A year ago I was just settling into my current home in Stafford, Virginia. I was in love with the look of our place (everything was brand new and very modern) and excited to be closer to my family- about 30 minutes from my Mom, Stepdad and little sister, and 2.5 hours away from my extended family. We had chosen to move out to Stafford so that I could get more help with my kids from my mom and sister (Mason was 10 months old and I was newly pregnant with Myles) and so that the cost of childcare would be cheaper because daycares in Alexandria were so expensive- most of the centers were $400-$500 per week per child, and they were almost half that price in Stafford. My husband and I both knew we would be taking on extra long work commutes of up to an hour and a half, but we still felt like the positives outweighed the negatives.
Our optimism didn’t last long. We soon realized that in our eagerness to move we had chosen our new area very poorly, without accounting for all of our new needs as parents. Stafford carried a lower cost of living, but it was far more socially isolating than where we had lived previously because most of our friends are closer to DC. And the long commutes can really make going to work a drag. I’m lucky to no longer have to make the commute now that I’m a stay at home Mom, but I know that it’s draining for my husband and some days he’s home late when I need help with the kids in the evening because of traffic alone. And our neighborhood is beautiful but not very kid friendly, we have to drive out to parks and activities for their age group.
Because of all of these negatives we decided to move again this year. I knew that I wanted to live in a master planned community this time- these are large residential neighborhoods with amenities like parks, playgrounds, pools, athletic spaces, and sometimes even town centers with retail. They typically provide a lot of events and amenities that are geared towards children. A few examples of master planned communities in the DMV area include Embrey Mill in Stafford, Potomac Shores in Woodbridge, and Westphalia Town Center in PG County. We ended up choosing Brambleton Town Center to be close to my husband’s job.
I’m looking forward to taking the boys to the parks and events. If you’re thinking about relocating with children now or in the future, consider the types of activities your children will be interested in and how accessible those things will be in your new area. Also consider whether or not you’ll mind driving to most things or if being in a walkable area is important to you. It was very important to me, because I’m not a master at loading my two littles into the car and taking them out on excursions by myself without coming back stressed yet. I’ve also always loved walkable areas because I’m a city girl at heart.
And of course do your research on your childcare options in the area well in advance if that’s something you’re going to need.
What are your tips for choosing a new neighborhood? And if you have any advice for minimizing stress during a move let me know.
Wishing you self-care,