Arlington, Virginia has a reputation for expensive costs of living.
Its proximity to Washington DC makes it ideal for politicians, lobbyists, and other individuals who serve in the nation’s capital.
Housing expenses in Arlington, VA are 134% higher than the national average.
The median home price is $810,939 with many homes pushing over $1 million.
The median rent is $2,540 a month.
Clearly, it’s a lot more expensive to live in Arlington, VA, than it is in other parts of the country.
If you’re planning to move to Arlington, then you may wonder what’s causing the higher prices.
Here are 10 reasons why Arlington, VA is expensive.
Why Is Arlington Virginia So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Proximity To DC
One of the main reasons that Arlington is expensive is because of its proximity to DC.
The Potomac River separates Arlington from Washington DC.
It’s basically a stone’s throw away.
Since DC is the nation’s capital, it’s an expensive place to live.
It’s also a metropolitan area.
People who are looking to live in an area with a bit more space end up in Arlington.
DC is a very small and compact area.
Any single-family homes there are going to have a high price tag with small square footage and an even smaller yard.
In most cases, condos and apartments are the best options.
Those who want to own their property and make a worthwhile investment look for places outside of DC.
The next-best area is Arlington.
The city has two sections.
North Arlington is home to large homes with large plots of land.
They tend to sell for prices starting at $1 million.
These are the homes that executives and wealthy politicians buy.
They enjoy a private residence, large yard, and proximity to the capital.
South Arlington is where the general population tends to live.
Prices on homes are a bit cheaper here but not by much.
Its proximity to DC is what makes the area so valuable.
It allows those working in DC to enjoy a satisfying career in the city while also being able to enjoy a private home with plenty of land.
Because the area is in high demand, it makes housing prices and other costs skyrocket.
Arlington is expensive because it’s right next door to DC.
2. Wealthy Demographic
Another reason that Arlington is expensive is its demographics.
There’s a high percentage of adults with high incomes living in the city.
The average household income in Arlington is $154,331, while
in the entire United States, it’s $67,521.
That’s more than twice the national income.
Because wealthier people are living in the area, the area as a whole is going to be more expensive.
Wealthy households are able to invest in their homes and the area.
This ends up increasing the prices around the area as others are also pushed to start investing in their homes.
Wealthy households also expect certain amenities and features within a close distance.
That means more businesses start up in the area because they’re attracted by the potential clients they can grab.
Since more businesses are in the area, it means there’s less room for other businesses.
Arlington only has so much space.
As wealthy individuals invest in the areas where they live, that usually leads to less space for people to claim.
The result is that there’s a lot of demand for land with a limited supply.
That makes prices skyrocket.
Wealthy individuals also set prices for utilities and other services.
Since businesses know that these individuals can afford more, they might increase their prices to gain as much of a profit as possible.
Unfortunately, that also means those who don’t have as high of an income have to pay those high prices.
Arlington is expensive because it has a high number of wealthy individuals living in the area, which drives up prices for everyone else.
Tourism is another huge reason Arlington is an expensive place.
There are tons of things to see and do in the city.
One of its biggest attractions is the Pentagon where the country’s military offensive and defensive strategies are planned.
The Arlington National Cemetery is another important landmark.
It houses many of the soldiers who died while serving their country.
Even those they couldn’t identify are there.
It attracts several visitors throughout the year who pay their respects to those who fought for the freedoms they enjoy today.
There are several other military attractions in the city, too.
Everything from the Navy to the Air Force has attractions stationed in Arlington.
Its closeness to DC also makes it ideal for tourists.
They’re able to stay in Arlington, see the sights, and then head to DC to finish their vacation.
Since hotels tend to be a bit cheaper in Arlington compared to DC, many tourists end up staying in the city.
However, this means that Arlington also acts as a tourist hotspot.
That immediately makes the area more expensive.
Tourist locations tend to be more expensive because they’re looking to capitalize on the money visitors bring with them.
These areas also have to invest more in themselves to continue to provide tourist services.
That usually means higher taxes or other expenditures that go towards their tourism department.
Hotels, restaurants, and other businesses looking to serve tourists also have higher rates.
Those who live in the city have to pay these higher rates, too, whether they’re tourists or not.
Arlington is expensive because it’s a tourist hotspot.
4. Above-Average School Ratings
One of the reasons that Arlington attracts a lot of people to its city is because of the highly-rated schools that are there.
The student-to-teacher ratio in Arlington is 15:1.
That’s an incredible ratio compared to other states that often have a 30:1 ratio.
This means that there are more teachers per student in the classroom.
When there are fewer students in a classroom, it usually yields better results.
That’s because teachers are able to split their time between each student more effectively.
They have the time to work with one student who may be struggling a bit more because there are fewer who need the teacher’s specific attention.
Smaller classrooms also usually mean fewer distractions for the students.
They can focus better and learn better.
State test scores in Arlington indicate that around 87% of students are proficient in math and 83% are proficient in reading.
As such, most school rating services tend to give the schools in Arlington an A grade.
This makes Arlington more expensive because it means more people looking to have a family are going to move to the area.
They want to give their kids the best possible education.
The problem with attracting families to the area is that there ends up being a lot of competition for housing.
When there’s more demand than there is supply, prices skyrocket.
This can impact other prices and services, too.
One of the reasons the schools are likely able to have more teachers to handle all the students is that they pay them well.
That usually means higher taxes to pay for the schools and their budgets.
Arlington is expensive because they have great schools.
5. College Town
As if being a tourist area weren’t enough, Arlington is also home to several colleges and universities.
George Mason University, Georgetown University, Marymount University, and Virginia Tech Research Center – Arlington are all found in the area.
There are even more colleges and universities dotted around the area.
Colleges and universities make an area more expensive because a lot of people need to live in a small area.
The college needs dorm rooms and services to provide entertainment and food for its students.
Faculty members need places to stay during the semester.
Because college tuition is high, those with money are usually the ones who attend them.
Those individuals also then have money to spend while they’re studying.
Businesses looking to capitalize on income from students come to these areas.
Apartment complexes and condos also come looking to snag students for their rooms.
With more people in the area, it means less space for everyone else.
That means prices for the existing plots of land are high.
With high property taxes and rental fees, everything else is also priced high to accommodate.
Some of those college students go on to graduate and then decide to live in Arlington and start their own businesses.
They have to pay back their student loans, so they might charge high fees for their services.
College towns tend to be more expensive, regardless, because businesses know that many college students are flush with cash from their student loans.
Unfortunately, this also impacts the cost of living for the rest of the area.
Arlington, VA is expensive because it’s a college town.
Recently, Amazon announced that it was going to build its second headquarters in Arlington, VA.
With its creation, it’s expected to bring at least 25,000 full-time jobs with it.
As with any major construction project, it also means there’s going to be an increase in funding for infrastructure projects.
Amazon plans on investing $2.5 billion for the construction of its second headquarters.
The building will eventually expand to four million square feet.
This has made Arlington more expensive because it saw an influx of people looking to move to the area to get a job with Amazon.
With more people coming to the city, it means there’s an even smaller supply of homes in the area.
When a big corporation like Amazon chooses to build a new facility in a city, it usually brings wealth with it.
The surrounding area usually benefits in some way.
Arlington is no different.
Those who are aware of this come to the city looking to enjoy some of those benefits for themselves.
Unfortunately, with housing prices rising, it means that the cost of living is even higher in the city.
With more people walking around with more money in their pockets, businesses will start to raise their prices.
They want their piece of the cake, too.
While Amazon is bringing more jobs to the city, it’s also making Arlington an expensive place to live.
Arlington is expensive because of Amazon’s decision to build a second headquarters there.
7. Private Schools
Public schools and colleges aren’t the only educational facilities making Arlington expensive.
Private schools also make the city expensive.
The average cost of private school is $14,317 a year in Arlington.
The highest tuition cost for a private school is Episcopal High School, which will set you back $64,900.
Private schools are more expensive than public schools because public schools are free.
They get their funds elsewhere.
Private schools get their funds from parents and donors.
They pay for tuition like a student does when attending college.
The benefit of a private school is that there are usually smaller classrooms.
This enables the teacher to spend time with each time and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Arlington already has decent schools.
Their private schools are even better.
That’s why many families end up coming to Arlington.
Those who can afford it want to give their children a head start in their education.
Investing in private school is a great way to prepare their child for college.
Unfortunately, the private school adds to the total cost of living.
Since private school is expensive, living in Arlington becomes even more expensive.
Arlington is expensive if you put your child in a private school.
You can usually tell if a city is expensive or not based on the prices at their restaurants.
Arlington has some pretty expensive restaurants.
While the restaurants aren’t as pricey as those found in New York City or LA, you will find that they’re pricier when compared to other areas around Arlington.
Part of the reason they’re expensive is tourism.
Since Arlington is a vacation spot, many tourists end up eating out.
They want to indulge while on their vacation, so they choose fine restaurants.
Those restaurants want to get as much money as possible, so they have high-cost items on their menus.
Unfortunately, those living in Arlington also have to pay the same high prices for their meals.
Another reason restaurants are expensive is that they sometimes play host to Senators and other executive officials from the nation’s capital.
These diners have a lot of money, which also influences the price of food in the restaurant.
They know that these individuals expect high-quality food.
To meet those expectations, restaurants have to invest in high-quality ingredients, staff, and a clean environment.
With higher costs of doing business, they need funds to cover those costs.
That results in higher prices.
The cost of land also contributes to how expensive restaurants are in Arlington.
If the restaurant has to pay high rental prices, then it will need to make up for the fee through its menu prices.
This means that eating out in Arlington becomes an expensive venture.
Arlington is expensive because the restaurants in the city are expensive.
9. Healthy Lifestyles
Arlington has a reputation for being a relatively fit city.
Many of those who live in Arlington are young and interested in staying fit and healthy.
The city does what it can to promote healthy lifestyles, but that usually comes with high expenses.
One of the ways that Arlington tries to keep its residents fit is by having lots of green spaces.
Almost every resident in Arlington lives no more than 10 minutes from a park.
This allows them to walk, jog, or simply bask in the sun to stay healthy.
They also invest in their hospitals and other medical institutions to ensure their residents have the care that they need.
Unfortunately, this means healthcare costs in Arlington are high.
Whether it’s paying for insurance premiums or the cost of the actual doctor visit, Arlington residents pay a lot of money for healthcare.
The wealth of its residents may be a reason behind the higher prices.
The number of parks also adds to the cost of living in Arlington.
Parks need funds to stay operational and clean.
Since Arlington has a large number of them, they also need a lot of funding to cover the costs of operation.
Arlington residents end up paying a good amount in taxes that go towards the operation of their parks.
While Arlington is a city that takes the fitness of its residents earnestly, it also makes the city an expensive place to live.
10. Rental Prices
A final reason Arlington is expensive is the rent.
Rental prices vary based on the number of rooms in the apartment or condo.
The average one-bedroom apartment in Arlington costs $1,765 a month while a two-bedroom unit rents for $2,498 a month, on average.
Those who want a three-bedroom apartment can expect to pay around $3,397 a month.
There’s no question that rent in Arlington is extremely high.
One of the reasons for that is that there isn’t much land in Arlington.
Because the city has a high population, there’s a lot of demand for housing.
That includes condos and apartments.
DC’s rental prices are even higher which means more people are looking for a place to live in Arlington.
With little space to go around, it’s difficult for developers of new apartments and condos to find an area to build their complexes.
The result is that several people end up out-bidding one another for apartments.
The problem with that is that it makes the cost of living in Arlington expensive.
For many people, their rent might end up taking most of their paycheck.
Arlington is expensive because of its rental prices.
Arlington, VA has a lot to offer its residents and tourists.
With its proximity to Washington DC, the city is ideal for people looking to live outside of the capital.
Unfortunately, with a large population of wealthy people, college students, and Amazon’s investments in the area, the city is an expensive place to live.