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Anybody can comment on Fairfax and George Mason Univ?

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Are you going to the law school? The main campus is very suburban, and a lot of the undergrads are commuters from the Northern VA area. The main university center is really nice, but most of the buildings are pretty utilitaian/blocky/ and kind of ugly. The law school is situated in Arlington, which is much more vibrant--lots of young professionals, bars, nice restaurants--expensive. If you go to Mason, I would still live in Arlington--it's only a 25 minute commute to the main campus. And DC is only about 35 minutes away from Fairfax. The nice thing about Mason is that if you are in law or policy/govt, there are great opportunities in the DC area. I knew one person in the law school who worked at the White House while she was there.

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I was wondering if people could provide some insights into life at George Mason University's campuses in Fairfax and Arlington, VA?

I will be starting a PhD program at the Arlington campus, will it be possible to survive in 19k per academic year with a wife and newborn daughter?

I am specially interested in getting information about my housing options. Should I look to live in a studio/1 bed-room apartment in Arlington or Fairfax? If I live in Vienna or Alexandria, how much will the monthly cost of public transportation be?

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I don't know about Arlington specifically, but I'm a little bit familiar with the area of Falls Church and Fairfax county in general. 19K is doable but housing is very very expensive out there. So you should try and find a good deal on housing and you'll be fine. From what I understand, the closer to the metro, and the less stops away from Washington, the more expensive it gets. For instance, Rosslyn is pretty yuppie-ish and expensive but Vienna isn't as much. You will FOR SURE need a car and be prepared to spend all day and night inside of it being annoyed at other drivers and sitting in a million lane streets. That's what I don't like about the area, it's a suburban wasteland that you will never walk anywhere in. So maybe I'd suggest living in on campus housing if that's possible. Transportation and housing are going to be your biggest costs.

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Hey, I was wondering if anyone is at GMU right now. If so, could you maybe describe the area and discuss what I can expect from Fairfax and D.C? I'm starting a PhD at GMU in the fall.

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Hey, I was wondering if anyone is at GMU right now. If so, could you maybe describe the area and discuss what I can expect from Fairfax and D.C? I'm starting a PhD at GMU in the fall.

I was just there last week (live in the area). Overall, you will love the area...but be prepared for commuting time. If you are going to take classes at the Fairfax campus than live out there but if you are going to work or commute regularly to the city then look along the public transportation routes or major thoroughfares. Housing will be expensive depending on where you pick to live. Interstate 66 side is typically more expensive than the Interstate 95 side but a lot of range of housing options...you can check the local papers (Washington Post, or City paper?). Since you are in a program making friends and meeting new people may not be that hard. People who come to the area sometimes find it hard meeting new people because everyone seems to already be here with friends/families. Overall, you will love it here! I love it..being so close to the seat of Fed. Gov't and the array of lifestyles make the Northern Virginia community uniquely international but very "local".....good luck...

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I hate to discourage you but 19k for 9 months doesn't sound too viable out in Northern VA, particularly with a family. Fairfax County is the wealthiest county in the country, due to the fact that everyone has a government job and there's a lot of retired military who are making hand over fist with pensions and benefits. There's no real way for calculate how much your monthly transportation costs will be as that information is specific to your use of the system, but WMATA has a fare cost calculator on their website, and they offer monthly bus passes. If you plan on ever going into the city, get a Smart Trip card. The paper fare cards slow everything down and pinpoint you as an "outsider". I'm not sure what the Arlington transit system is like since I've never used it but I see their buses all the time so it would seem to be a pretty active service.

Arlington is a pretty metropolitan place as it borders DC, whereas Fairfax has more of a suburban feel. It's not much of an area for nightlife since everyone just goes into the city, which might work out much better for you as student and new father. There are nice parts of Fairfax that are likely going to be out of your price range this particular year, and there's the cheaper areas that are generally affordable because it's an a popular "student housing" area or it's just a sketchy neighborhood. I wasn't sure if you had a car or you were definitely doing the public transit thing but if you can, I would look a little further out of the suburbs.

I was wondering if people could provide some insights into life at George Mason University's campuses in Fairfax and Arlington, VA?

I will be starting a PhD program at the Arlington campus, will it be possible to survive in 19k per academic year with a wife and newborn daughter?

I am specially interested in getting information about my housing options. Should I look to live in a studio/1 bed-room apartment in Arlington or Fairfax? If I live in Vienna or Alexandria, how much will the monthly cost of public transportation be?

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Don't let the maniac rightwingers in the law school and econ department brainwash you. kthanxbye.

Other than that, I'm afraid the area kind of sucks. It's a bit of a suburban hell. The campus is pretty though.

Five years later and it's still a suburban hell / wasteland of normality.

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Five years later and it's still a suburban hell / wasteland of normality.

What does this mean? I'm going to Mason in the Fall, don't care what the campus looks like, it's not like I'll be an undergrad spending my life there. Not sure if I want to live in Fairfax as I hope to be able to work in DC, so ideally I'd like to live in between Fairfax and Arlington, not going to live in DC and pay those prices.

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What does this mean? I'm going to Mason in the Fall, don't care what the campus looks like, it's not like I'll be an undergrad spending my life there. Not sure if I want to live in Fairfax as I hope to be able to work in DC, so ideally I'd like to live in between Fairfax and Arlington, not going to live in DC and pay those prices.

Yeah, I'll be at Mason too. Looking for city info and potential roommates.

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Hey y'all! I have just been accepted w/ funding to George Mason's MFA program. I was just wondering if there was anyone else out there in the same boat and if anyone has updated info on the best places to live??

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Hey there! Congrats. I'm not attending GMU but I'm a NOVA native. (Wooooo, suburbs!) It'll depend on what you want. Will you have a car? What's your budget? Do you want to be close to campus as possible, or would you rather be living in an interesting neighborhood? (The area directly around Mason is very suburban.)

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I got into Mason's MSW program and am considering attending after being is Wisconsin for the last four years. I'm a NOVA native though, but I live about an hours drive in morning rush hour so I'll probably be looking at places within a few miles of campus. There's a lot of suburban area and whatever you want to rent, there's houses, townhouses, apartments. Northern Virginia is a pretty safe area so I wouldn't worry too much about that. If you have a car I would say look for places a few miles off campus because there are some nice houses and apartments there you can find for a relatively good price, especially if you're ok living with roommates. 

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Is there somebody from GMU? 

I am wondering about cost of living in Fairfax.

Is it high?

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Here's a neat little tool that Mason offers to help you find off campus housing.

 

http://och.gmu.edu/

 

There are a lot of options with a variety of price ranges. Some of the cheapest might be living in a house where a family is renting out a room or something of that nature. In terms of studios or one bedroom apartments you are probably looking at 1000 a month at least. Finding roommates makes things cheaper! 

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Here's a neat little tool that Mason offers to help you find off campus housing.

 

http://och.gmu.edu/

 

There are a lot of options with a variety of price ranges. Some of the cheapest might be living in a house where a family is renting out a room or something of that nature. In terms of studios or one bedroom apartments you are probably looking at 1000 a month at least. Finding roommates makes things cheaper! 

Thanks!

My budgets are not that big  ;) So, I intend to rent a room. According to CL it will cost me $500-700. If this is right I'll be fine. Do you know anything about food? Is it expensive to eat on campus?

 

...Are you going to GMU too? If it's not a secret  :rolleyes:

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Thanks!

My budgets are not that big  ;) So, I intend to rent a room. According to CL it will cost me $500-700. If this is right I'll be fine. Do you know anything about food? Is it expensive to eat on campus?

 

...Are you going to GMU too? If it's not a secret  :rolleyes:

 

I am going to Mason for my Masters in Social Work. I'm not sure how expensive campus dining is as I intend on living off campus and grocery shopping and cooking. But I would assume about 6 dollars a meal if you're not on a meal plan. But I don't know for sure. I'm planning on finding a house or apartment in Fairfax or Falls Church depending on where the two guys I plan on living with want to commute to work from. I still could potentially live at home too in Loudoun County. But that's a very slim chance, the hour drive to campus every day in rush hour traffic would kill me. 

Edited by LAKingsMaverick

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So my fiancé and I are going to be moving up to the Fairfax area in a few months so I can begin my MA I English at GMU. Does anyone have any pointers for finding safe, affordable housing? We are coming from a town where rent averages $500/month so the sticker shock is eating into our excitement.

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So my fiancé and I are going to be moving up to the Fairfax area in a few months so I can begin my MA I English at GMU. Does anyone have any pointers for finding safe, affordable housing? We are coming from a town where rent averages $500/month so the sticker shock is eating into our excitement.

Congrats on your acceptance! There's basically.no where in the area around Mason that's unsafe. It's very suburban and quiet.

What are you looking for in a housing situation? A room share in a house? 1 or 2 bedroom apartment? How far are you willing to commute every day? That'll help narrow down your options. :)

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Hi, hj2012!

Are you from the area?

Maybe you can also give me some advice about housing too?

I am moving to Fairfax this summer to start my PhD at GMU.

I am an international student  without a car but with a cat. I am looking for a room in a cat friendly house or apartment not far from the university.

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance :)

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Hi, hj2012!

Are you from the area?

Maybe you can also give me some advice about housing too?

I am moving to Fairfax this summer to start my PhD at GMU.

I am an international student  without a car but with a cat. I am looking for a room in a cat friendly house or apartment not far from the university.

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance :)

 

Hey there! Congrats on your acceptance.

 

I personally think it would be extremely difficult to attend GMU without a car. Public transportation isn't great, the area close to the school is very residential and not particularly walkable, and it's difficult to get to grocery stores and other shopping areas. I would recommend that you think about buying a cheap used car if you can, as this will greatly increase your quality of life. Mason is a heavily commuter school and I don't know anyone who attends without a car.

 

That said, your best bet sans car is to try to live in an apartment complex that is along the Mason Shuttle route (http://shuttle.gmu.edu/), though nearly everything with easy transportation options will be quite expensive. In terms of areas to consider... you might look into the  Old Town Fairfax area, as it's close to campus and walkable (with relatively easy access to grocery stores, restaurants and bars). The area around the Vienna Metro is another option, as there's a shuttle that goes directly from the metro station to GMU. You could also look into places near the Prince William County campus and commute every day via shuttle.

 

Hope this helps -- let me know if you have other specific questions!

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I don't have a car and I attend GMU. Quite easy if you live in Fairfax city. There is a CUE bus that is free to use for students, a Gunston go bus that shuttles students too and from a few shopping locations and campus, a mason to metro shuttle bus that takes you too and from the Vienna metro station, and there are some bike trails that you can use to commute on a bike. I ride my bike to campus a lot.

In short, if you live in Fairfax youll be OK without a car.

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Here is some info I posted in a different thread:

 

I have mixed feelings about the GMU campus and NOVA (Northern VA). I'll talk about NOVA first and then GMU.

 

Based on my personal experiences, NOVA is a suburban sprawl that is expensive to live in and difficult to get around in. It is populated by a great deal of wealthy folks who own townhouses that go for $500,000 or more. You'll see many of these townhouses as you drive or walk around the old city/university area. In sharp contrast to that, there are many neighborhoods that are underdeveloped and decaying, but you'll have to travel outside of the old city and university area to see those. Many of them are located on the outskirts of the city. This makes the search for affordable housing near the university a difficult one. I would start that search ASAP. When I began looking for housing, I started in June and was able to get a place secured by early August. It may help to use the GMU student forums to find roommates to mitigate the high cost of living.

 

I grew up in a rural setting, so the hustle and bustle of the NOVA area is not really my speed. I find the traffic to be a nuisance, and the organization of the Fairfax area is difficult to navigate and negotiate for pedestrians and those who take public transportation. If you own a car you'll be fine. Unfortunately, many of those who walk, cycle, or take public transport are economically disadvantaged and forced to live on the outskirts of the city. This intensifies the disadvantage because travel time, distance, and transportation schedules complicate the trek to work or school.

 

I live about a two miles outside of Fairfax city and my fiance uses our car to commute to and from work. I use a bicycle to get to campus, or I take a George Mason University shuttle which stops near my house. Either way, my trip can take anywhere between 25 and 45 minutes, and I only live a total of 7 miles from the campus. Its about 10 minutes by car. I've come to enjoy my commute though. I'm either reading or listening to music on the bus, and if I'm cycling I enjoy the excersize. Thats one way to deal with the inconvenience of not having a car.

 

There are also fairly reliable bus systems. The City University Ecosaver (CUE) bus system is pretty good, and its free to GMU students. It can get you around Fairfax City, but it will not travel outside of the city limits. The Fairfax Connector is the bus system which takes you to locations that are outside of Fairfax City but within Fairfax County. It is not free to students, though, and I've never used it.

 

I mentioned the GMU shuttle buses: they circulate between shopping centers, the prince william campus, and the Fairfax/Vienna metro station. I happen to live near a shopping center that is serviced by a GMU shuttle, which makes life easier for me. They are fairly slow, however, and the drivers often skip stops. I've been left stranded a few times.

 

I'll say that the entire NOVA area is beautiful. Its well maintained and is very green and lush in the spring and summer months. The temperature can get very hot, though, and the "concrete island" effect really intesifies that heat. The fall months are extremely colorful and characterized by mild temperatures. During the winter, it tends to become pretty grey and dirty, but that is typical of suburban winter life.

 

The people in the NOVA area aren't too pleasant, and there really isn't a community to speak of. One professor told me that Fairfax is really just a working location -- people don't "live" here. They typically split their time between Fairfax (when they work) and some other town outside of NOVA on the weekends. For that reason it can seem pretty isolated here. Even the graduate students in my program (sociology PhD) are dispersed throughout the area -- some living in Fairfax, some in Arlington, some in Alexandria, some in Maryland. There was even one person who commuted from Fredricksburg for a while, which is over an hour away with I-95 traffic.

 

There is a lot to do around the Fairfax area. Tons of parks (and dog parks if you have doggies) and tons of walking/bike paths that span miles. There are a ton of things to do for free in the DC area too (museums, festivals, etc). If you have money, there are even more things to do (five star restaraunts, plays, musicals, concerts, theme parks, etc). The bar scene is ok, but you have to frequent a particular place to really start to enjoy it. If you like local dive bars, check out Fat Tuesdays. Its a New Orleans themed bar. I've had a beer or two in there on many occassions.

 

For anyone who wants to make friends and meet people, I welcome you to join the group of students who usually go out and have a drink on the night of orientation at GMU. Get in touch with me here or through a private message and we can network.

 

The GMU Fairfax campus is beautiful, though. Not quite as nice as my undergraduate (UMaine Orono), but they do a lot to keep the GMU campus looking neat and clean. The student body is pretty cool, too. Everyone is friendly, and the professors are pretty nice (at least in my department). The administration is becoming a bloated organ, though. Funding for graduate students is slowly being syphoned into other projects (probably beautification projects). My tuition waiver (and a colleague's) was almost sucked up into the dean's coffers, even though it was based on money that was donated by a private interest for the purposes of funding student research. Luckily a professor went to bat for us and ensured that we would be funded into the fall at least. Spring funding is still up in the air. At least my coursework is done....

 

The library system is awesome. I usually find whatever books I need at the Fenwick Library on campus. If I can't find it there, I can order it from another library. They have access to books at George Washington, American University, Catholic University, etc. And, the online subscriptions to academic journals is quite good. I've never had trouble accessing whatever literature I am looking for. Finding a space to work in the library is hard though. The tables on the first floor are usually occupied by 9 am, and the seating on the upper floors fills up fast too.

 

The Johnson Center also has a library and workspace in it, but its so damn loud in there. Its basically the central student hub - with food, IT services, a library, the bookstore, etc. I can't get a bit of work done in that building and I hate having to walk through it. Too many people....but I'm introverted anyway.

 

They have a bar on campus too, which serves beer and wine. I loved having a beer after class. Now that I'm done with coursework I'll have to find other excuses to stop in there.

 

The gyms are awesome, too. One is a basketball/weight and aerobic training center. The other is an auqatic/weights/aerobic center. They can get pretty busy but I've never had trouble finding machines or weights to use. They also offer classes on martial arts and physical fitness routines. I've never taken these classes but I'm considering a martial arts course.

Edited by Roll Right

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