Hot spots for renters

If you’re not quite ready to plant your roots, no worries. Here, find Northern Virginia renters’ favorite places to live.

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The neighborhoods surrounding the Court House and Clarendon Metro stations, just past Rosslyn, offer the nightlife many young renters are looking for, says Rhule.

Bars like the Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill, the Clarendon Ballroom and Mister Days, along with countless others along Wilson and Clarendon boulevards bring young locals and visitors out for the party scene nearly every night. The area is also known for small venues featuring live music.

But quieter restaurants and plenty of shops—including Whole Foods and stores in the Market Common outdoor mall—also make Clarendon a convenient place to live. Screwtop Wine Bar, Ambar, Lyon Hall and Liberty Tavern are just a few of the various restaurants popular with local residents.

It’s easy to get into D.C. for work or weekend fun from these close areas, plus there are bike paths and parks for local recreation. The James Hunter Dog Park brings renters and their canine friends together daily.

The primary attraction for renters is that they can experience the walkability of the city while paying a little less in rent and yet still having quick access to downtown D.C. whenever they want it.

Ashburn Village

Renters like Ashburn Village as much as buyers do, says Jackie Lawlor, associate broker of Jack Lawlor Realty Co. in Ashburn. The Sports Pavilion is a huge draw, along with the abundance of activities. While nightlife isn’t a big part of Ashburn Village, there are more than a dozen restaurants in the Ashburn Village Center and plenty of activities at the Sports Pavilion to keep people busy.

Some rent in order to make sure their kids go to their preferred school.

“Some of the renters are people who want to explore the area before they buy a home here,” says Lawlor. “Others just like the renter lifestyle.”

Lawlor says a lot of renters in Ashburn Village work in the area or work from home. Some commute to Tysons Corner, Reston or Herndon, while others commute to D.C.

The lifestyle attracts a lot of young people, says Lawlor, who like to cycle or run on the W&OD trail that goes right through the village.

Renters can find townhouses, apartments and single-family homes to rent and still have access to all the community amenities.

Wiehle-Reston East Station

Development around the Silver Line Metro station in Reston has so far been rental apartments and commercial buildings, turning the area into a mini-city with high-rises. Renters can find more opportunities in Reston with the advent of new construction. Reston Station, at the Wiehle-Reston East stop, will include 1.3 million square feet of commercial development, homes and shops with direct access to Metro. Restaurants and shops already open on the plaza below the BLVD apartments include an outpost of Paradise Springs Winery, Founding Farmers and Pearl Fine Teas. Additional residential development is under construction within a half-mile of the station.

Reston’s recreational amenities, with miles of walking trails, tennis courts, swimming pools and lakes, have long attracted renters. Reston Town Center’s array of restaurants and shops, plus the movie theater, outdoor concert venue and winter ice skating rink are not far from the Metro and provide additional incentives to renters.

Knull anticipates even more development and densification along the Silver Line in Reston as the second phase of construction extends the Metro to Dulles International Airport.

Crystal City/Pentagon City

Redevelopment of these walkable neighborhoods has encouraged renters to move into some of the large apartment buildings in the area, says Rhule. A big part of the appeal is Metro access to get downtown or to other parts of Northern Virginia, but Rhule says residents can also walk to shops and restaurants in Crystal City, Pentagon City and at Pentagon Row. There’s even some nightlife in the neighborhood now too, says Rhule.

A decade ago, many of Crystal City’s federal and defense contractor office tenants left the area after the base realignment decision by Congress. That turned out to be a boon for the neighborhood, with offices being converted to apartments and retail spaces, including a WeLive, WeWork location providing a co-housing option. Restaurants like Jaleo, Good Stuff Eatery and Highline RxR are popular in the evening as well as at lunchtime. The farmers market and Crystal City Water Park, a series of fountains, are popular with local residents, who also gather at several festivals planned throughout the year.

Since the area is a still a bit under-the-radar as a hip place to live, rent is a little more affordable than in some other areas of Northern Virginia and downtown D.C.

Access to Reagan National Airport is a plus for frequent flyers, too.


Renters like to be in the midst of an active neighborhood and have access to other communities, too, says Schline.

“For renters, the focus is mostly on the lifestyle since they don’t necessarily plan to stay a long time in their apartment,” she says. “One reason young people like to rent around the Ballston station is that they can live somewhere with a great lifestyle where they couldn’t necessarily afford to buy.”

Living in Ballston offers walkability to the Metro, shops, entertainment and nightlife. You can even watch the Capitals practice at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston Common Mall.

The redevelopment of the mall to Ballston Quarter—and improved restaurants in the area such as Mussel Bar and a collection of Mike Isabella restaurants including Kapnos Taverna, Pepita Cantina and Yona—are adding to the new vibe in Ballston, says Knull.
Ballston is also home to some long-time favorite hangouts of young renters like A-Town Bar & Grill and Rustico.

(Best NoVA NeighborhoodsMarch 2018)