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Welcome to Fairfax Underground, a project site designed to improve communication among residents of Fairfax County, VA. Feel free to post anything Northern Virginia residents would find interesting.
Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: abcd ()
Date: December 11, 2008 02:10PM

My husband and I are looking to buy a house in Fairfax county. We a re a young couple just starting out and want to get into FC for the great schools and proximity to DC.

About us:

-we are bored by typical suburban neighborhoods (I grew up in one (; )
-we'd be transplants from DC by way of PW county - we appreciate culture, education, etc.
-we have two young children and would like a house with 2-4 bedrooms.
- we are in the preliminary stages of looking in the county, any input would be nice

I don't know if this is enough info. Probably not... but just let me know if you know of any hidden gems of areas.
Thanks.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: TheMeeper ()
Date: December 11, 2008 02:16PM

If typical suburbs bore you, Fairfax county is probably the wrong place to be looking. It's one giant, overwhelming suburb. Check out Arlington instead.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: WTWOODSON ()
Date: December 11, 2008 02:18PM

Fairfax City is nice. The surrounding area of the WT WOODSON highschool is nice too.
Next is Burke. Lake Braddock is a good school.

Try to avoid Fairfax highschool.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: Certinho ()
Date: December 11, 2008 02:24PM

You should check the city-data.com forum for information on this topic. There are dozens of posts by people from different parts of the country thinking of relocating to NoVa.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: Gravis ()
Date: December 11, 2008 02:26PM

anywhere in hybla valley.


"the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish."095042938540

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: Gary ()
Date: December 11, 2008 02:29PM

Having moved from Arlington to Fairfax near WT Woodson I'd agree that the WT Woodson area is a good choice. We were reluctant to leave Arlington, but with kids that were entering school, we wanted the Woodson pyramid. We have found that many of our neighbors are just like us -- liked living near DC with all the opportunities but had kids, moved to FFCo, and bought a house in a great school district.By the way, Housing is MUCH more reasonable than in Arlington.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: CliftonResident ()
Date: December 11, 2008 02:30PM

If you are open to living in an older house, check out historic Clifton. There are a number of unique turn of the century houses for sale right now for reasonable prices. It's a good environment for children too with playgrounds and parks right in the town. This web site has pictures and informations about every house in town.

http://www.historicclifton.org/building.htm

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: efgh ()
Date: December 11, 2008 02:55PM

Maybe try the Vienna area? While it is a suburb, it surrounds a busy town and road (Chain Bridge), has parts of it that are very pretty and not too noisy, and is close to cities such as Fairfax. Also, it has a few good high schools within its district. Those high schools are Oakton HS (one of the more historic high schools in the county; ever seen 'Remember the Titans'? It was one of the high schools in the movie), James Madison HS, and Marshall HS. There is also a metro stop near Oakton HS, so it is a bit easier to get to and fro DC by that method of travel as well. The hosuing prices are not the cheapest in the County, but run fairly the same as do prices of houses in places such as Chantilly (which feeds into Chantilly HS and Westfield HS) and Centreville (which feeds into Centreville HS and Westfield HS).

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: formerhick76 ()
Date: December 11, 2008 02:59PM

I'll have to agree with TheMeeper, Fairfax gets its good vibes from being safe and a typical suburb.

If you can afford North Arlington by all means try there.

Langley and McLean are the best high schools in Fairfax, probably. If you can
find something there at a reasonable price by all means do it.

Other places to consider:
Falls Church City
Town of Vienna
Fairfax City - downside, Fairfax HS, the area east of Fairfax City zones to Woodson and is nice
Town of Herndon
Reston - if you can tolerate your kids going to South Lakes

Reston is anything but a 'typical suburb' but South Lakes (the high school for Reston) is one of the laggard high schools in the county.

One final thing: Investigate the entire school pyramid. I have several friends/acquaintances who didn't realize their kids would be going to Stuart, South Lakes, West Potomac, or the other FCPS high schools generally seen as laggards, since they only looked at elementary schools.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: MrSuburbia ()
Date: December 11, 2008 03:01PM

Gee,

You'd need to provide a lot more to narrow it down as there'd be a 100 neighborhoods in FFXCO that might meet your needs - all of which are terribly suburban. If you want something between city/suburbs - I'd agree with previous post to look into Arlington and expect to pay a lot for a SFH.

Thing is, you can always get downtown or to Arlington in a relatively short amount of time (non-rush hr) from FFXCO if you want to eat out, go to the theater, etc. Then again, FFX and Tysons have some opportunities for good food and theater. I'd start with McLean (if you have money) and then look into Fairfax, Vienna, or Oakton if you decide to take advantage of FFXCO and it's good schools. SFH's are still pretty pricey in these areas and start at $500-550K for something close to a teardown.

Areas like Chantilly, Herndon, Centreville and Reston are feasible, but consider that the schools aren't as highly touted, there's some over-development, longer commutes to the city, iffy neighborhoods, etc.

Good luck.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: formerhick76 ()
Date: December 11, 2008 03:27PM

SFH teardowns in the Town of Vienna were going for the low 400s when I was looking in April-May. I looked some more and they are going for about the same. Not sure which of them are short sales (be prepared for frustration with those BTW).

Places in the Town of Vienna move-in condition or near it (e.g. you need to buy a dishwasher) go from the mid 400s for well-kept 1950s ramblers on up to a million plus for some of the nice custom homes.

Reston probably doesn't have the over-development problem that other parts of West Fairfax have.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Date: December 11, 2008 03:34PM

I understand that South Lakes is a trendy and popular school.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: nakedshoplifter ()
Date: December 11, 2008 03:46PM

Annandale

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: XColumbiaPike ()
Date: December 11, 2008 03:50PM

TheMeeper Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> If typical suburbs bore you, Fairfax county is
> probably the wrong place to be looking. It's one
> giant, overwhelming suburb. Check out Arlington
> instead.

Only illegal immigrants and queers live in Arlington. The last straight
couple who speak English moved to FFx 20 years ago.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: XColumbiaPike ()
Date: December 11, 2008 03:52PM

From an old post, but true:

Mattel recently announced the release of Limited-Edition NoVa Barbie dolls for the Northern Virginia market:

McLean Barbie:
This princess Barbie is only sold at Neiman's in Tysons II. She comes with an assortment of Kate Spade handbags, a Lexus SUV, a long-haired dog named Honey, and a cookie-cutter house. She despises the traffic, but is sure that someday Tyson's Corner will be the new downtown Chicago! Available with or without tummy tuck and face lift. Workaholic Ken sold only in conjunction with "augmented" version.

Falls Church Barbie:
This modern-day homemaker Barbie is available with Ford Windstar minivan and matching velour gym suit. She gets lost easily and has no full time occupation or secondary education. Instead she's taking an online course in Easy Spanish to learn to communicate with her neighbors. Traffic-jamming cell phone included, headset sold separately.

Manassas Barbie:
This recently paroled former "Porn Actress" Barbie comes with a 9mm handgun, a Ray Lewis knife, a Chevy with dark tinted windows, and a methlab kit. This model is only available after dark and can only be paid for in cash. Preferably small, untraceable bills. Unless you are a cop, then we don't know what you are talking about. Her boyfriend Ken works at the local sleazy tattoo shop and prefers her to stay blonde.

Great Falls Barbie:
This yuppie Barbie comes with your choice of BMW convertible or Hummer H2. Included are her own Venti Starbucks cup, Visa Platinum card, and country club membership. Also available for this set are Shallow Ken and Private School Skipper. You won't be able to afford any of them. See you on the bottom 9!

Reston Barbie:
This former Dot Com Barbie cashed in her options before the bust and now "works from home doing freelance consulting" until the kids get older. She comes with a huge dream house on a tiny lot, and she channels her formidable energy and intellect managing the extensive social and athletic activities of her three kids, each of whom plays two sports, takes piano and karate, and is on the chess club. A member of the PTA, this Barbie is famous for running her daughter's Brownie troop like a Fortune 500 company ("Do we really have a solid ROI on Girl Scout cookies?"). Her greatest personal accomplishment this year was outmaneuvering the other uber-mommies to be
selected as Room Mother for her son's second-grade class. She comes with AOL Ken, accessorized with a Porsche, giant gas grill, and flat-screen TV equipped with Tivo.

Woodbridge Barbie:
This paler model comes dressed in her own Wrangler jeans two sizes too small, a NASCAR shirt, and Tweety Bird tattoo on her shoulder. She has a six-pack of Coors Light and a Hank Williams, Jr. CD set. She comes with a Hooters uniform, and a bottle of hair bleach. She can spit over 5 feet and kick mullet-haired Ken's ass when she is drunk. Select dolls come with prefered black boyfriend Kendall, complete with oversized white tee and chains to his knees. Purchase her pickup truck separately and get a HOTTIE bumper sticker absolutely free.

Sterling Barbie:
This collagen-injected, rhinoplastic Barbie wears a leopard print bikini outfit and drinks cosmopolitans while entertaining friends at the McMansion. Careful taking this one in the bathtub, her bottle tan might streak. Percocet prescription available.

Leesburg Barbie:
This tobacco chewing, brassy-haired Barbie has a pair of her own high-heeled sandals with one broken heel from the time she chased Beer-Gut Ken out of Fontana Barbie's house. Her ensemble includes low-rise acid-washed jeans, fake fingernails, plenty of hairspray and a see-through halter top. Also available with a mobile home.

North Arlington Barbie:
This doll is made of actual tofu. She has long straight brown hair,
archless feet, hairy armpits, no makeup, and Birkenstocks with white socks. She prefers that you call her "Willow". She does not want or need a Ken doll, but you if purchase two North Arlington Barbie's and the optional Subaru wagon, you get a rainbow flag sticker for free.

South Arlington Barbie:
This Spanish-speaking-only Barbie comes with a 1984 Toyota with expired temporary plates and three baby Barbies in the back seat, but no car seats. The optional Ken doll comes with a paint-bucket lunch pail and is missing three fingers on his left hand. Green cards are not available for South Arlington Barbie or Ken.

Fairfax Barbie:
This multicultural Barbie takes classes at GMU or NOVA on Mondays. She takes advantage of all the happy hour deals Fairfax has to offer. She loves 1/2 priced burgers at Brion's Grille on Tuesdays. On Wednesdays, she gets 50 cent tacos at Carlos O'Kelly's. She frequents Patriot's Cafe for cheap pitchers of Miller Lite Barbie-Sing-a-Long Karaoke on Thursday nights. Friday night is spent at TGI Friday's until South Arlington Ken arrives and buys her a drink. She doesn't remember Saturday night, except for cussing out a Fairfax County Police officer at a checkpoint on Rt. 123 & Braddock Rd. Sundays are set aside for church service, homework, and Campus Ken.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Date: December 11, 2008 04:04PM

XColumbiaPike Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> TheMeeper Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > If typical suburbs bore you, Fairfax county is
> > probably the wrong place to be looking. It's
> one
> > giant, overwhelming suburb. Check out
> Arlington
> > instead.
>
> Only illegal immigrants and queers live in
> Arlington. The last straight
> couple who speak English moved to FFx 20 years
> ago.

Those illegals are the nannies for the queers adopted children.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Date: December 11, 2008 04:07PM

I believe Manassas Barbie and Woodbridge Barbie are interchangeable.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: TheMeeper ()
Date: December 11, 2008 04:19PM

XColumbiaPike Wrote:
>>> Manassas Barbie:
>
> a Ray Lewis knife,



This part makes me laugh every time I see it

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: Fairfax HS Defender ()
Date: December 11, 2008 06:11PM

Town of Vienna - downsides, south part of Town has some seedy areas (overcrowded apartment complexes and old 50s style ramblers in need of fresh coat of paint and some TLC); all of Town feeds into Madison HS, which may be better than South Lakes, but is coasting on past glories and needs a shake-up; tends to attract former hicks who have become FFX know-it-alls in mid-life.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: Berdhuis ()
Date: December 11, 2008 06:16PM

Herndon, just south of the Troll Road, over by the Shopper's Food Warehouse. We have the whole world represented here and would gladly welcome a lovely family such as yours!

Nearby is Frying Pan Park, a wonderful farm animal park with weekly equestrian events. There are sports leagues everywhere here, so the children can stay occupied playing any sport they desire - including martial arts.

If you wind up high enough on the local hill elevation, you also get a good view of Dulles Airport and its new tower, watching over all of us like Sauron.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: Awakened ()
Date: December 11, 2008 06:30PM

Berdhuis Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> If you wind up high enough on the local hill
> elevation, you also get a good view of Dulles
> Airport and its new tower, watching over all of us
> like Sauron.





Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/11/2008 06:30PM by Awakened.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: Berdhuis ()
Date: December 11, 2008 10:06PM

LOL, Awakened! Oh, you're just hilarious! I like it - funny thing is that I kind of regret making the Sauron analogy. So dark. I actually like the view of the airport from the soccer fields at McNair ES, and consider the tower a 'friend', rather than a menace...

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: Awakened ()
Date: December 11, 2008 10:25PM

here's a panorama taken from the roof of the tower.

http://flickr.com/photos/phat104u/3078659813/in/set-72157600074427519/

30,000 x 4459 pixels. it'll take a little while to load. but it's worth it. you can see the monument.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Date: December 11, 2008 10:32PM

Fairfax HS Defender Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Town of Vienna - downsides, south part of Town has
> some seedy areas (overcrowded apartment complexes
> and old 50s style ramblers in need of fresh coat
> of paint and some TLC); all of Town feeds into
> Madison HS, which may be better than South Lakes,
> but is coasting on past glories and needs a
> shake-up; tends to attract former hicks who have
> become FFX know-it-alls in mid-life.


i understand a house became available there this week.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: Bob ()
Date: December 11, 2008 10:50PM

It's not NOVA, but you said you aren't big on suburban type places, so if you can afford it, look at AU Park in DC. Obviously the downside is that it's DC public schools, but if you can afford AU Park, you can probably afford to send your kids to a private school.

I rented a house there years ago. It's quiet, sort of out of the way but you can be in downtown DC in less than 15 minutes during rush hour. You can walk up to Wisconsin Ave to shop either at Tenleytown (Best Buy, CVS, dry cleaners, liquor stores, whole foods) or at Chevy Chase/Friendship Heights (Macys, Neimann Marcus, pottery barn, etc.), there's a wagshalls and other shops right on Mass Ave, and you're close to all the restaurants along Wisconsin or in Downtown Bethesda. Plus it's a very safe area. We never even locked our doors, and I'd leave my car unlocked in my garage and most of the time even forgot to close the garage door.

Though it is pretty pricey. I think you can get an unrenovated house for around $850k, and all the renovated ones are probably going for well over a million now.

But if you really don't want to live in another indistinguishable suburban neighborhood, AU Park is a good place to check out. There's a lot going on all around it, but when you're in the neighborhood itself, it's quiet, lots of trees, several parks and playgrounds, and you'd never know there was so much going on just outside the neighborhood.

And if AU Park is too pricey, you can probably find slightly cheaper homes in Cathedral Heights or the neighborhoods across Wisconsin (between Connecticut Ave and Wisc Ave)

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: Bob ()
Date: December 11, 2008 10:57PM

WashingTone Locian Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Fairfax HS Defender Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Town of Vienna - downsides, south part of Town
> has
> > some seedy areas (overcrowded apartment
> complexes
> > and old 50s style ramblers in need of fresh
> coat
> > of paint and some TLC); all of Town feeds into
> > Madison HS, which may be better than South
> Lakes,
> > but is coasting on past glories and needs a
> > shake-up; tends to attract former hicks who
> have
> > become FFX know-it-alls in mid-life.
>
>
> i understand a house became available there this
> week.

It's really not in Vienna, it's out past Meadowlark Park, I think it overlooks the Toll Road. It's just in the Vienna Zip Code. It's almost as close to Reston as it is to Vienna.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: GO AWAY! ()
Date: December 12, 2008 12:16AM

Trust me, you don't want to live here. The Shenandoah Valley is absolutely beautiful, and it is mostly white. You'd love it out there. NOVA sucks. It is not the REAL Virginia.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: Bob ()
Date: December 12, 2008 12:57AM

GO AWAY! Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Trust me, you don't want to live here. The
> Shenandoah Valley is absolutely beautiful, and it
> is mostly white. You'd love it out there. NOVA
> sucks. It is not the REAL Virginia.


Yeah, but without it, "the REAL virginia" would be worse off economically than West Virginia. But I guess anyone who thinks the way you do would think that's actually a good thing.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: trogdor! ()
Date: December 12, 2008 01:17AM

abcd Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> My husband and I are looking to buy a house in
> Fairfax county. We a re a young couple just
> starting out and want to get into FC for the great
> schools and proximity to DC.


Ok, you left out some really critical details which would help us find you a good place to live:

1) How much do you want to spend on a house? Depends on where you're coming from but you could be in for some sticker shock. If I had to move somewhere right now, I'd probably be right here: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=henderson+rd.+fairfax+vA&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=34.176059,56.25&ie=UTF8&ll=38.750937,-77.311413&spn=0.002054,0.003433&t=h&z=18&lci=lmc:panoramio%3E

However, that's like a MEEEL-YON dollars...lolz. Probably closer to $3 million.

2) How crime averse are you? Do you mind the occasion shooting in your neighborhood? The random home invasion? That will rule out South County and other places.....

BTW, the best sites for house hunting in these parts are:

http://www.franklymls.com/ (Frank is going to Dominate eventually)
http://www.redfin.com/home

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: Bob ()
Date: December 12, 2008 01:32AM

trogdor! Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> BTW, the best sites for house hunting in these
> parts are:
>
> http://www.franklymls.com/ (Frank is going to
> Dominate eventually)
> http://www.redfin.com/home

This is also useful, the ffx county tax assessments database:

http://icare.fairfaxcounty.gov/Main/Home.aspx

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: formerhick76 ()
Date: December 12, 2008 08:43AM

I apologize for considering Fairfax HS a blight.

Fairfax HS Defender Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Town of Vienna - downsides, south part of Town has
> some seedy areas (overcrowded apartment complexes
> and old 50s style ramblers in need of fresh coat
> of paint and some TLC); all of Town feeds into
> Madison HS, which may be better than South Lakes,
> but is coasting on past glories and needs a
> shake-up; tends to attract former hicks who have
> become FFX know-it-alls in mid-life.

Wait, Fairfax City doesn't have 50s ramblers and shitty apartment complexes? The 50s ramblers are all over: some are better-kept than others of course.

Providence Elementary 4 of 10 on Greatschools.net (uses SOL scores to compare schools)
Daniels Run Elementary 6 of 10
Lanier Middle 8 of 10
Fairfax High 8 of 10

Vienna Elementary 8 of 10
Cunningham Park 4 of 10
Louise Archer 9 of 10
Marshall Road 5 of 10
Thoreau Middle 10 of 10
James Madison High 9 of 10

Just for this year's bragging rights:
10: TJ
9: Langley, Madison
8: West Springfield, McLean, Robinson, Fairfax, Woodson, Oakton, Lake Braddock
7: South County, Marshall, Chantilly
6: Herndon, Centreville, Westfields
5: Edison, South Lakes
4: Hayfield, Lee, Annandale, West Potomac, Stuart
3: Mount Vernon, Falls Church

(FWIW, I went to a school which got a 3 on greatschools.net)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/12/2008 08:46AM by formerhick76.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: cutie ()
Date: December 12, 2008 09:11AM

you can come live in our basement..my spouse and i have been looking for a couple to have group sex with

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: Fairfax HS Defender ()
Date: December 12, 2008 12:07PM

formerhick76 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I apologize for considering Fairfax HS a blight.
>
> Fairfax HS Defender Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Town of Vienna - downsides, south part of Town
> has
> > some seedy areas (overcrowded apartment
> complexes
> > and old 50s style ramblers in need of fresh
> coat
> > of paint and some TLC); all of Town feeds into
> > Madison HS, which may be better than South
> Lakes,
> > but is coasting on past glories and needs a
> > shake-up; tends to attract former hicks who
> have
> > become FFX know-it-alls in mid-life.
>
> Wait, Fairfax City doesn't have 50s ramblers and
> shitty apartment complexes? The 50s ramblers are
> all over: some are better-kept than others of
> course.
>
> Providence Elementary 4 of 10 on Greatschools.net
> (uses SOL scores to compare schools)
> Daniels Run Elementary 6 of 10
> Lanier Middle 8 of 10
> Fairfax High 8 of 10
>
> Vienna Elementary 8 of 10
> Cunningham Park 4 of 10
> Louise Archer 9 of 10
> Marshall Road 5 of 10
> Thoreau Middle 10 of 10
> James Madison High 9 of 10
>
> Just for this year's bragging rights:
> 10: TJ
> 9: Langley, Madison
> 8: West Springfield, McLean, Robinson, Fairfax,
> Woodson, Oakton, Lake Braddock
> 7: South County, Marshall, Chantilly
> 6: Herndon, Centreville, Westfields
> 5: Edison, South Lakes
> 4: Hayfield, Lee, Annandale, West Potomac, Stuart
> 3: Mount Vernon, Falls Church
>
> (FWIW, I went to a school which got a 3 on
> greatschools.net)

Yeah, it kinda shows.

I don't think TJ's bragging rights are based on how many of its students pass SOLs, which are pretty basic tests. If the fact that a lot of rich kids at Madison pass SOLs makes you feel good about Madison these days, though, great. BTW, parents only gave it two stars out of five on the GreatSchools site, so they don't seem all that happy with the environment.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: Berdhuis ()
Date: December 12, 2008 12:45PM

Awakened Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> here's a panorama taken from the roof of the
> tower.
>
> http://flickr.com/photos/phat104u/3078659813/in/se
> t-72157600074427519/
>
> 30,000 x 4459 pixels. it'll take a little while to
> load. but it's worth it. you can see the monument.


Awesome picture, are all of these yours? I'd like to download the full size image if possible (promise not to use)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/12/2008 12:55PM by Berdhuis.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: Bounce House ()
Date: December 12, 2008 01:06PM

Aside from your housing price range, you really need to think about commutes to work. Traffic can be brutal depending on where you work and live. Is Metrorail an option?

BTW, we are alo urbanites that moved to a SFH in Vienna and are bored to tears living in the 'burbs. But, its a great place for our little ones. Though DC is not far away, we rarely make it into the city. With young kids and traffic, attending the happenings in DC end up being more of a chore than fun sometimes. If I had a do-over, I'd seriously consider a condo in Clarendon instead.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: formerhick76 ()
Date: December 12, 2008 02:32PM

Fairfax HS Defender Wrote:
> Yeah, it kinda shows.

Why the snark? I took back my slap against Fairfax HS, I was wrong in saying what I said. On the other hand, you seem to have taken it personally -- if someone said my alma mater sucked academically, I wouldn't take it the way you seem to be taking it.

> I don't think TJ's bragging rights are based on
> how many of its students pass SOLs, which are
> pretty basic tests. If the fact that a lot of
> rich kids at Madison pass SOLs makes you feel good
> about Madison these days, though, great. BTW,
> parents only gave it two stars out of five on the
> GreatSchools site, so they don't seem all that
> happy with the environment.

Because the opinions of 5-10 anonymous parents (some of which are more than 5 years old) matter more than a school's performance on 'pretty basic tests.'

On the venerable Challenge Index:
17 Fairfax Fairfax 3.429 0.44 0.20
32 James Madison Fairfax 3.027 0.55 0.06

But tell me -- without resorting to personal attacks -- why Fairfax HS is better than Madison HS.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: Awakened ()
Date: December 12, 2008 02:41PM

Berdhuis Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Awesome picture, are all of these yours? I'd like
> to download the full size image if possible
> (promise not to use)

No, these belong to a friend of mine. You'll have to add him on Flickr. then you'll be able to view the fullsize. it's massive. Sorry. If it were mine i'd give it to you.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: Fairfax HS Defender ()
Date: December 12, 2008 06:23PM

formerhick76 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Why the snark? I took back my slap against Fairfax
> HS, I was wrong in saying what I said. On the
> other hand, you seem to have taken it personally
> -- if someone said my alma mater sucked
> academically, I wouldn't take it the way you seem
> to be taking it.

OK, I'll bite. It's hardly a take-back to apologize for calling Fairfax HS a "blight." More like you're congratulating yourself for your own whimsy.

>
>
> Because the opinions of 5-10 anonymous parents
> (some of which are more than 5 years old) matter
> more than a school's performance on 'pretty basic
> tests.'

The posts I cited were from the last two years. I didn't check the complaints about Madison from five years ago.

>
> On the venerable Challenge Index:
> 17 Fairfax Fairfax 3.429 0.44 0.20
> 32 James Madison Fairfax 3.027 0.55
> 0.06
>
> But tell me -- without resorting to personal
> attacks -- why Fairfax HS is better than Madison
> HS.

I didn't say Fairfax was better than Madison. It's a good school just like Chantilly and Westfield are (OK, sports teams at Fairfax aren't as good). What does tick me off, though, is when someone who apparently didn't grow up in the area, and probably doesn't even have kids in high school yet casually engages in a form of conversational red-lining to discourage people from living in areas that feed into schools that are not as affluent and wealthy as Madison or a small handful of other FFX schools.

I'd actually be more sympathetic if you were singing the praises of WT Woodson, which clearly is a top school (even though it's a Rebel rival!). But Madison's main selling point these days seems to be the affluence of its student body. From what I can tell, many of the parents seem seriously disenchanted with the education that "average" students at Madison receive and test scores are down. At Fairfax, the administration acknowledges the challenges the school faces - look at the school's web page, and you'll see that the principal's report is available for the world to review, warts and all.

I don't see any evidence of a similar openness at Madison or willingness to consider the school's weaknesses. Instead, the Vienna residents constantly tell others to stay away from Fairfax (higher on Challenge Index than Madison), avoid South Lakes like the plague, let your kid attend Marshall (higher on Challenge Index and SATs than Madison) if you must, and hire armed bodyguards if your kids attend Stuart or West Potomac. It seems silly and pretentious at the same time.

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Re: Help us find a great place to live in NoVa
Posted by: formerhick76 ()
Date: December 12, 2008 10:20PM

Fairfax HS Defender: Thank you for the well-reasoned response as opposed to the snark. It is, perhaps, more than I deserve.

I do disagree, however, with your contention that not being a Fairfax native disqualifies me from commenting on Fairfax schools.

Like it or not, some of the high schools (and hence feeders) in Fairfax are better -- in terms of student safety, test/SAT scores, administration quality, etc., -- than others. With that said, (1) the low end of Fairfax schools are probably better than the majority of other schools around the country and are hardly dangerous and (2) some schools may have a undeservedly high reputation.

Parental involvement is also key -- the OP can't just move to Great Falls and go on auto-pilot because her kids are going to Langley. There are pitfalls and dangers that await Saxons as well as Seahawks.

These factors are changeable over the years -- if the current trend away form far-flung suburbs continues, Falls Church and Stuart could be the top schools in Fairfax in 10-15 years and West Potomac, Westfields, and Centreville could be at the bottom.

Principals come and go, and for all I know, the principal at Vienna Elementary in 4-5 years may be a complete jackass and I'd have been better off staying in South Arlington (Wakefield's higher on the Challenge Index than most Fairfax schools.) It is even more of a crapshoot how my daughter's middle and high school experience will go.

I have seen the accusations of Madison 'punching below its weight' and at least with SAT scores this accusation has been true. Apparently for 2008-09, it's improved the SOL scores to where they should be (Madison is probably the 3rd most affluent school in the county.)

with that said, should the OP look into the Langley/McLean zones? Sure.

If it means they'll be eating Ramen noodles and considering a $100 car repair to be an utter financial disaster, it's not worth it. They (and their kid/kids) would be better off living in a nice house in Reston and seeing their kids go to the South Lakes pyramid.

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