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8 Things to Know Before Moving to Great Falls, VA

Written by Brittany Slagle

Before English immigrants came in the 1700s, the Doeg lived for thousands of years at Great Falls. Agricultural endeavors and farms in the vicinity were bolstered in 1785 by the construction of the Patowmack Canal, which ran along the Potomac River close to Great Falls, Virginia.

In the 1800s, Great Falls, Virginia, was a farming and mill town known as Forestville. With the construction of the Great Falls and Old Dominion Railroad in the 1900s, the hamlet underwent a remarkable transformation, allowing its citizens to easily access Washington DC. After becoming an urban center, the town became known as Great Falls in 1955 to honor the Potomac River’s majestic waterfall.

Now a census-designated place, Great Falls is famous for its several parks, the most famous of which is Great Falls Park, which is located on the Potomac River. 

Here are eight things to know before moving to Great Falls, VA.

1. The cost of living is 49% higher than the national average 

Great Falls is among Virginia’s wealthiest neighborhoods. 69% of homes earn more than $200,000 per year, while only 2.3% of the population lives in poverty.

With a cost of living index of 149, Great Falls has a cost of living that would require an annual income of $117,561 ($9,797/month) for a family of four, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Living in this city can be costly, but there are ways to cut costs, such as looking for high-paying jobs in the area and renting instead of buying.

Although there are numerous excellent housing alternatives, this city’s real estate is on the pricier side. Real estate listings in Great Falls have a median price of $1,465,927.

2. A safe city to live in

There are few places in the Washington, DC area as secure as Great Falls. There’s an average of 787 crimes per 100,000 residents, which is 66.1% lower than the U.S. average and 59.3% lower than the state average. 

The violent crime rate is 95 per 100,000 residents, which is 59.4 percent lower than the state average and 74.3 percent lower than the U.S. average. The property crime rate is 692 offenses per 100,000 residents, which is 64.6% lower than the national average and 59.2% lower than the rate in Virginia.

3. Summers are hot while winters are chilly 

Summers in Great Falls are hot and muggy, while winters are cold and snowy. Great Falls experiences its warmest weather in July, with highs of 87 degrees and lows of 77. With a high of 34 degrees and a low of 27, January is the chilliest month. Temperatures rarely rise beyond 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and never drop below freezing in the winter.

Rainfall in Great Falls occurs all year round, with a minimum of six days of precipitation every month. The town gets 35 inches of rain and 19.8 inches of snowfall each year. In as little as a day or two, a foot of snow can fall in Great Falls during a blizzard or other major snowstorm. Be sure to have enough food and warm clothing, such as coats and long-sleeved shirts on hand in case these storms knock out electricity.

4. Work in the service, healthcare, or public administration sector 

The service industry employs the most people in Great Falls, making up over a third of the total workforce. With a share of 10.8%, public administration is the second largest sector. The third largest, with a share of 9.7 percent, is health care. The median salary in these industries is more than $200,000.

Jobs in Great Falls typically pay $28 per hour with a basic salary of $120,000 per year, according to Payscale. Inova Health System, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Amazon are some of the major employers in Great Falls.

5. Fairfax County Public Schools serves the city

When it comes to education, Great Falls is home to just one school district: Fairfax County Public Schools. Great Falls Elementary School is the only school in the neighborhood. The school is a magnet program for students in grades K-6 and stands out from the others thanks to its art enrichment, mentoring, and scientific lab programs. Great Falls Elementary has a 30% better math proficiency rate than the state average, with 81% of pupils testing at or above that level.

There are no public junior highs or senior highs in Great Falls. Cooper Middle School in McLean is one of the top 10 middle schools in Virginia according to US News, and it is where Great Falls Elementary kids attend. A whopping 94% of kids, which is 29 points higher than the state average, show reading competency or above.

Langley High School in McLean is the next stop for Cooper students. Among the top 250 high schools nationwide, it is ranked by US News as the fifth-best in Virginia. The arts and drama programs at Langley High School have won numerous accolades. Model UN, scientific fair, and scientific Olympiad competitions have also produced successful students.

6. A convenient location 

Great Falls is well-known for its prime location. Great Falls is conveniently located near both Dulles International Airport (11 miles) and Tysons Corner (6-10 miles). At Tysons Corner, the county seat of Fairfax, you’ll find a plethora of excellent dining, shopping, and entertainment options.

While you’re still near to all the action, Great Falls offers a more relaxed vibe. Great Falls is primarily served by Route 7, which provides inhabitants with easy access to numerous major areas such as Tysons Corner, Reston, Ashburn, and many more. When you don’t have far to go for anything—work, leisure, or anything else—it’s the best feeling in the world.

7. Eat at Dante Ristorante, The Old Brogue Irish Pub, or Mookie’s BBQ

When it comes to restaurants, Great Falls locals have it easy. Even though there doesn’t appear to be much to do in this little town, you’d be surprised at how many great eateries are here to fulfill any appetite.

Dante Ristorante is a beautiful Victorian spot that provides contemporary takes on traditional Italian dishes. Anyone looking to branch out from the norm can find something to their liking on the menu, which contains both classic and creative meals.

The Old Brogue Irish Pub is a great spot for a casual dinner and a pint of beer. Not only does the bar serve traditional Irish fare, but it also has a large selection of beers from across the world.

Indulge in some mouthwatering barbecue at the vibrant Mookie’s BBQ! A selection of smoked meats, along with sides and sweets, are available at this restaurant.

Popular among the locals is Bollywood Bistro, a modern Indian eatery. Anyone interested in trying some new Indian food will find a wide variety of options on the menu, including both classic and contemporary dishes.

8. Take in the natural environment at Great Falls Park

Thanks to its central location, Great Falls makes it easy to enjoy nature. Living so close to Great Falls Park and the Potomac River means that locals never have to go far to see nature.

This gorgeous area is perfect for a wide variety of outdoor pursuits, including hiking, biking, fishing, and kayaking. There are a variety of hiking paths in Great Falls Park, from easy to quite challenging, for individuals who like a good challenge. There are countless possibilities for exploration throughout the miles of trails at Scott’s Run Nature Preserve, making it another appealing spot.

In Conclusion 

Great Falls, VA, offers a rich history, beautiful natural surroundings, and a high standard of living. However, the cost of living is significantly higher than the national average, and winters can be cold and snowy. 

Despite this, the city boasts a low crime rate, excellent schools, and convenient access to Washington, DC, making it an attractive option for those seeking a safe and comfortable lifestyle. 

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