I did a search of the forum and found some excellent advice directed at another chappy who was moving to the DC metro region. However, that was a little dated (1.5-2 years), and I was wondering if any of you guys lived out in that area and had any advice for a CCW guy and his fiancee (soon to be CCW) moving to the area.
Thru the search option I found a lot of good places to shoot, some of which are still around. And though I am still very interested in all gun-related tips, best places for ammo, good shows, etc, I am concerned with how much it costs to live out there (!!!) and where I might put down roots.
I'll be on the NoVa side of the river, and I don't really want to consider living either in DC or metro Maryland (nothing against the non-DC/Annapolis/Baltimore areas, especially out west, but those idyllic places are too far from which to commute daily). That's limiting me to the Arlington - Alexandria - Springfield swath. Any advice from the inhabitants, or those lucky enough to escape DC and its traffic to pass on to a young(ish) guy?
Thanks for everything, I'll go back to preemptively missing my beloved Omaha...
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August 7, 2007, 06:21 PM
Cheap and NOVA do not go together at all. I bought my 3 bedroom townhouse in Manassas in 2003 for 182,000. Just a year ago they were double that :what: The market has dropped down quite a bit but to live cheaply in NOVA means renting in a neighborhood where you will be glad you have a CCW or buying something where the commute is at least an hour into the city. Unless you're rich :D
I am 35 miles from my job and it's an hour and a half each way :uhoh:
August 7, 2007, 06:53 PM
I'll be working in Arlington and Alexandria, so that's ideally where I'd like to live.
I've always wanted to live in real "red Virginia," which begins south of the Rappahanock. However, to live in Frederickburg or south is impossible. A dream, though.
I worry about the spiraling traffic and crime there as well. Not the place I'd like to set down roots, you know?
August 7, 2007, 06:58 PM
At least you'll be on the right side of the boarder, not waiting on a SCOTUS ruling to find out if you can own firearms to use for your self defense.
Virginia is a shall-issue Concealed Handgun Permit state. Maryland does not honor the permit but several other neighboring states are...NC, WV, OH, PA, etc.
August 7, 2007, 07:13 PM
I live in Fredericksburg and commute to the District (SW) each day via Virginia Railway Express (www.VRE.org). When I drive in, I pick up slugs going to the Pentagon (PM me if you need the concept of slugging explained). Cheaper; low (violent) crime; lots of regular folks of every hue, income, and orientation; long commute.
I shoot at "The Range" (www.indoorrange.com), which is less than 6 miles from my house. It costs me about $5 for 1/2 hour and you can buy their .45 acp reloads (which are pretty good) for $11.25 per 50. Good guys there.
EVERYBODY who is now or ever has lived in the DC commuting area has a strong real estate opinion...usually justifying their choice (nobody wants to say...don't be an idiot like me). Take their advice just like you would take the advice of a Glock man, a 1911 man, a Makarovnic, or a Browning nut when considering a pistol purchase: take in what they have to say, learn all you can from them, then do your own research and pick the area (or pistol) that is right for YOU.
Good luck and feel to PM me for advice,
August 7, 2007, 07:19 PM
I bought my 3 bedroom townhouse in Manassas in 2003 for 182,000
Howdy neighbor! ;)
August 7, 2007, 07:26 PM
Alexandria is a nice little city as is Arlington, but the closer you are to DC, the more you'll pay per square foot. There are plenty of apartment and home guides available on-line for you to check out and be sure to look at travel routes to see what's going to make sense for you. Arlington is currently a little more conservative in my opinion than Alexandria and Fairfax, but VA is "shall issue" and open carry with state firearms preemption so while you might be hassled, you won't be illegal - unless you conceal in a restaurant that serves alcohol. When I'm with my wife and we go into a restaurant, I un-conceal, but just barely. I'll tuck my over-shirt behind the butt of my Commander, but keep the gun pretty well out of sight behind my elbow and sit with my right side toward the wall if possible.
If my wife is not with me, I'm not nearly so inconspicuous. I think it's important to let the masses see responsible carry, but don't want to create a hassle that might embarrass or inconvenience my wife; as a courtesy to her. On the other hand, if I'm alone, I'm happy to educate cops and restaurant managers all day long.
I've open carried all over the Manassas area as well as the Springfield area and have never had the slightest problem - but then, I'm white bread with the crust cut off. I imagine things might be a bit different if I were a person of color or a more slovenly dresser.
Feel free to PM me if I can be of any help, and Welcome to the neighborhood.
August 7, 2007, 08:53 PM
Like Hoffy, I'm down in Stafford, just south of Quantico Marine Base. We are here due to the high price of housing anywhere north. We are immigrants from the Peoples Democratic Republic of Maryland seven years ago. My wife commutes to D.C. on a commuter bus. Costs $220 a month and 1.5 hrs. each way. You can still find a nice house for under $500K, schools are very good, crime very moderate, traffic is terrible. I shoot at The Range too. A little rundown but good people.
Good luck with your hunt.
August 7, 2007, 08:57 PM
I shoot at bull run shooting center for clays and the NRA range for rifle, pistol, and slugs. I live near Fairfax in Burke. CCW laws are pretty good, and it's hard to beat our open carry laws. It really isn't bad in Northern VA, but if you work in DC times that you can carry are reduced considerably (obviously).
August 7, 2007, 09:04 PM
I also live in Stafford and make the daily commute. Traffic sucks - there's no way around it. There are alternatives (train, bus, slugging) but they all have their drawbacks. But if you want any significant amount of house/real estate, then it's the only option. The general rule of thumb for the real estate market here is to add $10,000 to the price of a house for every mile closer you move to DC. So my $500,000 house in Stafford would run $650K fifteen miles up the road in Woodbridge.
We've been here for 6 years and I've managed not to shoot anyone yet - so it's possible.
I live about 3 miles from The Range. It reminds me of that old "guys" barber shop you had growing up -- smells of smoke, the guys all talk foul, but you feel right at home.
August 7, 2007, 09:21 PM
i live as far south as you can in stafford outside fredericksburg can walk to spotsylvania if i get my feet wet in river. i love it here. did the commute for years 5 hours a day with no license love working locally a ton. never even had keys to my house yet
August 7, 2007, 09:35 PM
Welcome to the area. Don't let these guys totally kill the NOVA idea for you. Yeah, the area's expensive, but so are other areas. One thing this area has tons of though, is jobs.
I live in Alexandria and work in DC. My commute's not THAT bad, maybe 15-20 minutes door to door (of course, I leave at 0630 as well). Alexandria's got a pretty low crime rate, just stay out of the Rte. 1 corridor south of Alexandria, and you should be fine. Nice areas include the West end, Del Ray, and if you like lots of Yuppies Old Towne is your bag (this is where George Washington frequented, and where Robert E Lee grewup).
Arlington is another world. Twice the people, twice the traffic and lots of headaches, still lots of fun places to go. Check out Clarendon, and Ballston in particular.
Springfield's not bad, just a typical suburbia. You might want to check out Annandale, and Falls Church as they are close to both Alexandria and Arlington.
Also, some places to shoot: Gilberts Small arms range in Lorton, NRA Range in Fairfax, Izaak Walton League Ranges for outdoor stuff, and the other places people have mentioned.
This area isn't completely liberal (yet), the NRA is headquartered here, as is the VCDL (VA Citizens Defense League, responsible for the Bloomberg Gun Giveaway), and the GOA is here too. Give me a PM if you want some more details.
August 8, 2007, 12:16 AM
Hey Alpinewhitey, and all the other NoVA members. Welcome to the neighborhood, home of the NRA. I'm in Gainesville, just west of Manassas and yes, the area can be pricy, but with the down turn in the mortgage market here there are deals to be had. I am suprised no one here has mentioned it, but you should check out the Virginia Citizens Defence League www.vcdl.org
I don't have much time to shoot, but when I do I go to the NRA indoor range in Fairfax.
IMO the National Gun Show at Dulles Exbo is okay, but noadays I only go to Knob Creek for their shows. A bit of a hike, but well worth it.
August 8, 2007, 12:41 AM
Now being pals n' all I'm going to say that TinyGnat gives a fair approximation of what the NoVA are is like.
I'm also going to say that the wife and I just moved AWAY out to the Valley area and couldn't be happier with getting away from a lot of aspects of that section of Virginia, ESPECIALLY THE TRAFFIC! We had also decided that while Arlington was great for young, single, professionals, or older folks, we didn't feel it was very good for raising kids so that may also be something for you to consider.
August 8, 2007, 01:35 AM
Welcome to the area.
I'm just on the "free" side of the Rappahanock at Chancelorsville. I commute to south Richmond, which gives me the wonderful advantage of going against traffic. 78 miles one way, but I ride a motorcycle most of the time, so the long ride is more enjoyable. I try to avoid 95 as much as I can, either on the bike or driving an automobile. I think if I had to go north every day, I'd go nuts. We have Bible study on Wednesday night, and it's nothing for half the group to be stuck on 95.
My wife and I shoot at "The Range" and at Clark Brothers Guns over in Opal. It's about as far to one as the other. At the range we pay for range time but can bring our own ammo (or buy it there). At Clark Brothes we have to buy their (overpriced) ammo, but the range time is free, so it works out about the same. We tend to shoot centerfire at The Range, and rimfire at Clarke Brothers. There is a Game Dept rifle range around here somewhere, but it's only open about half the year, so I've never bothered to look for it.
August 8, 2007, 03:16 AM
Just remember that regardless of which part, you are still in VIRGINIA. You could be in a much worse state, like California.
August 8, 2007, 03:45 AM
...but here is a good website to look up active real estate listings in the area:
Here is another website, where you can look up information on the various cities in northern VA, as well as forums where past and current residents provide useful information about living and commuting in NOVA:
And, finally, a website that allows you to compare crime rates between cities (compare the crime rate between, say, Chantilly and Alexandria to see how each stacks up):
Good luck! :)
August 8, 2007, 08:51 AM
Moved a little bit out of NOVA. Was renting a townhouse in South Riding (chantilly) for 2k/month. At the end of our lease they tried to sell it to use for 539k. I said no thanks, went 32 miles south and had a new single family built on 1/4 acre for 328k. I can cover that 32 mile different in commute in about 40mins. So the theories about 10k per mile sound about right.
August 8, 2007, 09:26 AM
I have lived in Fredericksburg for about 8 years now. The prices for homes here has risen rapidly since I have been here. I dont work in DC but I go up north as far as Woodbridge. The commute usually sucks and there is alot of traffic going and coming. Like said there are various forms of transportation you can use but get ready for a wait. I go to The Range also and shoot there pretty often. I will be going tonight to try out my new RIA CS .45. Good luck with your decision. Its going to be a tough one for sure.
August 8, 2007, 09:36 AM
Welcome to the area. I've been here (Woodbridge) 8 months, and really like it. Of course, I don't have to suffer the commute into DC....
VA is an open carry state. It's also a CCW state, which is fairly easy to obtain. Alot of the people in NoVA are government drones, so I don't open carry around here.....I don't want to be the "man with a gun" 911 call.
Housing prices have plummeted. I know where you can get a good deal on a 4 bedroom 3 1/2 bath 2 car garage 2800sqft colonial.....wife and I just put a lot hold on a new place about halfway between woodbridge and stafford, so we're going to have to sell.....:D
Anyhow, you'll now be 2 hours from the mountains, 3 hours from the beach, 1 hour from DC and all its glory, have two international airports within driving distance, plus all the rest of what the East Coast has to offer. Weather is mild (except right now). This place shuts down anytime it snows, which is quite funny.
Sounds like a fall NoVA get together is in order.
August 8, 2007, 10:39 AM
NoVA isn't that bad. But you have to make the money vs time descision with regards to housing. You could move down south (Fredericksburg, etc) for alot cheaper but it would take you alot longer to commute. I just recently sold my condo in Arlington and got married. We bought a house in Alexandria where 395/495 meet. It takes my wife 45 minutes to get to work via Metro to DC and it takes me 15 minutes to get to work via side roads. Is your job on the Metro? My wife doesn't mind riding the train but I would much rather drive (and my job isn't near any Metro). The MARC/VRE train runs from down south to DC and alot of people choose that option, or you could slug. Employers here are pretty flexible with work schedules. I work 0700-1500 and miss most of the traffic. The wife works 0800-1800 (early because I drop her off at the Metro on my way in).
As for housing prices I sold my condo in Arlington/Shirlington for 285K in March and we bought 3,000 sq ft townhouse for $640K in June.
NoVA is very safe as a whole. Yes there are some bad areas but every city/town is going to have that. The only downside to living in Alexandria (or where I live in Alexandria) is that it's not very close to Ballston or Old Towne. But we wanted to live in the burbs and buy a house...start a family...all that good stuff.
August 8, 2007, 01:12 PM
I had no idea there were so many High Roaders in NOVA. Anyone up for a fall get-together?
Maybe a Trap and Skeet session at Bull Run? I figure it's one of the few local area venues that could support us, and it's kind of a social event.
August 8, 2007, 01:49 PM
tinyknat, some of us get together fairly often at Bull Run. I haven't been very active around here lately, so many of these names are new to me.
August 8, 2007, 02:03 PM
That sounds like as good a venue as any for us to get together. The IWL ranges around here are restrictive, and there aren't any pure public ranges where we could meet up by chance.
Is there a regular meeting?
August 8, 2007, 02:31 PM
Nothing regular. Just an email that originates from one of us to the effect of "let's go shooting".
Once the weather cools off a bit we'll probably do the shotgun thing at BR or IWL. There are other "events", but clay games are the most common.
Send me a PM with your email addy and maybe we can get something rolling.
Same for anyone else interested in a NoVa shoot.
August 8, 2007, 03:13 PM
I'm stationed in Hampton and walking outside for me is like walking onto the set of a rap video.
August 8, 2007, 03:46 PM
One of the things I haven't seen the Fred/Stafford/Woodbridge/Dale city contingent mention that I95 congestion is -daily- not just weekdays.
Saturday. Southbound after 11 am backed up from Beltway to at least Lorton.
Northbound backed up from PW Pkway to at LEAST 123, usually US 1 and beyond.
Sunday: Southbound after 11:00 to past Lorton.
Northbound: H*ly C*w. Anywhere from Doswell (Kings Dominion) to Massoponax to Stafford, then again from at least Fred through 234.
If you decide on locales south of Fairfax, you're going to be spending a LOT of time staring at someone's bumper.
If you can afford to, get a house that's reasonably close in - as you indicated Springfield, Alexandria in Fairfax county maybe Annandale. You can get 1/2 acre for less than .5 mil right about now because nobody's buying. It is a huge buyer's market.
August 8, 2007, 10:13 PM
You guys are spectacular, thanks. I really enjoyed (and dreaded) reading your experiences, horror stories, and those plucky optimists as well. :o
The prices are unreal. Holy God are they unreal.
I'm probably going to do the apartment thing for the first year, then after the wedding look for someplace to settle down outside the city. I'd love to live around Fredericksburg, but it's so far out there. I just can't imagine wasting 3-5 hours every day in the car, not to mention how much gasoline that would cost and the time away from my wife/family.
On the plus side, the NoVa meet-up sounds like a winner, and it's at least something to look forward to when I arrive.
Thank you guys for being so generous with your experiences, and if there are more, keep them coming - I'm bookmarking this page for reference's sake!
August 8, 2007, 10:31 PM
the one thing i was able to do to make commute better was work "off hours" for a while i'd go in at 4 be home by 2. then it was go in at 9-10 come home after 6
August 8, 2007, 11:27 PM
I don't why traffic backs up on I-95, after all they fixed the I-95/Beltway interchange. Maybe if they'd paved over a few more houses. :)