How to Move to Alexandria, Virginia, During an Off-Season PCS Move
Sometimes in military life, it doesn’t feel natural to move to a new duty station during non-summer months. And sometimes, you’re super happy living where you are at the moment and don’t want to move. Anywhere. Both are very understandable sentiments. We like what we know.
But, alas, military life equals change. Here’s where the good news comes in. Alexandria, Virginia, will likely be one of the best cities you’ll encounter for a transition during an off-season PCS. The city is large and diverse enough to offer plenty of opportunities to find a rental or to seriously consider buying a home.
You won’t be alone if you’re headed to Alexandria by way of Fort Belvoir, The Pentagon, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Mark Center Alexandria, and other nearby bases in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland. There’s a lot of military activity around Alexandria, which means plenty of ways to jump into life in the National Capital Region.
How to Find a New Home in Alexandria
Although an off-cycle PCS offers less competition and overall hustle and bustle for incoming families, this doesn’t mean to take a wait-and-see attitude. Because the Washington, D.C. area is so saturated with military, there’s always some pressure on the housing inventory in the most desirable neighborhoods and school districts.
It's a wise idea to begin tapping into your network of military friends to get their opinions on where to live. They’ll be the ones to give the real low down on commute times, which are synonymous with the Northern Virginia lifestyle.
If personal suggestions are hard to come by, then MilitaryByOwner has you covered with two resources.
First, the Military Family Guide to Washington, D.C. was created to supply in-depth details to help select the best new hometown. Second, MilitaryByOwner’s partner, Military Town Advisor, has reviews of Alexandria neighborhoods and businesses straight from military families who have lived in the city.
Last, but certainly not least, is the highly recommended option of finding a knowledgeable real estate agent to assist with a search within the areas/neighborhoods you are most interested.
Realtor George Myers is a lifelong resident of Alexandria. He offers his clients the inside knowledge of the city that can only come from decades of living and working in the area. Alexandria has a long list of desirable neighborhoods, and George is confident he can match the best one for each client.
He took the time to answer some questions that newcomers to Alexandria might be interested in knowing.
In Alexandria, how do the off-season rental and buying markets look?
The Northern Virginia market holds a resilience that few other markets in the country can claim. We do see a bit of softening in both the rental and sales markets at this time, likely related to both the approaching holiday season and the rise in interest rates.
Are rentals with pets allowed easy to find?
Rental properties allowing pets are often difficult (but not impossible) to find. Given the choice, most landlords would far prefer a tenant without pets. If the home is older and/or in need of updating, the more likely the landlord will allow pets.
What will inventory be like over the next few months?
While certainly a generalization, our sales inventory sees more properties added in the early spring and then again, to a lesser degree, in early fall, than any other time of year. One of the greatest myths about the D.C. area real estate market is that there is a significant inventory turnover with an election or administration change in the White House. This is simply not the case. While people do come and go with administration changes, the numbers are so small they have a minimal effect on the greater market.
Why is moving to Alexandria different from moving to other cities popular with service members?
Alexandria is truly unique in that it offers a history as old as our country, predating Washington, D.C. itself. Geographically, Alexandria offers fantastic livability and very easy commuting to and from major locations and base installations: the Pentagon, Washington Navy Yard, Joint Base Andrews, Ft. Belvoir, and Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling are all well within easy commute of Alexandria and its immediate suburbs.
Resources for School Transition
Because the city is used to, and actually welcomes service members, it's not an uncommon sight for a new family to move into the neighborhood right after a holiday break. In fact, many schools actually factor into their classroom numbers the subtraction and addition of a couple of students in each class.
A smart way to start integration into a new school is to talk with a Military School Liaison Officer. Not every installation near Alexandria has one, but by talking with one, they can put you on the right path. Connect with one of the Fort Belvoir SLOs. They’ll have recommendations and resources to aid your PCS including information about homeschooling and private schools.
Fairfax County Public School system, which educates a large part of the population living in Alexandria, gives military parents a heads up on important topics like special education enrollment and school boundaries. If you are considering an Alexandria City Public School, their NEW TO ACPS tab has pertinent information.
More tips for connecting with your new school:
- Contact the PTO/PTA. Most in this area have an active military family specific group within the organization.
- Check in with your school counselors. Many earn special certifications to assist transitioning military kids.There might even be a "buddy program" that matches new students with current military students.
An Alexandria, Virginia, lifestyle might take some time to adjust to for those who haven’t lived in a very active suburb of a major metropolitan city. Preparing for housing and school well before arrival will take away some of the trepidation, allowing your family to jump right in and complete one of the best bucket lists in the military.