Moving to Fairfax County VA: Is Fairfax County a Good Place to Live?

Moving to Fairfax County, VA Living Guide

Fairfax County, VA, offers a distinctive blend of suburban serenity and urban accessibility, making it an appealing choice for those considering moving to Northern Virginia. Explore the many aspects of living in Fairfax County, from its educational options and abundant parks to its thriving job market and historic richness. Situated near the nation’s capital, the county presents a unique living experience blending historical significance and modern conveniences. Whether you're seeking a convenient neighborhood or a dynamic professional environment, Fairfax County—home to several of Alexandria’s best suburbs—provides a variety of options.

10 Reasons Fairfax County Is a Good Place to Live

  • Unique shopping centers
  • Great area for colleges & education
  • Reliable public transportation system
  • Global dining scene
  • Many parks and outdoor rec areas
  • Seven public golf courses
  • 23 public libraries
  • Commute to Washington, DC, in 20–30 minutes
  • Stable job market & strong economy
  • Many historic homes on the market

Cost of Living in Fairfax County

The cost of living in Fairfax County, while being higher than the national average, is much more affordable than some of its competitor markets on the East and West Coasts, such as Manhattan or San Francisco. According to the Economic Policy Institute, a household with two adults and two children needs a salary of nearly $120,000 per year to live comfortably in Fairfax County. The abundance of luxury homes in Fairfax County contributes significantly to the elevated cost of living here. 

The housing market in Fairfax County is competitive due to the area’s proximity to the nation's capital. Houses only stay on the market for about a week from listing until the pending sold phase. Homes in Fairfax County can be found for less than $700,000 as you travel west to its more rural areas. The majority of homes here, however, list from the $700s to $10 million. Exceptional estates and waterfront homes in Fairfax County can list for more than $20 million. Rents have been trending higher in Fairfax year-to-year as well, with the average two-bedroom apartment costing around $1,900 per month.

Utilities, groceries, healthcare, and miscellaneous expenses are cheaper in Fairfax County than in comparable markets. Transportation costs are significantly higher since many commute to Washington, DC, for work. Virginia's state income tax is 5.25%, compared to 8.82% in New York and 13.3% in California.

Fairfax County Job Market

Job Market in Fairfax County

The proximity to Washington, DC, means that Fairfax County has a flourishing job market, particularly in the tech and defense industries. Two of the largest employers that are headquartered in Fairfax County are General Dynamics and Booz Allen Hamilton. General Dynamics creates aerospace technologies, marine and combat systems, and other technologies with defense applications. Booz Allen Hamilton is also a defense contractor with applications in the space, military, and intelligence sectors.

Several Fortune 500 financial companies are also headquartered in Fairfax County. Examples include Capital One, Freddie Mac, and Navy Federal Credit Union. 

Healthcare is also a large employment sector in Northern Virginia and Fairfax County. Innova Health System has over 20,000 employees working in five hospitals in the DC area and serves more than 2 million patients annually.

Popular Industries in the Area

Fairfax County is a defense industry hub in the United States, attracting skilled professionals with military and tech experience similar to those drawn to the neighboring economy in Alexandria. With the rise of AI, cloud computing, satellite technology, and other tech-related industries in the county, the workforce has become even more diversified. More than 18,000 people earn tech-related degrees and certificates in Northern Virginia each year and have no trouble finding industry-related jobs locally. Finance is another popular industry in the area.

The county has a labor pool of approximately 670,000 people. About 65% of Fairfax County professionals have a bachelor's degree or higher. 

More information about finding a job in Fairfax County:

Things to Do in Fairfax County

Activities & Entertainment in Fairfax County

The diverse workforce and stable economy are great things about Fairfax County, but what really makes this a wonderful place to live are the many things to do. Many outdoor adventures are available for those who appreciate fresh air and greenery. Fairfax County is also steeped in history, with many homes and buildings that are hundreds of years old. Combined with the history-related things to do in Alexandria, Fairfax County can act as a real-world history classroom. The communities in Fairfax County also have an international dining scene that's second to none. Here are some of the many things to do in Fairfax County.

Outdoor Activities

Fairfax County has a wide range of spots for public hiking adventures in state and national parks. The trails in the county vary from easy to difficult and are accessible year-round. For those who want to get out of their Fairfax County condos for an extended stay outdoors, camping is possible in many of those same parks. Horseback riding is allowed on many nearby trails, and equestrian sports are very popular here. 

The county has multiple recreation centers with aquatics fitness classes, swimming, and splash pads for cooling off in the summer months. It also operates a Woodland Obstacle and Zip Line course, a unique amenity that can be found at the South Run Rec Center in the Springfield community.

Local Attractions

There are many ways to experience the rich history of Fairfax County. One of these historical attractions is George Washington's Mount Vernon, located in the Mount Vernon community

The National Museum of the US Army is located in the Fort Belvoir area of Fairfax County. These attractions draw hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. 

Wolf Trap in the town of Vienna is one of the largest concert venues in Virginia, with more than 100 performing artists showcasing their music every year.

Restaurants & Nightlife

Here are some of the local favorites for dining and nightlife in Fairfax County:

  • Captain Pell's: A seafood restaurant in the city of Fairfax and one of the best places to try the Potomac's famed blue crabs.
  • 2941: Fine dining in an elegant setting; try the chef's monthly tasting menu.
  • Ornery Beer Company: A Fairfax brewery with two locations and an extensive menu of pub foods.
  • Dolce Vita: A classical Italian restaurant and wine bar.
  • Bakery, Bread & Grill: A great spot for breakfast or lunch with a selection of soups and sandwiches.
  • The Auld Shebeen: A traditional Irish pub with drinks, food, and live music.

Fairfax County Climate

Fairfax County has four distinct seasons, despite being in a humid subtropical region. Winters tend to be mild and summers can be hot and muggy. Residents in the county enjoy an average of 199 days of sunshine each year.

During the winters in this county, there is an average snowfall rate of about 19 inches each year. It warms up into the low 40s during the daytime, so the snow usually doesn't stick around. January is the coldest month when nighttime lows will average around 26℉.

During the spring, temperatures gradually warm up from the low 50s to nearly 80℉ by the end of May. The rainiest period in Fairfax County is from May through August when residents can expect 10 or 11 days each month with showers. Daytime highs in July will average around 87℉. The humidity in the summer has residents searching to find a local swimming pool or splash pad to cool off, but Fairfax County and Alexadria’s summer events bring residents outdoors despite the heat.

September and October are the best months of the year to pay a visit to Fairfax County. Daytime highs gradually cool off into the high 60s. That's also the time of year when the leaves change color, providing spectacular views in state and local parks.

Traffic in Fairfax County

Many workers in Fairfax County can expect to spend more time in traffic than in other locations around the country. The average one-way commute from the county is just over 32 minutes. That's about 6 minutes longer than the national average. About 13% of the workers in the county have a commute that is longer than 1 hour. Driving in Alexandria is more congested overall than in Fairfax County, but the further distance of parts of the county from DC drives the average commute time up higher.

Some of the major roadways in Fairfax County to know about are Interstates 66 and 95, and the 395 and 495 beltways. These are the roads that become especially congested during rush hour traffic. The federal government, which is a major employer in the region, allows many workers to have flexible schedules. As a result, morning rush hour traffic lasts from 6:00–10:00 a.m., and in the afternoon from 3:00–6:00 p.m. Commuters should allow themselves extra time if they have to commute during rush hour and it is snowing.

Having an E-ZPass transponder installed in a personal vehicle allows commuters to use E-ZPass lanes on certain major roads. Commuters can also breeze through toll booths without stopping.

Alternative Routes

If a commuter has to drive into Washington, DC for work, there are no good alternative routes. Every route crosses the Potomac River and the onramps and exits near the bridges are going to be congested. The best advice is to be patient; it's part of life in Northern Virginia. It's best to avoid I-95 and I-66 during rush hour, if at all possible. With that said, these roads are usually a very fast way to get around if it's not during rush hour.

Fairfax County Public Transportation

There are multiple ways for Fairfax County commuters to utilize public transit, all of which also operate public transportation options in Alexandria. Fairfax Connector is the local bus system in Fairfax County. The system operates 93 routes within the county, and numerous connections to rail service into Washington, DC. Kids 12 and under can ride the bus free with a paying adult. Middle and high school students also ride free with a Student Bus Pass. The rest of the routes do charge bus fares for one-way or connecting routes. 

The Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) operates multiple commuter rail service lines in Fairfax County. These include the Orange, Blue, Yellow, and Silver lines. Fares to ride the Washington Metro lines vary depending on how many zones a person travels through.

The Virginia Railway Express also operates train service from Fairfax County to Union Station in Washington, DC. The VRE train stations in Fairfax County are located in the Lorton community, Burke Centre, and the Kingstowne area.

Fairfax County has dozens of Park-and-Ride lots available for commuters to park and hop on a bus or train. Parking is free at all of these, although some have a limited number of spaces that are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Schools in Fairfax County

Schools & Education in Fairfax County

Fairfax County Public Schools is the largest school district in the State of Virginia, and while there’s a separate city school district, it also operates some of the schools in Alexandria. It serves approximately 185,000 students every year from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. There are far too many schools to list here, but families that are new to the county can look up their address on the Public Schools Boundary Locator System to find their assigned schools for each grade level.

George Mason University is one of the largest public universities in Virginia, and it's located near the geographic center of Fairfax County. Approximately 39,000 students enroll there each year. The most popular degrees are in the schools of Business, Computer Science, and Homeland Security.

Northern Virginia Community College has six campuses in Fairfax County, including one in the Annandale community. It offers two-year associate degree programs and its most popular majors are in Liberal Arts and Humanities, Business, and Social Services Research.

Moving to Fairfax County, VA

Fairfax County is a desirable destination for new residents, offering a rich mix of history, education, and career opportunities. The county's many strengths, including its educational institutions, vibrant community life, and proximity to Washington, DC, attract many homebuyers considering moving to Alexandria or Arlington. For those relocating, Fairfax County promises a high quality of life for those relocating and provides a community that values innovation and natural beauty. The county's blend of urban and suburban elements makes it an ideal place for a wide range of people looking for a balanced and fulfilling living experience.

If you're relocating to Fairfax County, call Your At Home Team at (703) 286-1333. Our local agents can help you find the perfect home in Fairfax County.

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