Ask Dr. Mike: Look At Where You Live

Ask Dr. Mike: Look At Where You Live

From cost of living, income, public education, diversity and crime rate to restaurants, craft breweries, wineries, the larger entertainment culture, and our proximity to D.C. with the coming Silver Line Metro, Money Magazine just rated Ashburn the second best community to live in the entire U.S.  And several large-scale surveys have repeatedly ranked Loudoun County as a top place to live in recent years.

However, beyond great economic growth factors, quality of life factors, and business success, living in Ashburn, or anywhere in Loudoun County for that matter, certainly has its challenges.

It’s expensive.  With the median household income at about $120,000, Loudoun County is one of the wealthiest localities in the country.  And with larger incomes, everything else becomes more expensive too.  For example, the median home value in the U.S. is about $190,000, and it’s over $485,000 in Loudoun.  Thus, raising a family here can be an expensive undertaking — diapers, daycare, education, healthcare, after-school activities, vacations, electronics, food, etc. – it all adds up.

Working long hours.  D.C. is a hard-working town as the nation’s capital, and it’s not uncommon for many Loudouners to work 10 to 12 hour days and to also take work home.  A recent Gallop poll showed that the average workweek in the U.S. is just over 45 hours, but a lot of folks in Loudoun work much longer weeks.

Commuting.  And then there is the Greenway and the outrageous tolls.  Many people living in Loudoun don’t actually work here, and commuting 2 hours or more each day is the norm for a lot of folks.  Tack on tolls that can go above $40 at peak times, gas, traffic and parking fees and the stress and cost of commuting can become a real problem.

The Competition.  A lot of people move to Loudoun County because they want the best for their children – beautiful houses, a low crime rate, great schools, etc.  But with some of the best state universities in the country being in Virginia, the competition can be high and children may feel pressured to perform.  Managing expectations for our children when it comes to SAT scores travel sports teams, etc., is not always easy to do when living in such a successful part of the country.

Growth.  According to a 2018 University of Virginia poll conducted through the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, Loudoun remains the fastest growing county in Virginia with our population inching toward 400,000 residents.  But with growth comes change, which is bittersweet for many.  Yes, the metro is coming, and yes more and more trees are being cleared for data centers and the development of new residential and commercial spaces.  Sure, these changes are great for economic growth, but with this sort of rapid paced progress Loudoun County is arguably losing some of what’s always made it so wonderful – its beauty, simplicity and rural and small-town charm.

Not having enough support.  Loudoun certainly has plenty of long-time residents, but with being only about an hour outside of D.C., many of our residents come from someplace else.  Being a transplant resident means that, for a lot of moms and dads, grandparents and other important family members and friends will not be nearby to help out.  This can be a very real stressor for many families, especially for parents who are juggling life with young children.

With all of these challenges considered, it may sometimes be difficult to look at the glass being half-full, but let me remind you to think about this:

What you’d miss if you didn’t live in Loudoun.  Sure there are a few problems with living in one of the most desirable localities in the country, but the positives far outweigh the negatives when we think about where we live and all that we have – a great public school system and great private schools, a rich history, beautiful and safe neighborhoods, plenty of cultural and social offerings, our proximity to both the nation’s capital and more scenic, rural settings.  So, the next time you find yourself sitting in traffic driving to work or to a travel sports game out of town, or the next time you find yourself complaining about the amount of work you might have or your expenses, I invite you to take a few deep breaths and joyfully reflect on the wonderful slice of Americana you’ve cut out for yourself and your family here in Loudoun County.