Who lives here: Singles and couples typically fill the apartments and condos that rise off the Orange-line corridor, while families set up on the quiet streets a few blocks off.
Homefront: Arlington is one of the nation’s most densely populated areas, thanks in part to high-rise development. There are plenty of condos and townhouses for first-time buyers, and the surrounding neighborhoods are stocked with Arts and Crafts bungalows, Colonials, and split-levels. The neighborhoods of Lyon Village and Lyon Park are known for treelined streets and homes from the 1920s and ’30s.
What houses cost: In 2006, the median price of houses and condos was $465,000 in the Clarendon area and $439,000 in Ballston. In a recent two-month period, 81 condos sold for $220,000 to more than $1 million. Townhouses range from $450,000 to $1 million; the most expensive are around the corner from Market Common, the shopping epicenter that’s home to chains such as the Apple store, Crate & Barrel, and Pottery Barn.
Modest, single-family houses start at $600,000. Houses in popular neighborhoods such as Ashton Heights, Waverly Hills, and Willet Heights typically go for $800,000 to $2 million.
Local favorites: Ballston’s Willow restaurant (“If my husband had his way, we’d eat there every night,” says resident Carol Temple); the Arlington Arts Center, which exhibits local and regional artists; and the first-Saturday-of-the-month seasonal flea market near Washington-Lee High School.
Big draws: Nightlife variety. There’s swing dancing at the Clarendon Ballroom, tapas at La Tasca, Guinness at Rí-Rá Irish Pub, and pasta at Sette Bello.
Drawbacks: Parking and traffic. The number of residents near Clarendon Metro has more than doubled since 2000. As the area’s gone upscale, it’s lost some quirkiness. Rising commercial rents have forced independent businesses such the Lazy Sundae ice-cream parlor to shutter or move.
Why it beats Silver Spring: Location. Downtown DC is a quick Metro ride away.
What’s new: The Kettler Capitals Iceplex, where the Capitals practice, opened in November atop a Ballston parking garage. Fans can watch practices, skate, or take hockey or figure-skating lessons. Washington-Lee High is being completely rebuilt and will be a showcase facility.
On the Web: Ballston–Virginia Square Partnership (ballstonvasquare.org); Clarendon Alliance (clarendon.org); Lyon Park Citizens Association (lyonpark.org); Lyon Village Citizen Association (lyonvillage.org); Waverly Hills Civic Association (waverlyhills.com).