Great Neighborhoods: It's all about the water in Woodbridge

Real Estate,Mike Unger
Water flows through Carlton Phillips' veins. For nearly a quarter-century he's relied on the overall allure of water for his livelihood, and he's chosen to do so in Woodbridge, Va.

Phillips' Prince William Marina along the Occoquan River includes a boat showroom, restaurant and marina with 350 moored boats and another 270 in dry dock.

At a glance
February 2011
Average sold price for homes sold in ZIP code 22191: $234,032
Average list price for homes sold in ZIP code 22191: $233,840
Average days on market for homes sold: 56
February 2010
Average sold price for homes sold in ZIP code 22191: $227,959
Average list price for homes sold in ZIP code 22191: $230,469
Average days on market for homes sold: 33

"It's absolutely beautiful," said Phillips, who also lives on the property. "[Woodbridge] is a nice little town. It's convenient to almost everything even though it's almost in the country."

To call Woodbridge rural might be a stretch, but the Prince William County community, located about 20 miles south of Washington, certainly exudes its own character. An unincorporated jurisdiction with no official boundaries, Woodbridge essentially refers to an area south of the Occoquan and west of the Potomac River.

It's the water that originally lured many of Woodbridge's roughly 51,000 residents to the area and it is the water that has contributed to its 34 percent population increase over the past decade, said Frank Principi, Prince William supervisor of the Woodbridge Managerial District.

"We've got seven marinas here," said Principi, who has lived in the area for 20 years. "We've got state and local parks and over 1,000 acres of wildlife refuge. I moved here because I wanted to live on the water and beneath a bunch of trees. Owning a boat isn't necessary to enjoy all that water. Leesylvania State Park and Veterans Park, run by the county, are located on the Potomac and offer swimming, boating, hiking and picnicking options. Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge offers hiking and biking trails and great bird watching. Waterfowl, ospreys and bald eagles can be spotted there. Nearby Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge is closed to the public.

Routes 1 and 123, along with I-95, are the main thoroughfares in Woodbridge. Lined with strip malls, shopping is abundant. Potomac Mills, the outlet behemoth, is a destination for shoppers from the entire Washington area, but for Woodbridge residents, it's their home mall.

"There's nothing you'll want for," said Mo Wilson, owner of Woodbridge-based Mo Wilson Properties. But the true draw, he said, is housing.

"Once you get across to Occoquan, the price of housing goes down 25 to 50 percent," he said.

Options range from million-dollar homes to town houses and condos to rental apartments, ensuring a diversity of people can afford to call Woodbridge home.

"We've got quite a mix from the X and Y generations to baby boomers retiring in place," Principi said.

Mary Beth Franklin and her husband sold their home in Arlington to move to the Lake Ridge subdivision.

"Woodbridge is a happy medium," she said. "I like having everything at our fingertips, but it's a slower pace. I like being near Potomac Mills. We like being able to go to Nissan [Pavilion, now Jiffy Lube Live]. It's centrally located."

Phillips works seven days a week, 12 hours a day, and always answers his cell phone, which is listed on his business card. He said customers have even been known to knock on his door when they have a problem. Chances are he's nearby, admiring the view.

Top Reasons to live in Woodbridge


The Occoquan and Potomac rivers provide the water, and Leesylvania and Veterans parks offer ample opportunities to enjoy it.


Cross the Occoquan River and housing becomes much more affordable. There is a mix of large and small single-family homes, town houses, condos and apartments.


With easy access to Interstate 95, two commuter train stations and bus service, Woodbridge residents have a range of transportation options. Using I-95's HOV lanes, Frank Principi made it to the Pentagon, around 25 miles away, in about 30 minutes one recent weekday.

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