Where is “Northern Virginia”?

January 24, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re relocating to “Northern Virginia” (often referred to locally as “NOVA”) you may be wondering where, exactly, that is.  Of course generally, we know people are referring to the northern end of the state, but just how far south and west does it include?

It depends whom you ask.  For real estate statistical purposes, the local association defines “Northern Virginia” as Alexandria City, Arlington County, Falls Church City, Fairfax City, and Fairfax County. These are also the counties covered by our local association Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR), and NVAR members have access to all the homes for sale in those jurisdictions.

But if you ask locals, many would also include Loudoun County to the West,  Prince William County to the West and South, and sometimes Stafford County to the South as well as part of our metropolitan area.  You can see a map of counties at Wikipedia here. To look at homes in these ‘outer’ counties, you need to work with a realtor who is a member of those local associations.

The Washington, DC, Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) includes counties in VA, MD, and also includes the District of Columbia–a large swath!   It is further divided into two divisions:

  • the Washington–Arlington–Alexandria, DC–VA–MD–WV Metropolitan Division, comprising the majority of the metropolitan area, and
  • the Bethesda–Gaithersburg–Frederick, MD Metropolitan Division, consisting of Montgomery and Frederick counties.

Counties include:

  • MD: Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Montgomery, Prince George’s
  • DC: District of Columbia
  • VA:  Arlington, Clarke, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania, Stafford, and Warren Counties, PLUS the independent cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Manassas, and Manassas Park.
  • WV: (Yes, you read that right…our MSA stretches all the way to West Virginia) Jefferson County

Obviously the MSA is too large a tract to  be looking at for your next home (and be careful drawing any conclusions from real estate statistics based on such a large area).  Commuting times here are a big issue, so it’s critical to narrow your search based on where you’ll be working.  Contact our team for help thinking through what some viable options are for you!

Read More: Wikipedia entry on “Northern Virginia”


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