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I have gotten a position with the DOA at the Ft. Belvoir Hospital. I dont know much about the area or surrounding area. Can anyone tell me 1. about the commute 2. good neighborhoods 3.good school (i have a 10 yo) i currently live in Omaha, NE and would like to stay in an area about the same size and activity level as omaha. (omaha has about 400k pop.) we are looking for a 3 bedroom, 2 bath single family home with an attached garage and basement. we would like to spend no more than 2k/month. we want to wait a while before we buy anything. Please any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

5 REPLIES

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Travel / commute back and forth to the Hospital at Ft Belvoir will be hectic, as many folks live in that area and drive to Washington DC / Arlington, VA and Maryland areas daily. Traffic is a huge pain, if not planned for. Traffic is so heavy that it is bumper-to-bumper start and go daily. 5 mile trip may take you half hour or more. 10 to 15 mile trip may take you up to an hour. Especially, Interstate 95 and US highway 1 that are the only two main north / south roads. There aren't any "bad" neighborhoods in the Northern Virginia area near Ft Belvoir. Due to the recent Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), Ft Belvoir grew and is growing by about 10,000 new troops, family, employees. Much of the surrounding community is fairly new (last few years). Thus, lots of new houses, apartments, condos, schools, and infrastructure... and some still being built. Schools in Virginia are basically at the county-level; i.e. Arlington County schools or Fairfax County schools or Prince William County schools, etc. Arlington is large urban city right across river from DC. The whole corridor south from DC through Arlington and further along Interstate 95 / US HWY 1 becomes suburbs,and it is suburb-like at Fort Belvoir area, and then if you continue south it becomes smaller towns (some rural) as you near Stafford. The closer you are to Arlington, the more diverse the population. The further south from Arlington, the more typical population you would find in Iowa or Nebraska. All the public schools are in top tier and get nationally ranked for last 10+ years. Prices for rent or purchase of homes is directly related to how close you are to the Arlington / DC area; i.e. closer is more $$.
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Your price would be good for a home in Stafford, VA. It's right down I-95 and isn't a bad commute to Fort Belvoir. Check on militarybyowner.com or any other site for some good information. Let's just say the further south you go, the more you get for your money. I think Fredericksburg is too far south for you, but any further north and you are going to be paying a lot more than 2K. I hope this helps!
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I would add to tkennedy's suggestion by saying to go to the AHRN website, there are a few homes that you can view pictures, price, and check the distance to the hospital. Depending on your preference, there are a few gems within the Springfield/Alexandria area (10-15 min from hospital) It might be better to try something in southern Maryland so you can go against "some" of the traffic, but understand that there is traffic EVERYWHERE.... LOL
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Live on base. The housing is nice, has corian counters and is energy efficient and new. We lived there for a year, about 300 yards from the hospital. If you work at the hospital, you can't beat that commute. Leaving the base was tricky because traffic is heavy at almost all times of the day. Loved living down the street from MT. Vernon and went a few times a month with the children. When we wanted to go into DC to see a museum or tour something, we usually went to one of the farther out Metro stations and parked and rode. Don't miss the National Aquatic Garden or the National Arboretum or the National Air and Space Museum, which is outside the city by the Dulles Airport. So much to see and do there! But if you can, live on base, because $2000 per month won't go very far within many many miles of that area and anywhere you live off base will be an awful commute. My husband worked at the Pentagon and rode the bus which took a very long time but at least he didn't have to drive it himself.
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We tried living in Alexandria for our first year here & it was TERRIBLE! 2 miles away from the Pentagon (my hubby's duty station) & it took him as long to get to work as it does from where we live now (Woodbridge, Va). The rent on the Alexandria Apt (apts are awful) was $500 over our BAH & the traffic to go (directly) across the street to the grocery store would take 15-20 minutes! Woodbridge is actually only about 12-15 miles from Ft Belvoir & will be a lot easier to get to than if you commuted from Alex./Arlington (I am a disabled Vet & get care at Ft Belvioir). It's still a good-sized city with lots of shopping/new mall/rest., good schools, Much Nicer Neighbors, etc. &...we pay Much Less rent for a spacious, new, nice townhouse (2K at "Potomac Club" TH's). No matter where you go in this area, there will be LOTS of traffic, but after looking for a good place to live...twice...I can honestly say you'd both be happier in Woodbridge (2nd would be Lorton, VA). Good Luck!