LivingNorthern Virginia January 10, 2023

How Much Does It Cost to Live in Northern Virginia?


Situated next to Washington D.C., Northern Virginia is made up of equestrian farms, rambling homesteads, and a touch of colonial times. The beautiful blend of chic shops and significant historical gems give Northern Virginia its character. Some of the most notable landmarks of this region include the Pentagon (the headquarters of the US department of defense), and the CIA. Popularly known as “NOVA”, Northern Virginia is an ideal choice for someone who is intrigued by diversity and also cherishes natural beauty.

Apart from popular spots such as the Great Falls Park, which is a popular natural destination visited by tourists from across the globe and Shenandoah National Park, home to panoramic views and wilderness, there are several compelling local experiences to be had. In addition, since the local economy shows signs of strength, the job and business opportunities remain strong throughout the Northern Virginia suburbs of D.C. This makes it easier for families looking for houses to move here.

So, whether it is the diversity, opportunity, or accessibility to Washington D.C., you can find it all in Northern Virginia. Having said all of that however, what is the cost of living in Northern Virginia?

What is the Cost of Living Index?

To understand the cost of living in Virginia, we must try to first understand what the cost of living index is. When it comes to real estate, inflation plays a vital role sometimes. The cost of living estimate (or “COL”) generally includes the costs for housing, food, medical care, energy consumption, travel expenses, taxes and other necessities.

In other words, the cost of living index is the estimation of the costs of all the basic necessities required by an individual to live comfortably. People who tend to move from one city, state, or country to another, take note of the costs of living in that particular location, and the cost of living index provides general guidelines that you can use in planning. So, if you plan to move within or relocate to Northern Virginia, thinking about the cost of living index may help you determine whether or not moving is in your best interest.

What’s the Average Cost of Living for a Family in Northern Virginia?

You have to consider several aspects when it comes to relocating to a new city, state or country, and cost of living is a crucial one. And since there are several cities and counties within Northern Virginia, the cost of living tends to vary.

In general, the cost of living in Northern Virginia is relatively high. Having said that however, it may be safe to say that the price tags in some urban areas of NOVA are comparatively lower than other cities along the Eastern Seaboard, such as New York.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you’re living in rural areas, some prices and expenses may be lower than locations that are squarely within the major metro areas. There are several reasons why the cost of living in Northern Virginia is sometimes considered quite high.

1. A Thriving Real Estate Market

NOVA is home to high-rise buildings, condominiums and townhouses. Fairfax County in particular is the second largest suburban office market in the US. And, there is a wide spectrum of housing options and opportunities.

2. Excellent Education Facilities

Northern Virginia boasts first-rate educational institutions, including some of the most sought-after public schools and higher education institutes.

3. Outstanding Healthcare

Outstanding Healthcare

Remarkable healthcare facilities are often a sign of a growing economy, which almost always correlates with strong market demand. With over 5,000 physicians practicing in Northern Virginia, the healthcare services are considered top-notch. The areas are served by some of the best and most highly-ranked hospitals.

4. Fantastic Transportation Facilities and Infrastructure

Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport are the two major airports in NOVA. Northern Virginia is also connected by Metrorail and the commuter rail system. There are also two highway systems in the region.

Approximate Cost of Living

Let’s take a look at what the cost of living in Fairfax, one of the key cities in the region would be like. According to, the estimated cost of living index in Fairfax is 148.2, which is 48.2% higher than the national average. This makes it one of the most expensive cities in the US. It is also important to note, however, that the median household income of Fairfax is $116,979, which is 57% higher than the state median. For an individual living in Fairfax, the median income is 40% more than the state median, which stands at $55,126.

Therefore, when you’re moving to or within Northern Virginia, especially to one of the bigger areas, you should consider:

  • Daily expenses
  • Groceries
  • Utilities
  • Medical expenses
  • Transportation
  • Housing costs
  • Insurance

Does Virginia Have Affordable Housing?

As per the cost of living index stated by, the state of Virginia scores 104.2, which is based on the US average of 100. What this tells us is that the cost of living in Northern Virginia is higher than the average. Having said that, these costs may differ from one region to another and Virginia might be less costly than other East coast cities.

When relocating to Northern Virginia, you can expect the housing costs to be your biggest expense, with a median house costing $258,400. As compared to the national median home cost, which is $231,200, this is a fair amount higher. And the median home cost throughout the state is $258,400, with a 4% increase in home appreciation.

What Factors Are Included in Estimating the Cost of Living

1. Utility Costs

Although the cost of living is higher in Northern Virginia, you might be able to save on your utility costs. Average electricity and natural gas costs are $125 and $72 per month respectively, and $60 for the internet.

2. Transportation and Food Costs

A 7-day regional bus pass costs $17.50 while the food expenses are likely to cost an average of $300 per month.

3. Medical Costs and Taxes

The national average cost of health insurance for a 40-year-old is expected to be around $495 a month, and anyone earning a taxable income of more than $17,000, can expect an income tax rate of 5.75% in Virginia.

Ready to Move?

Considering all the expenses that determine the cost of living in Northern Virginia, it is always advisable to seek help from a professional realtor in the home-buying process. Working with someone experienced, who can help you navigate through Northern Virginia’s housing market, will help you find the best property for you, and negotiate the absolute best possible deal. Contact Jessica Bush to get started today!