Arlington, VA, United States of America Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Arlington, VA, United States of America

Arlington, VA, United States of America 05/20/15

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

The was our first post.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Home base was Columbus, Ohio. 7 hours by car and a little over an hour by plane.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

3 years (2011-2014)

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

EFM of USG employee

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Mostly apartments, row house/townhouses in our area (Rosslyn). Though, there certainly are houses the farther into Arlington you are. You create the type of commute you want (and can afford). This is an area of high importance to us. My husband walked two blocks to work. I took a shuttle bus from the metro station for a 10-15 min commute. Commute can be long and miserable if you live further out. Many people choose alternate work hours to avoid rush hour and shorten commute times.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Very available. Safeway, Whole Foods, and CVS all within walking distance.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

See previous comment about eating out. Great availability of restaurants of all types. Price ranges all over the map depending on what you're looking for. We found a lot of our favorite restaurants were inexpensive ethnic restaurants a little drive further out in VA. We loves finding recommendations here: http://tylercowensethnicdiningguide.com

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None that we noticed.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

USPS, UPS, FedEX, etc.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Available. Live-in would be expensive here. Many people use au-pairs for older children because it is more cost effective for them. We had a a fairly inexpensive cleaning service to clean our apartment (though word of mouth).

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There were multiple options available when were there. Gold's Gym and Fitness First were reasonably priced. Revolve for spinning and LavaBarre for barre class were more expensive but had great classes.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

As safe as anywhere else in the U.S.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Likely anything you desire.

View All Answers


6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Obviously an English speaking post.

View All Answers


7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It seems fairly accessible, though our family didn't have any specific experience with this.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Safe, but metro fares get expensive. Set up pre-tax travel dollars to be added to your metro card through work if possible.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Just about anything would be fine here if you have suitable parking. I don't think a really large or tall vehicle would've fit in our parking garage

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Available, but can be expensive. Have been away for a year, so unsure of cost now.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Very pet friendly area. Lots of vets, daycares, and boarding facilities. A few great dog parks, as well.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Yes

View All Answers


3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Seems to vary from business casual to suits for work. Just about anything goes in public.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

The same as an other large-ish US city. Stay out of unsafe areas and practice good awareness. We never had any issues other than stolen bikes from our parking garage. Bike theft is an issue- register your bike for the best chance of its return.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Great medical care available in the area. Many hospitals, clinics, urgent cares, and specialists. Lots of walk-in "retail" clinics with long hours.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Usual problems with pollen and pollution of larger cities. No specific concerns.

View All Answers


4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Many people seemed to complain about problems with allergies in the Spring and Fall.

View All Answers


5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Four seasons- ranging from hot, humid summer to cold and snowy winters. Winter varied from very mild to long, cold, and snowy while we were there.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

No need here. Amazing schools in Arlington. No personal experience, as we didn't have kids while living in Arlington.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Definitely available. I'm unsure of cost as we didn't have children at this post.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge. Morales just depends, like anywhere else. Everyone we knew was pretty happy. Usual complaints about paying for housing, etc.

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

All the typical U.S. social activities: movies (Arlington has some really nice theaters), shopping, dining out/drinks, plenty of outdoors space. Close proximity to DC allows for watching sporting events, theater, concerts, etc.

View All Answers


3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Great for everyone.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes, this is a great city for gay and lesbian expats. I had a few gay friends who seemed very happy and never had any specific issues living here to my knowledge.

View All Answers


5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not in my experience. Being just outside DC, Arlington is very diverse.

View All Answers


6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Completing graduate school and obtaining required practice hours to maintain my professional licensure. Creating a support system in our new "home." Easy visits from family and friends. Washington, DC fourth of July.

View All Answers


7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

We enjoyed eating out in our area. Liberty Tavern, Northside Social Lyon Hall, Screwtop, District Taco, El Chilango...and many more. Plenty of places to have coffee or a drink. So easy to walk into Georgetown from Rosslyn.

View All Answers


8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

We enjoyed living in Arlington. As an EFM I was able to complete graduate school and able to have full-time employment in my career field. It was nice to have time to make a solid group of friends at our new "home base." Plenty of time to learn the area for future domestic assignments. Less travel and very regular hours for my spouse for my husband (which I loved).

View All Answers


9. Can you save money?

It would be difficult to save a lot of money here. If you budget well and cook at home, saving money is possible.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

View All Answers


2. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


3. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


4. Do you have any other comments?

View All Answers


Arlington, VA, United States of America 10/04/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

First experience away from hometown (NYC).

View All Answers


2. How long have you lived here?

Seven years 2002-2009.

View All Answers


3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Spouse of U.S. Government employee.

View All Answers


4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing consists of great little post-WWII homes, garden apartments, townhouses and apartments. There's something for everyone. Don't be afraid to venture into South Arlington. The housing is more affordable, the buses are reliable and the schools are just as good as in N. Arlington.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries and household supplies are available and reasonably priced. This is a bustling suburb of DC so you'll find no cheap options here, but you will find great farmer's markets and almost any kind of grocery product you desire.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

All fast food is available in Arlington, but you're better off grabbing amazing tacos, kabob or fresh pizza. Who needs McDonalds when you can can anything and everything?

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes in summer.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Through the US Postal Service.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Available and expensive. We never had a maid because we couldn't afford one!

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, there are several gyms in Arlington, along with public pools and a YMCA.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Use them anywhere, safely.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, all.

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes.

View All Answers


7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You need English to function here. Although, I'm certain that with a few exceptions, you can find a small community from your home country here.

View All Answers


8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

None, although some neighborhoods have no sidewalks.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, safe and affordable.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Any kind of auto would be fine here.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, we paid about $100 a month for cable, high speed internet and home phone (Verizon Fios).

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I used Sprint for years and had an excellent signal and service.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Great vets here. We used Caring Hands in South Arlington and loved them.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Definitely. If you are allowed to work here, there's a lot of opportunities here. DC is a major city with lots of different industries.

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Depends on where you work. Generally, conservative, suits and ties and suits for women.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Very healthy.

View All Answers


2. What immunizations are required each year?

Just the usual.

View All Answers


3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Arlington is a safe town, but you should take care to lock your car, home and be aware in the street. It's a suburban paradise with some instances of muggings and exposure on the bike trails.

View All Answers


4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

None. The quality of health care is fantastic.

View All Answers


5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot during the summer months (June-August), beautiful and mild spring and fall, cold winter with little snow.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The Arlington County public schools are some of the best in the country. My older daughter attended a Spanish immersion program in N. Arlington, which we were happy with. In retrospect, she may have been happier in our smaller, neighborhood school, but only because she did not thrive in an immersion setting. I've heard nothing but positive things about each school in Arlington.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Arlington can accommodate any and all special needs. Parents must, of course, advocate for their kids. I've heard of situations in which schools push back on requests for IEPs, maintaining that some problems are medical (i.e. ADHD). Once you get an IEP, the schools offer excellent support.

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Pre-schools are plentiful and of generally good quality in Arlington. There's something for everyone: all-day pre-school, cooperative schools, morning-only. The Arlington Public School system also has montessori classes for three and four year olds, which they fill through lottery.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, many through the school as well as through the YMCA.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Tremendous.

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Great. DC is a thriving city. Although DC in general tends to be more conservative city (think government employees), there's something for everyone.

View All Answers


3. Morale among expats:

Great!

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's a great post for everyone.

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes.

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No.

View All Answers


7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Bike trails, parks, trips into DC, museums, ice skating, movie theaters, short trips out to the country, cafes, the zoo, great ethnic restaurants, everything and anything.

View All Answers


8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

View All Answers


9. Can you save money?

Nope.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Thoughts of saving money.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

ATM card.:)

View All Answers


4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


7. Do you have any other comments?

Arlington is a safe town, great for families and singles alike.

View All Answers


New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More