Arlington VA Pros & Cons

Arlington is one of the first areas in DC that many people mention when discussing the DC Area, or DMV as many call it here. With just 26 square miles and about 238,000 residents, Arlington is the smallest self-governing county in the U.S. Don’t let the small size fool you into thinking there isn’t a lot to offer. Today we’re going to cover the pros and cons of Living in Arlington, Virginia!



Arlington, you aren’t far from anything. I would rank this as the best place to live in the DMV in terms of location. You can easily commute to downtown DC either by car or metro. If you commute up to Maryland for work, it’s against traffic. If you commute west out toward Tyson’s Corner or even the tech corridor out toward Dulles, this is also “against traffic.”

If commuting for you requires airplane travel, Reagan National Airport is also in Arlington, just east of Crystal City along the Potomac. It’s also easy to get to Dulles now by metro with the new silver line.

Arlington has Jobs!

Perhaps you have heard of Amazon? They chose Arlington as the site of their 2nd Headquarters. HQ2 is in Crystal City – which is now renamed National Landing. The Pentagon is in Arlington – home of the DOD – Department of Defense. Drug Enforcement (DEA) is in Arlington as well as other employers to include Nestle, Boeing, Rosetta Stone, and Raytheon Technologies.

Arlington is a Friendly Place for Everyone

Arlington isn’t just popular with one segment of the population. Arlington is a place where people move when they are young professionals and then choose to stay through marriage, babies, kids growing up and going to Arlington public schools. Even as the kids grow up and move on, people stay.

Are you a young professional just out of college and starting a job in the area? Arlington has a good nightlife scene of its own as well as easy access to DC. Think more bar and grill kind of places though than night clubs or places to dance. There are a plethora of one bedrooms here for rent or sale, offering you a place to call home while you build your career and life.

Arlington is also family & kid friendly. The county has many different neighborhoods which have a ton of greenspace, parks, playgrounds. The Arlington Parks & Recreation Program is nothing short of amazing. They have multiple awesome rec centers throughout the county and they host hundreds of classes for all ages. There’s fitness, sports, arts, dance, gymnastics, aquatics. It’s impressive. The girls and I have even taken classes there when they open it up to non-residents.

Another place I’ve taken the kids quite a bit is Art House 7. Where our art classes were lacking at various points in time, the kids had fun doing additional art classes here. They also offer classes for adults. Hint for the parents, you don’t have to worry about what to do for the hour they are in class because there is a fantastic Starbucks right next door where you can get a drink and chill out for a bit.

Schools are Well Rated

There are 3 high school pyramids in Arlington. Two serve the larger North Arlington area, and one serves South Arlington. There is a socio-economic differential in each of these three high school pyramids. The Great Schools scores will not be reflective here of the school experience. DC has a varied population. When children come here from other countries and English isn’t their first language, they are still subjected to the standardized testing that translates to the school scores you see online. This will always skew the scores so it’s important in this area to not focus on a school score you see online. Some people claim that our school scores should be weighted a bit, and that our “5” for example is comparable to an 8 or 9 in another part of the country.

Great Shopping

There’s lots here both in Arlington and in the surrounding areas of Tyson’s Corner and Alexandria. Tyson’s has all the major stores with two malls and tons of retail surrounding the malls. Clarendon, which is an Arlington neighborhood, has a good bit of shopping. There’s a mall with the department stores in the Pentagon City neighborhood in Arlington. On the Arlington / Alexandria border there’s Potomac Yard. If you want to cross the Key Bridge, Georgetown is just a few minutes away as well.

Great Food

There are a lot of great restaurants in Arlington. Most of them will be along a few of the “main drags” in the county. The Wilson/Clarendon Boulevard corridor is where many restaurants are. One of my favorites is Colony Grill, which hails from my hometown in Connecticut. All they have is pizza, but it’s the most delicious and it’s all you need in life. Clarendon has Ambar which is Balkan, Seamore’s for Seafood, CIRCA for American food, Four Sisters for Vietnamese, Maison Cheryl which is French – the list keeps going. Quarterdeck is in a residential area of Arlington, but it’s a wildly popular seafood restaurant as well. It’s casual but they are often so slammed that they recommend reservations.

In Shirlington in South Arlington, there is a whole downtown with a ton of deliciousness. The owners of local chain Cheesetique just reinvented this location to Corso Italian. There’s Busboys & Poets which is a highly regarded local chain, Carlyle, Our Mom Eugnenia (Greek,) Guapos and other places here on the strip.

On Columbia Pike, I once went into Thai Square to grab something quick after I was showing some homes and it ended up being some of the best Thai food I have had.

Every grocery store you would want is somewhere in Arlington. Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Safeway, Giant, Costco, Moms Organic, plus several independent and ethnic grocery stores.

Other Fun

If all this isn’t enough, there’s still more. A popular Arlington pastime is watching planes coming in to Reagan by hanging out at Gravelly Point. I even filmed a video there.

The W & OD Trail starts in Shirlington and follows the old Washington & Old Dominion train line. There’s also Mount Vernon Trail which starts in Rosslyn and goes 18 miles through Arlington, Old Town Alexandria, into Fairfax County ending at George Washington’s House – Mount Vernon.


There are not a lot of cons to living in Arlington, but since this is a Pros and Cons article/video, I’ll share a few.

Cost of Living

I have videos on the cost of living for Arlington and the area, and it’s expensive here. If you’re moving to this area though, you won’t necessarily find Arlington to be any more expensive than DC, Alexandria or even Maryland. In fact, when it comes to income taxes, Virginia has pretty much a flat tax of 5.75% and no additional local town/county income taxes. There is a personal property tax on vehicles, RV’s, boats and planes in Virginia but the Governor has just introduced legislation to do away with this tax. If that goes away, Virginia could actually be less expensive compared to similar urban areas in DC or Montgomery County, Maryland


Not much needs to be expanded on here – the traffic in most areas of the DMV is abysmal. It’s not 24/7 gridlock but there are a lot of cars here on the roads and you will have to find ways to share the road space with them.


It’s crowded here and it’s not going to get better anytime soon. In fact, Arlington’s population consistently rises, though in the last couple years it seems to have dipped by a few thousand people. Is it a blip? Is it a trend of things to come? Time will tell for sure but because there is so much to love about Arlington so I’m going with blip.