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11 Things to Know About Living in Arlington, VA

Thinking about moving to Arlington? With a thriving job market, strong military history, and reliable public transportation across the Potomac River, this Northern Virginia city is one of the best places in the U.S. for young professionals, history buffs, and Washington, DC commuters. Check out these 11 things to know about living in Arlington!

Live Affordably in Arlington

Arlington's cityscape. Photo by @carstenwerner1

Photo via @carstenwerner1

Despite the higher-than-average cost of living, Arlington is still ranked as one of the best cities to live in America. The larger price tag is worth it, considering the low unemployment rate of 2.6% and crime rate that’s 62% safer than the national average. Even compared to nearby places like Washington, DC or Alexandria, Arlington’s housing costs aren’t much different—and you can always find ways to save money. Looking for budget-friendly real estate in Northern Virginia? There are a number of safe, affordable neighborhoods in Arlington for you to consider—like the quiet and laid-back Arlington Ridge, or the upbeat Ballston-Virginia Square near Ballston Quarter.

Explore Arlington Careers

With an unemployment rate 44% lower than the national average, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for employment in Arlington! Young professionals looking to start their careers in government or public service won’t have a problem finding work while living in Virginia, since these sectors account for nearly 75% of all Arlington jobs. And while the city offers a number of opportunities in the public sector, it also has many options in the private sector! Work with major employers like Boeing, the soon-to-be Amazon HQ2, Raytheon Technologies, or Deloitte. You can even make a name for yourself in one of the fast-growing tech industries in the nation, as the city is on track to become a better tech hub than Miami or Austin thanks to its specialized workforce and incentives.

Seek Higher Education at Arlington Universities

Mascot and cheerleader dancing. Photo by @georgemasonu

Photo via @georgemasonu

Moving to Arlington, VA to pursue higher education? Study subjects like healthcare, information technology, and criminal justice at Marymount University, ranked among the best regional universities in the South and nationally-recognized for campus ethnic diversity and most international students. Attend George Mason University: Mason Square, the first university in the U.S. to introduce doctoral programs in conflict resolution, information technology, and more. Gain experience by partnering with other research institutions and government agencies when you earn your degree in cybersecurity, alternative energy, and more at Virginia Tech‘s Research Center – Arlington. Check out advanced degree options at UVA Darden like the part-time MBA format, the Darden/McIntire MS in business analytics, and other executive education options at UVA Darden. Take advantage of Arlington’s location relative to the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA)—one of the largest community colleges in the US—for an accessible, budget-friendly option in Virginia. Or commute to DC and learn subjects like political science, economics, or psychology at Georgetown University—ranked first in the best colleges in the District of Columbia and in the top 20 best colleges in the United States.

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Hop on Arlington’s Public Transportation

Arlington is one of the top places in the nation for public transportation, with approximately 30% of the city’s workforce making their daily commutes via public transit. The Arlington Transit system has several local bus routes. For commuters to Washington, DC, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) provides convenient transportation across the Potomac River with Metrobus, Metrorail, and Virginia Railway Express services. If you want to travel to another city, state, or even out of the country, board a plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. It’s also easy to make short trips on foot or bicycle since many Arlington neighborhoods are highly walkable and the city is considered one of the most bikeable places in the U.S. If you want more healthy and eco-friendly ways to get around Arlington, stop at one of the 100+ local bike stations to rent a classic red bike or black e-bike from Capital Bikeshare. BikeArlington provides educational programs that support active transportation choices to make the city even more bike-friendly.

Live Sustainably in Arlington

Servicing a bike. Photo by @bikearlington

Photo via @bikearlington

The first community in the nation to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification, Arlington is known as one of the greenest cities in the U.S. for its innovative, sustainable city planning. In fact, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) presented the 2021 Climate and Energy Leadership Award to Arlington County for its Lubber Run Community Center Project, a city plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The city of Arlington continues to educate its community on climate change and sustainability by holding Earth Day events and providing learning resources. Get involved with EcoAction Arlington to create and host events in Arlington, like Earth Day cleanup and EcoExtravaganza. Support Arlington’s green communities, tour green home upgrades, and connect with other environment-conscious residents at the Green Community Celebration. Or participate in eco-friendly events like Bike to Work Day and Bike to Work Week.

Venture into Nature & Parks in Arlington

Airplane landing. Photo by @bendavanzodc

Photo via @bendavanzodc

There are plenty of outdoor activities in Arlington! After moving to Arlington, it’s likely that you’ll live within a 10-minute walk to a park. Head over to Mount Vernon Trail to enjoy a multi-use, paved trail spanning the 18 miles between George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Theodore Roosevelt Island. Visit Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center at Long Bridge Park for quick laps in the pool or to simply enjoy the lazy river. Take your family to Glencarlyn Park for a picnic and some time on the trails and playgrounds, or let your pup run around at the dog park. Or grab a friend and head to Gravelly Point Park for airplane-spotting and beautiful scenic views.

Learn About the City’s History

Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by @arlingtontours

Photo via @arlingtontours

Did you know that Arlington County was initially Alexandria County? When Alexandria County and the city of Alexandria separated in 1870, the county was renamed Arlington County to avoid confusion. “Arlington” was chosen because of Arlington House, General Robert E. Lee’s home, which is located on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. Be sure to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier—a monument that honors unidentified U.S. military service members—and the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial. Stop by The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial to learn more about a significant moment in U.S. history. Then, tour the largest office building in the world, the Pentagon, with over 6.5 million square feet.

Family Activities & Events in Arlington

Kid's Sprayground. Photo by @arlparksrec

Photo via @arlparksrec

Arlington is one of the best cities to raise a family! Find lots of family-friendly events like Outdoor Family Storytime, Improv Theater workshops, or English Conversation classes at the Arlington Public Library. Stretch with furry friends during Goat Yoga, compete to win in the Pie Eating Championship, and try all the rides in the Midway at the annual Arlington County Fair. Surprise your kids with a performance by The Encanto Sisters, request a sing-a-long of their favorite song from Bobby Mckeys’ Dueling Piano Cart, and find your new favorite local restaurant at the yearly Quarterfest Crawl—a festival formed to raise money for local nonprofits and charities. Create something new in Art Alley, where the Arlington Art Truck is parked, compete in lawn games with your kids, and listen to the blues from headliners like Shakin’ Woods and Shemekia Copeland at the Columbia Pike Blues Festival. Test your climbing skills on Climb UPton, cool off at Ocean Dunes Waterpark, or get a hole-in-one at the Mini Golf course—all available in the Upton Hill Regional Park. Or have a day-trip in DC at family-friendly places like the National Children’s Museum and KID Museum Bethesda Metro Center, or enroll them in fun camps like musical theater camp at Creative Claudron.

Immerse Yourself in Different Cultures

Pride painting. Photo by @allthatjazz15

Photo via @allthatjazz15

The city of Arlington celebrates diversity in many ways, including a number of festivals throughout the year. Attend educational programs like Transgender Aging or Mental Health in the Queer Community: Risk Factors and Giving Support, provided by the Arlington Department of Human Services. Celebrate your local LGBTQ community with the Kids Corner dance party, vendors like Zoe’s Vegan Delight and Scratch Culinary, and get dressed up for the drag show at the free Arlington Pride Festival. Experience Cuban funk, Brazilian, soul, blues, Latin music, and more jazz genres at the annual Rosslyn Jazz Fest. Check out the exhibit on Arlington’s Freedmen’s Village, where a large community of freedmen settled in 1863, at The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington. Hop across the Potomac to spend a day marveling at all the works in the National Museum of Asian Art. Or head to DC for exciting events like Festival Argentino, National Cherry Blossom Festival, Capital Pride Festival, and more.

Eat at Arlington’s Best Restaurants

Shrimp Jambalaya. Photo by @bayoubakery

Photo via @bayoubakery

With so many different cultures in Arlington, you won’t have a hard time finding something delicious to eat! Start your day with Beignets or LA Style Biscuits & Gravy from Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery. Head over to Pines of Florence for some homemade pasta like Lobster Ravioli, Baked Penne, Gnocchi Marinara, or Tortellini a la Panna. Indulge in modern French cuisine like a Charcuterie Platter, Parisian Steak and Frites, Grand Cru French Onion Soup, or a Molten Chocolate Torte at Grand Cru Wine Bar and Bistro. Treat yourself to specialty sushi like a Salmon Lover Roll or Light My Fire Roll at Sushi Rock. Feel like having pizza in Arlington? Share an order of Wild Mushroom Bruschetta and a special Fungitown Pizza or the Margheritaville Pizza from Rustico.

Experience Arlington Nightlife

Bar and restaurant. Photo by @baba_clarendon

Photo via @baba_clarendon

After a long day at work, professionals in Arlington know how to unwind and have fun! Look for hidden, retro-style bars like Salt, BABA, or Sparrow Room for a speakeasy experience with unique cocktails. Pop a bottle of champagne at Ms. Peacock’s Champagne Lounge, or sip wine at Screwtop Wine Bar. Grab friends and head to The Board Room Game Bar & Brewery to play games and sip beers like Ticket to Ride Red Ale and Pass or Play IPA. Want to have some time to yourself? Sit down with a book and a signature cocktail like the Busboys Sangria or Poet Mojito at Busboys and Poets. Battle friends at trivia night or belt your favorite song during karaoke at O’Sullivan Irish Pub & Restaurant. Or sit back, relax, and enjoy live music on the outdoor patio at The Renegade.


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About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.