Arlington Named No. 2 ‘City’ in America

by ARLnow.com September 21, 2011 at 9:56 am 13,650 98 Comments

Arlington has ranked No. 2 on a list of the “best cities” in the U.S.

The list, compiled by BusinessWeek.com, ranked urban areas based on culture, entertainment, schools, crime, green space and other factors. Arlington ranked No. 2 ahead of Honolulu but behind the No. 1 city, Raleigh, N.C.

“Home to numerous headquarters of companies and government agencies, this Washington D.C. suburb is a draw in its own right,” BusinessWeek wrote. “The area is highly educated, with more than two-thirds of the population holding a college degree. Arlington has a median income level of $93,806, low levels of foreclosures, and the lowest unemployment among cities we ranked.”

Hat tip to The Nats Blog

  • Spoliers

    Toilet joke in one…two…three…

    • D’oh

      I’m late, but “Arlington’s #2 Makes Splash”?

    • Clarendon

      We’re only Number 2 ? That stinks !

  • steve85

    Raleigh NC is wack. I’m not sure why we came behind them. I went down there and some people minds still think its 1890. Where are the facts to prove that place should be considered to be #1. Arlington is #1 in my book. Honolulu is a wonderful place. If you haven’t had a chance to visit there, go its a wonderful and beautiful city.

    • DF

      We dropped down to #2 because people here use the word “wack.”

      • Ashley

        Well played

      • Matt B


    • Cate

      Raleigh is absolutely AWFUL. I lived there for a few years and it’s just…ugh. Boring as hell and backwards.

  • Wilbur

    I have lived in Arlington for over 20 years and lived in WDC all my life. I *love* living in Arlington. It is a great community. The schools are outstanding. The parks are wonderful. The recreation programs and the teenage programs are great. The bike paths and the public transportation are great. The retail, businesses, restaurants have gotten better and better. I love my neighborhood and I *love* being able to walk down to the river on a beautiful fall day!

    Arlington is a great place to live.

    • RosRes


  • charlie

    arlington is the best.
    of course we do pay for it.

  • Deb

    And we are stilli mproving . . .and not revealing our shortcomiings, but working on them. I love Arlington.

  • amber girl

    Thats because Arlington only make it for certain people to live there. They push out the poor, so that they can live in there own little world. Check the history, and how they push people out, people, especially those in church in Arlington should really be more ashamed to live here, everyone knows about Arlington and how they are able to make the number 2 list.

    • Hank

      Any place that grows, expands, becomes popular, attracts more people, continues to improve, drives up demand and therefore prices, will “push out the poor.” It’s the way things work.

      • It doesn’t have to be the way things work. Mixed housing can work we don’t have to gentrify an area. We do it because it is the easy way out unfortunately.

        • drax

          We don’t do it, it just happens. It’s not a deliberate policy. Arlington’s deliberate policy is to try to keep the poor here, to the extent it can.

          • SouthArlJD

            Absolute nonsense. Arlington actually tries very hard not only to have mixed use areas, but to provide ample mass transit opportunities to people too poor to own cars. There are plenty of poor people living in Arlington. Take a look around Green Valley or the Greenbriar neighborhood. How about Hall’s Hill? I’ve represented plenty of poor people living in Arlington and the county bends over backwards to try to make it possible for them to stay here despite the high prices.

        • LuvDusty

          Umm..there’s low income housing in Arlington..it’s required by law. It’s not bad.

    • eagregious

      Don’t be jealous that Arlington residents have basic grammar and spelling skills.

    • Ricardo

      I wish! Have you seen my property tax bill?

      • Charlie

        Arlington has one of the lowest real estate tax rates (if not the lowest) tax rate in the region. Your tax bill goes up because the value of your property is stable. If you want lower tax rates live in a cheaper house. It is called “accummulating wealth.”

    • HexIV

      Not sure why we should be ashamed…have you ever lived in mixed section 8 and standard housing? Likely not. I lived in a mixed apartment building a few years ago in Alexandria and maybe I just got a bad batch of people but when it went mixed (after a condo project failed) we had an increase is car thefts/break-ins, people urinating in stairwells, 10 people living in one apartment, peeping toms, etc. Call me a snob but with what it costs to live in Arlington I don’t want to have to put up with anything like I had to deal with in Alexandria.

    • Parker Lyons

      Wow, @Amber Girl. My hope is that your poor grammar skills are not the product of APS. If so, we have work to do with our award-winning public school system. To wit, anyone can live here — if they can’t afford it, they will just take advantage of our dole, affordable housing initiatives or social programs from the bounty of taxes paid by the rich that “live in there own little world,” (by the way, ‘there’ should be properly spelled ‘their’ based on the context of your statment). Grow up, get your chip off your shoulder and stop blaming others for your own misfortune.

      • V

        You spelled “statement” wrong. You don’t know what Amber has been through so you really shouldn’t pass judgement. I’m pretty sure you’d be pissed off too if your rent doubled and you could no longer afford to live in a neighborhood you called home for over 10 years or so. I don’t think the new wine bar or irish pub down the street is any consolation.

    • Ethan

      Sounds like someone does not live here.

  • yrb

    Raleigh No. 1 makes this list not very believable
    Agree with Arlington being great of course

    • CW

      Why is that not believable? Take Arlington, spread it out and make it car-based rather than transit based, divide housing prices by about six, and make the employers big tech companies rather than the government and its contractors. That’s Raleigh. They have three big universities in the area and most every big tech and pharma company in the country has relocated there. Salaries are on par with the D.C. area but the barriers to entry in the housing market are extremely low. Great schools, parks, etc. It’s not as urban as Arlington, so you’re not going to get the convenience of walking or riding the train/bus everywhere (which is why I love Arlington), but for the whole suburban utopian raising a family with a big lawn to play in thing, Raleigh’s hard to beat.

      • Tabby

        The housing prices are ridiculous.

        • CW

          In Raleigh? No….

      • Wow!

        Raleigh, here I come!

    • Hattie McDaniel

      What makes the list unbelievable is the statement that city #6 (Washington, DC) has “great schools”.

    • Josh S

      Are you kidding? These lists are all over the place. Of course they mean nothing. They are just to sell magazines, newspapers, etc. If we hadn’t just read that Arlington came in number two on this list, would our lives be any different? In any way? No. It means nothing.

  • DudeInBrownFlipFlops

    … and we have dudes in brown flip flops. Makes us #1 in my book.

    • Swag

      holy crap, what’s with all the dudes in brown flip flops?

      • Josh S

        I think it’s the only color Ambercrombie sells….

        • gmusl

          Actually it is a brand called Rainbow…only high schoolers shop at Abercrombie

          • Liberace

            And forty-year-old gay men.

          • FREDTERP

            And FREDTERP. FREDTERP

          • Josh S

            Wait, FREDTERP has a sense of humor?

            Or is that someone impersonating FREDTERP?

  • JamesE

    I’ve lived in the dc metro area my entire life I am ready to leave.

    • CW

      Look into Raleigh…or Charlotte…

      • JamesE

        Dry heat man! I just got back from LA and Vegas and even though it was in the 90s I was barely breaking a sweat. Time to look for jobs in the middle of the desert.

        • Tabby

          Good luck with that.

          • JamesE

            Plenty of over payed contractor jobs out west

        • friz

          Right on! I lived in Silver Spring for 14 years thru the 90s. D.C. area has a lot to offer and is a great place. But weather/humidity and MAINLY crazy endless traffic drove me to San Diego, which I love. If you work out of your house in D.C., great, otherwise, your screwed!

          • LuvDusty

            @friz: I live in Clarendon and barely use a car. I walk to the gym, the supermarket, the pharmacy, restaurants, etc. And whatever I can’t reach on foot, I live 1/2 blk from the metro station so I take the train.

            I only use a car when I need to drive outside of the reach of metro or take a road trip to Cville or Richmond.

            It’s awesome.

        • recruiter

          plenty of defense contractor jobs in Iraq. Call me!

        • Chinny McChipster

          As long as you are a lover of brown, no trees, flora and fauna that grow/live in sand and NO WATER, then you’re good to go. I’m with you on the dry heat and BEAUTIFUL, ENDLESS BLUE SKIES. Best thing about DC area though…jobs. Hard to beat.

  • Smilla

    Yaaay, Arlington! I’ve lived here for 26 years, and I’ve always thought it was a terrific place to live.

  • JimPB

    Arlington County as a place to live:

    Its Assets?

    Its Liabilities that need modifying or eliminating?

  • Alexandrian

    Rented in Arlington forever, but when it came time to buy, like many other people, I got pushed out. Can’t even afford a townhouse here.

    But I’ll be back, mark my words 🙂 Nowhere in the DC metro area comes close to living in Arlington. Will always be # 1 in my books.

  • Swag

    “Arlington has a median income level of $93,806”

    Jeez… I must qualify as impoverished.

    • +1. But that’s why we have Summers.

    • drax

      That’s probably household income, not individual.

  • (another) Greg

    We’re number 2! We’re number 2! We’re number 2!

  • DF

    I read recently that they are trying to re-segregate schools in NC.

    • Cate

      The issue with school reassignment is an incredibly, incredibly complex one. As someone who was graduated from high school in Raleigh, I can say that the school system isn’t that great to begin with. The major issue is that EVERY YEAR students are reassigned to different schools (at least in Wake County) to preserve a balance of socioeconomic diversity, which yes, winds up being along racial lines frequently. Some of the consequences of this include: going to a school across town instead of the one down the street, changing schools multiple times throughout elementary, middle, or high school, kids in the same family going to different schools (i.e., maybe one is at the school down the street, and the other at the elementary school across town)….I could go on. When I first moved to Raleigh I went to school 10 miles away, despite there being two others within walking distance.

      Not to mention the obscene amounts of money spent on busing kids all over and having these studies and reorganizations every single year could be much better spent on actually improving schools.

  • Ballstonian

    Shhhh…If there’s a giant influx of people looking for work it’ll dilute the median income. What always gets me is they act as if 93K is a ton in this area. It’s all about cost of living. If I made 93K in dirt farmer Iowa, it’d be equivalent to making 200K here. Never understand why the news doesn’t take the time to adjust what the median salary is in real purchasing power for an area.

    • CW

      +1. The major differentiator is the real estate market. Cost of living otherwise is in my opinion not that high. Utilities, insurance, most food if you know where to look, they’re not that expensive compared to most places. But the ridiculous barriers to entry in the housing market mean that everyone is pissing away tens of thousands a year on equally ridiculous rents.

      • Agree on the rents. However if you go to other parts of the immediate DC area, staples such as food and fuel are cheaper. Over the course of a year, those incremental necessity costs do add up to a higher cost of living.

      • Josh S

        Restaurants and transportation, too. I remember several years back going for a camping trip in West Virginia and stopping in a town to get lunch on the way back. They literally had PB&J on the menu for like $1.25. And by several years back I mean maybe ten. Not thirty.
        Have you seen what it costs to park on the street in Arlington? They’re not getting those prices in Manassas, for example.
        In general, cost of living does vary, even if some of the differences are subtle and not as obvious as housing prices.

        • drax

          Yep, and the guy serving the PB&J to you probably made $6 an hour.

          • Josh S

            If that.

  • kramva

    I agree that Arlington is a wonderful place to live if you can afford it. (note, I live in Arlington). However, I have to say that the list seems suspect as it highlighted DC as having “great schools”. I assume they are talking about the colleges and universities as the public school system in DC is a national embarrasment, as is the city government, as is the suggested new top tax bracket and the new suggested city counsel salaries. In fact, I would offer that Arlington is such a great place to live because DC is across the river, so one has DC’s cultural and other amenities (such as goverment largness) without the horrible mess that actually come from living in DC. Pretty sure that Montgomery county gets the same benefit, but since I avoid Maryland I would not really know.

    • Boob McDonnell

      Except that no Maryland “cities” are on that list, so better try a new theory.

      • Arlington isn’t exactly a city, btw. It is a county.

        • CW

          Yeah. This makes it kinda cheating. They do these lists for “cities” and for “towns”. I don’t know what the cutoff is for size but no single municipality in MoCo is big enough to qualify. When they do the list of “towns”, Bethesda always shows up. If all of MoCo were allowed to be a “city”, it would probably be on this list too.

          • Aaron

            That’s why ‘city’ is in quotes in the headline. For what it’s worth, Honolulu is also not a city. There is only one level of government below the state level and it covers the entire island of Oahu (even the non-urbanized parts).

          • CW

            Cool fact; I didn’t know that. I was just saying that it’s tough to compare apples to apples in this instance, and Arlington gets an advantage from its size due to the whole county being included.

          • drax

            The whole county is urban/suburban though, so it should be included. Arlington is a city in every way except its form of government. Local government in Virginia is unlike that in any other state. There are no cities inside counties in Virginia, you are either one or the other.

          • CW

            Quasi-related question: does anyone understand why Arlington has a police department AND a sheriff’s office?

        • drax

          Arlington is a city with a county government.

  • Too poor for a room

    Arlington’s price per square foot to own a home is too much. If you want to have a family, you better make over 400k a year, or plan to live in a box. It’s not a good place for a young family of four these days.

    • This is very true.

    • South Arlington

      It just forces you to plan a little. Save some money, then buy a house, then maybe think about popping out kids. Not the other way around.

      • Chris

        Well put! Or, just keep renting & stay in Arlington forever. Far less risky than buying if you ask me.

    • BB

      But you can afford contraception, right?

    • Mike

      It’s expensive, but this a real exaggeration. I bought a 3 bd/1.5 bath SFH around a half mile from the ballston metro within the last 2 years. Make far less than 400k a year.

    • LuvDusty

      Maybe in North Arlington, but there are plenty of cheaper houses/apartments in South Arlington.

  • Bender

    Green space??

    Apparently, concrete gray is the new green.

    • Also true.

      • Oh, wait, I forgot about the two parking spaces they laid sod on top of the other day. I retract my statement.

  • Zilker

    Flip flop error. Does not compute.

  • So Arlingtonian

    CORRECTION: They are talking about ARLINGTON schools, and yes they are great!. D.C. schools have a ton of issues on the other hand.

  • YTK


  • Joe

    Arlington has one thing going for it and that is proximity to DC. Other than that, it’s a cesspool…………

    • sportyspice

      So let me guess, you live in Bethesda?

      • TGIF

        Must be a friend of KEV’s; he thinks any building built before 2000 is a “slum”.

  • clarendonneighbor

    doesn’t the “25 bars” number seem low? I think there are that many in just Ballston, Courthouse and Clarendon.

  • Arlington has always been #1 for me.

  • Boom! Roasted

    LOL @ people agreeing with this list. Here’s the question posed by the list:

    “But suppose you could choose to live anywhere you wanted regardless of cost?”

    So with that said, who in their right mind would choose to live in Arlington, or the D.C. area for that matter? How many would choose to live in Arlington over Hawaii (#3) when money is no object? Get serious.

    Here’s the reason live here: the jobs are plentiful, courtesy of the Federal Government. The jobs are still plentiful here, unlike the rest of the country, because the Federal Government deficit spends at an absurd level. They’ve increased the debt owed by Americans by multiples…but hey, at least we got this gentrified, soulless area in Virginia for it that’s kind of nice!

    This area is screwed when, not if, the Feds ramp down their spending to manageable levels

    • Ethan

      @ Boom! Roasted: 1. Clearly you dont live in Arlington. 2. I lived a lot of other places and Arlington is still where I want to be. For most of the reasons in this article. 3. Unless the government is scaled back by 90% or so then I think we will be just fine. 4. This article was not about your obvious right wing views. Not that we dislike right wingers in Arlington we just refuse to elect them. But if you would like to make it political here we go. Funny to me how a very Democratic leaning county like ours does the following: balances a budget every year, has great schools, has very low crime, has a great cultural scene, and has almost no elected Republicans. Show me a red city or county that can also make those claims.

    • Don Ho

      How many would choose to live in Arlington over Hawaii (#3) when money is no object?

      Believe me, Hawaii ain’t all that. In some ways it’s like a third-world country. Not to mention it is the most remote spot on earth. If you live there, you’d better love it, because it takes forever to go anywhere else.

      • Steamboat Willie

        +1 to Don Ho and Ethan. Hawaii is a nice vacation spot, but it’s no paradise to live there. But it has given us Dog the Bounty Hunter and some really good cage fighters.

  • BlkLadylaw

    I love Arlington and can’t wait to return. I lived there 13 years as a renter but when I for ready to buy I bought in ft washington for a SFH. I was a single blk female when i was looking for where to buy and frankly i wanted to move where i could find a brotha. Well i met him in my neighborhood a year after moving to ft wash and now I am married with a toddler and have to think about schools and our commutes to our NOVA jobs. So my first choice is to return to my beloved Arlington now that I can afford what I want there. It does smart to consider I am looking at 800 to 1 million for what I want when that would get me a waterfront mansion over here but by my calculations buying in Arlington is the smarter choice as we will have spent a millon or more anyway on a less expensive home here plus private school costs. Excuse typing, am using cellphone:)

    • Chinny McChipster

      Come back to Arlington! I grew up in PG, lived in Baltimore, a bit in DC (during Barry’s last term-nuf sed) and finally settled in Arlington 20 years ago b/c of a job. I love Arlington but it could stand to be a little more diverse. Many of my friends cringe at the thought of living in Virginia-like we still fightn the war or sumthin.

  • LuvDusty

    I can’t believe nobody has made the distinction between North Arlington and South Arlington yet.

    I think people are exaggerating a bit re: cost of living in Arlington. Living in Clarendon or Courthouse is a heck of a lot more expensive than living in South Arlington—yet it’s the same county and just a few miles away.

    Proximity to metro and to DC is what seems to determine the prices..the further West or Southwest in Arlington you go from DC the less expensive the housing gets.

    Even as close in as Ballston or Pentagon City you see lower rental and purchase prices for condos/homes.

  • I love Arlington! My husband and I used to live here as renters but he got a job in Baltimore. In Arlington it is easy to get around and possible to be without a car. That is one of the best things. I wish we could move back.


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