Traffic in the Northern Virginia area can be stressful and painful. The I-95 corridor looks like a parking lot during rush hour traffic and many commuters choose to arrive to work early to avoid some of that craziness. The best way to reduce that stress is to choose an area near commuting hubs. Even though the Metro is very popular within the "Beltway" (the area within the 495 loop), it is not the only commuting option. Living inside the Beltway can be significantly more expensive that living outside the Beltway, so understanding what your commuting options are is critical before deciding on where to live.
QUANTICO: If you will be stationed in Quantico, the areas closest to the base include Triangle, Woodbridge, Dumfries, Stafford, and Manassas. Triangle, Dumfries, and Woodbridge lie directly to the north of the base. Manassas is to the West. The advantages of living in those areas is that if you are driving to work, you will be moving AGAINST traffic. You will face "base traffic" as you approach Quantico, but that is unavoidable and limited compared to general rush hour traffic. However, the downside of living to the North of Quantico is that you will not be able to take advantage of some non-driving commuting options. Commuter buses and trains tend to run North, away from Quantico in the mornings and South, towards Quantico in the afternoon.
You may choose to live south of the base in Stafford and some individuals will go as far away as Fredericksburg to take advantage of the cheaper housing prices. You will definitely get more for your money. The downside, is that you will be driving with traffic during rush hour. However, you can take advantage of the commuter train, the VRE (http://www.vre.org) which has stops in Fredericksburg, Stafford and within the base in Quantico.
FORT BELVOIR: The areas surrounding Fort Belvoir include Alexandria (generally North of the base), Springfield (northwest of the base), Lorton (to the West and Southwest), Woodbridge to the South. If you decide to live near the area of Kingstowne in Alexandria and near the Springfield Metro, the Fairfax Connector may be a good option if you are looking to take public transportation. For more information on this possibility go to (http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/connector/routes/335.htm). Choosing Alexandria and Lorton will be your best bet if you are trying to limit your distance from the base, but it will also be the pricier option. Many choose to live in Woodbridge to get more for their money, but you will be running with traffic and hit rush hour. Other than carpooling, as far as I have been able to find out, no other public options for commuting from Woodbridge to Belvoir are available.
THE PENTAGON: The Pentagon is located in Arlington, VA and it is located within the Beltway. The advantages of getting stationed at the Pentagon is that it is a commuting HUB which makes public transportation a great possibility regardless of where you decide to live. There is a Metro Stop at the pentagon itself as well as several bus stops, and slugging stops (a popular way of getting around in the Northern Virginia area). However, real estate near the Pentagon is expensive compared to other areas so many do choose to live farther out. Even if you decide to live in Woodbridge for example, which many people do, you will have a variety of public transportation options (train, bus, slugging).
In addition to the information I have provided here, please check out Neighborhood information on my website which provides more detailed commuting information for specific neighborhoods, or feel free to just call or email me. I would be more than happy to assist you.
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Woodbridge, VA 22192
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