11 Best Places to Live in Northern Virginia

Northern Virginia —or NoVA as many call it— is a beautiful place to live. It is known as one of the most affluent parts of the United States. It consists of three counties: Fairfax County, Prince William County, and Loudoun County. Fairfax and Manassas are also part of Northern Virginia but are separate entities. 

If you’re planning to relocate to Northern Virginia, then you’ll have an idea of the kind of neighborhood you want, as well as the factors that mean the most to you. Some of these factors include the following:

  • Affordability
  • Crime rate
  • Walkability
  • Number of expats

To find out the best places to live in Northern Virginia, keep reading. 

Key Takeaways

  • What Are the Bad Areas of Northern Virginia? Northern Virginia has a lower crime rate than a majority of the state. Most high crime areas exist in the South Eastern part of the state, making the Northern areas generally safe. 
  • What City Has the Best Schools in Northern Virginia? The Fairfax County Public Schools have been named the best in Virginia. Advanced placement classes are available for those who want to challenge themselves, and 89 percent of graduates go on to further their studies.
  • Where Do the Wealthy Live in Northern Virginia? The wealthiest people in Northern Virginia live in Vienna, Great Falls, Clifton, and Western Loudoun County. 
  • What is the most expensive place to live in Northern Virginia? The most expensive place to live in Northern Virginia is Great Falls.
  • Best place to live in Northern Virginia with Low Taxes? Spotsylvania county has the lowest property taxes at .86 per every $100 assessed value. 
  • What is the cheapest city to live in Northern Virginia? Dale City has a median real estate cost of $298,430, which is much lower than the state average of $329,517.

Factors We Considered While Compiling The Best Places to Live in Northern Virginia 

A picture of a neighborod in Richmond Virginia taken at night. It shows dozens of homes and lowest apartment buildings in a mid century architectural style

Northern Virginia is a great suburban area to live in, full of many different people with different cultures, ways of living, occupations, and budgets. Here are some of the factors that we put into consideration while compiling the list of the best places to live in Northern Virginia:

Walkability

A neighborhood’s or city’s walkability is a measure of how conducive it is to walk in. The existence or lack of traffic, sidewalks, the condition of roads, and safety are all factors to consider. New Urbanism —a rising movement that stresses walkability and overall quality of living— includes walkability. 

A walk score is a methodology that analyzes hundreds of walking paths to neighborhood facilities like coffee shops, convenience stores, restaurants, and bars to determine how walkable an address is. 

Points are determined by the distance between the neighborhood and the amenities. A community’s walk score also considers road metrics and population density to determine how pedestrian-friendly it is.

The higher the points a community receives for walking and doing so safely, the better. The amenities within a five-minute trek are awarded the highest points, whereas anything that takes more than 30 minutes gets a zero. Here is a breakdown of what these scores mean:

  • 90 to 100: Walker’s Paradise— You don’t need a car to run daily errands
  • 70 to 89: Very Walkable— You can run most errands on foot
  • 50 to 69: Somewhat Walkable— You can run some errands on foot
  • 25 to 49: Car-Dependent— Most chores need a car
  • 0 to 24: Car-Dependent— Almost all errands need a car

Crime Rate

The crime rate is the ratio of misdemeanors and felonies compared to the total population. 

The crime rate is calculated using official police statistics that show the crimes committed per 1,000 people in the population. The majority of crime statistics are broken down into rates for each type of crime —for example, violent crime.

Northern Virginia as a whole reports a much lower crime rate than other states. Virginia is one of the safest states in the US. The best places to live in Northern Virginia report a lower crime rate than other parts of the state and many other countries. 

Number of Expats

Northern Virginia’s population is increasing. Northern Virginia has been responsible for over 60 percent of the state’s population growth since 2010. Diversity is a byproduct of development. 

Because of this, Northern Virginia is home to many different expats from numerous countries and cultural backgrounds. Northern Virginia is home to over 100 different language speakers. 

Affordability and Standard of Living

The high expense of living on the East Coast is a well-known fact. What’s the good news? Compared to cities like New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia is far cheaper. There are numerous ways to save money on an apartment, so if you want to live in Northern Virginia, you will be doing your wallet a favor!

Best Places to Live in Northern Virginia 

A photo of an old timber barn near Arlington Virginia. It shows a small timber barn on a field with bright orange and yellow trees in the background

Now that we know the factors to consider while choosing a place to live, here are the best places to live in Northern Virginia. 

1. Arlington

At the top of our list, to no one’s surprise, is Arlington. Arlington is a vibrant, bustling city that is between Virginia and the capital— Washington D.C. Arlington County, home to Arlington, is one of the most livable places in the United States. Arlington meets all our criteria for the best places to live. Here’s how:

Walkability

Arlington has a Walk Score of 69, which is great, especially for a bustling city of its kind. It has excellent walkways, good road conditions, and commuting time and traffic is minimal. 

Crime Rate

Arlington has a low crime rate. Its crime rate is relatively low, at 15.66. There is a higher rate of property crime than violent crimes in Arlington, and the chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Arlington is 1 in 787. 

Number of Expats

Arlington is home to expats from many different countries and cultural backgrounds. Every neighborhood in Arlington contains individuals and families from different countries living together and looking out for one another. 

Affordability and Standard of Living

The average rent in Arlington is $1,827, and the median property value is $607,700. Arlington’s 223,945 citizens are willing to pay a premium price for the perks that the city offers. Besides, their average household income of $105,763 is plenty to keep them comfortably afloat.

Schools in Arlington record high SAT scores and high acceptance rates into prestigious universities across the country. 

Aside from these, Arlington also has the most exceptional educational institutions, a vibrant nightlife, numerous outdoor activities to choose from, residents concerned about their health and fitness, and volunteering. 

2. Falls Church

Falls Church is a desirable location for anyone looking to live near the Washington, D.C. metropolis. It is a historical town dating back to the 16th century, founded as a colonial settlement. 

Walkability

Falls Church has a walk score of 91, which makes it a Walker’s Paradise. It’s a lot quieter than a big city like Arlington, so Falls Church is bound to have a higher walk score. 

Crime Rate

Falls Church has a relatively low crime rate for a small town. Its crime rate is slightly higher than Arlington’s, at 16.42. Violent crime rates are much lower than property crime rates, and in Falls Church, the chance of being the victim of a violent crime is 1 in 1,462. 

Number of Expats

Falls Church, although small, is home to people from different countries. It is home to artists, office workers, painters, writers, managers, and other white-collar job owners, many of whom are expats. 

Affordability and Standard of Living

Falls Church is not only one of the most expensive places to live in Northern Virginia, but its real estate is one of the most expensive in the whole of the US! With an average wage of $120,500, the 13,300 residents have one of the highest salaries in the state. 

Also located in Falls Church are The Arlington National Cemetery and George Washington’s Mount Vernon residence. As a result, life here is prohibitively expensive, with the median property value standing at $718,900.

3. Chantilly

A closeup picture of a map highlight Chantilly, Virginia, USA

Chantilly, a town in Fairfax County, has a population of about 24,000 people. History buffs will remember that the Battle of Chantilly took place here, which is part of the town’s rich history. 

Chantilly is about 25 miles from Washington, D.C., and the presence of the famous Dulles International Airport adds to its strategic accessibility to and from other regions. 

Walkability

Chantilly has a walk score of 28, which means it’s a car-dependent town. You have to complete ost errands with the use of a car. 

Crime Rate

Chantilly has a low crime rate of 8.13 per 1000 residents. The rate of property crime is much higher than violent crimes. The chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Chantilly is 1 in 1,514.

Number of Expats

Chantilly is a relatively small town, but it has its fair share of expats from all parts of the world. It is home to many communities such as the Asian, Hispanic, and Black-American communities.

Affordability and Standard of Living

With house values ranging from $456,000 to $678,000, Chantilly is moderately priced compared to some of the other fantastic areas on this list. 

The Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, the beloved Sully Plantation, and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center — a National Air and Space Museum addition – are just a few of the highlights. Chantilly also has a public library and a locally published newspaper called The Centerview.

4. Williamsburg

Williamsburg, a town of roughly 15,000 people founded in 1632, is next on our list of the best places to live in Northern Virginia. Between 1699 through 1780, it was the capital of the Virginia colony. To any stranger, living in Williamsburg can appear to be a step back in time. 

Walkability

Williamsburg has a walk score of 52, which makes it somewhat walkable. This means you can run some errands without using a car. 

Crime Rate

Williamsburg has a crime rate of 19.99 per 1,000 people. There’s a 1 in 680 chance of being a victim of a violent crime, although property crimes are more common than violent crimes. 

Number of Expats

Williamsburg is a small town that doesn’t contain many expats, but its rapidly rising population means there will be more expats as the months go by. 

Affordability and Standard of Living

The average price of a home in Williamsburg is $320,600, but $195,000 will get you a decent three-bedroom, three-bathroom home. It isn’t the most affordable place to live in, but it isn’t as expensive as other places on the list, such as Falls Church. 

Colonial Williamsburg, a 301-acre historic district that attracts four million people each year, is the most popular attraction. Through tours, reenactments, and other special events, it educates and entertains inhabitants and visitors alike. 

With an amusement park nearby (Busch Gardens) and the Williamsburg Premium Outlets serving as a major shopping destination, young families are well catered for. Furthermore, the town is near the Tidewater and Hampton Roads regions. 

5. Vienna

A picture of a woman walking her dog through a park in Vienna, Virginia, USA. It shows a large green park lined with trees and a path on the right side of frame

Vienna resides in Fairfax County and has a population of over 16,000 people. It is essentially a suburb of Washington, D.C., due to its proximity to the capital. This community is best suited for individuals seeking tranquil surroundings. Though you can find this type of neighborhood throughout Virginia, Vienna takes pride in giving a small-town feel with easy access to multiple metro areas. 

What is the safest city in Northern Virginia? You’re looking at it here. Vienna has a safety index of .95, putting it at #1 in Northern Virginia. 

Walkability

Vienna has a walk score of 88, making it a walker’s paradise. This means you can run all daily errands without using a car. 

Crime Rate

Vienna has a low crime rate of 11.22 per 1,000 people. There’s a 1 in 785 chance of being a victim of a violent crime, although property crimes are more common than violent crimes in this small town. 

Number of Expats

Vienna is also a small town that isn’t home to many expats. It is home to people from different cultures, but its population mostly consists of American citizens. 

Affordability and Standard of Living

The typical household income in Vienna is $139,201, but the cost of living is high, with a median home value of $639,200.

6. Lorton

If Vienna is out of your price range but you still want to live in Fairfax County, Lorton is a good option. 

Walkability

Lorton has a walk score of 25, which makes it a car-dependent city. This means you need a car to run almost every errand. 

Crime Rate

Lorton has a low crime rate of 14.26 per 1,000 people. Property crimes are more common than violent crimes, and there’s a 1 in 978 chance of being a victim of a violent crime. Lorton has such a low crime rate that it’s easy to forget the world can be a dangerous place, yet the town of 19,700 people has a plethora of outdoor activities. 

Number of Expats

Lorton is a medium-sized city that is home to many expats. It is home to people from different cultures, and although it isn’t home to as many expats as others places like Arlington, it is still relatively diverse. 

Affordability and Standard of Living

The average home price in this area is $383,900, approximately half of what it is in Vienna. Lorton is the cheapest town in one of America’s wealthiest counties. 

Mason Neck State Park, Pohick Bay Regional Park, and Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge offer various activities, such as hiking and kayaking.

7. Leesburg

Leesburg, a town of 47,900 people in Loudon County, is one of the most economical places to live in Virginia. 

Walkability

Leesburg has a walk score of 36, making it a car-dependent city. This means you need a car to run most errands. 

Crime Rate

Leesburg has a low crime rate of 12.51 per 1,000 people. Property crimes are more common than violent crimes, and there’s a 1 in 527 chance of being a victim of a violent crime. For a city, Leesburg’s crime rate is reasonably low. 

Number of Expats

Leesburg is a city in one of the wealthiest counties in the United States. It is home to many different families and individuals from different walks of life, cultural backgrounds, and countries.

Affordability and Standard of Living

Leesburg as a community seamlessly blends old and modern. It is built around a historic downtown district that contains a variety of specific businesses and eateries. 

The median property value in Leesburg is $382,800, and the rent is also affordable: $1,380 per month on average. However, from a financial standpoint, it is a town of opposites. While living costs are modest by county norms, the typical household income of $103,238 is relatively high.

8. Richmond

A picture of a small stone sandstone bridge crossing a canal in Richmond Virginia. Next to the bridge is an old brick factory with a green roof. There are several trees and ornate lamposts nearby

Virginia is known for its high-performing institutions, but in Richmond, the schools are not regarded as the best. Also, the city’s fast-paced life, let alone the typical crime rates associated with a mid-sized city, cannot be considered ideal for the elderly. Richmond’s population is among the largest in the state, with 213,7866 persons.

Walkability

Richmond has a walk score of 52, which makes it a somewhat walkable city. This means you need a car to run some errands, but not all. 

Crime Rate

As a mid-sized city and Virginia’s capital city, Richmond has a relatively moderate crime rate of 43.03 per 1,000 people. There’s a 1 in 211 chance of being a victim of a violent crime.

Number of Expats

As Virginia’s capital city, Richmond is home to various races and cultural backgrounds, making it one of the most diverse places to live in Northern Virginia.

Affordability and Standard of Living

The median housing value in the capital is $193,700, with an average rental price of $896. Living in Richmond isn’t cheap, but it also isn’t the most expensive place to live in Northern Virginia.

9. Tyson’s Corner

Tyson’s Corner is a wealthy neighborhood in Fairfax County. Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, will appeal to you like no other if you enjoy shopping. It is home to two well-known shopping malls, Tyson’s Corner Center and Tyson’s Galleria. 

Walkability

Tyson’s Corner has a walk score of 49, which makes it a somewhat walkable city. This means you need a car to run some errands.

Crime Rate

A feature that many of the 22,400 people enjoy is Tyson’s Corner’s near-zero crime rate.

Number of Expats

Tyson’s Corner is home to many people of different races and cultural backgrounds.

Affordability and Standard of Living

Tyson’s Corner is on the more expensive side, with one-family houses selling for an average of $485,000.

10. Herndon

A photo of The New River Gorge Bridge, seen from the Canyon Rim Visitor Center in North Virginia

Herndon was founded as a farming community in the heart of Virginia’s dairy-producing sector. It is only 35 minutes from Washington, D.C., and it is a relatively peaceful town with a population of 24,384. Herndonians are a close-knit group, and the annual Herndon Festival brings them closer. 

Walkability

Herndon has a walk score of 51, which makes it a somewhat walkable city, which means you need a car to run some errands.

Crime Rate

Herndon has a crime rate of 13.66, which is relatively low for a town of its size. There is a 1 in 378 chance of being a victim of a violent crime. 

Number of Expats

Herndon is home to people of different cultural backgrounds, but not as many other places on this list.

Affordability and Standard of Living

The cost of living is a little high, with residences averaging $379,900. With a typical household income of $101,872, living in Herndon is relatively cheap overall. 

11. Centreville

Finally, there’s Centreville, a 73,660-person community where young families make up most of the population. 

Walkability

Centreville has a walk score of 32, which makes it a car-dependent city. This means you need a car to run most errands.

Crime Rate

Centreville has a crime rate of 13.41, which is relatively low. There is a 1 in 1,116 chance of being a victim of a violent crime. 

Number of Expats

Centreville is a diverse community, home to people of different cultural backgrounds.

Affordability and Standard of Living

The median property value in Centreville is $390,500, which may seem costly until you consider it located in affluent Fairfax County. 

Conclusion

All in all, Northern Virginia is one of the most affluent, beautiful, and safest places to live in the United States. Virginia is one of those all-encompassing places that appeal to everyone – young and old, parents and their children, millennials, and retirees. 

Whether you were born and bred in Virginia or have never visited this historical state, these top eleven places in Northern Virginia will make you feel right at home. Do you think we missed anything? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Related: Pros and Cons of Living in Virginia