Moving to Woodbridge VA
Woodbridge, Virginia was mostly plantations for centuries, until it became farms and industrial complexes post-Civil War. In the 1980’s, urban sprawl arrived and Woodbridge grew to become a bedroom community for metro Washington DC. Neighboring Dale City and Lake Ridge were developed about a decade before Woodbridge but became part of Woodbridge as well.
This is a diverse community, with respect to geographical landscape and in attracting residents from various backgrounds. This diversity contributes to a vibrant and multicultural atmosphere. Geographically, there are waterfront properties and more suburban and rural properties on the western edge.
Woodbridge is located 20 miles south of DC in Virginia. Interstate 95 and Route 1 both run parallel to each other in a north-south direction through Woodbridge. The Occoquan River is the northern border, and the Potomac River is on the east. Woodbridge is the first stop in Prince William County, just south of Lorton which is Fairfax County.
Woodbridge is situated along the Potomac River and offers access to scenic areas and outdoor recreational opportunities. It has parks, hiking trails, and waterfront views, providing residents with natural beauty to enjoy.
What’s the draw for people to move here? Historically, Woodbridge has offered more affordable housing compared to other areas in the metro DC area. Woodbridge is pretty sizable, with 45,000 people calling it home. There are another 45,000 people in Lake Ridge and in Dale City there are 72,000 people. If you’re a math wiz, you already added up that there’s over 160,000 people who call Woodbridge, Virginia home.
There are really three parts to Woodbridge. There is the area of the CDP (Census Designated Place) which is east of I-95. Then Dale City and Lake Ridge, which were conceived as planned communities in the 1960s and 1970s, were annexed into Woodbridge as well. We are including them in this video, but we will also have separate videos for Lake Ridge and Dale City, diving deeper into the robust amenities of those communities.
Traffic in, around and through Woodbridge is difficult. Interstate 95 is always jammed. Summers are especially difficult. If you are going anywhere on Saturday that requires driving south on 95 through Woodbridge, plan ahead. We have rented a beach house in Myrtle Beach the past few summers and the houses always run from Saturday to Saturday. We left in the morning and the highway was so packed that we pulled off in Fredericksburg for lunch. The girls said, “Are we almost there?” I said I hate to tell you this, because we’ve been in the car for 4 hours, but we’re only an hour from home.
Thankfully, for commuting, you can utilize the VRE (Virginia Railway Express) and if you’re going to Florida you can get the Auto Train in Lorton. Amtrak also comes through Woodbridge serving the Northeast.
You have two different options on the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) – the Woodbridge Stop off of Route 1 and the Rippon Landing VRE stop, which is also located off of Route 1 in the Rippon Landing neighborhood. The VRE terminates at Union Station in DC and has stops in Old Town Alexandria and Crystal City.
Commuters also have the option to take the OmniLink Bus from the pickup near Gideon Rd and Dale Boulevard. The drop off spots include Downtown DC, Rosslyn, the Pentagon, Old Town, and the Navy Yard.
You also can ride share, also known as slugging, from the Horner Rd parking lot.
In the 1980’s, Woodbridge, which was mostly farms and industrial areas, experienced a surge in residential development. If you don’t want a house built in the 1980’s, this may not be the place for you.
Single family homes start in the $300,000’s and over $1,000,000. Dale City and Lake Ridge were annexed into Woodbridge. To get a home that doesn’t need work, you will need to look in the $500,000’s to $600,000’s. Townhomes can start in the $200,000’s if you’re fine with a condo style of ownership, or $300,000’s for fee simple, where you own the land underneath the home. Condos start around $200,000 and go up to $500,000.
There are some differences in condo vs fee simple ownership. The homes may look exactly the same, but with a condo you typically have a higher monthly fee. The entire row of homes is considered one multi-family unit, and the insurance, roof, landscaping is covered by the condo association. Where the fee simple townhome sits, you as the owner would be responsible for your yard maintenance, roof repairs and your own homeowner’s insurance. You will have a much lower monthly fee as a result. Townhome prices go into the $600,000’s for new, large townhomes with garages.
There are some really amazing condos in Woodbridge. On the eastern side of Woodbridge is one of the gems of the area – Belmont Bay. This is a planned community with many waterfront condos, townhomes and single family homes. It has beautiful sidewalks along the water and so much green space. The Belmont Bay Country Club is beautiful.
Woodbridge also has some of the most beautiful waterfront single family homes along the Occoquan River and the Potomac River. Privacy varies depending on location but the homes along the Occoquan River have the more private and lush lots and the homes along the Potomac River are located in more densely populated areas but are more convenient to the highways and commute times are much less. There are also many other luxury homes in these areas that have water views, large lots, and unique custom built homes.
Overall, you start to see a relief to the cost of living and housing prices once you are in Woodbridge. The cost of living in Woodbridge tends to be lower, particularly when it comes to housing prices and rental rates.
Lake Ridge is set on 4,700 acres of common ground with 1,200 acres maintained by the Association, consisting of 7,278 property units that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, 2 apartment complexes and commercial properties. Prices here don’t differ much from the rest of Woodbridge. Lake Ridge isn’t as accessible to the highways, but has other benefits and perks we’ll cover in the Lake Ridge video.
If you are looking for amazing food, you will have a diverse set of choices in the Woodbridge area. The food scene keeps getting stronger every year. Viet Chopsticks, El Paso Mexican Restaurant, Dixie Bones, Lea’s European Kitchen, Dok Khao, Abugida Ethiopian, and Aroma Latin Fusion. There are so many more amazing restaurants in the area that are worth checking out. There are just too many to list!
Chain restaurants include Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, Not Your Average Joe’s, Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, and so many more. Most of them are clustered around the main commercial areas and town centers.
Grocery store options include Lidl, Aldi, Giant, Food Lion, Safeway, and a massive Wegman’s at Stonebridge at the Potomac Town Center, the Harris Teeter on Spriggs Rd, and My Organic Market (MOM’s) near Potomac Mills Mall. MOM’s is a wonderful local chain of natural grocery stores that has been around for many years. Walmart and Target have grocery stores here, and there are several international grocery stores as well – Kumasi Supermarket, Fresh World, WIGSS Global Food, and TODOS Supermarket.
Family & Fun
Woodbridge has a strong sense of community and fun events for families with local events, festivals, parks, playgrounds and recreational facilities. There are also libraries and community centers, and sports leagues for kids too.
Most local people think of Woodbridge and think: Potomac Mills Mall. That’s because you see the huge sign from the highway as you’re passing through. There are 220 stores at Potomac Mills and a section called the Fashion District with upscale brands like Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales (it’s like no other store in the world.) There are 18 different theaters and 25 restaurants to refill your tank.
There’s also Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center which is across the highway from Potomac Mills.
Brew Republic Bierworks hosts Trivia on Monday Nights or you can go to their Music Bingo on Wednesday nights. If you prefer to sing, Karaoke is on Fridays.
The Alamo Drafthouse has Trivia as well.
For the littles, on Wednesdays from May through September, there’s live music from 10 – 11 a.m. in front of Muse Paintbar.
There are a couple recreation centers – Chinn Aquatics & Fitness in Woodbridge and the Dale City Recreation Center – guess where that is! They both offer inexpensive memberships where you can take advantage of sports, swim and fitness classes.
There’s “Fridays at Five” a concert series that runs every other Friday May through August at the Prince William County Complex.
In October there’s Petober Fest which includes all kinds of fun for your pup – costume contest, agility course and entertainment for the kids too.
Occoquan Bay Wildlife Refuge is a habitat for birds. It is free to enter, and you can hike or bike along their 4 miles of trails. You can also drive through, and there is hunting and fishing as well. I realize we called this a refuge, and when I read hunting I was like, what? But yes, they have organized hunts to control the deer population. They also put bands on birds to identify them, and you can go watch the volunteers in this process.
The next three places are all situated together – the Neabsco Boardwalk, Potomac Heritage Trail and the Rippon Lodge.
The Neabsco Boardwalk is an elevated boardwalk through the wetlands. You can get up close to herons, ducks, and all varieties of birds.
The Potomac Heritage Scenic Trail is connected to a network of 800 miles of trails from the Ohio River Basin to the Chesapeake and Potomac Rivers.
Rippon Lodge Historic Site is the oldest house in Prince William County.
Leeslyvania State Park is on the water, and there are trails, a fishing area, boat and kayak launches and a sailing school. They even have days for kids fishing tournaments.
There are a few community pools in Woodbridge. One thing that’s different about Prince William County from other areas in metro DC is that there are admission fees for these pools – typically $5 – $7.50 for an adult.
At Veterans Memorial Park, there are baseball and soccer fields as well as a Skate Park, playground and pool.
There’s Hammill Mill Pool as well in Woodbridge.
In Dale City, there’s Birchdale Community Center which has a pool, playground, basketball court and a skate park as well as a Recreation Center.
Lake Ridge Association offers a variety of amenities to include 5 pools and a spray ground, a boat ramp, community centers for rent, sports fields, playgrounds, fitness stations and other outdoor recreational courts including tennis, pickleball, basketball, multi-use and volleyball. In Lake Ridge, there is a whole system of playgrounds and Tot Lots.
Woodbridge is served by the Prince William County Public Schools system. The elementary and middle schools have respectable ratings here – you will see some average scores to exceptional 8’s and 9’s on Great Schools. Where things aren’t so great is high school. Scores seem to suffer a bit at high school with the ratings on the schools being quite low.
We must remind you though that ratings on Great Schools are based on test scores. Woodbridge reports demographics as very diverse with around 40% of the population potentially not having English as their first language. This can make navigating standardized tests difficult. English is my first and only language and I sometimes can’t understand the wording of the questions on the work my kids bring home.
High School Sports are on a separate website for Woodbridge Vikings Athletics. This isn’t a hugely robust sports program, they have just the basics.
Academically, the school offers AP, and some specialty programs like Cosmetology, ROTC and Aviation Maintenance.
Woodbridge is a large, bustling suburb of DC, offering an affordable lifestyle, access to scenic areas and outdoor recreational opportunities. With tons of parks, hiking trails, and waterfront views, Woodbridge provides residents with an easier lifestyle financially, but with other trade offs like traffic and potentially schools. Balancing what’s right for you and your family is always important when deciding where to live. Also check out our video on Occoquan!