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10 Things to Know Before Moving to Fairfax, VA

10 Things to Know Before Moving to Fairfax, VA Written by Brittany Slagle

Fairfax is a charming Northern Virginia suburb with a population of over 24,000. Fairfax City’s historic courthouse was built in 1799, a full year before the District of Columbia was established, and serves as the focal point of the city’s walkable downtown.

Fairfax is often considered to be one of the best locations to live in northern Virginia due to its high quality of life, including its excellent schools, gorgeous parks, and growing economy. People may get the suburban feel without venturing too far from the nation’s capital.

Here are ten things to know before moving to Fairfax, VA!

1. The people depend on public transportation

Living in Fairfax provides convenient access to all of Northern Virginia, as well as Maryland and Washington, DC proper. The area’s major roadway arteries include the 395 and 495 beltways and Interstates 66 and 95. However, many workers instead choose to take public transportation. 

Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA) provides service in this area. Many stops on the Metrobus system can be found all across town, and the Vienna/Fairfax/GMU station on the Orange Line provides convenient access to the rest of the city.

At first glance, Fairfax seems completely up-to-date, yet a trip to the city’s historical landmarks will reveal its rich past. You can’t miss the Civil War graffiti at Historic Blenheim, an ancient farmhouse on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra is a regional professional symphony that often performs in the area, making for a pleasant evening out. Virginia’s largest public university, George Mason University, also hosts concerts and other cultural events at its 10,000-seat Center for the Arts and EagleBank Arena.

There are a number of museums and art galleries in Fairfax, many of which include changing exhibitions that are well worth seeing more than once. Monthly displays and twice-yearly special shows are held at the Fairfax Art League gallery, a member cooperative representing 100 area artists. Local history is the focus of the displays at the Fairfax Museum.

3. Get a degree

If you’re looking for a great place to study and earn a degree, go no further than Fairfax! As one of the best college towns in the United States, this city is well-equipped to provide you with the resources you need to maintain your academic standing.

George Mason University plays a significant role in why Fairfax was chosen as one of the top college towns in the United States. This leading public research institution in the state of Virginia is a mecca for scholars and anybody else with an insatiable appetite for learning. Also, Northern Virginia Community College is located near Fairfax, so this is one of the best spots to earn your degree.

4. Historic houses are in high demand

Fairfax has many opportunities for families and young professionals, thanks to its combination of historic buildings, thriving downtown, and year-round cultural offerings.

Yet, Fairfax’s real estate and rental markets are fiercely competitive. There aren’t a lot of new buildings, but the ones available are in high demand because of the high standard of living and convenient location. A few of the houses here have been around since the early 1800s, making them true historic treasures.

5. The elementary and high schools are not bad either

Fairfax is a great place to raise a family because it is home to some of the best schools in the state. In fact, Fairfax High School is one of only 250 high schools in the entire country to achieve the prestigious Gold Award from US News and World Report.

The City of Fairfax owns the 222 public schools within the city limits, but the Fairfax County Public Schools system is responsible for their day-to-day operation and management. FCPS reports that more than 92% of high school seniors in Fairfax County intend to continue their education.

6. You’ll find a diverse range of food options

There is a wide variety of restaurants to choose from in Fairfax, from mom-and-pop shops to high-end eateries serving up exotic cuisines from around the world. You can head to Pho Thang Lak for a bowl of pho or at Chutzpah for New York–style deli food in Fairfax Towne Center. 

For an Italian-themed date, try either Bellissimo or Dolce Vita. While Captain Pell’s serves authentic Chesapeake Bay seafood, if you’re in the mood for Indian food, look no further than Curry Mantra. Instead, Nostos and Le Mediterranean Bistro are excellent choices for an evening out with a Mediterranean twist.

7. Enjoy some nice craft beer

Fairfax is home to two breweries that specialize in producing craft beers. The Ornery Beer Company is a full-service restaurant and pub that combines modern comfort food with house-made ales and lagers. The Chubby Squirrel, on the other hand, offers small plates such as pierogies and poutine to wash down their ales, stout, and IPA. Both establishments are located in the same building. 

Visit High Side, a craft beer bar with a menu that features Asian street food, to taste different beers produced in Virginia.

8. Fairfax is home to unique shopping centers

Fairfax is home to some of the best shopping centers in the greater Washington, DC, area, with the newest being Mosaic, an eclectic district featuring a carefully curated assortment of stores and restaurants situated inside a thoughtfully planned urban environment. In the center of old Fairfax, you’ll find Old Town Plaza, a lively Town Center complete with sidewalk cafes and unique boutiques.

Shop at big retailers and unique local boutiques at Fairfax Corner, a multi-use shopping mall that mimics a traditional American main street. There are also a variety of restaurants and a state-of-the-art movie theater. Macy’s, Sephora, and Pottery Barn are just a few of the more than 160 businesses and eateries found at Fair Oaks Mall.

9. There’s too much traffic

Fairfax’s gridlock is ridiculous. The presence of traffic is constant, regardless of time or location, and there is a lot of aggressive driving here as well.

Traffic in this metropolis may be overwhelming for someone who is not used to it. After some experience, you’ll figure out when the traffic is lightest and when it’s most convenient to make your journey.

10. The cost of living is higher than in the surrounding areas

At an index of 148.2, Fairfax’s cost of living is much higher than the national and state average. The state’s average is only 104.2. Livingcost.org ranks it among the 1% of the most expensive cities in the world.

The city’s median home price is also almost double the national average, at $714,002. Housing is expensive and in high demand in Fairfax.

To Sum it All Up

Living in Fairfax has both its great and not-so-good aspects. Some of the good things about the city include its reliable public transportation, sound school system, lots of good food, and opportunities for shopping. 

However, one should also consider factors such as the terrible traffic and the high cost of living.

Learn More About Living in Fairfax, VA

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