“Living the Dream”
Lifestyle is defined as the way in which a person or group lives. The Northern Virginia “way of life” is as diverse as the state’s geographic regions, people and culture but with one common thread – value for living a good life.
The region has a variety of natural beauties, including thousands of acres of park lands and forests, beautiful coastline, and gorgeous views of majestic mountains. The people living here is also varied. The area is connected to Washington DC and joined by areas in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia to make up what the U.S. Census calls a Metropolitan Statistical Area. The demographics and economy of this area is heavily influenced by the work of nation’s capital and the area’s biggest industry, technology . Virginia has the highest number of technology workers and is the largest data center market in the U.S.
The perks are endless. For one, Northern Virginia has great schools with Falls Church, Arlington, Loudoun, and Fairfax Public Schools ranking in the top ten school districts in the state. Overall, Virginia public schools are also ranked #4 in the nation. And many of the nation’s top colleges and universities are located here. According to U.S. News and World Report, the University of Virginia ranks #28 of national universities in the country, followed by William and Mary (#40) and Virginia Tech (#74). Considering there are 399 national universities, these schools are all in the top 20% of the country’s colleges and universities.
Neighborhoods are also very proud to boast about how many military and other government departments are represented on their streets. With 27 military bases, every service branch of the military has at least one base in Virginia. Other departments, such as Department of Justice and Homeland Security, are also well represented in Northern Virginia. It goes without saying the level of pride, peace, and security that comes with that.
In Northern Virginia, residents value (or come to value) quality of life above all else. People work long hours, travel far distances and make endless sacrifices to provide for their families (much like other big cities). The difference comes, I believe, on the importance placed on finding the right balance between work and living in the moment, enjoying leisurely activities, friends, and family. While others focus on working hard for a brighter tomorrow, Northern Virginians prefer living their dreams NOW!
Unlike big cities, common courtesies are still “common”. They say hello to complete strangers passing on the street. They hold the door open for whoever happens to be nearby. There is always time, it seems, for family time, human interaction and making new friends. It goes without saying that networking is paramount.
There is an endless amount of outdoor activities to enjoy, especially when the weather is fine. Be it hiking, mountain biking, paddle boarding, bird watching, kayaking, or camping you’ll never run out of things to do in this gorgeous state. And, if sweating in the outdoors isn’t your thing, then a scenic drive through the Shenandoah Mountains or some retail therapy at Tyson’s Corner may be more appealing.
On the down side, there is a high cost of living and high taxes. It’s the major complaint of most people moving here from other states. Also be aware of the high-traffic hours and stay clear as much as possible. It is a major adjustment but planning ahead and using public transportation can help to mitigate these problems.
IN THE END … For the thousands of years that people have lived and migrated to Virginia, there seems to be something for everyone. Even today, I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met that came here for a job or a spouse and have never left. It’s an easy adjustment and the perks will grow on you quickly. In no time, you’ll find yourself “living the dream”.(Edit)