Alexandria is a beautiful city in Virginia but is often overshadowed by large neighboring towns like Arlington and Washington, DC. Talking about the DC area typically gets left out of the conversation. However, Alexandria is a gorgeous metro that shines on its own and deserves great recognition.
Nestling along the western bank of the Potomac River, this unique city is one of the safest cities in the US and the best place for veterans. It has proven to be an excellent place to reside, given the number of young professionals, families, and retirees moving here.
The city provides unique cultural experiences through its dynamic downtown, fantastic music scene, and thriving art district. It has an attractive way of modernizing while retaining its precious historical roots.
There are tons of surprising things about Alexandria, and if you want to discover more, take a look at this list of pros and cons. Here we will highlight the significant benefits and drawbacks of living in Alexandria, Virginia.
List of Contents
Is Alexandria an excellent place to live in? A Historical and Cultural Gem in VA
The Good side
Old Town – The Pride of the City
If there is one thing you must discover about Alexandria, it is its amazing Old Town. It is a place where you can uncover all the best things about this city. You can immerse yourself in cultural and historical activities in this area.
It is near the bank of the Potomac River. The Old Town is one of the primary cultural centers not only in the metro but in the entire DC area as well. Upon visiting the place, you will instantly notice the cobblestone-lined streets, historical sites, and endless restaurants.
There are also plenty of antique shops, boutiques, and theaters that you can visit. It is a highly condensed place because it has become a hot spot for locals and tourists visiting the city and other cities in the DC area.
It has a strong appeal due to its stunning historical buildings while surrounded by gastropubs and shopping and retail shops. There are over 100 retail stores, and you will never run out of places to go. Moreover, it also comes with the iconic Old Town Market and the historic King Street that keep the visitors coming.
A Healthy Community
Another thing to appreciate about Alexandria is its healthy community. The city government prioritizes the health of its populace by providing excellent facilities and amenities for health and fitness. It is at the top list of America’s healthiest communities.
Its vast outdoor parks, hiking and walking trails, picnic grounds, and spray adventures encourage locals to go out and stay fit. The beauty of the surroundings and the support from the government makes the people more health conscious and prioritize their well-being.
When you visit the George Washington Memorial Parkway, you will see its more than 15-mile hiking and biking trail. It is a sought-after spot for locals who want to spend their weekends. Fort Scott Park and Lyon Village Park are excellent options for some great outdoor recreation.
A Food Lover’s Delight
This city will never disappoint if you love trying out great food and new dishes. There are loads of restaurants on every corner, from the Old Town Market to upscale areas of Alexandria. This metro offers everything from traditional American food to best-tasting South and Latin American food.
Living in this city means exploring its excellent eateries with patios or fun-themed restaurants that offer good food and service. For instance, Bilbo Baggins is a famous eatery in the town serving the best-tasting Wiener Schnitzel and Giardiniera Chicken Penne.
On the other hand, for a taste of Asian flavors, you can visit the Kogiya Korean BBQ for its miso, sam yup sal, and kimchi. Other restaurants you can consider are Cheesetique, Hank’s Oyster Bar, and Buzz Bakeshop.
Reliable Learning Institutions
If you are relocating with children, Alexandria has the best learning centers for your kids. The Alexandria City Public Schools catering to more than 16,000 students in the metro, offer quality education for preschoolers and K-12. Other options are the Fairfax County School District and over 200 schools within the greater Alexandria region.
Meanwhile, if you are pursuing higher education, Stratford University or the Virginia Tech Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center are some of the excellent choices.
The city is centrally located and provides convenient access to the great DC area. It is close to Arlington and Washington, DC, and connected by the Metrorail service and I-495. It is easy to go out of town and visit these large metros from Alexandria.
A Cultural Melting Pot
Alexandria is not a remote city with very few people living in it. When you choose to move here, it is customary to see people from different backgrounds and nationalities. Alexandria is one of Virginia’s most diverse urban areas and a cultural melting pot.
There is a considerable population of Latin Americans here. A percentage of Asian and African people chose to reside here. You can encounter nationalities from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. As a result, you will learn about various cultures and immerse yourself in various celebrations and festivals.
The Bad side
The city has an external elevation and is susceptible to flooding on rainy days. Aside from that, its proximity to the Potomac River makes it vulnerable during storms or rainy seasons. You must be prepared for this kind of incident to prevent any harm to your household and family.
Ensure that you have emergency plans and know the proper authorities to coordinate with in case of a flood in your area. Always take extra measures and ensure that you get flood insurance once you relocate here.
What is the cost of living in Alexandria? A Gorgeous City in Virginia at an Expensive Price
Alexandria is not an affordable city. If you decide to move here, you must prepare to pay higher living expenses. The cost of living in this metro is approximately 50% higher than the national average. So, if you want to live comfortably here, you need to secure a high-paying job and budget frugally your monthly expenses.
The Good side
Reasonable tax system
The city’s tax policies are reasonable and follow income brackets. The income tax you pay heavily depends on the amount you earn in a year. For example, if you belong to the low-earner frame, you will probably spend as low as 2% of the state income tax. On the other hand, high-wage earners or those who receive $17,500 a year would need to pay 5.75%.
Another tax perk that you can enjoy here is the sales tax. Compared to other metros with 8% sales tax, the tax here is only about 6%.
The Bad side
A Pricey City to Live
As I have mentioned earlier, it is expensive to live in Alexandria. You have to pay 50% more for your living expenses than in other towns in the United States. Housing or real estate is the main culprit for these very costly living expenses.
The median home price in the city is around $542,000. It is way higher compared to the state average of $258,000. So, if it would be difficult for you to be a homeowner here, you can always resort to apartment renting.
However, renting here is costly too. You still have to allot more than a thousand dollars for a decent-sized apartment in Alexandria. For instance, a studio apartment will already cost you $1,665. It is more costly to rent a two-bedroom apartment, from $1700 to $2,560.
Housing expenses can powerfully blow your monthly budget if you are a low-income earner. Search for a passive income or other ways to boost your finances.
Rising Property Value
If you hope that real estate can be lower in the long run, you think otherwise. The property value here is continuously following an upward trend. Over the years, houses in the DC area became popular, making the real estate market highly competitive.
Many home buyers compete with one property, and the seller would take that advantage to increase the price. There is more housing demand than the available property for the residents. Property prices will undoubtedly become more expensive in the years to come.
Why work in Alexandria? A Healthy Economy for Everyone
The Good side
A Healthy Job Market
The city’s economy is established by independent and tech enterprises, including Culmen International, Invictus, Systems Planning and Analysis Inc. , and Pro-Sphere Tek. These are solid and well-founded businesses that provide massive employment to the residents.
Moreover, there are also international organizations with stations in Alexandria, creating job opportunities for the locals. These organizations include Salvation Army National Corporation and United Way Worldwide.
Government jobs are also abundant here, with employment from the Department of Defense, USDA Food and Nutrition Service, US Patent and Trademark Office, and more. It means that the city’s economy is incredibly driven by different sectors, from the public, private, and non-government agencies.
Amazon is here!
One of the key economic drivers in Alexandria is Amazon. This internet retail giant established its headquarters in the city in November 2018.
With this big name, Alexandria residents have plenty of work opportunities. In fact, in 2020, it generated more than 500 new jobs for the people of Alexandria.
As the company grows, more work positions and opportunities can be available in the long run. It can also attract other tech companies to move here and build stations in the city.
Plenty of Job Market Positions
Since the city has a diverse economy, you would expect various jobs for specific skill sets. Based on the data gathered by the Chamber of Commerce, architects, engineers, finance, legal, real estate, and professional services are most likely to enjoy a very competitive salary package here.
Also, these job market positions demonstrate steady growth rates. So, if you have a solid background in one of these positions, there is a high possibility that you can build a lucrative career in Alexandria, Virginia.
Low Unemployment Rate
Alexandria has a very prosperous economy. It has a booming job market, and its unemployment rate is only 2.3%. The figure is way lower than the national average of 3.9%. It means that when you move to this city, there is a higher possibility that you can land a full-time job.
Moreover, aside from the availability of employment, it also offers its workers a high per capita income of $57,000. The median family income is also $87,300. It is way higher than the country’s average of $57,700.
These figures show that Alexandria is a very prosperous economy. It may have an expensive cost of living, but your earnings or income can significantly cover your monthly spending once you work here.
Alexandria is one of the best cities you can consider for relocation. Aside from its cultural and historical significance, the fast growth it demonstrated over the years is a huge plus. It is a beautiful metro in Virginia that offers you a possibility of a lucrative and happy life – a fantastic city for relocation.
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