5 Pros and Cons of Living in Reston Virginia

A view of the Google building at Reston Station in Reston, VA

Reston, Virginia, is one of the country’s first planned communities built after World War II. Robert E. Simons developed Reston in 1962 with a vision for a community where you could live, work, and play without having to leave. This ethos has not gone unnoticed, and Reston has become the most populated area in Fairfax County, VA. With so much growth, there has been a lot of change for those who have lived in Reston for many years. While this change has made the community more dynamic over time, it has also brought some cons with it as well.

Since we help people buy and sell homes in Reston, we think it is important to be transparent about all that is happening in the area – including the conflicting pros and cons.

PRO: Live, Work, and Play in a Community by Design

Live: Reston has a wide variety of housing options, ranging from high-rise urban condo living, wooded townhome clusters, and mid-century modern-designed homes to traditional single-family homes.

Work: Reston is a hub for employment. Many tech companies and government contracting companies make their “East Coast Headquarters” in Reston. Tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and Meta all have bases in Reston, alongside other companies like Volkswagen, Fannie Mae, Leidos, and General Dynamics.

Play: Reston has 5 lakes, county parks, 15 community pools, 55 miles of trails, a nature center, a Zoo, and so much more. The Reston Town Center has world-class shopping and restaurants and hosts some of the city’s numerous festivals and events. Plus, you can hop on the D.C. Metro and be in downtown Washington, D.C., in no time for dinner and a show, catch a game, or see the sights.

Watch this video if you want to learn more about what it’s like to live, work, and play in Reston, VA.

CON: The Cost of Living

Given that Reston is such a desirable place to live, it stands to reason that the cost of living would be higher than many places around the country and state. The median household income in Reston is $120,396 and you can expect to spend about $111,139 of that income on expenses like housing, healthcare, transportation, food, and other expenses. The median home price is just under $500,000, which would get you a townhouse or luxury condo, while single-family homes can range much higher.

For more on the cost of living in Reston, watch this video.

PRO: A Growing and Dynamic Community

The landscape of Reston has changed dramatically over the years. Two new Metro stops along the Silver Line of Washington, D.C. Metro have led to many companies establishing corporate beachheads in the area. Along Reston’s urban core, you will find new developments with hotels, mixed-use offices and housing, and the construction of new townhome and condo communities.

CON: Construction and Change

With all of Reston’s growth also comes change. This change can upset many who have called Reston home for many years and remember a quieter time. There have been calls for balance against constant development, and recently the community has fought the developer’s plans to re-purpose Reston’s two golf courses into new mixed-use real estate. Of course, some of the change is necessary and appropriate, but with it comes a tremendous amount of construction, which can sometimes disrupt traffic patterns and contributes to a feeling of never-ending development.

Watch this video about one of Reston’s newest developments, Halley Rise.

PRO: Availability of Public Transportation

One of the best things about Reston is the increasing ability to travel via public transportation. Not only do we have three convenient Metro stations at Wiehle Reston East, Reston Town Center, and Herndon Monroe, but we also have a rich network of bust transportation through the Fairfax Connector. This bus network weaves throughout many of Reston’s neighborhoods and leads to each of the five village centers, including Reston Town Center. Dulles Airport is only 10 minutes away and can be reached by Metro, bus, or taxi/rideshare. People can also rent a bike from the convenient Capital Bikeshare service scattered across Reston.

CON: Traffic and Congestion

With so much growth in Reston, you can imagine that traffic may be a problem – and you would be right. To be fair, traffic across all of Northern Virginia is an issue because the infrastructure has not kept up with the rapid growth. While traffic is easing somewhat due to more people working remotely, the recent opening of the Silver Line extension, and the ongoing expansion of I-66 and Route 7, traffic is still a persistent problem. In Reston specifically, traffic on Reston Parkway between Baron Cameron Avenue in the north and Fox Mill Road in the south continues to be a problem during rush hour. Reston is expected to somewhat ease this North/South congestion, with a planned project to extend Soapstone Road in South Reston over the Dulles Access Road to connect with Sunset Hills Road and Reston’s urban core.

PRO: Amazing Natural Spaces

Reston is somewhat of an outdoor paradise. That’s right; there are so many things to do outside for just about anyone, young or old. With five lakes, you will find many people relaxing on a pontoon boat, stand-up paddleboards, or kayaks. Lake Anne and Lake Thoreau even have restaurants and shops lakeside, so you can paddle on over, grab a bite, and paddle back home (if you’re lucky enough to live in one of the many lakeside communities). Lake Fairfax is a county-run park in the northwest of Reston, which features a 10-mile mountain bike trail network, picnic grounds, boat rentals, hiking, camping, and even cricket fields.

However, the best thing about Reston’s outdoor space is the 55-mile-long trail network that weaves through almost every townhome cluster and detached home neighborhood. Most of the trails are wooded, and you’ll find dog walkers, joggers, and recreational cyclists cruising the trails at all times of the day. Many of the trails lead to the schools in Reston, allowing many children to walk to school, which is rare these days.

CON: You May Have to Pay for Two HOAs

With so many amenities available to residents of Reston, the money to pay for them must come from somewhere, right? Enter, Reston Association, affectionately known as RA by locals. Reston is unique in that it is governed by one of the largest homeowners associations in the country. RA maintains the trails, open space, multiple community centers, pools, tennis courts, and more. As of 2022 the Reston Association charges dues of $740 per year ($61.67 per month) to cover all of the Reston amenities. Given all that you receive this is a relative bargain, however, most people will also have to pay for their local HOA, as well. Between the two HOAs you may find yourself with a larger overall housing bill than you had otherwise hoped for. You’ll just need to weigh the benefits versus the cost to determine if it is worth the extra expense for you.

PRO: World Class Shopping and Restaurants

Reston has become one of Northern Virginia’s premier areas when it comes to shopping and dining. The Reston Town Center has more than 5o retailers, including the Apple Store, J.Crew, Anthropologie, South Moon Under, and so many more high-end stores. There are 35 restaurants from fast-casual, like Chipotle, to contemporary casual like D.C. area staple Ted’s Bulletin, Uncle Julio’s, BarTaco, and Mon Ami Gabi. Beyond the Reston Town Center you’ll find other groupings of restaurants near Reston Station, Lake Anne, South Lakes and more.

CON: Need for More Mom & Pop Shops

One of the problems with being a growing dynamic community is the cost of real estate is so high that only large businesses can afford the leases. This has led to a preponderance of higher-end chains that have scale, while mom and pop shops have struggled to keep up. Still, we have seen a recent renaissance of small businesses in the Lake Anne area, including the Lake Anne Brew House, Nordic Knot gourmet pretzels, and Lake Anne Coffee & Wine Bar. Other local small businesses include Red’s Table and Cafesano in South Lakes, and Pupatella’s Neopolitan Pizza near Reston Station.

Bottom Line

Reston is a beautiful place to live, work, and play. It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons, but you can probably see where we come down on the matter.

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About the Author
Graham is the Co-Founder and Team Leader for Greater Reston Living. He strives to use the latest data, digital marketing strategies, and negotiation tactics to support clients buying, selling, or investing in real estate. In addition to being a REALTOR®, Graham is a certified Pricing Strategy Advisor, designated Seller Representative Specialist, and certified by GRID as an agent expert on building wealth through real estate investment.