Living in Falls Church
Falls Church, Virginia is 5 miles west of DC and has several neighborhoods with different personalities. Today, we are talking about the “rest” of Falls Church. In a separate video we will cover Falls Church City, which is adjacent to but separate from the rest of Falls Church. This is because in Virginia, cities do not reside within counties. Miami is in Dade County. Atlanta is in Fulton County. Los Angeles is in Los Angeles County. Chicago is in Cook County. Dallas is in Dallas County. But Falls Church City stands on its own, not within any county, and is not the same as the rest of Falls Church which is in Fairfax County.
The Falls Church we are covering today includes Lake Barcroft, West Falls Church, Bailey’s Crossroads, Seven Corners, and Pimmit Hills. There is a tiny portion of Merrifield which has Falls Church mailing addresses but Merrifield is mostly considered Fairfax as it’s outside the beltway.
Location & Transportation
Inside the beltway, Falls Church is almost a catch-all for other areas which don’t have their own mailing address. Locally you hear people refer to the individual neighborhoods as if they are their own towns. It’s fascinating that they aren’t since they can all be so different too, but as far north as Pimmit Hills, down to West Falls Church, Seven Corners and Lake Barcroft are all part of Falls Church. As far as highways, you’re super well connected. The beltway (495,) 66, the Dulles Toll Road (267) all run through Falls Church.
The metro has stops in West Falls Church and Dunn Loring which is in Merrifield.
It’s not easy to make blanket statements about Falls Church real estate because the areas are all so different. Overall though, know that you can get single family detached homes here from the $500,000’s all the way up to $3M. The average price is $1.065M, Median is $865,000.
Townhomes are mostly in the $600,000 to $800,000 range, but there are lower and higher prices. Condos can start in the high $100,000’s and go up to $600,000.
We should zoom in though on some of the different areas. Pimmit Hills for instance is drastically different from Lake Barcroft.
Pimmit Hills is a CDP (Census Designated Place) inside the beltway that for many decades had seen better days. It started in the 1950’s as a neighborhood of 3 bedroom, 1 bath rambler style homes for the World War II and Korean War vets and their families. But then, the neighborhood fell into disrepair. About 10 years ago, when the market started to recover, the flippers arrived. With a location inside the beltway, close to Tysons, 495, 66 and the Dulles Toll Road, this was a no-brainer for redevelopment. There are a lot of flips here, and there are lots of houses which seem and are hugely overgrown for the lot on which they sit. The prices for these homes approach $2M.
A couple fun facts about Pimmit Hills. First, locally, there is a lot of shade thrown at Pimmit Hills. It’s just been hard for some to grasp that this is now a $1M+ neighborhood after the years where it was pretty rundown. Second, in the TV Show “My Name is Earl,” Pimmit Hills Trailer Park was named after Pimmit Hills as the creator of the show lived here as a child.
West Falls Church is also a CDP but no one knows why. There’s a long history here where the area used to be called Jefferson prior to 2010, but no one ever called it that, and then it was also at one time called South Falls Church to distinguish it from the area north which is Falls Church City. Fun Fact here, the creation of Falls Church City was due in part to resident’s desire to separate themselves from the black population of South Falls Church (which then became Jefferson, which then became West Falls Church which no one calls it now.)
Housing in the West Falls Church area is more modest than what you will see in Pimmit Hills. There is redevelopment here too and there are teardowns and McMansions, but it’s not as widespread as it is in Pimmit Hills.
Seven Corners is also a CDP with a population of less than 10,000. Seven Corners is mostly known as a retail and commercial area with lots of stores, grocery, restaurants and other conveniences like Target, Home Depot, PetSmart, Barnes & Noble. There are some homes here in this geographic postage stamp. You will find almost every home type too with prices in the $800,000’s to the low/mid $1M’s.
Lake Barcroft is another CDP within Falls Church and is comprised of 1000 homes and 1 of 4 homes are actually on the lake. The lake used to be a reservoir for the City of Alexandria but was converted into a freshwater recreational lake. Lake Barcroft was developed in the 1950’s by the mid-century Architect Walter Gropius. He wanted to create a “nursery for children” with gorgeous landscaping and front yard Barbeque Pits.
Lake Barcroft has five private beaches where you can swim or use various watercraft. The association has an annual fee of $495/year for use of the amenities. If you don’t live in Lake Barcroft, you are trespassing and can be fined by the Fairfax County Police.
The sense of community here is strong with many events throughout the year. Because of the access to water, the prices here can get well into the $2M’s. But you can find homes a couple streets off the water in the $800,000’s – under $1M.
There is also Holmes Run Acres which is by the beltway, but west of West Falls Church and southeast of the Mosaic District and Merrifield. This is a mid-century community of 355 homes with homes priced from the high $700,000’s to $1M. The Holmes Run Civic Association was responsible for creating the first community swimming pool and first neighborhood park in Fairfax County. The Civic Association remains very active with clubs and events throughout the year. They have a great website where you can get all the info.
Each of these neighborhoods have their own retail areas that are closest. In Pimmit Hills, your closest shopping area and restaurants are in Tyson’s Corner, but right on Route 7 you have Whole Foods, Trader Joes and several restaurants if you don’t want to venture into Tyson’s and deal with parking.
West Falls Church is closest to Merrifield which has the Mosaic District. One of my favorite restaurants is there, Sweetwater Tavern and there is pretty much everything you could want to eat here – Thai, Ramen, Greek, Ted’s Bulletin. There are also a lot of grocery stores – Harris Teeter, Giant, Target has a grocery store here, Lidl, Aldi, Mom’s Organic. There’s also Great Wall Supermarket and H Mart which are Asian Grocery Stores. Locally the Asian Groceries are known for their excellent produce. The Eden Center is the mecca of Asian Markets.
Lake Barcroft is closest to Seven Corners and Seven Corners is closest to…Seven Corners. Giant and Safeway are here. Most people here would head either into Falls Church City, Arlington, Annadale or over to Tysons.
Bailey’s Crossroads is its own commercial area but it’s sort of always in transition with things closing. It shares a border with Arlington so it has easy access to a whole host of other places to eat and shop. Trader Joes, Giant and other smaller casual restaurants and shopping are here as well as the German Grocer which is an awesome German gourmet market.
There are tons of parks here with lots to do, and access to trails. There’s Upton Regional Park, technically in Arlington but in the Seven Corners area. They have a waterpark, trails and minigolf. Bowl America is also in Seven Corners
Pimmit Hills has several pocket parks plus the proximity to Tyson’s for shopping.
Holmes Run Stream Valley Park has a trail that runs through along the border of Falls Church and Annandale.
Jefferson District Park has a playground, mini golf, tennis and basketball courts.
Kids & Schools
Falls Church is served by Fairfax County Schools. Remember that the City of Falls Church has their own school district, so when people talk about Falls Church Schools you need to clarify which Falls Church they mean.
The high school pyramids for Falls Church are Marshall or McLean High Schools if you live in Pimmit Hills and both of those are 7’s on Great Schools. Falls Church High serves the Western edge of Falls Church and Justice High School serves Lake Barcroft, Bailey’s Crossroads and Seven Corners. Both of those high schools are 3’s on Great Schools.
Important things to know about the academics in Falls Church and in Fairfax County – different schools offer everything from International Baccalaureate (IB) to advanced academics. Some schools are Title 1, meaning the demographic has a higher rate of poverty in the community so the school is eligible for more funding. The Advanced Academics programs range from Level 1 which is provided at all schools, Levels 2 & 3 which offer part time services at some schools or Tier 4 which means there is full time advanced academics in the 4 core subjects – English, Math, Science and Social Studies. Lemon Road Elementary, Westgate, Westlawn, Graham Road and Timber Lane which provide Tier 4 programs, meaning, there is the option to be in full time advanced academic classes. Then there are IB schools like Mount Daniel and Oak Street.
Elementary and middle school scores run the gamut but have mostly average scores. You may wonder why an area as prestigious would have some lagging school scores. Don’t forget that the testing is already tricky and convoluted, but for someone who doesn’t have English as a first language they can be exceptionally difficult to navigate. There are parts of Falls Church that have significant populations for which English is not their first language. West Falls Church alone lays claim as the 5th largest community of residents from Bolivia living in the United States.