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Exploring Northern Virginia: The Best Places to Live

Northern Virginia blends the urban opportunities of Washington, D.C., with the expansive vistas of the more rural Virginia wine country.


Just as the rolling hills are good for growing vines, so are they a good place to set down your own roots.


As an award-winning builder with over 30 years of experience, DRB Homes is ready to create your new forever home with all the personalization you desire. Our design acumen and customer-focused team take care of making sure your entire buying journey is a good one.


Because living in Northern Virginia gives you a wide range of opportunities, from work to play. You could, for example, take a long lunch break from your job at Lockheed Martin in Arlington, take a quick trip into D.C. to experience the newest Thai restaurant everyone is talking about, and then plan your weekend for a trip to a bed & breakfast near an equestrian farm.


It’s the way that you can flow from rural and urban, work and play, and everywhere and everything in between that makes Northern Virginia so desirable. And it’s even better when you live in a new DRB home!


Northern Virginia is definitely made better by the sum of its parts. So, let’s explore those parts and find some of the best places to live in Northern Virginia.


The Best Places to Live in Northern Virginia


Now, of course we’re not going to be able to touch on every wonderful place Northern Virginia offers to homeowners—there are just too many. So, we’re going to focus on some of the big ones, the important ones, and the ones that offer the most opportunities (in alphabetical order, of course).



One of the notable features of Alexandria is its abundance of historical sites and landmarks. From George Washington's Mount Vernon to Old Town Alexandria's cobblestone streets and quaint shops, there's always something new to discover here. But don't let the city's historic roots fool you: Alexandria also boasts a vibrant arts scene, with galleries, theaters, and music venues scattered throughout.


From cozy apartments to spacious townhomes and single-family houses, there's something to fit every lifestyle and budget. However, prices can be on the higher side since this charming city is located just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C. Despite the cost of living, many are drawn to Alexandria's tight-knit community feel and high quality of life. With top-rated schools, parks and trails, and an abundance of local events and festivals, it's easy to see why people choose to call this city home.



Also right across the Potomac from D.C., Arlington is a bustling urban community. This energetic city offers its residents a great deal of notable features and attractions, including a thriving food scene, rich history, and beautiful parks and green spaces. Arlington's housing market is also highly sought after, with a mix of both historic homes and new developments catering to a variety of tastes and budgets.


In addition to its many amenities, Arlington has a strong sense of community and an active lifestyle culture. Residents enjoy frequent outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, and running along the scenic Mount Vernon Trail. There are also plenty of opportunities for socializing and getting involved in the local community through events and volunteer programs. Overall, Arlington offers an ideal balance of city living and natural beauty.



Nestled in the heart of Arlington County lies Ballston, a growing urban community that offers an ideal blend of city living and suburban charm. Known for its walkability, excellent transportation options, and abundance of shopping and dining destinations, Ballston is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in Northern Virginia.


Perfectly complementing the highly ranked schools and strong sense of community, one of Ballston’s most notable features is the newly renovated Ballston Quarter, which boasts over 50 retail shops and restaurants. Residents can also take advantage of the nearby parks and trails, including the popular Custis Trail, which stretches all the way to Georgetown in D.C.



Fairfax’s proximity to major commuter routes offers residents the best of both worlds: easy access to city life while still enjoying the peacefulness and charm of suburban living. Community and lifestyle are highly valued, and the city hosts numerous cultural events that showcase the diverse backgrounds of its residents. Fairfax is also known for its superlative schools, parks, and recreational facilities, which provide residents with endless opportunities for outdoor activities.


The housing market in Fairfax has been steadily growing over the years, making it an attractive option for families and young professionals alike. And though prices vary depending on location and size, the cost of living in Fairfax is relatively affordable compared to other cities in the region. With its strong job market and high quality of life, it's no wonder that so many people are choosing to make Fairfax their home.


Falls Church

Inside the Beltway and minutes away from D.C., Falls Church is a beautiful town. It's known for its diverse community and rich history, and for its “small town” feel so close to the big city. You’re also right down the road from the Mosaic District: a wonderland of boutique shopping, fine dining, and exceptional experiences.


When it comes to housing, the market is very competitive due to its convenient location close to the nation's capital. Despite the higher costs, Falls Church offers residents excellent public schools and amenities such as farmers markets and local restaurants. This tight-knit community has something for everyone and provides a high quality of life for those who call it home.



Halfway between Washington, D.C., and Richmond, in Spotsylvania County, lies the charming City of Fredericksburg. Known for its rich history dating back to colonial times and small-town feel, it's no wonder that this town is steeped in character and tradition. Old architecture, museums, and other landmarks fill Old Town Fredericksburg with many learning adventures—and restaurants, galleries, and boutique shops complete the picture.


With rich natural surroundings, a lively community, and centralized location, Fredericksburg provides a hub of activity for the region. With many events, recreational opportunities, and the University of Mary Washington (and all the excitement it brings), Fredericksburg a fantastic destination to come home to.



Leesburg in Loudon County has become a haven for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of big city living while still enjoying all the amenities that come with it. Here, you’ll find craft breweries, boutiques, and dozens of restaurants, coffee shops, and cafés.


Located just 35 miles west of Washington D.C., Leesburg offers easy access to the nation's capital as well as nearby cities like Fairfax and Arlington. The housing market in Leesburg is diverse and caters to a range of budgets and lifestyles. With best-in-class schools, beautiful parks and trails, and a thriving local economy, it's no wonder why so many families are choosing to call this community home.



Manassas has always been about the location, down in Prince William County. It originated around the junction of two important railroads which united the area. And now, with quick access to major highways like I-66 and Route 234, commuters can reach Dulles Airport, D.C., Maryland, and other parts of Virginia with ease. And, despite being so well-connected, the city has managed to maintain its peaceful atmosphere, offering a quieter pace of life compared to neighboring cities.


Year-round farmers markets, impressive museums, historic buildings, and family-owned shops and restaurants highlight Manassas’ charm. Just like the other locations in Northern Virginia, the great schools also provide benefit for families living here. All in all, Manassas is a hidden gem that has something to offer everyone.



Adjacent to Tysons and Great Falls, McLean is a grand place to call home. Called by some “one of the most beautiful areas in Fairfax County,” McLean offers the exquisite natural beauty of Great Falls and all the shops, restaurants, and commuter access of Tysons. Plus, easy access to major roads means everything Maryland, Northern Virginia, and D.C. is within easy reach.


Amazing schools, strong sense of community, and upscale privacy puts McLean at the pinnacle of Northern Virginia living. Overall, McLean offers a unique blend of suburban charm and urban convenience, making it an attractive destination for anyone seeking a high-quality lifestyle in one of the most vibrant areas on the East Coast.


Reston was one of the area’s first “new towns” after WWII, which is a combination of a planned community and an entire city. Reston was purposefully and painstakingly designed to provide residents everything they needed inside the community: green space and natural amenities, shopping, dining, and leisure and cultural opportunities. And so, it has flourished.


With the Metro’s Silver Line, Route 7, and the Dulles Toll Road passing through Reston, traveling to anywhere in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C., is easy and convenient. And being 5 miles from Dulles International Airport puts the whole world at your doorstep!



Just 20 miles from D.C., Vienna has that wonderful small-town feel with urban convenience. It’s close to and encompasses prime dining and shopping experiences, beautiful botanical gardens, excellent hiking and biking opportunities, and the only U.S. National Park dedicated to the performing arts: Wolf Trap.


Throughout the year, residents can take advantage of the many community events, such as farmers markets and holiday celebrations like Oktoberfest and Christmas parades. The housing market in Vienna is competitive due to its prime location, but with top-rated schools, low crime rates, and a strong economy, it's no surprise that many families are eager to call this town home.


Northern Virginia’s Quality of Life


When it comes to Northern Virginia, there are several factors that potential residents should consider. Unfortunately, due to its proximity to Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia has some of the higher costs of living in the country.


The good news is there are many major employers, especially in the tech sector, in Northern Virginia that reward hard work with above-standard compensation. Data Centers are booming near Leesburg, with some estimates being 70% of all internet traffic passes through Loudoun County each day! Many government agencies have homes in Northern Virginia, including the FBI, CIA, Department of Defense, and the National Science Foundation. Other key employers in the area are Booz Allen Hamilton, Capital One Financial, Freddie Mac, Leidos, Northrop Grumman, and Mars.


Transportation and commute are two other significant factors to consider when living here. With so many major employers in the area, traffic congestion is a common problem on the highways and roads throughout the region. However, a robust public transit system helps alleviate some of that congestion providing busses, subways, and tolled fast-lanes to speed up commutes.


For children and those seeking continuing learning, educational opportunities in Northern Virginia are top-notch. There are several highly regarded public school systems, as well as prestigious universities such as George Mason University and Virginia Tech's new Innovation Campus. In addition, there are many enrichment programs available for students at all levels.


Overall, while living in Northern Virginia can come with its own unique set of challenges, there are also many benefits to calling this region home. With a strong job market, excellent educational opportunities, and access to world-class cultural attractions, it remains an attractive option for people looking to build their lives in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.


The Best Places to Live in Northern Virginia


If you're looking for the perfect place to call home in Northern Virginia, look no further than these top-rated areas. From the bustling streets of Arlington to the charming neighborhoods of Reston, there's a little something for everyone here. And let's not forget about the fantastic job market and educational opportunities available throughout the region.


Living in Northern Virginia may have its challenges, but they are far outweighed by all the benefits this area has to offer. Whether you're a young professional just starting out or a family searching for that perfect community feel, you can't go wrong with any of these best places to live. Find your own slice of paradise by DRB Homes right here in Northern Virginia!