Arlington vs Alexandria

The two “A” cities inside the beltway. I’ve done quite a few videos on both Alexandria and Arlington, but never in the same video. So how are these two places similar, and how do they differ? Which would be better for you – Arlington or Alexandria Virginia!

Arlington Virginia is a county. It’s also the mailing address for everyone living in Arlington, which is something we don’t usually see in the country. Arlington comprises dozens of neighborhoods. The City of Alexandria has about a dozen neighborhoods. We’re going to have some fun with this today as well, stay tuned for the “Where would this celebrity live” part of the video.

Arlington vs. Alexandria: Location

These two areas share a similar location. They are both inside the beltway, both easily commutable to downtown DC as well as the many businesses in the rest of Northern Virginia. Both start with A. That’s almost where the similarities end. Both areas offer a lifestyle and vibe that I feel is very different from the other.

Arlington vs. Alexandria: Vibe

Arlington has two personalities in a way because North Arlington is different than South Arlington. North Arlington is a combination of residential with most homes above the $1M price point. Then there is a retail corridor with shops like Sephora, Container Store, Apple, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel. This retail area follows through neighborhoods like Rosslyn, Court House, Clarendon, Ballston and they run east-west along the southernmost portion of North Arlington. Key to this area is the metro accessibility which runs along this same corridor through these North Arlington neighborhoods in the southern edge.

Route 50 is the Arlington dividing line. South Arlington is geographically much smaller compared to North Arlington, but within itself it has very diverse vibes. You will find quieter residential neighborhoods like Barcroft and Glencarlyn. Then you’ll find what’s turning into a city over on Route 1 in Crystal City / National Landing area where Amazon is. Also in South Arlington is Shirlington, which has its own little downtown and a similar feel to Clarendon in North Arlington. South Arlington might be small but there is a lot happening here.

The City of Alexandria has many residential neighborhoods with a great community feel. There’s the charm of Old Town with brick sidewalks and tons of outdoor dining on the Potomac River. Del Ray is a very popular neighborhood in Alexandria as well where you will find a lot of mom and pop shops and a down-to-earth feel. Alexandria feels easy going and less rat-racey compared to the movers and shakers in Arlington. This is my opinion though, it’s not fact, so don’t come for me if you don’t agree.

Arlington or Alexandria: Which Has Better Schools?

There’s a simple answer to this one – no one has ever said they want to move to the City of Alexandria for the schools. The school system is notoriously overcrowded and has had problems in recent years with abysmal leadership.

Compare that to Arlington which offers three high schools – two are in North Arlington and one in South Arlington. If you are going to look strictly at school scores, the two high schools in North Arlington (Yorktown and Washington Liberty) score higher than the High School that serves South Arlington – Wakefield. But what’s important to know is that the student population of Wakefield has almost 50% of the students with English as their second language. This alone will impact the school scores tremendously.

I have videos on Arlington and Alexandria focusing specifically on the schools should you want to dive deeper.

Arlington or Alexandria: Which is Better for Families?

Keep in mind your need for schools. I have had many clients with families choose Alexandria because they plan to enroll in private schools or home school. I also have clients who spent their years pre-children in Alexandria and when the kiddos come, they don’t want to leave because it’s just that neat of a lifestyle. Both Arlington and Alexandria have parks, green space and appeal for families.

Alexandria offers more than 900 acres of parks, a variety of neighborhood and recreation centers, pools, dog parks, farmers markets, and waterfront activities.

Arlington boasts that anyone in the county is within a 10 minute walk to a park. Their Parks & Recreation Program is outstanding. I feel it’s more robust than Alexandria, but if Parks and Rec is your thing, definitely review their program offerings in more detail. I’ll link both websites here.

Arlington or Alexandria: Which Has Better Food Options?

This one is a tie. Both Arlington and Alexandria have every grocery store you could want, as well as a wide variety of ethnic restaurants and highly rated eateries. Here’s the best news – you are truly a short drive from either area in Arlington or the City of Alexandria that getting to the other for a favorite restaurant is very easy.

GAME TIME! Let’s make this FUN! Where would the celebrity live? Leia is going to celebrity and I will tell you where they would live.

  • Angelina Jolie – Arlington
  • Brad Pitt – Alexandria
  • Taylor Swift – Arlington
  • Travis Kelce – Alexandria
  • Amber Heard – Arlington
  • Johnny Depp – Alexandria
  • Jeff Bezos – Arlington
  • Dua Lipa – Arlington
  • Britney Spears – Alexandria

Arlington feels like it’s movers and shakers. Get-things-done kind of people. Alexandria feels a little less business, a little more fun. I hope this helps you figure out the differences between Arlington and Alexandria. One final note, both areas start with A and both are A+ places to live.