New York to NoVa
by Dawn M.
I got an email from a new, local mom and was thrilled that she found my website and wanted to write a guest post. What is it like to move your young family from Manhattan to Ashburn, VA? Find out what a newcomer thinks of NoVA below.
Which location will come out on top…NYC or NoVA?
August 20, 2012
So it’s been a couple of weeks since I landed in Northern VA (Ashburn) by way of New York, N.Y. I am feeling my way around and warming up my brand new driver’s license. Yes, some 30-somethings in New York City still do not drive. I recognize that over there, I’m totally normal and just never put that non-priority task near the top of any daily agenda – but here I think it may make me a freak! So while I work on my newbie driver’s nerves, watch the 16 year old drivers maneuver the perfect park, and shop for a 2nd family car (my car. Yikes!), I’ve been a little limited on where to go and what to do during the week while the hubs is at work.
So aside from packing, here’s what I’ve been up to in the 14 days that I’ve been here:
- GARDENING: I’ve done some gardening, which I love! I had a community garden back in NYC, a coveted plot in between two buildings with a long waiting list. I honed my skills at growing tomatoes and basil in the New York dirt. Here, I’ve got my own space right out back and I’m learning to work the dry red clay of Northern Virginia. Dirt rating – score 1, New York. We’ve got the best dirt, hands down! Having my own private space. Score goes to NoVA.
- GRILLING: I’ve done lots of BBQing! Love, love, love cooking over an open flame – and look at that, no signs telling me it’s not allowed! Great flavor, delish lean protein; hold the carbs, curb the fat. What’s not to love? Anyone else notice, that no matter what you do, it pretty much still tastes awesome?! BBQ fabulocity. Point definitely goes to NoVa! (Though I have a feeling this likely gets pretty old, pretty fast…)
- LIVING SPACE: Let me not even talk about dollar per square footage!
Score for Ashburn, VA. ‘Nuff said!
- PIZZA: New York style pizza? Meh. Putting “New York” in your name doesn’t cut it. Score for the NYC.
- DRIVING: Taking driving lessons for continued practice with a great instructor! Less congestion, less stop and go (you really get to DRIVE here), and people are nice when they see “student driver” on the car. Even had a woman in another car cheering me on as I tried to maneuver out of tight spot at Starbucks. Score for NoVA and its nice people!
(Yes, I’ve heard about the horrendous traffic but have yet to really experience it so the jury is still out for me on that one…)
- WALK-ABILITY: I’ve walked to my “neighborhood” gym. (Sorry, no offense, but I gotta use that term loosely!) And yes, I walked. On the highway-looking-road with no sidewalks. With my toddler. In a stroller. Vigilantly watching the nearby cars, but with a speed limit of 35, I’m thinking we’re okay. It’s a quick an easy walk but I can’t help wondering if the drivers passing by think I’m nuts. Ease of walk-ability points def go to New York.
- PLAYGROUNDS: We visiting Ashburn Park (Dinosaur Park) What a great park! One of the first things that local moms mention is this park! (Along with Ida Lee and Claude Moore, which I have not gotten to yet so to be continued…). I love how this playground is built in this little alcove under the trees, shaded from the hot sun. I love the great play areas categorized by age, the picnic tables, and walking trail in the back. What a well thought out play pace! We had a great local playground in my uptown Manhattan ‘hood, but this takes the cake! Score, NoVA!
- WINERIES: Another great thing we did this weekend was a hit a vineyard! While house hunting a few months back, I began hearing rumors of a fabulous wine industry outside of DC. Hmmm…this was going to be interesting! Enter, Willowcroft Farm Vineyards. You can go just about anytime for a tasting at $5/person. Located in Leesburg, VA, we headed up an old bumpy, pebbly country road towards our destination. The drive was lovely, passing farms and cows, and deer! (Old hat to you all, I’m sure, but we still get really excited about this!) And when we got there –the views! It was hazy and cloudy but still, the views were spectacular! We headed into the barn for the ”event” which ended up feeling so much more like a fabulously intimate, private tasting; for the majority of the time, we were the only folks in the room. Standing up at the bar, we chatted with a wonderfully knowledgeable young woman about the wines we sampled and the delicious tapas we feasted on. And another great thing – kids and dogs are welcome, irrespectively! We don’t have a dog, but we do have a kid. We knew she’d love it and she did –feasting on cheese and crackers during the tasting, and running around the grounds after that.
So while I love my folks at my local winery back at home (big up to my peeps at The Winery in New York!) I have to say driving just 20 minutes to such a beautiful spot to enjoy such a private and affordable afternoon is just about priceless. Score goes to NoVA, hands down!
So, that’s all I’ve got for now – but so far, Northern, VA is treating us well. I miss my friends and family in New York, and I really do miss my city – but I’m thinking this could be a great new chapter for us! I am excited to continue to explore what the NoVA/DC area has to offer –and can’t wait to get my car, flex my driving chops, and really get out there. In the meantime, any and all suggestions on must-sees, free events, good stuff for the toddler/preschool sect, etc. are welcome! Any suggestions? Particularly, I’m looking for a farm you can visit (not a zoo), and a place for horseback riding that takes 2 ½ and 3 year olds; can’t seem to find a place that takes kids under 5.
And in the spirit of give & take, I just found out about this great night out! Man, I wish my BFF were here to go with but she won’t be here until a few days later. This is our FAVORITE movie and soundtrack since we were kids (isn’t it for most of our generation?). So hope some of you can leave the kids with hubby or a babysitter and get on out there. Looks like good times!
“NYC to NoVA” was written by guest blogger Dawn M., M.S. Ed, Higher Education Consultant