Living in Fairfax, Virginia

A tale of contrasts, a 45-minute ride divides George Mason University’s two campuses in Fairfax, Virginia and Washington, DC.

Fairfax offers a quiet beautiful area while DC boasts the nation’s capital among a bustling metropolis. In Fairfax you'll have all the benefits of the big city, with easy access to all kinds of exciting things to see, learn and experience in the Washington, DC, area.

The multicultural community is one of the city's best features. People from all over the world call it home. In Washington, DC, you can learn about the whole world in one place. With 176 embassies and cultural festivals year round, you'll always have plans for the weekend. For more exciting tips about living in Fairfax, visit our City Guide.

What makes this place unique?

  • Fairfax ranks #3 on Forbes’ Top 25 Places to Live Well (2009).
  • DC boasts some of the most amazing attractions in the world, including the (free) Smithsonian museums.
  • DC's White House and Capitol building are the backbone of American government.

Just a 45-minute commute to the White House

The Washington, DC area is known for having so many free things to do—and that’s great for international students! Whether you like to visit museums, watch films or enjoy a theatrical production, you can experience culture on any budget. The world-famous Smithsonian museums change up their displays often, so you can enjoy something new every time you visit. (Our favorite? The Air and Space Museum.) For film lovers, you can check out the Angelika Film Center and Cafe or any of the film festivals that take place throughout the year. For theater, it’s hard to choose because there are so many options! You might want to start with one of the most famous venues: The Kennedy Center. It has many different stages, including the Millennium Stage (which offers free performances every day of the year).

Sports in and around Washington, DC

While there are no professional sports teams in Fairfax, you can take the short ride to DC for just about any sporting event you would like to attend, including baseball’s Nationals, basketball’s Wizards, hockey’s Capitals and football’s Redskins.

Worldwide cuisine

Looking for a restaurant that serves food from home? You won’t need to look far in the Washington, DC area! You can try an array of international cuisines in Washington DC. Ethiopian? Mexican? Indian? Middle Eastern? You name it, there’s a restaurant for it nearby. If you prefer to cook for yourself, you can find familiar ingredients from home at some of the international grocery stores nearby, including the Great Wall Supermarket and Super H Mart.

Malls for miles

If you like to shop, Northern Virginia is a great place to find whatever you're looking for. You’ll find hundreds of brand-name stores at Fair Oaks Mall, Tysons Corner Center and Potomac Mills outlets, which offer sales and special events year round. Town centers like Fairfax Corner and the Mosaic District are great alternatives to the mall scene because they feel like a downtown neighborhood. And, across the Potomac River in Washington, DC, you will find breathtaking views along the historic Georgetown Waterfront shopping district on M Street. There is shopping everywhere you go!

Transportation in the city

Washington, DC has the second highest percentage of public transit commuters in the country (behind only New York City). It’s not hard to get where you need to go using the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). The Fairfax Connector has a stop at the Mason campus and goes all the way into DC. You can also connect to the DC Metro from Fairfax. If you want to drive from Fairfax to DC, it’s only about a 45-minute ride.

What you should wear

You'll probably also want to travel around the United States during your studies, right? With two major airports within 30 minutes of Mason’s campus, it is convenient to get anywhere you want to go.

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