For residents whose income qualifies them, the Fields of Leesburg provides garden style apartment living within minutes of the business district of Leesburg. With rentals topping out at $1040 for a three-bedroom apartment, the complex has attractive amenities for those on a budget: a pool, a picnic pavilion, a fitness center, secure entrances, on-site laundry facilities, large windows and wide tree-shaded lawns.

Because Centreville-based KSI Management Corp. participates in a federal tax-credit program that encourages low-income housing, the household income for residents can only be about half of the area's median income. That means that to qualify for a one-bedroom unit, a single person may earn no more than $37,500 (a minimum income of about $27,000 is required). Six people in three bedrooms may earn a combined income of up to about $62,000.

Rudy and Mia Mills moved in to the Fields of Leesburg last summer. This was the Philadelphia couple's first experience in Virginia and also their first experience living in the suburbs. Perhaps because of their former urban lifestyle, they try to walk as much as they can. They regularly walk to Giant, Roy Rogers, CVS, Shoppers Food Warehouse, 7-Eleven and other businesses along the busy roads adjacent to the community. "It's convenient. You don't have to hop in the car to go everywhere. You can just walk," said Mia Mills.

They enjoy the feeling of safety at the Fields. "There's pretty much no crime. The residents are very cooperative," said Rudy Mills. He also noted that the Sheriff's office and fire station are nearby.

Children are a focal point at the Fields. The Leesburg Parks and Recreation Department and Leesburg Police Department operate a Recreation Outreach to Community Kids program at the Fields where kids ages 5 to 12 get together on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons to do homework and activities. In addition, the program runs daily during the summer. Resident Crystal Rosales said that her daughter had hoped to win one of the radios the program gave as prizes for achieving certain grades. "She's trying for next time," said Rosales.

Rosales and her husband, Jason, found the apartments while driving around Leesburg after her husband got a job in the town. The couple relocated from New York state and did not know much about the area, but wanted to be close to their jobs. It takes Rosales less than five minutes to get to work near the outlet mall.

Rosales said she has met a lot of her neighbors by spending time outside playing with her two children. "Last summer we were out there every single day at the swimming pool," she said. Even after the pool closed, "we sit out at the playground and talk -- so you pretty much get to know everyone," she said. All 12 units in her building are occupied by families with children. The youngest is an infant; the oldest is 16.

The two Mills children also have lots of playmates, due to the number of families that find the three-bedroom designs attractive. The property is geared toward multiple occupants; only 12 out of a total of 404 units are one-bedroom units. More than a third -- 142 to be exact -- are three-bedroom units, while the rest (250 units) have two bedrooms. All of the Fields apartment floor plans have just one bathroom.

All of the Fields of Leesburg buildings are three-story walkups with central enclosed stairwells. The stairwells are mid-renovation. Within the next few months all of the stairways in the 21 buildings on the west side of Plaza Street will have new vinyl tile floors (to cover the former bare cement flooring), improved lighting and a new coat of paint. Other improvements to the buildings include replacements of the roofs for the whole property over the next four years and improved landscaping.

The Fields of Leesburg lies on either side of Plaza Street, and at first glance the buildings are so different that the development appears to be two separate properties. Both properties were built in the early 1970s. The 21 buildings to the west of Plaza Street, originally known as Mayfair Commons, bear white siding added over the original stucco less than 10 years ago. The 13 buildings to the east of Plaza Street, Leesburg Crossing, retain their original red brick.

KSI operated Mayfair Commons and Leesburg Crossing out of the leasing office at Leesburg Crossing until 2004 when it combined them under the Fields of Leesburg name and moved the office across the street to the previously named Mayfair Commons. At the same time, the old leasing office was converted into a fitness center, an amenity most residents could not afford if they had to pay market rates.

Because of the affordable rent, the Fields of Leesburg will allow the Mills to save enough to eventually purchase a home. In the meantime, they are enjoying living in Leesburg. "I love it here. I'm so glad we wound up here," said Mia Mills.

Rudy and Mia Mills enjoy the sunny view outside their kitchen window, which looks out on other Fields of Leesburg buildings.

The red brick buildings of the Fields of Leesburg east of Plaza Street.