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Living in Fairfax City, Virginia

I recently answered a question on Trulia from somebody who asked if Fairfax City was a good place to buy a home. I wanted to just yell “yes” when I read it because anybody who has ever lived in Fairfax City knows that it is absolutely a great place to buy a home, and an even better place to live in a home. There are many good reasons to live in Fairfax City, but I want to start with one that is close to your heart no matter where you live: low taxes.

Old Town Hall in Fairfax, VirginiaReal Estate Taxes in Fairfax City are the lowest in Northern Virginia. Fairfax City charges a rate of $0.71 per $100 of the assessed value of the home. For comparison’s sake Fairfax County charges $0.89/$100 assessed value, and Arlington $0.818/$100, Falls Church City $1.01/$100, and Alexandria $0.815/$100. The tax rates in Fairfax City are not even close to the jurisdictions surrounding it. For instance in you are in Fairfax City in a $400,000 home your annual tax would be $2840 while your neighbor in the same home who lives in Fairfax County would have a tax of $3,560.

Tax Update:  2008 Northern Virginia Tax Rates

When I tell people about this large discrepancy in tax rates people want to know: Does this mean Fairfax City services are at a lower level? Fairfax City services are at a higher level than in Fairfax County. I have owned homes in both Fairfax City and Fairfax County and speak from personal experience when I say services are much better in Fairfax City.

In most of Fairfax County residents are on their own for trash service. There are several private companies that service the area. In Fairfax City trash service is included. On the face of it, that would seem to save city residents about another $360/year in trash service costs. But it is really much more than that because the level of service the City gives is way better than a private trash company. For instance in the fall Fairfax City Residents can simply rake their leaves to the curb and the city comes through with a vacuum truck and sucks them all up. If you are undertaking a major project, Fairfax City will haul away the debris from the project, and will even provide you with a dump truck over a weekend if you have major amounts of debris to dispose of. All of this is at no extra charge. How much would a private company charge for these services? Need more info? Check out Fairfax City’s Refuse & Recycling.

Snow Removal is a little harder to quantify. For many years I live very close to the border of Fairfax City and Fairfax County and I would run on a regular basis through streets in both jurisdictions. None of the streets were main arteries, but were in residential areas. When snow came I would be able to run on dry pavement in the city before the county roads were even plowed once. The difference was remarkable.

The sense of community in Fairfax City is even harder to put a finger on, but is clearly recognizable to people who live there. Northern Virginia is a huge suburb of Washington DC. People spend a lot of time at their jobs and in their cars. Even kids tend to have busy schedules. Fairfax County has a population of just over one million people (see Fairfax County census data), while Fairfax City is a much smaller community at around 22,000 people (see Fairfax City census data). This gives the city a small-town feel in the middle of Northern Virginia. The city builds community aggressively by offering a robust schedule of community events to bring it’s people together.

Old Town Fairfax is being renovated to make the central area of Fairfax City more of a gathering spot. Restaurants are being added to an already impressive list of restaurants city. The new buildings are designed to fit well with the old and yet add a fresh appeal to the area. The new restaurants, that are in the “now-hiring” stage at this point, are going to bring more people into the city from the surrounding neighborhoods. The city has also added parking to facilitate people driving in from different parts of Northern Virginia.

Fairfax City has two Elementary SchoolsProvidence and Daniels Run, Lanier Middle School, and Fairfax High School. Though the schools are owned by Fairfax City, Fairfax County has contracted to run them so they are part of the very good Fairfax County School System. You can get objective information about the school system at schoolranks.com, which is a parent run website comparing data from all the schools in Fairfax County.

Helpful Fairfax City Links:

Fairfax City Pictures at Flickr

Historic Fairfax City Photographs

Fairfax City Website

Fairfax City on Wikipedia

Neighborhood Focus: Fairchester

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