NoVa: Love It or Hate It?

By Lloyd the Idiot

As a fifth-generation Californian, it took a good long while before I was willing to admit that I preferred living here to LA.  In fact, it took a solid 7 years before before the thought even crossed my mind (coincidentally, they say 7 years is the time it takes for all the cells in your body to be replaced).  That said, there are still some things I really, really hate about it.

Prompted by an article in Northern Virginia Magazine, 40 Reasons We Love NoVa, I decided to put together my own list of some pros and cons of living in northern Virginia.  There are others, and some may seem a bit contradictory, but here they are (below the fold):

Reasons to Hate NoVa

  • Traffic.  I came from LA, and the traffic here is far more infuriating.  People literally can’t get out of their driveways because of gridlock on surface streets.  It’s particularly infuriating because people don’t have the resolve to do something meaningful – like widening 66 inside the Beltway.  Absolutely insane.
  • Humidity.  Nothing like a beautiful sunny summer day that you can’t enjoy because going outside is like breathing through a Ziploc bag.
  • Redskins and Redskins fans.  Sorry, but the Redskins suck, and it’s only made worse by the Redskins fans who, until they are statistically eliminated from the playoffs,  claim every Monday, “We could go to the Super Bowl this year!”
  •  Water Everywhere, but Nary a Place to Swim.  Plenty of rivers and a huge bay, but not a decent beach for 4 hours.
  • Government Teat.  Yes, that’s what you get in a capital city.  It seems like just about everyone is on the government’s payroll in one way or the other.
  • Crappy Politicians at the Local Level.  Eugene Delgaudio is an embarrassment.  To be fair, I didn’t closely follow local government until I moved here and so it may be the same everywhere, probably is.  But I have to live with it now, and I notice it more – and I don’t like it one bit.
  • Pretentiousness.  For Pete’s sake, you live in suburban Virginia – it’s not Park Avenue.  Get over yourself (and get a tan while you’re at it).
  • Lack of Mountains and Decent Skiing.  Don’t you dare say the Blue Ridge are “mountains” to a kid who grew up in the Sierras.
  • Bugs.  They come with living in a swamp.  You can’t do anything in the summer without some being slathered in some serious DEET.


Reasons to Love NoVa

  • History.  For people who appreciate American history, northern Virginia is Nirvana.  The museums, the Capitol, the monuments are all amazing.  The majesty of driving into DC still gets me every time.  In that regard, it totally kicks ass on the West where the most notable landmark may be a Starbucks dating clear back to 1993.
  • Power.  Truly, DC is the most powerful city in the world.  If you stop and think about world history and our place in it, that’s pretty darn cool. Motorcades, while painful from a traffic standpoint, always draw attention like kids to a passing fire truck.  And it’s not uncommon to see major power players at a Baja Fresh or at your kid’s soccer game.
  • Nature.  You have all the amenities of a big city, but, particularly in Loudoun, you’re just a few minutes from some beautiful areas along the Potomac or into the Shenandoah Valley.  I particularly like the fact that it’s not a crime against humanity to cut down a tree because, guess what, we have plenty.
  • A Water Supply.  Again, we have plenty, which is why I can’t understand when we supposedly have a drought.  Try going 6 months without rain (like it had been in LA just before I left), then start calling it a drought.
  • Culture and Sports.  Yes, I hate the Redskins, but thankfully they play other teams that I do like. Plus, we have plenty of other pro and college teams to root for.  As for culture, there are all the shows and the Kennedy Center, Verizon and the theaters.  Heck, Van Halen was just here!  How can you beat that?
  • Sense of Community.  Unlike other large cities, there’s a more welcoming community here in Old Dominion, perhaps because so many of us are transplants.
  • Dems under Control.  Coming from California, and comparing us to DC and MD, I like the more conservative political climate (usually).
  • Good for Families.  The schools are great, and there’s plenty of stuff to do with the kids. For a big city, it’s still a relatively wholesome environment.  For this, I’m most thankful because it’s the reason I moved here in the first place.

There are a few other things, like pollution and crime, where I’m neutral.  Coming from LA, this is considerably better, but still far from good enough.


  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Interesting post, Lloyd.

    I’m a native of DC, and have a sister in Salinas married to a native son of the Golden West.

    They got married 20-odd years ago at Carmel, and I can still remember feeling very careful about where to walk in the ceremony, because there were people interred under the floor who had been in our history books in grade school.

    Her husband always makes it a point to tour visitors around the Monterrey/Carmel/Salinas area, and the mission history is pretty amazing. It was fun for me to see the places Steinbeck lived and wrote about too, as well as going out to Point Lobos and other sites that Ansel Adams made more widely known.

    My husband’s brother is in LA, and when we got the chance to visit him (as opposed to change planes at LAX) I was very pleasantly surprised to find that I really liked LA, and expected it to be much worse based on all the complaining people do about it. Most of it is beautiful, and I don’t just mean the glitzy parts. Every city has its horror spots, but overall I thought LA was much more attractive than its reputation.

    The biggest difference I saw was primarily attitudinal (or maybe only in my perception as an easterner), as in the amount of signage that had to do with (to me) very peculiar fixations; most notably the elaborate signs on restaurants that warned people they could die or give birth to monsters if they ate fish inside, because the fish could contain substances “known to the state of California” to do so. It was the phraseology that made me smile, because it seemed to echo some of the hype that CA is more, like, AWARE than the average Joe. Also a state employee in a park in Santa Barbara, frantically (silently, angrily) waving little paddle signs at people that it was illegal to distrub the seals during mating season, so BE SILENT! After much looking over the edge of the 100+-ft cliff to find the seals, I did: lounging under a working and manned freight dock, with machinery loading ships. Very silent! lol

  • Cato the Elder says:

    California is such a beautiful state, too bad it’s been ruined by rampant moonbattery.

  • Leej says:

    Munsey your post is also interesting in a very different way. 🙂

    My few observations having lived there. From a personal point of view.

    People are very private about there lives.

    Nothing wrong with that, butttttt people seemed to only come out most of the time during a crisis .

    Dalyn and I lived in Marina Del Rey. One of our happiest times when the kids were little.

    We did not get that Leave it to Beaver feeling in Virginia.

    This may sound a bit crazy I believe perhaps many people are in DC to hide.

    It is much friendlier here in Texas and California.

    Perhaps there is a fake mentality in DC area.

    Beautiful place with many fake people. 😉

    And wolverine and his wonderful wife who i had a wonderful conversation with, well bluntly there should be more of them in the DC area..

    I have been trying to stay off this forum. 😉

    Not doing a very good job at that.

    Anyway what is Leej’s quest???? to build communities for all.

    And I mean all and that is what the suburbs of Dc have failed at.

    Suburban america is a failure for the most part. And these so called new towns are doomed to failure. And we are all ready seeing that.

    Big reason because they are elitist. but sterling va (which wolverine helped make more perfect) and a zillion others should be studied more.

    I am sorry the elitist neighborhoods like Brambleton and Broadlands and a zillion others.

    Very old places like the Heights Texas and zillion other places like it.

    Where people people really come together as a old and very safe place to live. Not doing the fake wave and smile as they drive out of where they live.

    And perhaps getting kicked off of two forums Brambleton and broadlands made me realize the control freak nature of the people that live there. They don’t want to hear the truth. And they want to live in fake oz that will never exist..

    Sterling is more of a real place then the new PUDs.

  • AFF says:


    Virginia has 4 seasons of equal length. As much as I like clear skies and 75 degrees I couldn’t take it months on end. No spring, no fall, no thank you.

    As to the skiing…. The cross country skiing can be excellent depending on the year. You have to be prepared gear at the ready, but you can traverse anything ( large fences ect) and you’ll be out there by yourself.

    Downhill skiing means a 3 1/2 drive to WV. Sometimes the Aleganys can have 300 inch years. Timberline has 1000 ft of steep ass fall line skiing- boot deep powder is boot deep powder. I run out for day trips or an overnight when conditions are good.

    The best thing hardcore NOVA skiers have going for them?
    Dulles airport- nonstop flights to Salt Lake City. Leave about 6 AM, on the slopes by 11:30. Many of the Utah resorts will comp you a lift ticket that day if you show your boarding pass. On your way home you can ski till 3 and catch a 5 o’clock flight no problem.

  • Leej says:

    AFF another reason why east coast skiers are excellent they know how to ski ICE carving their edges. Most west coast skiers get sloppy. 😉

  • RichmondDem says:

    At least D.C. has an NFL team, unlike a certain major California city I could name. 😉

    Widen I-66 and within one year it will be just as bad again. It’s well known in urban planning circles that after a certain population is reached it doesn’t matter how wide you make the roads–people will just drive more until it’s gridlock again. The only way to thin out traffic at that point is mass and transit-oriented development (especially rail).

    That said I really prefer living here to NOVA, the Richmond metro has a lot of those advantages but without the traffic. Though the only thing we have that comes to closest to a pro sports team is the Rams.

  • AFF says:

    What we call hardpack they call ice. West coasters can’t ski real boilerplate ice. Then again, they don’t have to.

  • Leej says:

    ohhhh RichmondDem you mean those overpriced brats 😉

    that LA does not want to pay for anymore

    and the very old LA Coliseum was a great place to watch a game.
    🙂 as well as Jules a great place to eat before the game which always ends way before the day ends. 😉

  • Lee, are you referring to Julie’s? That place was great!

  • Leej says:

    Lloyd you are so right. Julies.

    Now I feel like the idiot. 😉

  • James Young says:

    What Cato said, and a couple of rejoinders:

    1. Traffic — LA used to have the worst traffic, but now we do. Since the change seems to coincide with your emigration, I blame you, Lloyd!

    2. The Redskins — Yeah, some of their fans are obnoxious, but at least they USED to have a decent team to justify their arrogance, until Dan Snyder took over. Don’t hate the team; hate the owner. In a league with Jerry Jones, and which used to have Al Davis, he STILL managed to become the most hated owner. Give him credit for working hard to achieve that distinction.

    3. Eugene Delgaudio — A guy who’s been reelected twice?!? Sounds more like he’s an embarrassment to go-along-to-get-along Repubmocrats who don’t understand the nature of the enemy (and yes, they are the enemy).

  • G.Stone says:

    “That said I really prefer living here to NOVA,”

    Excellent. Please stay there.

  • Leej says:

    DC traffic ??? here is the biggest lunacy 66 chokes into a 2 lane road inside the beltway???? hmmm

    about football all i can say Dallas Cowboys, and to take it further i would have to be a real loony in this audience. but i will go a bit further one of the most famous redskins is from Houston Texas hmmmm

    Delgaudio?????? that is the strangest politician on the planet.. but even more strange are the nobodies pretending they are community service people and get shot down and don’t have a clue why. hmmmmm end of story

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Good post. I still haven’t made up my mind about this place.

  • liberal anthropologist says:


    I also moved here from LA. And I share many of your opinions. I would never move back to la la land. Despite the complaining we do on this site, LA has for worse politics with far worse corruption and waste.

    I would add that most of the major east coast continues are very close. NYC is not far. The cultural options here are far superior. You can only go to the Getty so many times….

  • Leej says:

    ok one word (OIL) and the east and west coast need Texas more then ever to supply their ever selfish lifestyles 😉 Oil & Gas

  • No one likes traffic, but oddly, compared to Pittsburgh, I find traffic here far more tolerable. When you have a densely populated (from 7-7 but is otherwise rather empty) small spit of land that can only be accessed by crossing a bridge or going through a tunnel, you get to know what sitting in traffic means.

    And I can’t speak highly enough about the schools my son has attended. The opportunities he’s had are staggering. But it’s also a pretty tight bubble, which, while I disagree with a lot (a LOT) of what Charles Murray says, it is true that life as we know it here isn’t always like life for most Americans.

    This is a rather standoffish place. That’s sort of OK with me personally, since I grew up in “the village” where, to quote ANNE OF GREEN GABLES if you went up in your attic, in the dark of night, closed all of the windows and put down the shades and sneezed, the next day everyone would ask how your cold is. I kind of like some anonymity. But it does come with a price. I know a lot of people who tell me that they have lived here for twenty years and don’t have close friends, even if they have tons of acquaintances. My two best girlfriends live in other cities.

    And I get all choked up every time I see the Capitol Dome. And we torture our son by slowing down (or stopping) in front of historical markers, and wow, does Virginia have a lot of them!

  • Richochet25 says:

    When I feel anxious, I say to myself, “Babe, you’re living in Virginia, for God’s Sake!”

    When I lived in Loudoun County, embarrassed by the local government, I’d say to myself, “Honey, we’re so close to West Virginia!”

    I’d rather live here in Virginia though, than say, Orange, NJ or Lawrence, Kansas.

    Virginia is never boring, that’s for sure.

  • LoudouninNC says:

    I think one of the major downsides to the area, and a huge part of why I left, is the cost of living for younger generations. The way northern Virginia (NOVA is a CC) developed over the past few decades has made it very difficult to carve out a decent living. When I moved to NC in 2008, salaries were identical to those I could find in VA, but the money went almost twice as far. The people I know that work service industry or similar jobs in Loudoun cannot afford to actually establish themselves there.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    A guy is working on his yard and is approached by a young fellow thinking about buying a home for sale in the neighborhood.

    “Hi sir! How long have you lived here?”

    “A while.”

    “How are the people around here?”

    “Well, how were they where you came from?”

    “Awful. I’m so glad to be gone. They were always in your business and I just never got along with any of them.”

    “Unfortunately, they are the same here.”

    The next day a different fellow is looking at the same house for sale and comes up to the same man working on his yard.

    “Hi sir. How long have you lived here?”

    “A while.”

    “What can you tell me about the folks around here?”

    “Well, how were they where you came from?”

    “Wonderful people. I hate really hate to leave. They are the salt of the earth there.”

    “Well, you know, they are the very same here.”

  • tx2vadem says:

    On humidity, this is nothing. Houston, Memphis, the entire state of Florida are infinitely worse in comparison. Even in Autumn, I walk out of the airport in Houston and it hits you like a brick wall. On the flip side, the positive to humidity is it keeps you looking young. =) I hate arid climates.

    Traffic depends on where you live. If you don’t have to cross a bridge or deal with Maryland drivers, it is like heaven.

    Pretentiousness is relative. I don’t see it here as much as in Dallas.

    Bugs? Again relatively speaking, the mosquito issue is not as bad as the Gulf coast. And in Texas, they have tree roaches that fly and that are as big as your face., also known as the Texas bull cockroach that fears no man. Not having to wake up to one of those waiting for me in the shower on a work day allows me to deal with the 10 year cicadas and sting bugs here.

  • anna says:

    Nova is the worst place in the world never come here and if you are here get out

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