17 Reasons Not to Move to Alexandria, Virginia (Voted by the locals!)

Alexandria, Virginia is a wonderful place to live. However, all places have their pros and cons, and it’s important to consider both. To start you off, here are 17 reasons why you should not move to Alexandria.

17. Terrible traffic

Many people who live in Alexandria and other surrounding cities live there but work in Washington D.C.

Interstate 395 runs through Alexandria, which means that the roads are congestedOpens in a new tab. with tons of people on their way to D.C. from smaller towns and cities.

The rush hours occur from 6 am-9 am and 4 pm-7 pm.

Due to extreme traffic during rush hour, any construction that needs to be done on any roads has to be conducted outside of the typical rush hours, which leads to continued congestion outside of the rush hoursOpens in a new tab., as construction workers and equipment block the roads.

16. High Cost of Living

The cost of livingOpens in a new tab. in Alexandria is about 40% higher than the national average cost of living in the United States. Housing is about 113% more expensive than the national average, and the average costOpens in a new tab. of groceries is about 12% more expensive than the national average.

15. Poor Public Transportation System

The Metro bus and subway systems are both fairly expensive, and many Alexandria natives complain about the public transit system’s lack of reliability. Public transportation is also extremely crowded due to the large amount of both locals and tourists passing through on their way to Washington D.C.

14. High Taxes

The taxes you will have to pay while living in Alexandria, Virginia are quite high.

  • Property Tax: Alexandria charges 0.912% of the assessed value of the property. The average for Virginia is about 0.797%, and the nationwide average is about 1.211%. In Alexandria, property tax on a $500,000 house would be about $4,500 annually.
  • Sales Tax: The combined sales tax in Alexandria adds up to 6%. Virginia charges 4.3%, Fairfax County levies 0%, Alexandria charges 1%, and the special rate is 0.7%. By comparison, the average US sales tax rate is 7.3%.
  • State Income Tax: Virginia charges 3% on incomes of $3-5,000; 5% between $5,000 and $17,000; and 5.75%Opens in a new tab. on over $17,000 gross income. On the plus side, there’s no additional income tax for the City of Alexandria itself.

13. Expensive Housing

Housing costs in Alexandria are far above both the national and state averages. The national average home cost is about $291,700, the average home in Virginia costs about $329,200, and the average cost of a home in Alexandria is about $585,300.

The averageOpens in a new tab. Opens in a new tab.cOpens in a new tab.oOpens in a new tab.sOpens in a new tab.tOpens in a new tab. Opens in a new tab.oOpens in a new tab.fOpens in a new tab. rentOpens in a new tab. in Alexandria is about $1,944 a month for an 861-square-foot apartment.

12. It’s Crowded

Alexandria is the 6th largest city in Virginia with a populationOpens in a new tab. of more than 158,000 people. On top of this, there is a large tourist population due to the town’s rich history along with its proximity to the nation’s capital, Washington D.C.

The average ageOpens in a new tab. in the city is 38 years old. About 60% of the population is white. The next largest population is African-American with 22%, then Hispanic or Latino with 17%, and other races make up no more than 5% or 6% of the population.

One of the most popular neighborhoods to live in is Old Town. Old Town is an idyllic neighborhood full of historic landmarks and picturesque homes.

About 57% of households in Alexandria are renters instead of ownersOpens in a new tab..

11. Hot, Humid Summers

Virginia is one of the US’s many states that seems to have decided it wanted to work part-time as a sauna. For those who can withstand the area’s average daily humidityOpens in a new tab. of 65%, Virginia is just a lovely green and warm paradise.

However, not everyone is built to deal with such high levels of humidity. If you aren’t ready to be sweating practically 24/7, then Virginia is probably not the state for you unless you’re able to afford really good air conditioning.

10. Expensive Parking

After you make it through Alexandria’s crazy rush hours, construction zones, and traffic jams, it’s now time for you to park your car. Unless the place you work or live has private parking of some kind that you specifically don’t have to pay for, get ready to pass over an arm and a leg in exchange for a parkingOpens in a new tab. spot.

Parking laws are strictly enforced by the city and fines are handed out freely. People have the option to pay parking fines online, over the phone, or in person.

Even if you live in the city, in order to park residentially you must purchase a special residential parking permit, which you must keep displayed on your car at all times in order to avoid a fine.

9. Wet, Cold Winters

Along with hot, humid summers come cold, wet winters. All that nice warm humidity that feels like a heavy blanket of warmth wrapping itself around you in the summertime is transformed when winter comes. The cold seeps into your bones and feels almost inescapable.

Due to Alexandria’s high humidity, there is an increased likelihood of black ice. Black ice is harder to see because of its lack of cracks or ice bubbles and creates extremely hazardous driving conditions.

8. Expensive Healthcare

HealthcareOpens in a new tab. in Alexandria costs 2% more than in the rest of the United States. About 30% of individuals residing in Alexandria have confessed to delaying making visits to the doctor or seeking medical help due to concerns about being able to afford any assistance they may require. Virginia is ranked 5th most expensive state in the United States as far as healthcare costs.

7. Lots of Seafood

Virginia’s proximity to the coast means that the seafoodOpens in a new tab. business in Alexandria is booming! So, if you aren’t a fan of seafood, be careful where you go to eat in Alexandria, especially if you’re trying to stay away from shellfish because of an allergy. Old Town Alexandria is especially known for having a large number of popular seafood locations.

6. Strange Laws

Alexandria, Virginia has some extremely strange laws. Here are some examples:

  • Operating a motor vehicle without shoes is illegalOpens in a new tab..
  • Radar detectors are illegal.
  • It used to be illegal to hunt animals, except for raccoons, on Sunday.
  • If an individual is found to be owning or operating a gas-powered leaf blower instead of an electric leaf blower then they can be fined $500.
  • Anyone over the age of 12 who is trick or treating can technically be charged with a class 3 misdemeanor.
  • It’s illegal to park on railroad tracks (this one is odder because something like that really shouldn’t need to be specifically made into law).
  • For many years it was illegal to use foul language of any sort in public.
  • Tickling a woman is against the law in Virginia.
  • It’s illegal to sell lettuce and/or peanut brittle on Sundays.

5. Lots of Tourists

Alexandria is near tourismOpens in a new tab. hot spots such as Washington D.C. and Arlington. Because I-95 passes through Alexandria, the city is often flooded with tourists passing through. In addition to the tourists using Alexandria as a pit stop, there are plenty who come to tour around Alexandria itself. Alexandria has many picturesque locations and a rich history.

Mount Vernon, George Washington’s historic home, is located in Alexandria and attracts thousands of tourists every year. Some of Alexandria’s other tourist attractions include Old Town Alexandria, a haunted Old Town tour where tourists can learn about dark moments from the city’s past, the George Washington Masonic Memorial, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, the National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum, and the Old Town Farmer’s Market.

Alexandria receives its largest flood of tourists between April and June when the weather is the most ideal. Alexandria also often receives a secondary flood of tourists as July 4th approaches due to its many historic sites (among which is George Washington’s home) and proximity to the nation’s capital.

4. Potential Threat of Flooding

About 20% of Alexandria, Virginia is a floodplain. It is susceptible to flooding due to its low elevation and proximity to several streams and the Potomac River. Alexandria’s biggest contributors to the flooding problem are the summer’s short duration and high intensity of rainstorms which cause the Potomac and its tributaries to overflow.

Flood mapsOpens in a new tab. are constantly updated in order to try and keep citizens aware of which areas are at higher risk of flooding. These maps are also used to determine the costs of flood insurance. All citizens are encouraged to have flooding insurance and to stay on top of flood maps and any changes that are made to them as they may affect their flooding insurance.

Safety Measures:

Permanent measures:

  • If your house has a slab foundation, building a small floodwall or an earthen berm can help protect the foundation.
  • Make the walls waterproof and add watertight closures over doorways.
  • Have electrical panels, water heaters, furnaces, laundry machines, and other electrical appliances installed higher up where flood waters are less likely to submerge them.
  • Elevate your home above flood level.
  • Water can leak into crawl spaces and/or basements through foundation cracks, pipe holes, vents, doors, or windows. Also, it can seep between the house siding and foundation sills. Use cement to fill cracks in the foundation, seal openings around pipes with cement or caulk, and seal the joint between siding and foundation with caulk.

Temporary fixes before a flood:

  • Move furniture, appliances, photos, and anything else that could be damaged by water to an area with a higher elevation to prevent damage.
  • Seal off your sewer lines to prevent the backflow of sewage water.
  • Stuff a rag, softball, or other material into floor drains to stop the flow of sewage water into your basement.
  • Restrict the use of plumbing as much as possible until rains subside. This includes dish and clothes washers, showers, and toilets.
  • Place sandbags and/or plastic sheeting in front of doorways and other low areas where water could enter in order to prevent as much water from entering as you can.
  • Create floodway openings in uninhabitable areas such as garages in order to encourage flood waters to divert away from the living spaces.

3. Many People Can’t Drive in Snow

The low frequency of snowfall in this area means that when the occasional snowstorm does occur, most Alexandrians have no clue about how to drive in the snow. People who move there and have more experience with snow tend to easily grow frustrated with the natives who have less snow experience under their belts.

More experienced snow drivers complain that the less experienced drivers tend to be either overly cautious when driving through the snow or underestimate how cautiously they should be driving and therefore drive recklessly. Either of these methods is a potential road hazard, so make sure to be aware of your surroundings when driving in snowy weather while in Alexandria.

2. Personal Property Tax on Vehicles

Many people have commented on how many cars owned by Alexandrians tend to be older models. One reason for this could be that the general population of Alexandria tends to be older. However, the main reason for this is Alexandria’s high property tax for vehicles.Opens in a new tab. The newer your car is, the higher the taxes you pay for it will be.

The personal property tax rate for vehicles in Alexandria, Virginia is $5.33 per $100 of the assessed value of the vehicle ($3.55 for vehicles with specially-designed equipment for people with disabilities). This is much higher than the state of Virginia’s average of $4.20 per $100 vehicle personal property tax rate. Virginia is ranked as the 2nd most expensive vehicle personal property tax rate, and Alexandria’s rate is higher than the already high rate that Virginia is known for.

Any vehicles that are frequently parked or stored in Alexandria must be registered with the city. Registering with Virginia does not automatically register your vehicle with Alexandria as well. Any vehicles registered to an address within the city must also be registered with Alexandria.

Vehicle owners must register with the City within 30 days of moving into the city, purchasing a vehicle, or registering a vehicle to a city address with the Virginia DMV. Any vehicle not registered within 120 days of becoming taxable will be subject to a late filing penalty.

1. Nearby Nuclear Power Plants

There is a nuclear power plant located near Alexandria, Virginia. While it may not currently be leaking lethal amounts of radiation, it does contribute to Alexandria’s pollution levels. If you’re hoping for smog-free skies or radiation-risk-free living, Alexandria may not be the city for you.

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Nathan Aydelotte

Hello! I'm Nathan, the lead editor for Suggested by locals. I grew up in the Boise, Idaho area and have lived here most of my life. I enjoy being close to the mountains where I can go hiking, camping, and mountain biking.

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