PCSing to the DC area can be very difficult. There are so many places to live and you usually don't have much time once you get there for house hunting leave, so it's best to do your research online before hand.
North vs South Arlington - Geography
North and South Arlington is separated by Route 50. North Arlington is typically safer and has larger, more expensive homes. There is less pockets of lower income families which usually indicates higher test scores and higher property values. South Arlington is typically made up of smaller houses, commercial areas, and apartment complexes. There is typically more immigrant families in this area. South Arlington typically has higher crime rates, but it's in pockets, and it doesn't necessarily mean it's more dangerous. There are lots of family friendly neighborhoods in South Arlington.
Very nice North Arlington Zips are 22207, 22205, 22203, 22201
Very nice South Arlington Zips are 22204 and part of 22206 (Fairlington-Shirlington area)
North vs South Arlington - Neighborhoods
Starting with the most expensive neighborhoods to the more affordable in North Arlington:
The most expensive, 'Old Money' neighborhoods include Lyon Village (Clarendon Metro), Woodmont, Riverwood, Belleview Forest, Tara-Leeway, Country Club Hills, and Chain Bridge. These neighborhoods resemble the old money neighborhoods in DC, like Cleveland Park, Chevy Chase, and Spring Valley.
If you're you're willing to spend a bit more, I'd say look at Lyon Park (near Clarendon Metro), Yorktown,Williamsburg, Maywood, Cherrydale. You might find a fixer upper, but unfortunately many of the smaller homes are tear-down properties and require a lot of money.
Westover area along Washington Blvd is a quaint area that has 'mom and pop stores', library, small restaurants, and little markets. If you are lucky, you can find a smaller affordable home here or a fixer upper, but it will still be very expensive. The popular Swanson Jr High is located in the Westover area. Also, some neighborhoods along Wilson Blvd, west of the Ballston orange line stop, may have similarly more affordable homes.
There are a few affordable (relatively speaking) pockets of housing in popular, well-established North Arlington neighborhoods, however it's safer to let your kids run around in these neighborhoods and the schools are top rated, therefore your money is well spent in these neighborhoods.
South Arlington seems to be much more affordable for the military family stationed near DC.
Good family-friendly South Arlington neighborhoods, in my opinion include Barcroft
, Arlington Heights
, Arlington Ridge
, and Alcova Heights
.If schools aren't a factor and you are looking for an artsy neighborhood with vibrant nightlife, then consider Fairlington-Shirlington
neighborhood. Learn more about South Arlington by reading the opinions of a military spouse on South Arlington.
Image from http://reason.com/blog/
Food in North vs South Arlington
You won't go hungry in Arlington. Arlington has over a thousand restaurants to fit every budget and taste. Arlington's diverse, well educated population has led to a plethora of ethnic restaurants. The Clarendon neighborhood probably has the largest concentration of restaurants. Within a few blocks of the metro station you can find all types of restaurants -- from hole in the wall establishments to pubs to casual dining restaurants. For a slightly less crowded area, try the Shirlington neighborhood, which has about two dozen restaurants ranging from Thai to contemporary American. Note that Shirlington is not served by a Metro rail line. Crystal City has many fine restaurants for every budget. Some choices include Hamburger Hamlet, Bailey's, and Tapas. Make sure to venture west of Jefferson Davis Avenue on 23rd street to get a few smaller but equally as good choices. Some shopping malls, such as The Underground, also have full-service restaurants, as well as food courts. (Source: http://wikitravel.org/en/Arlington_(Virginia))
North vs South Arlington - Schools
The public schools are better in North Arlington in terms of test scores. All schools regardless of location (unless its a focus/magnet school) all offer the same courses and curriculum. One exception: Barcroft Elementary is a very good South Arlington neighborhood school, but it's also the county's only year-round elementary school.
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