The Occoquan River flowing nearby sets the scene--and the mood--for Woodlee Terrace Apartments, an affordable community in Woodbridge that, even right off busy Route 123, maintains a pace as quiet and pacific as the river's.

Some apartments have a view of the river, but Woodlee Terrace residents can enjoy nature in other ways too: Flowers rim the well-kept lawns; mature trees, mostly Bradford pears, surround the buildings; and a creek runs through the middle of the property. Green is everywhere. The only departure seems to be the concrete and brick that make up the sturdy-looking 30-year-old buildings.

"There is an overabundance of nature here," property manager Ernie Caluori said. This may help to explain why the property is always nearly 100 percent occupied, he added. The turnover is also low, with most residents staying at Woodlee Terrace for about three years.

"It's a neighborhood with a lot of old charm and a lot of comfort," Caluori said. "And it's not sterile-looking."

Charm and comfort are assets, to be sure. But it was the affordable rent that first attracted Michele and Nole Hubbs to the complex. After an intense apartment hunt, they chose Woodlee Terrace to be their home in April. "Compared to other places I called, this was the most reasonably priced," Michele Hubbs said.

Once installed, the Hubbses and their 3-year-old son, Nole Jr., enjoyed the summer by the pool and got to know some neighbors. That's when they noticed another aspect of life in Woodlee Terrace: "People are pretty friendly here," Michele Hubbs said.

Patricia Littlejohn, a commodity business specialist at the Department of Defense, also did an extensive apartment search around Woodbridge and elsewhere in Northern Virginia before discovering that Woodlee Terrace was the most affordable option. Some places offered a little more in terms of amenities, she said, but rents at those complexes were much higher. There are income requirements at Woodlee Terrace; a person must make at least $18,720 a year to lease an efficiency and $25,200 a year to qualify for a two-bedroom unit.

Littlejohn has been living at the community for six years, now with her 4-year-old son, TreVon Womack. When she first arrived it was springtime, a prime season given the abundant flowers and greenery on the property. But she was also impressed by something more basic--how clean the buildings' common areas, such as the laundry rooms and the stairways, looked.

There was one more thing on Littlejohn's wish list: "When I walk into an apartment, I want to see light," she said. Littlejohn recently renewed the lease on her unit, where light floods every room.

Woodlee Terrace's setting allows nice light in most units. In addition, about half of the apartments have walk-in closets, and most kitchens have microwave ovens and dishwashers.

The nine low-rise buildings that make up Woodlee Terrace offer four floor plans, from efficiencies to two-bedroom apartments, and each building has its own laundry room. Storage areas are available free of charge.

The complex's location was important to Littlejohn. For one thing, the apartments are a 10-minute drive up Interstate 95 from Potomac Mills Mall, where she likes to eat out or catch a movie. Old Town Occoquan is minutes away as well. Also very near is Occoquan Regional Park, where Littlejohn enjoys taking walks with TreVon. When friends from out of town visit, she said, "they think I live in the country." Yet, Littlejohn is within a 20-minute drive of her job at Fort Belvoir.

For resident Susan Katsarelis, location also weighed heavily in choosing to rent at Woodlee Terrace. A teacher in Woodbridge and a violinist with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, Katsarelis frequently hits the highways--I-95, Route 123 and the Prince William County Parkway, all nearby--to get to rehearsals and concert locations. "It's easy to get to work from where I am," she said.

Katsarelis grew up in Woodbridge, went away to college and moved back a couple of years ago. Although impressed by the area's incredible growth in that time, she likes that Woodlee Terrace is located in a more residential and quieter part of Prince William County, where traffic is still not a big problem. And things are even quieter for her: From her bedroom window, in the back of the property, Katsarelis enjoys a view of the river.

For Kirstin Wooden, who moved here a year ago, the management at Woodlee Terrace deserves praise. "I'm pretty happy so far," she said. "Every time I go to the rental office to ask for something, they do it right away." The complex offers 24-hour maintenance service.

A satisfaction-guaranteed program is in place with the goal of making sure all new tenants enjoy their Woodlee Terrace experience. If within 30 days of moving in residents are not satisfied with their apartments and no accommodation can be reached, tenants are released from the lease agreement. A.J. Dwoskin and Associates Inc., the Fairfax-based real estate company that manages the complex, offers the satisfaction program in its other rental properties in Northern Virginia as well.

"We strive for excellence," said Dwoskin marketing director Wendy DeMayo, "and that's why we can offer that."

WOODLEE TERRACE APARTMENTS

12517 Gordon Blvd.

Woodbridge, Va. 20785

703-494-4010

* Application fee: $25 each applicant

* Security deposit: None; $200 nonrefundable cleaning fee

* Lease term: One year; short-term options available

* Utilities: Not included

* Amenities: Playgrounds; picnic areas; swimming pool; storage rooms; 24-hour maintenance service

* Parking: Free outdoor lot

* Pet policy: No pets allowed

APARTMENT SIZE QUANTITY SQUARE FEET MONTHLY RENTAL

EFFICIENCY 26 323 $520

1BR/1BA 71 404 to 629 $555 to $635

2 BR/1BA 42 817 $700