Nestled in the heart of Northern Virginia, the City of Fairfax is a quaint commuter suburb home to about 24,000 residents. Fairfax City is known for its walkable downtown anchored by its historic courthouse, which was constructed in 1799—a year before the District of Columbia was founded.

With excellent schools, beautiful parks, and thriving economy, Fairfax is often cited as one of the best places to live in northern Virginia. Residents enjoy the slower pace of the suburbs without going too far from D.C. 

If you’re moving to Fairfax, VA soon, you might be wondering what to expect. Here’s what you need to know about living in Fairfax, VA before you start packing!

Where is Fairfax, VA? 

Fairfax City is a six-square-mile jurisdiction located just 20 minutes southwest of Washington, D.C. and just outside the 495-Beltway. Dulles International Airport is a 35-minute drive away, providing quick access to a major international transportation hub, while daily metro commuters can catch the Orange Line via nearby Vienna station or the Virginia Railway Express train at the Burke Centre station. Metrobus also operates in Fairfax City.

If you are thinking about moving to Fairfax, VA, keep in mind: Many people confuse the City of Fairfax with the much larger Fairfax County area, which includes Clifton, Falls Church, Herndon, and Vienna. Fairfax City is an independent city under Virginia law and a separate political entity.

Living in Fairfax, VA

Given its great location and quality of life, the Fairfax City cost of living is 56% higher than the national average. However, the Fairfax county cost of living  is in line with most cities in Northern Virginia. The cost of living in Alexandria, Arlington and Washington, D.C. are also 56% higher than the national average.

Rents in Fairfax City are also comparable, if slightly higher. The average cost for a studio apartment in Fairfax is $1,533, compared to $1,520 for the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria Metro region. A one-bedroom apartment in Fairfax runs about $1,560 a month, slightly more than the $1,548 you can expect to pay in the metro region.


With its blend of charming historic buildings, growing downtown area and year-round cultural amenities, living in Fairfax, VA is easy and enjoyable, with plenty of potential for families and young professionals. 

However, the housing and rental markets in Fairfax are very competitive. There isn’t much new construction, but it is in very high demand due to the excellent quality of life and convenience this area offers. There are even some historic homes that date back to the early 1800’s. 

Here are a few of the great apartment communities near Fairfax City:

You’re never far from great dining, shopping, and entertainment at Vienna Park in Vienna, VA. One-bedrooms start at $1,649 and boast spacious rooms, plush carpeting and large walk-in closets. A sparkling community pool, a fun playground and a cozy business center are just a few of the amenities you’ll find outside your door.

The Parliaments in Annandale has a similar vibe to Fairfax City, offering suburban charm with city convenience. The Parliaments’ studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments come cable- and Internet-ready with options for walk-in closets and a balcony or patio.


If you are moving to Fairfax, VA, with a family, rest assured that Fairfax has some of the best schools in the country. In fact, Fairfax High School has received US News and World Report’s Gold Award, placing in the top 250 out of more than 22,000 schools across the nation.

While the public schools in the City of Fairfax are owned by the city, they are administered by the Fairfax County Public Schools system, which oversees the city’s 222 educational institutions. According to FCPS, almost 95% of Fairfax students graduate on time, and more than 92 percent plan to continue their education past high school.

In addition, Virginia’s largest university, George Mason University, is located on the southern border of Fairfax City.


Fairfax has a fun and eclectic dining scene, ranging from local spots and casual national chains to fine dining and international flavors. Get a bowl of pho at Pho Thang Lak or New York-style deli fare at Chutzpah in Fairfax Towne Center. Hit up Bellissimo or Dolce Vita for date night with an Italian twist. Captain Pell’s has all the Chesapeake seafood specialties while Eerkin’s Uyghur Cuisine offers traditional Uyghur fare that blend Middle Eastern spices and cuts of meat with Chinese staples.

Fairfax is also home to two craft beer breweries. The Ornery Beer Company is a full-service restaurant and pub that combines modern comfort food with house made ales and lagers, while the Chubby Squirrel offers small plates like pierogies and poutine to wash down their ales, stout, and IPA. To sample more Virginia brews, head to High Side, a craft beer bar with a menu featuring Asian street food.


Fairfax has some of the D.C.-metro area’s most exciting retail complexes, including the newest destination—Mosaic, a unique district with a hand-selected mix of retailers & restaurants set in an intelligent urban design. Old Town Plaza, located in the heart of historic Fairfax, offers an exciting mix of sidewalk cafés and boutique retail shops to create a vibrant Town Center. 

Fairfax Corner is a mixed-use shopping center that offers main street style shopping at both national chains and local boutiques. It also features a state-of-the-art movie theater, and a number of restaurants. Fair Oaks Mall has more than 160 stores and restaurants, including Macy’s, Sephora and Pottery Barn.

Things to Do

Living in Fairfax, VA gives you access to a host of fun activities for the outdoorsy and indoor-inclined alike.

Nature lovers and those looking for family fun won’t have to look far. Within the city’s six square miles there are over 258 acres of park land comprised of 25 parks with rentable pavilions, playgrounds, athletic fields and 28 miles of trails. Fairfax City also offers other recreational areas including basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts. 

For those more into the arts, the Fairfax Art League Gallery displays artwork of several local artists. In addition, Fairfax is home to a professional regional orchestra, Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, and nearby George Mason offers music and cultural performances at the school’s Center for the Arts concert hall and the 10,000-seat EagleBank Arena.

Fairfax also sponsors a number of special community-focused events every year such as a day-long Independence Day celebration, the Holiday Craft Show, Fall Festival, Spotlight on the Arts Festival, and a fun, weekend-long Chocolate Lover’s Festival every February.

Southern Management: Your Fairfax, VA Experts

From world-class shopping to a charming Old Town Square, there are plenty of reasons that Fairfax, VA is a good place to live. Now that you know what living in Fairfax, VA is like, let Southern Management help you find the perfect place to call home.

Whether you already live here or are thinking about moving to Fairfax, VA, we would love to help you navigate your options. We invite you to take a virtual tour of any of our  apartment communities throughout Northern Virginia, or contact us for move-in and relocation specials or more information. Our team will happily discuss availability, pricing, amenities, and more!