To curb a pilot Dad’s mega-commute (Atlanta to Newark!), this family made the leap from Georgia to Virginia
Dana Summers and her family were no strangers to mega-commutes. While she and her kids lived north of Atlanta, her husband—a commercial pilot—was based in Newark, New Jersey. “He had an opportunity to go to Dulles, in Virginia,” Dana says. “If we moved closer, we’d have him home 30-40 more nights per year.”
With that motivation—but knowing nothing about the DC suburbs—the Summers kicked off their search in December 2018, with an eye on selling their Georgia home during the spring market.
“We’d heard about Suburban Jungle,” Dana says, “and we figured they weren’t just about helping city families move to their immediate suburbs. We knew that they had very local-level resources and that would help us make this move.”
Getting “grilled”—and getting to the DC suburbs
During their initial call, Dana says, Suburban Jungle Strategist Sarah Fraidin Roggie dug deep and asked tons of questions. Dana says the pair reviewed everything from school preferences to commute times to priorities surrounding everything from outdoor activities to kids sports to access to the city, culture and other intangibles.
“Sarah was fantastic and really grilled me…in a good way! After we spoke I joked it was the best therapy session.” Dana says. “All of her questions really made me think, and she pushed me to consider preferences and priorities I really hadn’t thought about. It was so good to have that outside perspective and to have someone put those questions in my head.”
After their initial call with Suburban Jungle, Dana and her husband made the trek up to the DC suburbs in January, searching both Maryland and Virginia. Together, they zeroed in on communities with A+ schools, playgrounds and, ideally, a community pool and access to active outdoor activities. The family also wanted to be close enough to DC so that they could easily pop in for the day—and, at the same time, they wanted to be able to visit the mountains for a quick day trip or weekend away.
“Before they got here we made a list of places to explore,” Sarah says. “Dana initially thought they might like a more rural setting—but she also didn’t want cows for neighbors!” Beyond the family’s initial priorities, Sarah says, she wanted to find areas with more inventory—an updated home with strong curb appeal was important. Dana had also shared her initial love for Ashburn, Virginia, a popular DC suburb.
“Even though they didn’t wind up in Ashburn, hearing her feedback on that town really helped me get a reference for what they were envisioning and what they were comfortable with,” Sarah explains.
From there, the search continued. “We weren’t on a particular timeframe,” Dana says. “But we also didn’t want to search for too long. In January, we met with a Suburban Jungle real estate agent near Gaithersburg, then another on the Virginia side and really got to searching.”
Weighing their options—and choosing Virginia
Though they had friends in Maryland—neighbors who had left Georgia for the DC suburbs as well—moving to that area meant adding more time to her husband’s commute. “I work from home,” Dana explains, “so I can work from anywhere. We were really looking to minimize his commute so he could be home more.”
In March, Dana came back to the DC suburbs on her own, with a focus solely on Virginia—and really hammering out the family’s next steps. “I drove 200 miles in a single day,” she says. “I went to some open houses, I looked at different towns, I met with my Suburban Jungle agent and she helped me hone in on towns even more.”
Ultimately, that second trip—and subsequent conversations with both Sarah and her Suburban Jungle agent—helped Dana and her family find the right town: Haymarket, Virginia. Consistently ranked one of the best places to live in the state, this small suburb scores an A+ from Niche for being “Good for Families,” with top-ranked schools, tons of parks and green spaces and lots to do for active families like the Summers.
“Sarah and Suburban Jungle were a huge resource for us,” Dana says. “They were incredibly helpful in this process, and we’re so happy where we landed.” And, she adds, her husband’s commute is just 30 minutes.
“We absolutely made the right choice,” she says. “We love Haymarket. We’re close enough to the city to go in for the day, but we still feel like we’re far away in the suburbs. There are tons of families here, too. It’s been a great fit for us.”
Staying focused and finding “home”
Sarah attributes much of this success to Dana’s laser-sharp focus from day one. “She was great about explaining her vision for her girls,” Sarah says. “I knew they liked to play outside, they liked to roller skate and bike ride, and that she and her husband love to entertain—they wanted to host big barbecues in their new home!” This, Sarah says, really helped paint a picture of the perfect community for the Summers. “Dana was so deliberate in her research, her visits and in giving me feedback so we could narrow down her target area. The best feeling was last Thanksgiving when Dana said they were hosting the family feast in their new Virginia home!”
Looking back, Dana is glad Sarah “grilled” her during that initial call and that, on her own, she took the time to explore Virginia before making a final decision. “Ask lots of questions,” Dana says to families starting their suburban search. “Ask ALL of the questions. Ask locals. Ask your Strategist. Ask everyone. You really want to be informed and think about all of the things there are to consider about a community.”
Whether you’re moving long-distance or just out of city limits, Suburban Jungle can help. Get in touch to learn more and schedule your Suburbs Strategy session. All of our services are 100% free.