I Have Orders to the Pentagon: Where Should I Live?
I Have Orders to the Pentagon: Where Should I Live?
So you’re in the military with PCS Inbound orders to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Where do people who work at the Pentagon live?
The Pentagon is situated on hundreds of acres in the northeast section of Arlington, Virginia, just west of Washington, D.C. There is no military housing at the Pentagon.
Typically, people with orders to the Pentagon live in Arlington, Alexandria, or Falls Church, but many people live a little bit further out in Fairfax County (Springfield, Burke or Lorton). We recommend talking to a real estate professional who has worked with military families in addition to talking about your fellow Department of Defense personnel, especially if you’ve never lived in the Washington, D.C. metro area before.
Your Commute in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.
With a variety of commuting options, including driving, buses and the Metrorail system with a stop right at the Pentagon, you have plenty of options for getting to work everyday. However, your commute should be a major consideration when deciding where to live in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Washington, D.C. metro area traffic has been called some of the worst traffic in the nation, and the time you spend sitting in your car or on a crowded bus or train can have a major effect on your quality of life. If traffic or a long commute doesn’t bother you, you have more options for where to live. If you want to keep your commute short, you’ll have more limited options.
The Metro’s yellow and blue lines run directly to the Pentagon. Several bus lines from the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Arlington Regional Transportation (ART) and Alexandria’s DASH bus systems stop at the Pentagon, as well.
The Pentagon has acres of parking lots, but according to the Department of Defense (DOD), each agency is allotted a number of different individual parking permits. To obtain an individual parking permit, the individual must contact their unit parking representative to see if they meet eligibility requirements and if spaces are available. That means you may not want to assume you’ll be driving to work. There are commercial parking garages in Pentagon City and nearby Crystal City and you can take a bus or Metro train from those locations. Monthly garage parking prices start around $115 per month.
While working at the Pentagon, if you don’t rate a parking space, you will have an opportunity to obtain free Metrorail passes that will cover the cost of taking the Metro to and from work. These passes do not cover parking, so if you decide to use the passes and need to park your car at a Metro garage, you’ll have to cover parking yourself. Parking at most Metro garages is around $5 per day.
Living Near the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia
First, some trivia: Arlington, Virginia, is the nation’s smallest self-governing county by land area (just 26 square miles). There are many distinct and attractive neighborhoods in Arlington County, but there are no towns or cities.
Arlington has been named by several outlets as one of the best places to live in the United States. The school system is also very highly ranked, and students (and their parents) have a variety of options for magnet schools, Spanish immersion programs and three highly-rated high schools as well as alternative programs.
Arlington’s proximity to Washington, D.C. makes homes and the cost of living a bit pricey— Arlington’s cost of living is more than 150% of the national average.
The Pentagon is in northeast Arlington. To the east of the Pentagon itself is Pentagon City, a developed retail-and-residential neighborhood with many apartments, condos and single family homes, great restaurants and convenient shopping in and around the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City (a thriving mall).
Just east of Pentagon City is Crystal City, a more densely developed, urban-feeling community with high-rise buildings, restaurants and its own small, underground “mall” called The Underground.
To the south and east of the Pentagon are several residential neighborhoods including Arlington Ridge. Potomac Yard is a recently developed residential neighborhood adjacent to a large shopping center (including Target, a movie theater and several restaurants) and this area may get a Metro train stop in the next decade. Shirlington Village is a condos and apartments neighborhood overlooking the W&OD walking and biking trail and home to a variety of restaurants and retail shops.
For convenience when you’re working at the Pentagon, few areas will beat living in Arlington itself.
Living in Alexandria, Virginia
Just south of Arlington of Alexandria, Virginia, a city of 150,000. Alexandria is 3 to 7 miles from the Pentagon, depending on which neighborhood you choose.
Just slightly less expensive than Arlington (depending on the neighborhood you choose), the city of Alexandria also offers a wide variety of housing options from small apartments and condos to historic townhomes in Alexandria’s Old Town to large suburban homes. With yellow and blue-line Metro stations and bus routes that go directly to the Pentagon, commuting from many areas of Alexandria is a breeze. The neighborhood of Del Ray, in northern Alexandria, is particularly attractive for families with young children and is a short drive over Arlington Ridge to the Pentagon.
Alexandria has also been highly rated nationwide as a great place to live thanks to engaged residents, well-rated schools, a variety of attractions, parks and trails, unique restaurants and shops and more.
Some people live in neighborhoods that have an “Alexandria, VA” address but actually live in what’s called the Alexandria section of Fairfax County — the school system, government and more are not part of the City of Alexandria. These neighborhoods in Fairfax County includes Belle Haven, Fort Hunt and Mount Vernon to the south, and Rose Hill and Kingstowne to the southwest of the City of Alexandria.
Living in Falls Church, Virginia
Falls Church includes the City of Falls Church (one of the smallest in the region at just 2.4 square miles) and several neighborhoods around the city itself including the “Seven Corners” area and more. The City of Falls Church is 9 miles away from the Pentagon and has its own services, including schools, libraries, parks, police and more.
The City of Falls Church features many historic properties as well as newer, modern homes, and a variety of apartments and condos. The greater Falls Church area also features a number of parks, restaurants, stores and services right along I-66 and The Beltway (I-495). Unlike some of the neighborhoods in Arlington and Alexandria, Falls Church is on the Orange metro train line, so those going to the Pentagon would have to transfer at Rosslyn — definitely a commuting factor to consider.
Fairfax County, Virginia
Fairfax County is the third-largest county in the United States, encompassing square miles with neighborhoods anywhere from miles to away from the Pentagon. The closest Fairfax County area to the Pentagon is McLean to the northwest, but many Department of Defense personnel live in Annandale, Burke, Springfield and Lorton (close to Fort Belvoir). Neighborhoods outside the City of Falls Church are also in Fairfax County.
Each neighborhood has its own personality, transportation benefits and drawbacks and more. Talking to your Realtor and your fellow Pentagon personnel about the type of neighborhood you’re looking for will help significantly in whittling down the list of possibilities.