Any advice to someone moving to Fairfax, Virginia?

Moved MPSIMS --> IMHO.

Yup, Alison’s is still there. 8D

Got to say-- this thread had greatly assuaged my paranoia about that place. Will have to go questing for Eastern European/Russian neighborhood in DC once I get there…

This is roughly where I live, and it’s only about 5-10 minutes from the Fair Lakes area. That H-Mart is good for foreign foods. There’s also another foreign food market in Chantilly that isn’t bad. There’s a lot of pockets of various ethnicities, particularly Asian. There’s also quite a few excellent restaurants of pretty much any ethnic food you can imagine in the general area, definitely worth putting in the effort to find them if that’s something you’re into.

As far as the cons go, certainly the traffic and the higher cost of living are going to be the top things pretty much everyone will say. Fair Lakes can get particularly messy with rush hour because I-66 runs nearby and not only does that back up onto some of the roads, but has also created some bottlenecks on roads that cross under it, since they’re somewhat limited. Chances are also that the general sense of community is less than what you’re used to. Fair Lakes isn’t too bad as far as that goes, but it does seem to get worse as you get closer to the city.

On the plus side, though, there is plenty of culturally interesting things to do. I’m not one for bars and clubs, but there’s plenty around, particularly if you’re willing to go to Alexandria or Arlington. The Smithsonian museums are world class and they’re free, so it’s a nice day trip into DC to do those. And even as suburban as the area is, there’s some nice natural and hiking areas around. There’s a couple fairly nice parks within walking/biking distance of pretty much anywhere in Fair Lakes, Great Falls is a short drive away, maybe 25-30 minutes, so it’s a great way to blow a few hours on a nice weekend, and you can take somewhat longer day trip to places like Shenadoah or Lurray. And, of course, the history in the area is bar none too. There’s an old plantation about 15-20 minutes from there, Civil War sites, like Bull Run aren’t much farther away, and other interesting historical places like Mount Vernon or Harper’s Ferry are about 45-60 minutes away.

NM

Seconded. You don’t want to take your car into DC under normal circumstances.

The Metro is wonderful, clean, efficient, and pretty cheap considering the cost and lack of parking in DC, and the hassle of driving.

There is a Russian grocery store in Falls Church, and I think there’s still a Russian restaurant in DC. For an actual East European neighborhood, though, you’ll probably have to go all the way to Baltimore.

I don’t know about a Eastern European neighborhood, but Northern Virginia in particular has great conglomerations of Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Latin American, and Ethiopian offerings. You can also get great Chinese, Japanese, Italian, pizza, burgers, etc.

In fact, I prefer Northern Virginia to Washington, D.C., when it comes to eating.

That’s just a silly thing to say. There are times when traffic is bad, but for the most part it’s predictable—there are plenty of “normal circumstances” in which driving into the District is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Of course I’m not coming from as far as Fairfax, so that might affect my perception. Interstate 66 is kind of a mystery to me. I don’t understand its traffic patterns.

Fair Lakes is kind of the Big Box Retail district for NW Fairfax County, so don’t get discouraged looking around there. It’s not all like that, and will be very convenient place to live as long as neither of you are commuting in to DC.

There are at least three or four competing chains of Asian supermarkets in the area (Super H Mart, Grand Mart, Lotte Plaza are the ones I know). They are great for cheap, fresh produce, including some exotic stuff and things you can’t get anywhere else (green peanuts for boiling and Mexican Coke take me back to my childhood). Personally, I like the Super H Mart on 29/50 a couple miles east of Fair Lakes, even though the parking lot is a nightmare.

Plenty of Western grocery stores around there, too, including a Wegmans not too far off and a Whole Foods that is fancy even for Whole Foods.

It’s not clear what you’re looking for in a WCI but since you mentioned historic towns there are plenty of small historic towns in or right around Fairfax County.

One thing nobody else has touched on is that the parks department is amazing. Here’s their website: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/ Every park I’ve been to has been very well put together and well maintained.

I drive into D.C. frequently on weekends and weekday evenings. I’ve learned how to find parking spaces. It takes a little practice. Of course, on a weekday in the middle of the day you’re going to have a lot of problems finding a parking space. Let us know when you get here and we’ll have a Dopefest for you.

Been a while since you’ve ridden the metro I take it? There’s been a myriad of issues lately, and due to them neglecting maintenance for too long they’ve taken to doing track work all weekend almost every weekend, making it hard to count on it reliably.

There is a wonderful new MOM’s (Mother’s Organic Market) which opened last fall in Fairfax/Merrifield. It is a terrific store, and much less expensive than Whole Foods. It is within walking distance of a new Target which also opened last fall in that area. On another note, the traffic in the D.C. area is probably the worst in the country, and I am not joking. Try to drive at off-peak hours if you can, and please be aware of the many deer. Deer are great animals but there is an incredible number of them out and about in the D.C. area (mostly suburbs).

That might be a tough one, most of the Russian diaspora seem to live in NoVa rather than DC proper. There area couple of Russian/Eastern European restautants in DC though. Off the top of my head there is W Domku (Polish/Scandinavian, but the owner is a huge asshole) on Upshur St, NW (a few block from my house), and Mari Vanna on Connecticut, NW, plus the Crown of Serbia out by Wolf Trap in NoVA. There is a pretty large number of Russian expats in Northern Virginia and I know there are a couple of Russian grocery stores in Alexandria.

Sorry to double post, but I should have mentioned that there is a pretty big Russian Orthodox church in DC, so that may be good place to make contact with diaspora. My cousins are Russian Orthodox and go there, so PM me if you’d like to get the details of when/where services are.

Washington only has the ninth worst traffic in the U.S.:

— Music to my ears…

Thank you muchly! It should be mid-November by the time we actually settle down enough to think of socialization.

Check out the City-data forum. You’ll surely find some good advice and answers there.

I’ve lived in NOVA for the last seven years, and I really like it. Cons: the cost of living is annoyingly high, the traffic is nuts, and people are often a bit more insular than other places I’ve been.

One thing you should know about DC area traffic: it often doesn’t follow predictable patterns. Yes, there’s a morning and evening rush hour, but 66 and 95 have a tendency to jam up at unexpected times, like randomly on the weekends and such.

As for groceries, I just moved to Herndon myself, and I plan on checking out the Ashburn Global Food that Hello Again mentioned, so thanks! There’s also a Super H-Mart near 29 & 50 in Fairfax (very close to Fair Lakes). I saw you were excited about Russian groceries, and I recall a small one in Fairfax (Russian Gourmet, 9980 Main St Fairfax, VA 22031).

Whitney Harper mentioned the MOM’s and Target in Merrifield, which is all part of a big, fancy new center called the Mosaic District. There’s a bunch of mid-end shops there and a fancy movie theater that supposedly plays some less mainstream films (Angelika Center). They also occasionally show free movies on the giant screen outside the theater in the summer. Mosaic definitely falls into the “abundant cars and strip malls” category, though.

Another good place to see neat movies is Cinema Arts theater, also in Fairfax. They use real melted butter on their popcorn. There’s also the Alamo Drafthouse in Leesburg, which I highly recommend, especially for their signature events.

Restaurants: Old Town has some great restaurants, including Eamonn’s Dublin Chipper, the best fish & chips I’ve ever had. There’s the Dogfish Alehouse in Fairfax (and another one in Falls Church). Vienna has Pure Pasty (delicious, cheap Cornish pasties) and Sweet Ginger (excellent sushi).

There’s also the food trucks at Gilbert’s Corner. Judging by their ribs, their barbecue is better than Willard’s (best ribs I’ve ever had, actually, and I’ve been to Alabama and Texas).

Winchester is about an 80 minute drive west on 66, and has another Alamo Drafthouse, and some pleasant walks.

Biking: As already mentioned, the W&OD (Washington & Old Dominion Trail) is your friend. It gives you indirect access to nearly every other major trail in the DC metro area. It’s paved and well maintained.

Good luck!

If we’re going to start recommending restaurants, this is going to get very long.

In the 20 or so years I’ve been here, Metrobus service has always been atrocious and Metrorail has gotten steadily worse. I avoid taking the subway if I can.

My theory is that when the Metro system was built in the '70s, no one expected it to be heavily used by commuters. It was mostly just to impress tourists. And, frankly, if you ask me, Metro really is only good for tourists.

There are no station bypasses, so there can be no express trains and the whole system is single-tracked, so if a train breaks down, it shuts down the entire line until that train can be removed.

Regular Metro commuters spend a lot of time stuck inside tunnels waiting for who knows what to get repaired.

And once you get out of the downtown/heavily touristy area, the lines are spread very far apart, so the entire metro area is not easily accessible by train. That makes locations near stations premium and very expensive.

If you’re living way out in Fairfax, the trip downtown on the Orange line is going to be crowded during rush hour. And on off-hours, the trains come less frequently, so you’ll have long waits. Also parking at Metro stations (if you’re going to do park-and-ride) is pretty expensive if you’re doing it on a regular basis.

Unexpected delays are frequent. Overall, I prefer driving, because I feel like I have more control and more options if I run into problems.

I know several people who commute downtown from Arlington by bicycle. If you can manage that, then in my opinion, it’s a better option than a train.

I live in DC, and from what I’ve seen, traffic in DC is more predictable and avoidable than in the suburbs. As long as you accept that you aren’t going to be parked right in front of where you are going, you should be able to find parking barring some major event like a rally, or trying to find street parking at a stadium on game day in a nearby neighborhood.

I-66 has a very predictable pattern. It will be jammed up whenever you try to use it. (Seriously, it jams up on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. WTF?) The traffic in Fairfax is pretty awful, and it gets worse the further out you go. The reason is that there is only one way out from a lot of the newer communities so all the traffic gets dumped onto one street.

OP, I grew up in Fairfax County, and still live in the Metro area. There are no Russian or Eastern European neighborhoods in the area. I don’t really think that there is one in Baltimore either, although there are quite a few large Russian groceries and bookstores in Reisterstown. There is a small chain or Russian stores called Russian Gourmet, where you can probably find some info on community type event. There is a Russian Uzbekrestaurant in Arlington that you may enjoy.

My favorite large ethnic grocery is the Lotte Plaza in Chantilly. I don’t go there often because of distance, but I go whenever I am in the area for something else. Frankly, foodwise, there is very little that you can’t find in the area if you aren’t against driving a bit. There is also a pretty good Indian store on Lee Hwy just past the intersection on 50.

There’s a Russian market in the Potomac Yards area.