Those of you who know me probably know that I’ve been in the same apartment for about five years now. I moved into the apartment (just outside of the city of Fairfax) as I was entering my junior year at George Mason University in August 2002. The original two roommates moved out in December 2003 and I shared the place with a new roommate until he left in July 2004. Then I had the place to myself—except Melissa’s stuff, which slowly migrated in—until May 2005 when we got married.
It’s not a particularly bad place, given the location and the price (believe it or not, $1,195/month is a bargain in Fairfax County, VA—especially since that includes the utilities). That said, it’s not particularly great either. Visitor parking is extremely limited, the buildings are old and lack fire sprinklers, there is no in-unit washer and dryer so we need to have lots of quarters on-hand, and the climate control systems are antiquated.
More bothersome, the demographic has changed in the last five years—and not for the better. It used to be mainly college kids, lower- and lower-middle-class families, and new [legal!] immigrants just getting their footing in the United States. The community was very diverse, but felt perfectly safe. More recently there has been a significant increase in crime, including a couple of violent crimes, in the community. This has brought a welcome increase in police presence, but many of our neighbors don’t seem to be cooperating with them as much as they should . . . perhaps because many of our newer neighbors aren’t in the United States legally or are involved in gang activity themselves (or both).
Needless to say, Melissa and I have been looking at alternatives, and since our current lease runs out on September 30 (and we have to give 60 days notice before moving out) we have spent a chunk of the last week researching apartments and checking a couple out. On Saturday we saw a coworker’s condo which he rents out, and it was good but a little small for the price. Yesterday afternoon we left work early and visited the best apartment complex on our list—among the highest rated apartment complexes in the country, according to my independent research—which met our needs a bit better. After asking a lot of questions, we decided to put in an application for a two-bedroom apartment. Today, we learned that our application has been accepted and so it’s final: we’re moving! In fact we just put in our >60 days notice this afternoon.
Our new home will be further north and west in Fairfax County than we are now (out toward Herndon), which is my old stomping ground from when I lived in the area as a kid. It’s a bit more expensive than where we are now, but we’ve been blessed and can afford the increase at the moment—it’s not a huge increase anyway. Utilities are not included, but they offer free DirecTV (after an initial fee for the receiver) and each apartment comes with a gas fireplace and security system. It’s about 200 sq. feet more than our current place in size, has an in-unit washer and dryer, the buildings are fairly new and all have fire sprinklers, the heating and AC systems are much better (they’ll even change the filter more often than usual upon request, which is good for people with pet allergies [like Melissa]), and apparently they almost always have available visitor parking.
Most importantly, the complex is in a great neighborhood and the crime rate is quite low. It’s a definite upgrade. The only two real negatives are that our commute will be about 15 minutes longer and the quickest way to go will be to take a toll road :-(. That’s okay though.
Anyway, we can take occupancy on September 17, which gives us about two weeks to move everything before our current apartment has to be vacated. That way, we’re not too rushed! And I’ll finally get to really test the SUV with a full load of stuff (I might even use the roof rack) ;-).