The Cost of Living in Northern Virginia

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Northern Virginia, also called NoVa, is a beautiful region known as one of the most affluent parts of the nation. It is most frequently defined to include the counties of Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun, and Prince William as well as the independent cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas, and Manassas Park. NoVa is the most populated region in the state of Virginia and the Washington metropolitan area, having over two million residents.

If you’re planning to relocate to Northern Virginia, it would be beneficial to learn about the cost of living in this area so you can somehow assess if moving there will be a good decision.


What is Cost of Living Index?

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Simply put, cost of living index is the estimated amount of the cost of the basic necessities that an individual needs to live comfortably. Generally, a cost of living or COL estimate includes costs for housing, food, energy, medical care, transportation, taxes, and other necessities.

A cost-of-living index is particularly relevant for people who are considering moving to another city, state, or country, as this information helps to compare the cost difference of a certain location compared to another location. If you are contemplating of relocating to Northern Virginia, for instance, this type of information can help you determine whether moving to this region will be beneficial for you and your family given your projected income.

Cost of Living in Northern Virginia

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The cost of living depends on the exact location you are relocating to. As the region encompasses several counties, there could be slight variations in the cost of living. However, in general, the cost of living in Northern Virginia is relatively high and is above the national average. But if you compare the urban areas in NoVa with other cities on the East Coast, such as New York, you will find that the price tags in this area are slightly lower. On the other hand, if you will be living in a rural area, then the costs of your expenses will be lower compared to those of the major cities.

Why is the Cost of Living in Northern Virginia High?

There are numerous reasons why the cost of living in NoVa is high and why people are drawn to relocate here:

·  NoVa and the Washington metropolitan area offer a broad variety of housing options, locations, and prices.

·  Various housing options are available for individuals seeking an urban, suburban, and small town or country feel.

·  High-rise apartments, condominiums, single family homes, and townhouses abound in the area.

·  Fairfax County is the second largest suburban office market in the country.

·  Fairfax is also the largest office market in the state of Virginia, with over 113 million square feet of space.

·  There are over 5,000 physicians practicing in Northern Virginia.

·  The region is served by several fully accredited area hospitals, including:

 Inova Health System‘s hospitals in Alexandria, Fairfax and Loudoun counties

 HCA Healthcare‘s hospitals in Fairfax and Loudoun counties

 Sentara Healthcare and Novant Health in Prince William County

 Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington County

·  Northern Virginia boasts of its world-class public-school systems and some of the finest private schools in the country.

·  The public-school systems go beyond the basics for students in grades K-12, offering the following:

o   Gifted and talented services

o   Comprehensive special education services

o   English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)

o   Advanced Placement (AP)

o   Inter-national Baccalaureate (IB) programs

o   Professional-technical studies

·  Several institutions of higher learning are located in NoVa, including:

o   George Mason University

o   Virginia Tech – National Capital Region

o   Marymount University

o   Northern Virginia Community College

·  Northern Virginia also boasts of superior quality transportation and infrastructure that support the leading businesses located in the region.

·  There are two major airports in NoVa:

o   Reagan National Airport

o   Dulles International Airport

·  The Metrorail is the primary mass transit in the area and it has the second highest daily ridership in the nation.

·  NoVa is also served by a commuter rail system: the Virginia Railway Express (VRE).

·  The Capital Beltway and I-95 are two major highway systems in Northern Virginia.

Cost of Living in Fairfax, VA

To give you a better idea of what the cost of living is in Northern Virginia, let’s take a look at one of the key cities in the region – Fairfax. The cost of living index in Fairfax is estimated to be 148.2, 48.2% higher than that of the national average, making it one of the more expensive cities in the United States.

What is a Livable Salary in Fairfax, VA?

Knowing the median household income in Fairfax, VA will help you gauge the cost of living in this city. Here, the median household income is $116,979. This is 57% more than that of the state median. The median income for an individual in Fairfax is $55,126, which is 40% more than that of the state median.

If you’ll be moving to Fairfax, the minimum salary you will need is the sum of the following:

Your daily expenses, including groceries, utilities, transportation, and entertainment
Your monthly housing-related costs, such as rent, mortgage, insurance, and maintenance
Any debt expenses, including monthly interest payments and principal pay downs
Your savings and investment goals

Housing Costs in Fairfax, VA

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Housing is generally the highest among the basic expenses. In Fairfax, VA, the cost of living index for housing is estimated at 238.4, more than double compared to the national average. The median home price is $652,700. The average rent in the Fairfax metro area for a 2-bedroom apartment is $2,396, 104% more than the average rent across the country.

Average Prices in Fairfax Compared to the Rest of the United States

Fairfax ranks 15th out of 273 cities across the United States in terms of cost of living. The overall cost of living index in Fairfax, VA is 148.2, 48.2% higher than that of the national average.


·  The average price of a hamburger in Fairfax is $4.79, 5.54% higher than the national average of $4.52.

·  The average price of chicken (2 pieces) is $3.89, 6.53% lower than the national average which is $4.14.

·  The average price of a large pizza is $11.99, 11.27% more expensive than the national average of $10.64.

·  A half-gallon of milk in Fairfax, VA costs $2.69, 24.68% higher than the national average of $2.03.

·  Bread costs $4.22 on average in Fairfax, VA, 20.26% more expensive than the national average which is $3.37.

·  A visit to a general practitioner in Fairfax, VA will cost you $128 on average, 9.54% higher than the national average of $115.79.

·  A visit to the dentist costs $105 on average, 5.29% higher than the national average of $99.45.

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If you are considering moving to Northern Virginia, feel free to get in touch with us so we could help you look for the perfect home for you and your family. Give us a call today at 804-480-4673 or send us an email at to schedule an appointment.