When Gigi St. Clair and her husband decided to move from Minnesota back to the East Coast, there was only one option.
"The only place we looked was Ashburn," St. Clair said.
The St. Clair family had already spent nearly a decade in Loudoun County, originally moving to Ashburn in 1988. Since returning five years ago, St. Clair has become the president of the Farmwell Hunt Homeowners' Association.
"You have both the old and new here," St. Clair said. "You have the rolling hills, and you've got the Dulles Town Center."
Loudoun's blend of antique and contemporary has been part of the county's appeal even since rapid growth created the demand for convenient shopping like at the Dulles Town Center. For many of Loudoun's communities — such as Broadlands or Ashburn Farm or Brambleton — the Dulles Greenway connects each one of them to nearby shopping, eating and, just a little further on up the road, Washington, D.C.
"I think we've got a little bit of everything out here in a nice balance," said Supervisor Stephen Snow (R-Dulles), a South Riding resident for the last seven years. During his campaign for the supervisor's seat last fall, Snow estimates that he knocked on 9,000 Loudoun doors.
"Nobody brought up that they didn't like where they lived," he said. "That's phenomenal."
FOR YOUNG FAMILIES, Loudoun packs a wallop: an excellent public school system and family-friendly, safe neighborhoods.
"People flock out here because Loudoun County provides great amenities for families," Snow said. "This is a great family destination."
For Robert DuPree Jr., raising his family in Ashburn Farm was an easy choice.
"It's where we chose to raise our children and we never regretted it," said DuPree, who represents the Dulles District on the School Board. "We were looking for a good quality of life."
DuPree enjoys Loudoun life so fully that he doesn't anticipate ever leaving.
"I intend to stay there until I retire, and possibly beyond that," he said.
When Bob Ohneiser moved his family to Ashburn Village from Connecticut in 1994, "we never looked back," he said.
"There was an ability to walk with a baby carriage," said Ohneiser, who represents Broad Run on the School Board.
"It felt like a community," he said. "It doesn't just feel like a bunch of houses."
MANY OF LOUDOUN'S communities are writ large — Broadlands, for example, includes 2,400 homes. Like South Riding and other planned communities, residents in Broadlands can walk or bike from its cul-de-sacs to the pool, the nature center, the park, the church — anything.
But like so many of Loudoun's communities, Broadlands is on the edge of the county's development and offers a quick escape to more rustic locales.
"You only have to head west a few minutes and you're in the country," said Cliff Keirce, vice president of the Broadlands Homeowners' Association.
For all the amenities of a large community, however, smaller neighborhoods are also available for Loudoun residents. Back in Farmwell Hunt, 576 homes qualifies as a small town.
"It's more like a small little area unto itself," St. Clair said. "Everyone gets to know everyone else."