I can clearly remember when I first started considering a DC to VA move from my 650-square-foot, third-floor walk-up, renovated condo in the heart of DC (that I loved) to something a little larger in Virginia. Honestly? My feelings were a conflicted mess. And I do this for a living!
My initial thoughts were: Am I crazy? Am I really ready to give up this amazing urban lifestyle? I don’t have kids yet – is it too soon to suburbanize? Will my friends judge me? Will they even dare cross the river to visit me? Do they know Old Town is not really suburban?
These thoughts battled with: I want more space! Wouldn’t it be nice not to budget for the constant parking tickets? Parking on my block…and outdoor space….that would be nice!
I.Could.Not.Decide. Long story short… I brought my idea up to my city-loving husband and let’s just say, it didn’t go well. While we weren’t quite on the same page (at all!) he said he would keep an open mind. So we set up an MRIS search for Old Town, Rosemont and Del Ray (I still wanted to be in a walkable neighborhood). We kept an eye out for properties that could be a good fit. Honestly, we thought it would take us longer, but once we decided to make the move from DC to VA, things started to move quickly. We decided to settle in Old Town, Alexandria. When we saw a property come up that had the right number of beds and baths in a walkable location (since that had been hard to find), we knew it was the one! We moved in early 2015 and we haven’t looked back once. We love living in Old Town and I can now laugh at how distraught we were at first about our decision to move from DC to VA.
If you’re thinking about a move across the river and having trouble weighing the options, I sympathize completely! Allow me to tell you a little bit about our experience transitioning across the river – and some things you should think about as well.
A bit about my experience crossing the river…
THE TRANSITION FROM DC TO VA
For me, the hardest part was actually telling our friends and neighbors we were moving. We lived near many close friends and I dreaded what our move to Virginia would mean for our impromptu wine nights and accidental run-ins in the neighborhood. This part was hard, I admit, but we have made great new friends near our Old Town home. Now, I have an excuse to make frequent trips into DC to see my friends from my old neighborhood.
We absolutely love the urban light feel of Old Town. We can still walk to all of the same types of places that were a staple in our DC lives – grocery stores, neighborhood restaurants, wine bars, fitness studios, and shops. The Old Town walkability may actually be even better than it was from our old condo. Plus, I much prefer the unique boutique shops of our new neighborhood. We have the benefits of walkability but with the charm and character of an older neighborhood, with a true community feel. While our DC neighborhood was great, Old Town has a deep commitment to community. Neighbors frequently get together socially, but also to rally for projects and charities that improve the area and life for its residents.
The accessibility of Old Town has also been better than expected. In fact, it takes us the same amount of time as it did from our condo to get to some parts of DC – like Nats Park. As an added bonus, we can take a water taxi there from the Old Town marina! National Airport is a short drive up S. Washington Street. With our TSA pre-check, we can leave our house and be through security within 15 minutes. Since we’re along the Metro line, that’s still an option for us as well, though I’ll admit to using Uber primarily to get to the city.
Added bonus? Our taxes were better! Both income taxes and the sales tax are lower in VA than they are in DC. Although, you might pay a higher car tax if you have your own vehicle. Transfer taxes and recordation taxes are also significantly lower in VA than in DC, so you will pay a bit less in closing costs on the southern side of the Potomac River.
Considering crossing over? Here’s what you need to know!
LIFESTYLE & NEIGHBORHOOD
Think about your lifestyle… what do you love and what would you change? Think about this both for your home and your neighborhood. Do you have a specific neighborhood in mind already? Or, are you open to exploring?
We offer custom neighborhood orientation tours throughout the area to help you decide which neighborhoods might be a fit.
Here are the key things to consider for your move:
Transportation – Do you need to be near a certain route or Metro line?
The commute – How far is too far?
Parking – Is it a necessity when you move to VA? This was high on my initial list, but I ended up compromising on having dedicated parking. I park on my own block most of the time. Parking in Old Town is much better than in DC!
Walkability – How important is it to you? Specifically, what things do you want to be able to walk to and how close do you consider walkable?
Community – Is there something about your community that you love or that you’re missing? Think about the vibe of the neighborhood you want.
Space – If you’re moving from DC, chances are you want more space. Think about what this means – is it more rooms or larger rooms you’re after? Space is still at a premium in the close-in neighborhoods, so think about your goals. Decide if space or location is more important.
Outdoor Space – Do you need a yard or a patio? If so, what are your specific needs?
Examine your budget and if you will incur any additional expenses from moving closer to or farther from work. Perhaps the move will free up some funds (your monthly parking expenses, for example). If you’ll have more space, will you be able to write it off on taxes? If you’re a first time buyer, consider the tax savings you will incur by buying a home. Also, consider the change in your taxes as we described above for moving from DC to VA. Need a lender to help you set your budget? No problem, we can hook you up!
The bottom line…
I’m not going to sugar-coat things for you. Moving across the river from DC to VA is definitely a change! While we haven’t looked back, there are definitely days where I miss the hustle and bustle of the District. Admittedly, I’m less “up to date” on the latest restaurant openings and happenings in the city.
But overall, moving to Virginia has been a fabulous decision and my husband and I couldn’t be happier. Our first year in our new home and city was exciting as we explored the neighborhood and developed a routine with our favorite fitness studios, wine bars, and restaurants. Our second year has kicked off awaiting the arrival of our first child, a baby boy due in April. Now we’re exploring daycare options, schools, parks, and baby-friendly restaurants – of which we’ve found many!
One of our clients recently wrote about her experience making the decision to cross the river as well. Feel free to read about her experience here.
If we can help guide you through whether or not moving from DC to VA is the right move for you, don’t hesitate to reach out. We can help you choose the right neighborhood and home for you – anywhere in the DC Metro area. Not on the same page as your significant other about a move? We can help with that too!
Interested in one of our custom neighborhood tours to get a feel for life on this side of the River? No problem! Get access here.
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