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  1. #1
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    Jan. 14, 2012
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    Default Middleburg/Upperville/The Plains/Marshall/Warrenton

    Edit: I should have titled this post more like "Best NoVa & Surrounding Top Horse Areas for Twentysomethings"

    What are the subtleties/differences/regional area "flavors/feelings" between these horsey areas in VA:

    Middleburg
    Upperville
    The Plains
    Marshall
    Warrenton

    Specifically for these needs:
    >Resources for a decent-paying job (tech, finance...commute to DC?)
    >Access to entertainment, activities, and a younger crowd
    (aka not looking for a completely rural, quiet, older community - which is why I eliminated Southern Pines, NC?)

    Want the best access to all things equestrian hunter/jumper/fox hunting/x-country/etc, but also access to a downtown area with shops, upbeat restaurants, daytime/evening activity, and not too spread out or rural (would love to be able to bike ride from an apartment to downtown/grocery stores and also to the barn! - ultimate pipe dream!?!)

    Finally, what are the school systems like in these areas? Do they double as good places to raise a family or are they more strictly focused on lifestyles outside of top rated public high schools, etc.
    Last edited by equestrian13; Jan. 28, 2013 at 01:32 AM.



  2. #2
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    Middleburg might work out for you if you could get lucky, though you'll have to do some serious driving to get around.
    Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!



  3. #3
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    I think based on your post the Warrenton area would be best for your needs. All the other areas mentioned are still accessible for equine pursuits but do NOT have a younger vibe.


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  4. #4
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    I wouldn't say Warrenton has a younger vibe. Gainesville, which is up the road from there, certainly does have a younger vibe as that's where many younger people live including quite a few 20-30 something horse-folk who drive through Warrenton to get to their barns.
    Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!



  5. #5
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    Thanks for the Gainesville suggestion.

    Also curious about the amount of "urban sprawl" (tract home communities, chain stores)...are these areas like that?



  6. #6
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    Warrenton is still pretty rural outside of their well developed little sprawl. Middleburg is a few streets of small-town development surrounded by farms so big you could live on them as a squatter and never get caught. The Plains is a main street town off the highway and Marshall is exactly the same. The two are basically at opposite ends of the same rural highway. Upperville is a stretch of road with some buildings and farms on either side.
    Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!



  7. #7
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    Might try Maryland - Howard or Montgomery Counties are both equine friendly, closer to DC and Maryland was recently rated #1 for their school systems nationally, and I would venture to say that most public schools in Mont. Co rival or even exceed private schools in the area. If you are looking for a hipper area probably Ballston in NoVa offers Work/Play/Live lifestyle, however depending it might be more Play/Live and commute to DC or other areas for work. Ballston is right on the metro line so commuting to DC for nightlife or work would be easy.
    Kentlands /Lakelands area of Gaithersburg, MD is full of young families and would provide good access to barns in Montgomery or Howard Counties. Another great area is along MacArthur Blvd in Bannockburn or Brookmont neighborhoods - eclectic architecture and offers a strong community feel. Those areas are right along the C&O canal so you could bike to work, lots of good restaurants in the area and close to DC, shopping etc. In excellent school zones as well. As far as fox hunting goes, Potomac Hunt, Newmarket Middletown and Howard County Iron Bridge are in relatively close proximity - Potomac being the closest. This area of MD is within 1 hr drive to H/j and eventing barns or multi-discipline barns.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottagrey View Post
    Might try Maryland - Howard or Montgomery Counties are both equine friendly, closer to DC and Maryland was recently rated #1 for their school systems nationally, and I would venture to say that most public schools in Mont. Co rival or even exceed private schools in the area. If you are looking for a hipper area probably Ballston in NoVa offers Work/Play/Live lifestyle, however depending it might be more Play/Live and commute to DC or other areas for work. Ballston is right on the metro line so commuting to DC for nightlife or work would be easy.
    Kentlands /Lakelands area of Gaithersburg, MD is full of young families and would provide good access to barns in Montgomery or Howard Counties. Another great area is along MacArthur Blvd in Bannockburn or Brookmont neighborhoods - eclectic architecture and offers a strong community feel. Those areas are right along the C&O canal so you could bike to work, lots of good restaurants in the area and close to DC, shopping etc. In excellent school zones as well. As far as fox hunting goes, Potomac Hunt, Newmarket Middletown and Howard County Iron Bridge are in relatively close proximity - Potomac being the closest. This area of MD is within 1 hr drive to H/j and eventing barns or multi-discipline barns.
    Thank you!! Writing down all of these suggestions to research. Truly helpful, thanks!



  9. #9
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    you're welcome. Let me know if want some more suggestions.



  10. #10
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    Default

    Edit: I should have titled this post more like "Best NoVa & Surrounding Top Horse Areas for Twentysomethings"



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by equestrian13 View Post
    Thanks for the Gainesville suggestion.

    Also curious about the amount of "urban sprawl" (tract home communities, chain stores)...are these areas like that?
    Gainesville is definitely becoming more that way, as is the Lakelands/Kentlands development in MD mentioned above.

    Honestly, as someone slightly older than you, if you're looking to live somewhere that allows you to have a going out type life, you'd be much better off living in the Ballston or Shirlington area, or somewhere like Rockville or Silver Spring in MD, and commuting out to the horse. There's not much at all in any of the towns you named, other than Warrenton, and that's not by much, as far as restaurants/movies/bars/good grocery stores/etc. You'll get bored quickly, and spend half your life commuting to work.

    I live just west of Ballston, right across the Fairfax county line, and have kept my horse in VA and MD; she's in MD now, and the drive to the barn is under an hour. Closer in, frankly, there's still plenty of places that are walkable/bike-friendly and with access to public transit. It's going to be 45min-1hr out to most barns from there, but you have to decide what kind of tradeoff you want to make.



  12. #12
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    What Jen E said. The towns you named are very quiet. You probably wouldn't want to be there unless you are part of a long term couple socially. They are also rather pricey for a young person. You may also want to look into the leesburg or Ashland area. nearby.
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  13. #13
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    All of those towns are very country... except Middleburg which is well Middleburg, and Warrenton which is a little bigger/more active. I would throw Leesburg into the mix. It's not IN Middleburg but it's near, within 30-60 mins of all the towns you mention and a great town, dare I say "city".



  14. #14
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    Ditto the suggestion of Leesburg. We'd move there in a second if we could move our jobs closer. It's a pretty easy drive to barns in Aldie/Middleburg, but not a complete snorefest like the rest the towns you originally mentioned. It's a manageable (but expensive) commute to Dulles corridor/Tysons via the Greenway/toll road, although you would not want to commute into DC from there.

    Gainesville as mentioned has some younger people, but it's not my favorite crowd. You could also look at Arlington neighborhoods (Ballston/Rosslyn/etc), easy commute into DC, 45 minutes and some change out to Aldie, hour to Middleburg.

    In MD, living in Rockville and boarding in Poolesville would be very convenient. Lots of fun stuff to do in downtown Rockville, and ~25-30 minutes to the barns in P'ville. Lots of jobs in and around Rockville, and not a terrible commute into DC.


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  15. #15
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    I have lived in MoCo, MD, Leesburg, and now am happily living in Middleburg, all while doing horses. I have loved all three places for various reasons.

    If you don't mind long, mind numbing commutes and want to live quietly, drive to fun stuff, and be in the absolute thick of horseyness, Middleburg is the place to be (also applies to The Plains and Upperville). I LOVE living here. BUT, I am a professional horse person who's commute is a 1/4 mile to the barn.

    Leesburg can give you a little more "stuff" to do, while still being very close to the horseyness of Middleburg (Leesburg is still pretty horsey, but there is some sprawl happening). The downtown area rocks, and you can go and get drinks and walk home (depending on WHERE in Leesburg you live). There are conveniences that you get that you don't get living in Middleburg, and you may be able to find a fairly easy commute. The downside of Leesburg is that it is getting sprawly....but they are doing a good job of keeping the integrity of the downtown.

    MoCo is GREAT if you want easy access to urban type lifestyle things. Even if you live a little ways out (my last place was in Potomac), it is still a quick drive to a Metro stop from most places in the county. The horse areas are beautiful and pretty extensive (especially when you add in Frederick and Howard County). Commutes are going to vary depending on WHERE you work and where you live. You have access to great restaurants and very easy access to the District. These last two things are what I miss the very most about MoCo.

    I have lived in the DC metro area all through my 20s (moved here when I was 21. Now I'm 31). There is so much to do, both as a horse person and for someone who likes to do other things. The cost of living is high (the further out you go, the cheaper it is, but commutes can be bitches). You have LOTS of options of how to get the most out of each aspect of your life around here, but you do have to choose housing and boarding wisely and realize you may sacrifice some things because of commuting.

    FWIW, as much as I miss the ease of urban access in MoCo, I would not trade my lifestyle in Middleburg for the world. So our restaurant selection is slim, the decent grocery stores are 20+ minutes away, and they roll up the sidewalks in town at 9. I live in the heart of Virginia horse country, routinely see Jimmy Wofford at the coffee shop, run into Joe Fargis at the post office, can go ANYWHERE in boots and britches, and get to look out at some of the most beautiful countryside there is to see EVERY DAY. I get my urban fix with trips to see my sister in Chicago.

    PS- Re: school systems. I have good friends that are teachers in both Loudoun Co (so, Leesburg and parts of the Middleburg area) and MoCo. Both counties have excellent school systems. I have been told Loudoun is one of the best (have no kids or any intention of having them, so I take their word for it!). Middleburg is a funny area as it dips and weaves back and forth between Loudoun and Fauquier counties, and my understanding is Fauquier is not as good and is much, MUCH more rural (longer bus rides, etc) than Loudoun. Just food for thought if school systems are vital to you and you seriously consider the Middleburg area.



  16. #16
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    I have a 20-something friend who moved here for a job and lives in Warrenton. She said it's definitely a family friendly town. I only ever stop by for breakfast or gas on the way to work (or to do evening dressage shows at the horse show grounds), but I will say based on what she tells me, that they don't have seem to be the best choice for a 20-something (no movie theater, mall, clubs, etc.).

    I live in Stafford County/Fredericksburg, about a half hour south of Warrenton and we have all the shopping, restaurants and some sort of social scene. We're close to I-95, so the commute on a good day to DC would be an hour. Obviously the horsey areas are not as good as Middleburg, but it's only an hour away.

    I work in Middleburg and drive Rt 17 everyday, so not much traffic and tons of horsey stuff as I continue north. Of course, I'm no judge of the social scenes anywhere because my social scene/my life revolves around my horse, but I'm really into live music, so I just drive to DC, Richmond or Baltimore when I want to see my favorite bands.
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  17. #17
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    Apr. 27, 2003
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    Have you thought of maybe a bit further south in Charlottesville? I've been located here since I graduated college in 2005 and I love it. We have a great nightlife, UVA is the heart of the town, PLENTY of rural areas for horses and easy access to all you mentioned. We have a lot of large employers as well and good schools for children.

    I no longer live in town anymore, not my scene, but I live 15 miles outside of it in a neighboring county. I have a great job my horse is less than 20 minutes away and within an hour driving distance in all direction I have access to MANY shows and great local series. So while I live outside of town, I have access to all things city in a fairly short commute and even have no problem hitting up downtown to enjoy the night scene!
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  18. #18
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    Jun. 7, 2002
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    If you want to live in horse country but be able to go out, another option is to live in Culpeper. Unlike Warrenton (where I have a small farm) Culpeper is on the Amtrak line. It's a 1.5 hour train ride to the city and it's a cheap ticket. It would not be practical to live there and work in the city, but if you just want to party once in a while, you can. Plus downtown Culpeper is much cooler than Warrenton. It's actually not a bad place to go out for drinks.

    I live in Ballston during the week and have for more than 10 years. I can fill you in on the area. There is only one boarding option that isn't routinely an hour away and that is Rokeby in McLean. Great place but no ride out.
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  19. #19
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    I think it depends on your prioritization of work/social vs. horse area.
    The tech jobs are either downtown (which is a very serious commute from the areas you mention, probably 2+ hrs during the week) or along the Dulles corridor (not bad for Leesburg-ish area) and the 270 corridor of MD (the MoCo suggestions).

    When I was in my 20s I was happiest living closer to the city and driving out to the horses. In part because I liked 20-something city people more than suburban/rural types to socialize with. And in part because that gave me more "reverse commute" out to the country. I lived in Arlington which was a blast, and then in Fairfax which was pretty suburban but still on the metro. When I was ~30 I bought a place further out in the 'burbs where I could keep my horses at home.

    The areas you mention are very upscale horsey, and all are really beautiful (lots of gorgeous horse farms, lots of $), largely an older/quieter crowd though obviously some young people (esp horse pros) are out there.

    I do love it here, but if I had to do it all over again I might also consider smaller cities, because the 1-2 hrs of suburban sprawl that separate DC from horse country require a lot of compromise.



  20. #20
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    I would second Leesburg (and Purcellville). Commuter bus to DC originates in Purcellville and has stops along the way. Less than 10 miles east of Leesburg is the area's high-tech center. About 70 percent of all internet traffic comes through the fast growing number of data centers. Amazon was just announced as a tenant of a new site. Lots of horse activity Leesburg and west. That half of the county was upzoned to protect farms. Leesburg is a pretty active area. Several universities, including part of George Washington in that tech area east of Leesburg.


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