring cities offer a diverse range of neighborhoods, amenities, and lifestyles.

While both cities are beautiful and offer their own winning features, they offer different lifestyles. Read on to dive into the differences between Alexandria and Arlington and determine which one might be the best for you! In this blog, we will explore the unique characteristics of each city, to help you make an informed choice. 

Location and Accessibility

Both Arlington and Alexandria benefit from their proximity to Washington, DC. Arlington is located directly across the Potomac River, making it highly accessible to the nation’s capital. It is also home to the Pentagon and several major government agencies as well as Amazon’s HQ-2.

On the other hand, Alexandria is located just a few miles south of Arlington and boasts a rich history, the charming town of Old Town. It is also located on the Potomac River, directly across from National Harbor, MD.  Both Alexandria and Arlington offer great proximity to Reagan National Airport.

Is location a priority for you? Click here to read why Alexandria is a good city for commuters.

Housing Market

The housing markets in Arlington and Alexandria differ slightly in terms of price range and availability. Arlington tends to have a higher cost of living, with a more competitive housing market. If you’re looking for new, Arlington is a good place to look. Homebuyers can find a mix of single-family homes, townhouses, and condominiums that tend to be newly built or new-er and larger.

Arlington tends to have larger new builds because the city allows more of the lot to be built on. So while homes in Alexandria can be smaller, often the lots can be larger. If you’re looking for more space in terms of house, you’ll find it in Arlington, but it comes at a cost! 

Alexandria on the other hand, offers a wider range of housing options, including historic townhouses in Old Town, various neighborhoods with single-family homes, as well as modern condos which just started making their way to Old Town and Del Ray/Potomac Yards in the last couple of years. 

Curious about the local housing market? Check out our half-year Alexandria market report here.

Neighborhoods and Communities

Arlington is known for its urbanized neighborhoods, offering a vibrant city atmosphere. Along the Orange Line Corridor you’ll find Clarendon, Ballston, and Rosslyn which are popular areas for young professionals, with a plethora of condos, dining, shopping, and entertainment options. But you’ll also find several neighborhoods that are walkable to these restaurants and shops with large single family homes such as Ashton Heights, Lyon Park, and  Westover. South Arlington has also become a developed urban area with many condos, restaurants, fitness studios, and shops throughout Crystal City and National Landing (where Amazon’s HQ 2 is located). Overall, Arlington tends to have larger name brand stores and fitness studios than Alexandria. Whereas Alexandria has more boutiques and independently owned businesses.

In Alexandria, you’ll find more suburban areas as well as the highly walkable areas of Old Town and Del Ray. Old Town is a historic gem of a town, featuring cobblestone streets, boutique shops, restaurants, waterfront views and mostly charming townhomes as well as some modern condos. Funky Del Ray offers mainly single family homes that are walkable to casual eats, local shops and fitness studios, and many community events. 

Amenities and Recreation

Arlington and Alexandria provide numerous amenities and recreational opportunities for homeowners. Arlington boasts a thriving restaurant scene, trendy bars, and shopping centers such as the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City and the Ballston Mall. The city is also home to several parks, including the popular Theodore Roosevelt Island.

In Alexandria, the Mount Vernon trail runs along the waterfront with several scenic parks, bike trails, and marinas along the route. Old Town offers fine dining as well as shopping along with historic charm. 

Want to know more about life in Alexandria? Explore these posts from our blog.

The Bottom Line

Choosing between Arlington and Alexandria ultimately depends on individual preferences and priorities. Arlington offers a more urban and fast-paced lifestyle, with a higher cost of living, while Alexandria provides a suburban and historical charm. Both cities offer excellent schools, amenities, and access to the nation’s capital.

By considering the unique characteristics of each city, homeowners can make an informed decision that aligns with their lifestyle and needs. Whether it’s the hustle and bustle of Arlington or the quaint charm of Alexandria, Northern Virginia has something to offer for everyone.

Are you looking to buy or sell in Alexandria or Arlington? We’d love to help. Let’s chat today!

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