NOVA mamas - help! Any "crunchy" areas in NOVA? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 41 Old 03-22-2011, 07:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My Dh got a job offer in DC and we are considering moving to NOVA.  My parents and sister live in NOVA but it's not where I grew up.  My family is very mainstream and my parents live in a pretty affluent part of NOVA.

 

I realize the area is very diverse and I'm sure there are lots of sub-communities, but my overall experience of the area has been negative in that the people I've met have very different values than we have.

 

My impression of the area is that it's fast-paced, high stress, too much traffic, lots of wealth, crazy high cost of living, status-conscious, and materialistic.  I realize that's a huge generalization and there are pockets that don't fit this description at all.

 

Are there areas of NOVA that are known for being more "crunchy"?  Are there areas where it would be possible to live simply and comfortably on one modest income?

 

We live simply, parent AP style, try to avoid consumerism, eat healthy, live "green", etc.  The area where we are now (Harrisonburg) is a good fit for us and I honestly am not excited about possibly moving to DC, but it would be a good opportunity for DH.

 


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#2 of 41 Old 03-22-2011, 09:08 AM
 
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what does crunchy mean?

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#3 of 41 Old 03-24-2011, 10:18 PM
 
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Have you considered moving farther out and using the train to commute to DC?

 

There are definitely people who fit your description (there is a fabulous babywearing group w/ lots of awesome Mamas) but, IMO, they are scattered and not grouped into one particular area.

 

Avoiding things such as traffic/fast pace/high stress is really hard...maybe impossible in NoVa.  There's definitely money but just because someone has money doesn't make them materialistic (though, materialism certainly exists in the area).


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#4 of 41 Old 03-28-2011, 01:39 PM
 
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let's trade! - you move to our house in alexandria and we'll move to harrisonburg . i know it's a generalization but your description of the people/stress/traffic here is exactly how we feel about it. we are not fans at all and honestly i have given up finding "crunchy" people to connect with here - just too spread out, like the pp mentioned. we just miss our friends from home and look forward to leaving someday soon. sounds crazy but is it a possibility for you to stay where you are and for your husband to get a small apt in DC and travel back and forth as often as he can? maybe then you could stay with your family here without having to buy/rent. just a thought. good luck with the decision

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#5 of 41 Old 03-28-2011, 04:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies....I'm a little discouraged but not too surprised.  I did notice there are a few Holistic Moms Networks in the area, which is encouraging...but I can understand with the "crunchy" people being so spread out - NOVA is a huge area and with the traffic, even going just 20 miles away can take forever.

 

DH has been taking a few classes in Alexandria this semester and has been commuting from Harrisonburg and staying with my parents one night a week.  Even though it's only one night, we really miss him (dd often goes 2 days w/o seeing him because he gets home after she is sleeping) and it's exhausting for him.  I'm not sure how I would feel about him working full time and trying to commute from H'burg.  Although with the work hours and commute he might have in the DC area, dd might go days without seeing him anyway.

 

Thanks for the honest responses, it's a tough decision!


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#6 of 41 Old 03-29-2011, 01:20 PM
 
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I came here with basically the same question. My hubby may have a job offer just outside of DC. We would also be planning to live on a single income.

 

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#7 of 41 Old 04-01-2011, 03:16 PM
 
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I may be the wrong person to answer since I have only ever lived in Northern Va--and usually want to scream if I go much more rural than Leesburg...

But I consider Alexandria to be the crunchy area. We love to go to the all the small businesses, like the coffee shops, yarn stores, toy stores.

 

You see a lot of babywearing, there is a Waldorf school, my midwives are there. And there are a LOT of AP mommy groups. I would LOVE to live in Del Ray.


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#8 of 41 Old 04-01-2011, 05:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Aimeeandbrian!  From the little I know about the area, we would probably look in Alexandria or Arlington, it seems like a lot of the AP groups I know about (LLL, Holistic Moms network, etc) have groups there.

 

My main concern with those areas is the money - dd LOVES being outside and I would love to have a small house with a yard, but it's so expensive so we probably would have to be in an apartment - what would you estimate would be the lowest income you could live comfortably with in Alexandria?  Would 50k be enough for a family of 3-4 to be comfortable?  We're not sure what dh's income would be but I think that's around the starting salary for his field.  We live pretty simply and only have a small student loan in terms of debt, so I'm talking about living expenses only.


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#9 of 41 Old 04-07-2011, 04:04 PM
 
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Hi There! We just moved out of the DC area, actually, and lived in Del Ray (Alexandria, Va) and really, really enjoyed it. It is very community-oriented, the moms in the 'hood know each other, are very green, open minded, educated, cool. We didn't own a car the whole time we were there because public transit was so good/easy. Very walkable area, lots of parks, lots of diversity and community value in both full-time homemakers and organics...also TWO farmers markets in walking distance (on different days, even), and another fantastic one in Old Town Alexandria, just 2 miles away (easy bike ride, bus or just a subway stop away). 

Good luck!

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#10 of 41 Old 04-07-2011, 04:13 PM
 
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one more thing--Del Ray is more affordable than Old Town Alexandria; there are condos for about 1200-1400 but you get what you pay for...they are pretty run down. Town houses (with back yards) start around 1500...ours was 1800 (two bedroom, one bath, about 700 sqft but had a great yard and was in a great location 1 block off the mainstreet)...utilities are insanely expensive there (we spent 150-200 on water each month--for what I don't know; power was about 200/month, gas was about 80/month...and this is for a small place and no sprinklers and I'm a nut about turning off lights, saving energy...). You wont find a home/standalone house for rent for under about 2500/month--which makes living on 50k very hard. Possible, I'm sure, but I wouldn't have been able to do it. 

 

One thing that is fairly easy to do in Del Ray, however, is nanny. If you're open to taking care of one or two kids after school you could probably make a decent contribution to your husband's salary without having to give up being a SAHM. I was approached several times about watching kids from my son's class at the elementary school because the moms knew I was a SAHM...

 

Again, good luck!!

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#11 of 41 Old 04-07-2011, 04:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Professormama - thanks, that information is really helpful, and it's encouraging to hear such good things about NOVA!

 

I am trying to start my own business, I make upcycled products - I use old clothes and bedding to make things like children's clothes, shoes, toys, reusable lunch bags and snack bags, wool dryer balls, etc. I've also come up with my own recipes for cleaning products and am hoping to sell those as well. Do any of the farmers markets sell crafts or just food?  Do you think there would be a local market for things like that? In Harrisonburg, people are very into secondhand things - there are probably about 10 thrift stores within 15 miles of our house - but I know NOVA is more "status-conscious" so I don't know how people would feel about buying upcycled things.

 

Nannying after school would be a good idea too, I wouldn't want to nanny full time but I think dd would love the company a few hours a day.

 

Thanks again!!  We are still waiting to hear about the terms of DH's contract to decide if we will accept...it's been taking forever!


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#12 of 41 Old 04-08-2011, 11:23 AM
 
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There is a lot--A LOT--of money in Del Ray and all of NoVa, really, but there is a market for upcycling, yes. There is (or was when I was there just last year) a used clothing store on mainstreet in Del Ray, right across the street from the elementary school. Decent stuff there. The Farmers markets in Del Ray didn't have crafts--but--I'd check with the organizers and see if you couldn't set up a booth...just because there weren't crafts doesn't mean there couldn't be. The Old Town Alexandria farmers market did have lots and lots and lots of art, crafts, etc.--but they are a hard market to get in to...but worth it if you can. VERY busy and popular market. The prices on food are actually better at the Old Town farmers market than in Del Ray (more competition among vendors). Remember that upcycled and handmade, local, one-of-a-kind is "in" right now, so it is cool to be seen with custom hair accessories, bags, jewelry...as long as it is really good quality. :) I'd go so far as to say that organics/earth friendly/goods with a conscience are the status symbols in Del Ray. It's a very cool place. :)

 

The DC area is very expensive but there are a lot of freebies (the national zoo, the Smithsonion Complex, etc.)..we liked it there a lot. The only reason we moved was to start an organic free-range farm. 

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#13 of 41 Old 04-08-2011, 04:38 PM
 
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I could have written this post!!! I am basically in the EXACT same situation as you, with just about the same estimate of things. If we both move, could we please be friends?? redface.gif

 

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Originally Posted by bluedaisy View Post

My Dh got a job offer in DC and we are considering moving to NOVA.  My parents and sister live in NOVA but it's not where I grew up.  My family is very mainstream and my parents live in a pretty affluent part of NOVA.

 

I realize the area is very diverse and I'm sure there are lots of sub-communities, but my overall experience of the area has been negative in that the people I've met have very different values than we have.

 

My impression of the area is that it's fast-paced, high stress, too much traffic, lots of wealth, crazy high cost of living, status-conscious, and materialistic.  I realize that's a huge generalization and there are pockets that don't fit this description at all.

 

Are there areas of NOVA that are known for being more "crunchy"?  Are there areas where it would be possible to live simply and comfortably on one modest income?

 

We live simply, parent AP style, try to avoid consumerism, eat healthy, live "green", etc.  The area where we are now (Harrisonburg) is a good fit for us and I honestly am not excited about possibly moving to DC, but it would be a good opportunity for DH.

 



 


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#14 of 41 Old 04-08-2011, 04:40 PM
 
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I'm in the same boat as you too. Potential friends? shy.gif

 

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I came here with basically the same question. My hubby may have a job offer just outside of DC. We would also be planning to live on a single income.

 

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#15 of 41 Old 04-08-2011, 05:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Youngspiritmom - that would be great!!  Please keep in touch and pm me when you know for sure if you'll be moving there - same with you Allisonrose!  It would be great to know a few moms in the same situation :)


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#16 of 41 Old 04-09-2011, 01:32 PM
 
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Definitely! My hubby got the offer for sure but is delaying on accepting it because he doesn't truly want to leave Cali. He would start on May 9th if he accepts the offer. We are planning that I will go visit my family in New England for a week or two while he finds a place to live and unpack a bit.

 

He will be working out of Mclean,VA so we are looking to stay within a reasonable distance. Housing costs there are crazy! A neat site to look for rentals is zillow.com. You can choose parameters and then move out from your "target" place.


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#17 of 41 Old 04-09-2011, 02:25 PM
 
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Allisonrose--Mclean (Tysons Corner, Tysons) is AWFUL. NOT a place to live at all; it is all business buildings, malls and insane traffic; no housing. Some condos and apartments but the area is NOT walkable at all; it is a nightmare. It's like someone plopped some office buildings and two malls in the middle of an interstate. And there is NO decent public transit there. The Fairfax Connector goes in and out of Tysons but it isn't a very good public transit IMO...so it is OK for getting to/from work, but not for your day-to-day needs.  

 

My husband worked out of McLean there for a year; we lived in Herndon (Lake Anne) when my husband worked in Mclean. Lake Anne is BEAUTIFUL, lots of walking trails and a HUGE farmers market in the plazza...free concerts in the plazza..juts a fun place to be. Reminds me of Europe. There are condos, townhouses, etc for rent there and for pretty good prices (our 2 bedroom was 1500/month in 2008)...Lake Anne is very walkable; 1 mile up the trails to Reston Town Center (outdoor mall; groceries); a couple public swimming pools are walking distance. There are several parks within very short walks...it was a fun place to be a SAHM to my then-4 year old.  There is also a GREAT used children's clothing store in the Lake Anne Plazza...we got tons of good stuff there, sold stuff, even bought some hand-me-down toys. 

 

There was a wild, unkept community garden on the lake (herbs, mostly)...maybe the result of some guerilla gardeners?...and tons of playgrounds/play equipment throughout the woods/trails. Lots of wildlife, too. Deer, turtles, etc...there is even a sandy beach area...

 

We didn't have a car, so my husband took the bus to Tysons everyday--45 min each way--but he got a lot of reading/emailing/etc. done on the bus. :) At the time the cost was about $6/day for the commute, but rates have gone up since then. DH says it is probably closer to $10/day for the commute now (but really, that's still cheaper than dealing with paying for parking in Tysons). 

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*Tysons, Herndon, etc. don't have subway...the only public transit is bus...the nearest subway is in West Falls Church, about a 20min bus ride from Tysons to West Falls Church. HOWEVER. the subway is supposed to be built and usable in Tysons in 3+years...so...there's that to look forward to. 

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#19 of 41 Old 04-10-2011, 07:17 AM
 
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Thanks for all of the info, professormama! It is all so helpful. I've been out to the area a few times since DH's family is out there and the things you are saying are right. Especially your description of the Tyson's area....so true! Not my style. Personally, I'll be scoping out the thrift shops. thumb.gif


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#20 of 41 Old 04-10-2011, 09:49 AM
 
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I'm going to have to disagree with the description of McLean.  Yes, part of it is exactly as described (the Tysons section) but the majority of it is filled with housing (and trees).  There are condos, towns and SFH (both big and small).


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#21 of 41 Old 04-10-2011, 11:18 AM
 
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I thought Mclean WAS Tysons--no?? When we lived there that was my impression...There is a family-friendly, affordable part of Mclean? Where? Do you mean Herndon/Reston/Lake Anne/ those other towns nearby-ish? 

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#22 of 41 Old 04-11-2011, 09:30 AM
 
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Thank you all for this very helpful thread! My family and I will be returning to NoVA/Metro DC this summer after a few years (and a baby!) away, and it is great to hear of some AP and "crunchy" mamas who are or who will be in the area!

 

I was excited to hear of the Babywearing group (though it seems that the regular meetings might be a little further into VA than DD and I will be able to go by public transit) and have made note of the local LLL offerings, but I was wondering whether there is anything closer to DC or easily Metro-accessible I should plan to check out? I will have some access to a shared car but would like to use it sparingly. Thank you all in advance!


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#23 of 41 Old 04-11-2011, 12:30 PM
 
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My husband worked out of McLean there for a year; we lived in Herndon (Lake Anne) when my husband worked in Mclean. Lake Anne is BEAUTIFUL, lots of walking trails and a HUGE farmers market in the plazza...free concerts in the plazza..juts a fun place to be. Reminds me of Europe. There are condos, townhouses, etc for rent there and for pretty good prices (our 2 bedroom was 1500/month in 2008)...Lake Anne is very walkable; 1 mile up the trails to Reston Town Center (outdoor mall; groceries); a couple public swimming pools are walking distance. There are several parks within very short walks...it was a fun place to be a SAHM to my then-4 year old.  There is also a GREAT used children's clothing store in the Lake Anne Plazza...we got tons of good stuff there, sold stuff, even bought some hand-me-down toys. 


Thanks for the info. There were a few places that we saw in Herndon that we found interesting. My hubby is a bit hesitant since it's close to Dulles. We are a two car family so walkability is a plus but not a necessity. :)

 


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#24 of 41 Old 04-11-2011, 12:54 PM
 
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Wow- I am also in the same boat- my dh is considering a job offer in DC and we are trying to decide if we want to live there.  This discussion is really helpful. He had thought we should look at living in Woodbridge- beause though his job initially will be in downtown- the company has offices in a few places, including Stafford- so figuring out the commute to all the offices might be an issue.  The job would be a great opportunity for dh, but I'm still having a hard time picturing myself living there- and raising 3 kids there.  If we move, we want to make friends with you guys too!


 


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#25 of 41 Old 04-11-2011, 01:35 PM
 
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You also might want to check out Arlington.  GREAT farmer's markets multiple times a week (and a monthly arts and crafts fair), public transit all over the place, and as of this week just getting a bikeshare program.  There is a very cool set of multiuse trails that connect different parts of the county that is very widely used to commute, exercise, etc. Housing costs are kind of all over the board - but there are some affordable parts.  Being so close in has lots of benefits (i.e. biking to DC to work, easy access to transit, ability to go into DC on a whim to check out a museum with kids, etc.)

 

Yes, NOVA has the status-conscious, McMansion types but there are also some really low-key, nice areas and people.  

 

McLean definitely has lots of housing, trees, etc.  The part that borders North Arlington at least has lots of houses.  I'm not really familiar with the rest of McLean.  


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#26 of 41 Old 04-11-2011, 04:17 PM
 
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Thank you all for the advice and please keep it coming.....It is soooooo helpful. And it is comforting to know that there are other mamas looking to move to DC/Nova! grouphug.gif

 

If DH takes the job, we are trying to decide between Alexandria and Arlington. I would love to hear any notions or estimates of these two places and how they compare. What are they known for and what are their main differences?

Summersquash, any tips on where the affordable parts of Arlington are are greatly appreciated. thumbsup.gif Same goes for Alexandria if anyone knows.

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Housing costs are kind of all over the board - but there are some affordable parts.


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#27 of 41 Old 04-11-2011, 04:32 PM
 
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Del Ray is more affordable than Old Town Alexandria; there are condos for about 1200-1400 but you get what you pay for...they are pretty run down. Town houses (with back yards) start around 1500...ours was 1800 (two bedroom, one bath, about 700 sqft but had a great yard and was in a great location 1 block off the mainstreet)

 

Where is the best place to find places listed (available at these prices lol)? Are there websites etc. you recommend? Does Alexandria have a "housing helpers" agency etc. that lists available rentals? Also any specific neighborhoods, apartment, condo, or townhome names are appreciated. You can PM me if you prefer. Thank you. <3
 


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#28 of 41 Old 04-12-2011, 02:26 AM
 
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Quote:
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I thought Mclean WAS Tysons--no?? When we lived there that was my impression...There is a family-friendly, affordable part of Mclean? Where? Do you mean Herndon/Reston/Lake Anne/ those other towns nearby-ish? 


Tysons is a part of McLean but it is only the southern most tip.  WRT family-friendly & affordable...both are pretty subjective terms.  That being said, I would consider it family-friendly.  No, it's not cheap but it's in line w/ the rest of NoVa and has a wide variety of options.

 


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#29 of 41 Old 04-18-2011, 03:08 PM
 
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Forgive the Canadian who doesn't know her geography, but my husband might have a job opportunity in Richmond. I feel very disconnected in Hampton Roads and would love nothing more than to live in a diverse crunchy area. I would like to live close to NOVA area. Is there a community that is closer to Richmond? My husband is willing to sacrifice driving for 1 hr for the sake and sanity of our family. 

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#30 of 41 Old 04-18-2011, 04:37 PM
 
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I am in the same boat!  We live in South FL and just when we have established ourselves and I have found a pediatrician that works with me and doesn't mind reading all about my homeopathic remedies I bring to her to approve for our 16 month old, Lucas, now we are moving to NOVA for my husband's job.  Right now we are in the process of trying to find a townhome in the Ashburn area.  I have been to the library kids' groups a few times while in the area house hunting, but have only met one other friend. 

 

Rebecca

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