Stafford: Rustic Virginia Town a Natural Choice for Renters

Black bear

Creature comforts: The 15,000-acre Prince William Forest Park, which is located just north of Stafford, provides a home for 38 mammal species, including the black bear.

Virginia’s Stafford County is kind of a funny county in that there are no incorporated towns. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be using the area generally known as the town of Stafford. We’re going to show you why the unincorporated town of Stafford is unlike the other suburbs in the Washington, D.C., metro area and why it would be a great place to rent an apartment.

First and foremost, the thing you need to know about Stafford is that it’s located next to Marine Corps Base Quantico, what has to be a major area employer. So if you work on base, Stafford is a great choice for digs. While the commute to Washington, D.C., can be a haul at 40-plus miles, trusty I-95 runs right through town, so jumping on the interstate juggernaut is easy. Even better is the Virginia Railway Express, which has a stop on base, connecting you to the capital and much of the rest of Northern Virginia.

While exact population figures for the town of Stafford remain a mystery, the U.S. Census Bureau in 2009 estimated Stafford County had 124,166 residents, and it’s growing rapidly. It also has one of the bigger housing developments you’re likely to see: Aquia Harbour, which, according to, had 10,147 residents as of 2007. Two great things about the development are the Aquia Harbour Marina and Aquia Harbour Golf Course, both of which are open to the public. Hampton Oaks is another, newer development juggernaut.

Besides Quantico and the big developments, Stafford and surrounding environs have other things going for them. Even a quick look on Google Maps tells you that Stafford is surrounded by green, rural spaces, and the Potomac is very close, too.

You can also go camping in mammoth Prince William Forest Park. Located about a dozen miles to the north in Prince William County, Prince William Forest Park lets you hike (37 miles of trails), bike (21 miles of trails) and camp your heart out in 15,000 acres of piedmont forest.

While not exactly next to the town of Stafford itself (though at 14 miles away, it’s very drivable), Ferry Farm has a special distinction: It’s where George Washington moved when he was six years old. Young George would grow into a strapping 19-year-old who, legend has it, chopped down a cherry tree before moving to nearby Fredericksburg, where he worked part time as a lot boy at Wal-Mart while plotting the overthrow of the British Empire, empty shopping cart by empty shopping cart … gotcha! Wanted to see if you were still paying attention. Located just across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg, Ferry Farm is now a 113-acre National Historic Landmark.

There are several public high schools in Stafford and one private high school. There are a few places to shop, too, and most, if not all, are located along the VA Route 610 corridor. Most of these are convenience-type stores, including an impressive array of restaurants (Chinese, Indian, Italian, Greek Pizza, American), grocery stores (Giant, Shoppers Food & Pharmacy) and a lone CVS.

One exception is Stafford Marketplace, which houses Borders, Lowe’s, Kohl’s, and the mother of all suburban department stores: Target … or the one everyone seems to prefer.

Don’t worry, fashionistas. You’ve got a train and a car (hopefully, ‘cause you’ll need one out here) to take you to Fredericksburg or one of the many other Northern Virginia malls for your upscale needs. You can check out Apartment Showcase for more information.

Scott D

Scott D

Scott is a local writer and has been with the Apartment Showcase blog since its inception in 2010.

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