Arlington County is the second best “city” to live in the U.S., according to a new set of rankings.
The school-and-place ranking website Niche is out with the 2023 edition of its Best Places to Live in America, and Arlington is second only to Cambridge, Massachusetts — home of Harvard and MIT — on the cities list.
“Living in Arlington offers residents an urban feel and most residents rent their homes,” Niche writes about Arlington. “In Arlington there are a lot of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. Many young professionals live in Arlington and residents tend to be liberal. The public schools in Arlington are highly rated.”
Arlington is also No. 3 on Niche’s list of Best Cities to Raise a Family in America and No. 5 on its list of Best Cities for Young Professionals in America.
Arlington received “A+” grades for public schools, nightlife, health and fitness, and family friendliness, plus an A for diversity, outdoor activities and commute. It received a B for weather, C+ for housing and a C for cost of living.
Niche puts Arlington’s median home value at $755,800, compared to a national median of $244,900, while the median monthly rent is $2,094 compared to $1,163 nationally.
Arlington was No. 1 on Niche’s best cities list for five years straight, but fell to No. 2 in 2021.
A press release about the rankings release is below.
March 20, 2023 – PITTSBURGH – Niche, the leading platform connecting students and families with colleges and schools, has just published the 2023 Best Places to Live in America rankings. In the ninth consecutive year that Niche has produced these rankings, 228 cities and 17,932 towns and neighborhoods were included. Millions of people each year use Niche rankings and profiles to help with key life decisions such as where to live and where to go to school.
This year, for the first time ever, Cambridge, Mass., has been named the #1 Best City to Live in America. Chesterbrook, Pa., a neighborhood in the Philadelphia area, keeps its title as the #1 Best Place to Live in America for the fourth year in a row.
Niche creates the annual Best Places to Live rankings by using data from sources such as the U.S. Census, FBI, Bureau of Labor Statistics and CDC combined with millions of resident reviews. The company considers factors such as affordability, the local housing market, neighborhood diversity, area public schools, walkability and more.
“For almost ten years now, our Best Places to Live rankings have helped people find a new neighborhood to call home based on what matters most to them, whether that’s affordable housing, easy access to amenities or excellent local schools,” said Luke Skurman, CEO and founder of Niche. “We are proud to be a trusted resource for families, homebuyers, professionals and retirees alike in their research. Families wondering about an area’s school district can also use our comprehensive school profiles and rankings to get a feel for their child’s potential school.”
In addition to the national rankings, users can view the Best Places, Suburbs or Neighborhoods to Live rankings by state, metro area or county. Specialized lists include Best for Families, Young Professionals, Homebuyers, Retirees and more.
2023 Best Places to Live in America:
- Chesterbrook, PA
- Colonial Village, VA
- Ardmore, PA
- Hyde Park – Spanishtown Creek, FL
- Penn Wynne, PA
2023 Best Cities to Live in America:
- Cambridge, MA
- Arlington, VA
- The Woodlands, TX
- Naperville, IL
- Columbia, MD
To explore the full Places to Live rankings, visit: https://www.niche.com/places-to-live/rankings/
To read more about the rankings methodology, visit: https://www.niche.com/places-to-live/rankings/methodology/
For families looking to find out more about schools within a city, see our K-12 school rankings: https://www.niche.com/k12/rankings/#bestbycity
Arlington ranks near the top of many lists, but it’s near the bottom of a new one looking at purchasing power.
The county is No. 66 out of 76 on a list of “Where $100,000 Goes Furthest.” The bottom four cities on the list are New York, Honolulu, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., compared to the top-ranked cities of Memphis, El Paso, Oklahoma City and Corpus Christi.
The 2023 study by financial website SmartAsset “looked at what a $100,000 income is worth after taxes and a cost-of-living adjustment.”
“A six-figure salary is an important milestone for many people, but after taxes and amid rampant inflation, it’s not what it used to be,” a PR rep for the site said in an email. “With this in mind, SmartAsset set out to uncover what $100,000 truly feels like in America’s largest cities. To calculate this, our data team analyzed after-tax income in 76 of the largest U.S. cities and adjusted those figures for the cost of living in each place.”
“Our findings show $100,000 in Arlington amounts to roughly $50,000 after adjusting for taxes and cost of living,” the rep noted to ARLnow.
In bottom-ranked New York City, that $100,000 amounted to an adjusted-for-cost-of-living $35,791. The same $100,000 salary in Memphis amounted to $86,444 in adjusted take-home pay, according to SmartAsset’s calculus.
The cost-of-living calculations take into account the local cost of “housing, groceries, utilities, transportation, and miscellaneous goods and services” as of fall 2022, the site notes.
Arlington County is one of the top 15 safest “cities” in the United States, according to a new set of rankings.
The number crunchers at SmartAsset looked at violent and property crime rates, as well as rates of vehicle-related deaths, drug-related deaths and excessive drinking. They ranked Arlington at No. 11, below No. 10 Yonkers, New York, No. 6 Alexandria and No. 1 Frisco, Texas, among others.
Arlington outperformed Alexandria in all published metrics, so it’s unclear why the charming city to our south was ranked higher. The county had significantly higher rates of violent and property crime than Frisco, however.
On the positive side, Arlington had the lowest rate of vehicle deaths — 3.1 per 100,000 residents — of any city in the top 15. That vehicle mortality rate was less than half that of any of the six Texas cities that topped the rankings.
Arlington is now in the third year of its Vision Zero plan to reduce or eliminate vehicle fatalities and severe injuries.
The crime data was primarily supplied by a 2021 FBI database, SmartAsset said. That year saw a decline in carjackings, car thefts and homicides in Arlington. The county has since seen a rise in carjackings and student overdoses, in particular, to start the year.
Another unassuming Arlington restaurant tucked well away from a Metro corridor has received a glowing write-up.
King of Koshary, at 5515 Wilson Blvd in Bluemont, “serves Egyptian food fit for royalty,” a Washington Post headline declared atop a new review that was published yesterday.
The restaurant, which opened in 2019, is helmed by “two chefs who pushed each other to create a first-class koshary in the suburban corridors of Washington,” wrote critic Tim Carman. The signature dish gets top billing in the review.
There are, perhaps, only a handful of moments in our eating lives that make us see a dish in a new light. This was one. Unlike my friend, I have had and enjoyed koshary numerous times. But King of Koshary’s version was different. I hit a kind of bliss point that words cannot capture. The condiments enveloped these grains and legumes, providing heat and aroma and order, but that alone didn’t explain my reaction (or that of my friend, who was pounding down that koshary by the spoonful). The dish reminded me, all over again, of the genius of necessity. Koshary, often called a “plate of the poor,” is further confirmation that a rewarding meal does not always begin with expensive ingredients. Paupers can eat like princes, for a small fraction of the cost, without any sense of self-delusion.
Last month the Post’s food critic ranked Charga Grill on Langston Blvd in Arlington No. 1 on his list of the D.C. area’s 10 best casual restaurants of 2022.
It has been a stellar start to the year for Arlington restaurants outside of the Metro corridors. Two weeks ago, four Arlington eateries made Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants list, including CHIKO in Shirlington, Ruthie’s All-Day in Arlington Heights and Cafe Colline on Langston Blvd. SER in Ballston also made the Washingtonian list.
Charga Grill, at 5151 Langston Blvd, can blend in among the small, unassuming strip mall eateries that line Arlington’s stretch of Route 29.
But it was just the recipient of a very uncommon honor.
Washington Post food critic Tim Carman last week ranked Charga Grill as No. 1 on his list of the D.C. area’s 10 best casual restaurants of 2022.
He wrote of Charga’s eclectic menu and marquee dish:
Charga specializes in street food from around the world, with an emphasis on plates of chicken. Peruvian pollo a la brasa. South African peri-peri. And two specimens from Pakistan, Chaudry’s homeland: brined-and-smoked sajji chicken, and skinless charga chicken, which is steamed and flash-fried. The latter two birds alone are worth a trip to Charga. But Chaudry, along with his uncle Iqbal Chaudry, doesn’t stop at chicken. They also serve kebabs, curries, quesadillas and more. Their free-form approach might confound those who prefer tidy categories for their restaurants. But as with the customers who enter their establishment, Iqbal and Asad commit themselves to each and every dish on the menu.
Carman expounded upon Charga’s origins in a glowing January 2022 review.
Asad Chaudry still remembers the first time he tried charga. He had flown to Pakistan for his brother’s wedding in 2012, and as part of the trip, Chaudry’s mom took him to her former neighborhood in Lahore, where they waited, and waited, in line at one of the city’s famous street vendors for a chance to bite into its singular chicken.
Chaudry knew enough about the dish, sometimes spelled chargha, to know how to eat it: He used a piece of naan to tear off a generous hunk of meat from the bird. He garnished the combination with masala onions and then dunked the bite in mint chutney. “When I tried it, I was like, ‘Man, this is amazing,'” he tells me one afternoon over the phone. “I was like, ‘I got to learn how to make it.'”
Chaudry tried to learn as much as he could on the ground in Lahore, but he admits his grasp of Pakistan’s mother tongues is shaky. But he established one important fact during his brief educational tour nearly a decade ago: The chicken is typically steamed and flash-fried, not cooked on a rotisserie as he had initially guessed. From there, Chaudry and his uncle, Iqbal Chaudry, researched and tested recipes until they had exactly what they wanted: their own take on one of Lahore’s signature dishes.
Charga is also highly rated among diners on Yelp, with a 4.5 star review average between today and the first review in 2017.
Carman’s 2022 casual restaurant list included another Arlington-connected restaurant: La Tingeria — which got its start as an Arlington food truck and was nearly shut down by the City of Falls Church after setting up its brick-and-mortar location at 626 S. Washington Street — ranked No. 4.
Arlington is the second-happiest place in the U.S., according to a new study.
The website SmartAsset ranked Arlington No. 2 on its new list of “Where Americans Are Happiest.” The county is second only to the Bay Area city of Sunnyvale, California, and ranks just ahead of Bellevue, Washington, which also happens to have a major Amazon office presence.
Arlington received high marks for its affluence, health and general quality of live.
While Arlington, Virginia ranks in the top seven across all three categories measured (personal finances, well-being and quality of life), the city ranks highest in the former. Specifically, roughly 48% of Arlington’s residents earn $100,000 or more (No. 5). Additionally, living costs make up less than 35% of the median household income (No. 6). The county in which Arlington is located also has the lowest amount of personal bankruptcy filings.
SmartAsset notes that the county stands out from other places in the top 10 in one notable way.
“Residents who’ve said ‘I do’ make up the majority of the population in all but one city: Arlington, Virginia, where the marriage rate is 44.0%,” the financial site wrote. “Frisco, Texas, which ranks No. 5 overall, has the highest marriage rate study-wide (62.6%).”
The top 10 happiest places in the country, according to SmartAsset, are listed below.
- Sunnyvale, CA
- Arlington, VA
- Bellevue, WA
- Fremont, CA
- Frisco, TX
- Plano, TX
- Roseville, CA
- San Jose, CA
- Santa Clarita, CA
- Irvine, CA
Hat tip to Geoff Collins
Arlington is the No. 3 most family-friendly locale in the country, according to a new set of rankings.
Online real estate platform Opendoor compiled the “best cities for families” list, which is based on the presence of various amenities like playgrounds, community centers and pools.
“We found that most family friendly cities like Arlington have quite a few common features — whether that’s a small-town feel or plenty of outdoor spaces to explore,” said Opendoor’s Beatrice de Jong, the author of the rankings.
De Jong said Arlington gets high marks for schools, local businesses, family-friendly amenities and transportation.
“Many young professionals live here and the public schools are highly rated,” she said, listing the county’s selling points. “Good public transportation and a mix of urban and suburban. Very walkable and bikeable… Lots of restaurants, coffee shops and parks… Close to D.C. with great museums for kids. Local museums include: Arlington Arts Center, Arlington Historical Museum, etc. Parks include: Rocky Run Park, Lubber Run Park, Fort Barnard Park, etc.”
Per Opendoor, the top 15 family-friendly cities and towns are:
- Cambridge, MA
- Cliffside Park, NJ
- Arlington, VA
- Chandler, AZ
- Tracy, CA
- North Richland Hills, TX
- Denver, CO
- Portland, OR
- Boulder, CO
- Anaheim, CA
- Coral Gables, FL
- Kent, OH
- Ann Arbor, MI
- Mission, KS
- Avondale Estates, GA
The study’s methodology leans heavily on a user-editable mapping project.
The best cities for families are identified by analyzing and averaging the number of OpenStreetMap ‘family friendly’ tags that are within 3 miles of all addresses in a city where Opendoor Brokerage operates. These tags include: bench, community center, drinking water, garden, kindergarten, museum, park, picnic site, playground, school, swimming pool, supermarket, and waste basket.
Flyover This Morning — Updated at 9:15 a.m. — “The US Air Force reports 2 flyovers in the NCR consisting of 4 military aircrafts (in both flyovers) at Arlington National Cemetery today, July 14… at 9:55AM and 11:43AM.” [PoPville]
Arlington Again No. 1 ‘Digital County’ — “Arlington County continues to be a national leader in technology, once again being recognized as the No. 1 Digital County by the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties. The 2022 award marks the fifth time that Arlington has received the top honor in the 150,000-249,999-population category.” [Arlington County]
County Seeking Funding for Crash-Prone Ramp — “Arlington County officials are slated to apply for $10 million in federal funding to improve an interchange at Arlington Boulevard and Washington Boulevard, while seeking a similar amount from the state government as a backstop in case the federal cash never materializes. The proposal aims to reconfigure two existing interchange ramps and create a straighter, two-directional ramp with signalization.” [Sun Gazette]
Another Group Backs ‘Missing Middle’ — “Count Habitat for Humanity on board with the Arlington government’s Missing Middle housing proposal. The proposed zoning change ‘is not the answer to the affordability crisis, but it is one answer, that the county [government] could and should implement,’ John Smoot, co-president and CEO of the organization’s D.C./Northern Virginia chapter, said in a recent letter to County Board members.” [Sun Gazette]
Jewelry Robbery on the Pike — “Columbia Pike at S. Four Mile Run Drive. At approximately 1:50 a.m. on July 13, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery by force. Upon arrival, officers made contact with the victim who stated he and the witness were in a parking lot when the unknown male suspect approached them. The suspect became confrontational and a verbal dispute occurred during which the suspect implied he had a weapon. The suspect then forcibly removed the victim’s necklace and fled the scene of foot. The witness recovered the chain of the necklace from the suspect as he fled.” [ACPD]
Prosecutor: Long Sentences Not Always the Answer — From Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti: “I understand the easy answer is to simply say: keep people locked up for as long as possible because if they’re locked up they can’t commit any crime. But, what about if doing so increases the chance they will reoffend once released, thereby decreasing public safety?” [Twitter]
Local Neighborhood Profiled — “Madison Manor is composed primarily of brick ramblers and ranchers, some with recent additions, interspersed with larger contemporary homes. Most of the original homes maintain the red brick facade; a few have been painted white or partially covered with siding.” [Washington Post]
Two Charged in Rare Liquor Scheme — “In the search for hard-to-find bottles of bourbon at Virginia ABC stores, some liquor enthusiasts have been worried about leaks of a more serious kind… The conspiracy theories apparently weren’t wrong. An ABC investigation led to four felony indictments against two men who were arrested last month and charged with computer trespass and embezzling ABC’s inventory list.” [Virginia Mercury]
It’s Thursday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 87 and low of 72. Sunrise at 5:56 am and sunset at 8:35 pm. [Weather.gov]
Arlington has ranked No. 1 on the American Fitness Index for a record fifth year in a row.
The county topped the list, published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Elevance Health Foundation, after placing first in the nation in six separate fitness and health categories. The new rankings were announced this morning.
“Arlington, Virginia, earned its No. 1 designation for the fifth time, a Fitness Index record, by ranking first in six indicators and scoring among the top 10 cities in 19 of the 34 categories,” ACSM said in a press release. “Arlington was ranked No. 1 in both the personal health and community/environment sub-scores.”
The categories for which Arlington received top marks, out of the 100 U.S. localities indexed by ACSM, are below.
- % exercising in the last 30 days (Arlington 93.8%, city average 77.6%)
- % in excellent or very good health (Arlington 70.1%, city average 55.9%)
- % physical health not good during the past 30 days (Arlington 16.1%, city average 27.5%)
- % with high blood pressure (Arlington 15.2%, city average 30.4%)
- % with stroke (Arlington 0.4%, city average 3.2%)
- % with diabetes (Arlington 5.2%, city average 10.3%)
Arlington’s overall rank was 85, compared to an average of 51.7, while the county’s personal health rank was 86.8, compared to an average of 50.5.
There was good news for a nation in as a whole in this year’s rankings, with ACSM reporting an “increase in the percentage of Americans exercising in the previous month (77.6%); sleeping 7+ hours/day (68%); and reporting excellent/very good health (55.9%), since last year’s Fitness Index.”
An excerpt from this morning’s press release is below.
Lots of Rain from Wednesday Storms — Most parts of Arlington saw 2-3 inches of rain from Wednesday’s onslaught of storms and downpours, with one weather station in a southwestern portion of the county reporting 3.41 inches. [National Weather Service, Twitter]
No ‘Missing Middle’ Cost Analysis — “Staff leading the effort acknowledge there has been no cost-benefit analysis of exactly how such a major zoning change would impact the local government’s bottom line. Nor is there likely to be one. ‘We typically don’t do analysis of this nature. It’s hard to even capture all of that,’ said Richard Tucker, one of a number of county-government housing personnel dispatched to the June 14 meeting of the Arlington County Civic Federation to address an issue that is fast becoming the most contentious Arlington battle since the Columbia Pike streetcar fight of a decade ago.” [Sun Gazette]
Millions for Local Housing Nonprofits — “Two Arlington-based groups will receive a total of $7 million in federal funding to help provide affordable housing and services to low-income people, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia announced Thursday… Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing Inc. will receive $5 million from the fund and Arlington-based AHC Inc. will receive $2 million.” [Patch]
ACPD Pride Event Next Week — “In recognition of Pride Month and the significant contributions of Arlington’s LGBTQ+ communities, the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) will host the 2nd Annual Pride with the Police… Pride with the Police will take place on: Wednesday, June 29, 20225 p.m. to 7 p.m. [at] Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant, located at 555 23rd Street S.” [ACPD]
F.C. Outranks Arlington for ‘Healthiest Community’ — “The City of Falls Church has been recognized as the second healthiest community in the country by U.S. News & World Report… The City earned an overall score of 98, and is the only community to receive a score of 100 in both education and population health.” Arlington ranked No. 13. [City of Falls Church, U.S. News & World Report]
It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 83 and low of 63. Sunrise at 5:46 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]
Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler
New York City. Portland. San Francisco. Seattle. And now Arlington.
Arlington County just joined the highest level “Walk Friendly Communities.” After previously becoming one of 15 U.S. communities to reach the program’s gold level, Arlington is now one of five at the platinum level.
More from a county press release:
According to WFC, the designation reflects Arlington’s success “in transit-oriented planning, remarkable promotion and outreach, and educational offerings for staff and residents.” It’s the first time the County has achieved platinum-level status from WFC after receiving a gold-level rating in 2010 and once again in 2015.
“Being recognized with a platinum rating by Walk Friendly Communities highlights Arlington’s ongoing commitment to increasing walkability throughout our neighborhoods,” said Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol. “We are committed, through many infrastructure projects and County-wide initiatives, to continuing to make walking a viable, enjoyable and safe way for both residents and visitors to get around Arlington.”
Arlington has 527 miles of sidewalks, more than 50 miles of paved, multi-use trails and 14.5 miles of hiking/natural trails. The County’s acclaimed multimodal Master Transportation Plan makes its Pedestrian Element a key feature in integrating growth around public transit lines, with special emphasis on sidewalks and multi-use trails.
Among its transportation outreach services, the County’s WalkArlington program offers abundant resources and events to encourage foot travel as a sustainable, healthy way to commute around and explore Arlington. One such effort is the more than two dozen highly detailed Walkabout map tours developed for discovering Arlington’s mix of neighborhoods as well as their unique features and histories.
In addition, an all-volunteer Pedestrian Advisory Committee helps County leadership and transportation planners visualize and achieve a more walkable Arlington through policy and infrastructure changes–from the busiest urban corridors to charming residential greenways.
An examination of the continued challenges faced by pedestrians is among the key components of Vision Zero, the County’s major transportation safety initiative to ensure that everyone traveling across Arlington arrives safely to their destination. In the first year of Vision Zero, almost 240 crosswalks were updated to display high visibility markings while speed limit zones around 13 schools were reduced to 20 miles per hour to protect walkers.
Four people died in crashes in 2021, the first year of Vision Zero. None of the fatal crashes involved a bicyclist or pedestrian.
While apples-to-apples comparisons are difficult given changes in driving and commuting patterns during the pandemic, Arlington has seen a decline in crashes — including those involving pedestrians and cyclists — from pre-pandemic levels.
The Walk Friendly Communities program is run out of the University of North Carolina and recognizes places that have “shown a commitment to improving and sustaining walkability and pedestrian safety through comprehensive programs, plans, and policies.”
“Managed by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC), the program distinguishes communities leading the way in walkability and seeks to share their stories to inspire other communities to move toward their own innovative solutions,” the program website notes.