21 Things to Know Before Moving to Northern Virginia


There are a few things you should know if you’re thinking about moving to Northern Virginia — or “NoVA”, as its better known to locals — in the near or distant future. From the love of local culture and beautiful mountain views to the plethora of shopping, there’s a lot to explore. To give you the inside scoop, we spoke with three Redfin real estate agents — Anthony Lam, Kimberly Pace and Ben Grouby — who shed some light on day-to-day life in Northern Virginia.

Here’s everything you need to know:

1. Chick-fil-A is the fan favorite

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“Chic-fil-A is one of the most popular lunch stops on the East Coast. The simplicity of the menu and positive customer service sends people through the doors every day — that, and the incredible chicken,” said Anthony Lam.

2. There’s no shortage of shopping options

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“Tysons Corner is one of the well known shopping centers in Northern Virginia. With over 300 stores to explore, including clothing, food, book, and toy stores, this location in Tysons, Virginia sees a lot of foot traffic,” said Kimberly Pace.

3. You wear pink and green to the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

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The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival is one of the largest festivals of the year in Virginia. Year after year families, teens and young couples flood to Winchester to see the celebrities, the food, and — of course — the apple blossoms.

4. And you’ll definitely visit our nation’s capital to see the cherry blossom trees

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“The cherry blossom trees are one of D.C.’s most recognizable symbols,” said Lam. “There’s never a shortage of visitors and photographers during the spring time, many of which travel from the Northern Virginia area; it’s an easy day trip.”

5. In fact, you’ll probably be able to list off all the Smithsonian museums in D.C. too

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“With the nation’s capital so close in proximity to Northern Virginia neighborhoods, D.C. makes for an easy day trip,” said Grouby. “Even better is that most of the city’s famous Smithsonian museums are free; enjoyable for all ages, the museums offer multiple floors of exhibits, attractions and educational displays.”

6. Hiking is a popular pastime for the locals

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“The hikes around Northern Virginia are beautiful, free, and seemingly endless! You never run out of options; whether it’s a lake, a mountain, a deep forest, or rocks — the topography is so diverse and rich, it makes it the perfect setting to explore outdoors,” said Lam.

7. You’ll have a chance to explore great heights and depths

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Luray Caverns, located in the northern region of Virginia, is a natural, underground cave filled with famous stalactites, columns and the world’s largest musical instrument: the Great Stalacpipe Organ. In place of traditional organ pipes (made of metal), the stalactites in the cave serve as the pipes instead.

8. You may bump into a few Washington Redskins fans

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“Virginia is one of the few states in the U.S. without a designated NFL or MLB team. That being said, many Virginians adopt the D.C. teams as their own; the Washington Nationals and Washington Redskins are often supported in surrounding D.C. areas like Northern Virginia,” said Pace.

9. And a few Nationals fans during baseball season

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Nationals Park, the ballpark of the Washington Nationals MLB team, is also located in D.C. and is a beautiful place to travel to on the weekends — couples and families can easily make a weekend out of the trip with so many restaurants, hotels, and amenities close by.

10. All your friends are split up among the “703,” “571” and “540”

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“Most of the area codes for phone numbers are split between 703 and 571 — and some 540 — depending on what part of Northern Virginia you’re coming from,” said Lam.

11. NoVA wine country is a big deal

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There are plentiful wineries and vineyards open to the public in Northern Virginia — the perfect venue for weddings, anniversaries, group gatherings or just tasting; the expansive selection offers locals a chance to see the region up close and personal with friends and family.

12. You definitely grocery shop at Wegmans

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Costco and Wegmans are two well-liked shopping spots in NoVA; the stores are easily accessible with multiple locations, and much of the produce is sourced locally, making it a popular location for grocery shoppers in the region.

13. You’re either a fan of the Hokies or the Cavaliers  — but definitely not both

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“College sports are taken very seriously; whether it’s football or baseball, everyone has their team they’re loyal to,” said Lam.

14. Everyone shares the same feelings about the weather; it’s a topic to bond over

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Finding a balance is key. One easy way to adjust to the changing temperature is to dress in layers: add a vest or light jacket to an outfit for quick wardrobe alterations.

15. The location is ideal for living — and traveling 

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“D.C. isn’t the only city Northern Virginians have easy access to; large cities such as Baltimore, Maryland; Annapolis, Maryland and Williamsburg, Virginia also sit nearby,” said Pace. “If you like road trips, there is no shortage of places to visit!”

16. The cars are pretty nice to look at

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Loudon County, of Northern Virginia, is currently the wealthiest county in the United States. It’s not uncommon to see a BMW or a Tesla out to lunch on the weekend — of course not every car in the lot is a luxury car, but it’s not an uncommon sight. 

17. You’ll witness some horsing around from time to time

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“Middleburg and Aldie, Virginia are both known for having great horse facilities and amenities; horseback riding programs, lessons, training, and competing are all very popular,” said Lam.

18. Locals love their dogs

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“Dog parks, walking trails and dog-friendly stores and restaurants are becoming more popular. These locations and businesses are benefiting from this inclusion of pets; they have an edge over those that do not provide the same accommodations,” said Pace.

19. The kids have great school districts

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Northern Virginia is known for its highly ranked school districts. According to niche.com, the top four school districts in Virginia for 2017 were Arlington County at No. 1, Falls Church County at No. 2, Loudon County at No. 3 and Fairfax County at No. 4 — all four counties are located in Northern Virginia, dominating the top five on a list that ranks over 100 school districts.

20. Outdoor wear is a growing trend

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“We see a lot of outerwear, sandals and waterproof gear coming more and more into fashion now. With so many things to do outside and hiking options available, it makes sense that people would be dressed for the adventure,” said Lam.

21. We love supporting local businesses

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“The local culture is very present,” said Pace. “We see many local restaurants sourcing local produce, farmers markets and town boutiques in the community.

For all the North-Virginians out there, which “signs” did you like the best, and what did we miss? Tell us on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments below. And if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Northern Virginia, be sure to get in touch with our local Redfin real estate agents, or check out what’s on the market on Redfin.com.