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The Pros and Cons of Living in McLean, Virginia


A modern house with floor-to-ceiling windows and a pool.

The Pros and Cons of Living in McLean, Virginia



Located within the Greater Washington, D.C. metro area, McLean, VA, is a fantastic place to call home—just ask the people who live there! But like any community, it has its advantages and disadvantages.

Here are the pros and cons of living in McLean, Virginia, for anyone considering the move.


The Pros of Living in McLean, VA



McLean, Virginia, is a quiet community in Fairfax County with some of the most sought-after zip codes in the U.S. Residents enjoy its top-rated schools, beautiful parkland, and luxurious homes. Read on to learn about its best features!


Top-Rated Schools



McLean has access to some of the best schools in the state. The Fairfax County public school system is one of the largest in Virginia with over 199 schools and centers and a diverse student population of more than 181,000 students.

McLean residents also have access to some of the region’s best private schools. For the second year in a row, BASIS Independent McLean was named the best private K-12 school in Virginia in Niche's annual 2024 school ranking list. For 2024, the school was also ranked the No. 1 private high school in the D.C. area.

Here are some of the best public schools in McLean:

  • Chesterbrook Elementary School
  • Churchill Road Elementary School
  • Kent Gardens Elementary School
  • Franklin Sherman Elementary
  • Spring Hill Elementary
  • James Fenimore Cooper Middle School
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Middle School
  • Langley High School
  • McLean High School

Private school options:

  • BASIS Independent McLean (age 2-12th grade)
  • The Langley School (preschool, K-8)
  • The Madeira School (all-girl day and boarding college-prep school)
  • The Potomac School (K-12 college-prep day school) 
  • The Country Day School (preschool and K)


Shorter Commutes



You won’t have a long very commute if you live in McLean, VA, and travel to and from Washington, D.C. for work. Driving from McLean to D.C. via the George Washington Memorial Parkway is only around 10 miles and takes about 20 minutes.

Jet setters will also love McLean’s close proximity to Dulles International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, each just 15 minutes away by car.

If you don’t want to drive, the Washington Metro Silver Line is accessible at the McLean Station. This transit line takes passengers further into Virginia, Maryland, and at locations across the D.C. metro area. The Silver Line was also recently extended, offering a direct line to Dulles International Airport.


Community Atmosphere

Despite its proximity to D.C., McLean is mostly residential and has a great community atmosphere. Many families have lived here for generations, and residents have pride in their homes and neighborhoods, which you can see from their perfectly manicured gardens, sprawling lawns, and beautiful tree-lined streets.

There’s always an event going on in town. The McLean Community Center hosts a handful of events and programs, including music and theatrical performances, art exhibits, and classes for all ages. There’s also McLean Day, the community’s biggest annual festival, which has music, gourmet food trucks, games, a petting zoo, carnival rides, and much more! 

Other annual events include:

  • Music festivals
  • Spring Fest
  • Fall Festival
  • Kids & Family Festival
  • Hungarian Heritage Festival



A McLean, VA address holds prestige in the Greater D.C. region. Not only do wealthy families prefer to live in McLean’s upscale communities, but also members of Congress, diplomats, retirees, and other famous and affluent people.

McLean has several sought-after neighborhoods with luxurious homes that consistently rise in value. Neighborhoods like McLean Hamlet and Chesterbrook Woods are established communities with gorgeous trees and gardens. Residents also have access to convenient local amenities and neighborhood services.


The Cons of Living in McLean, VA



Luxury and prestige come at a cost. Housing and the overall cost of living are much higher than in most areas of the country. McLean may also be too quiet a community if you prefer a lively nightlife.


Higher Cost of Living



The cost of housing is much higher in McLean, VA than in most areas of the country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median value of housing in McLean is $1,257,900—over 220% higher than the national median sales price! And because home prices are higher, it means you’ll get less home for the same amount of money you’d pay elsewhere.

But it’s not just the cost of housing. The overall cost of living is much higher as well. Data from the Economic Research Institute shows that the cost of living in McLean is 48% higher than the national average. The data considers the cost of food, transportation, health services, rent, utilities, taxes, and other miscellaneous expenses.


It’s Too Quiet

Downtown McLean has what you need for day-to-day living, such as boutique shopping, restaurants, and coffee shops, but it's not as lively as some other D.C. suburbs. Even so, McLean isn’t far from busier areas with a more active nightlife. And if you can’t find what you need downtown, visit Tysons Galleria and Tysons Corner Center—which are just under 10 minutes away—for all your shopping needs!


Low Housing Inventory



Similar to other parts of the country, McLean's housing inventory is very tight like other parts of the country. If you’re looking to move here, it could take a while to find your perfect home, especially if you’re hoping to buy in a desirable neighborhood.

I recommend starting your search early, whether you’re buying an existing home or new construction. Also, be prepared to move quickly. Most McLean homes sell fast, so if you see something you love, make a competitive offer!



Considering a Move to McLean? 

Most residents say McLean is a good place to live despite its drawbacks. 

McLean, VA is a wonderful community with many upscale neighborhoods, beautiful parks, top-rated schools, and annual festivities. Some may consider it too quiet, and the cost of living here is substantially higher than in other parts of the country, but it’s worth it for all its benefits.

Are you buying or selling a home in McLean or in the Washington, D.C., Maryland, or Northern Virginia areas? I have years of experience in the D.C. housing market, so don’t hesitate to send me a message!


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