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Hi. I live in Sacramento, CA and can't wait to move out of this state. I was born and raised here (not Sacramento, but close by) and am finding the cost of living, housing prices, attitude of the people, and the sprawl unbearable. I need help finding a new place to call home. That's where you come in...I would love your opinions on Norfolk (I did the "find your spot" quiz and Norfolk was my #1 city). Any other suggestions in and out of the state would be much appreciated.
I want a picturesque city. I love the water, and fun downtowns with good food and friendly people. I would prefer a mild climate, but it doesn't have to be as mild as California generally is--4 distinct seasons is okay too.
I am finishing a Masters in English, so work would be geared towards teaching college, or maybe publishing, public relations, something that would utilize writing and communication skills. Hubby will be an ultrasound tech, so hospitals, doctor offices are needed too. Tell me what you think. Thank you!
Norfolk could actually be your perfect city....in about 10 years.
I work in downtown Norfolk, and I live in Chesapeake, a city right next door. Norfolk's nightlife is definitely on the upswing. City officially have done lots the past few years to build up the downtown and to make it a hub of nighttime activity. However, the biggest complaint that the residents voice is that all that effort has sapped resources from the other 80 percent of the city.
Much of Norfolk is caught in a big socio-economic divide. The city's historic area, Ghent, is close to downtown and is populated by lots of 20-something renters and middle-aged or older people with lots of money. But just a few streets from Ghent, you'll find houses falling apart and heavy drug problems. Oddly enough, the two worlds don't really cross into each other very often, but the reality of the split is very noticable.
The waterfront of Norfolk has it's pretty areas, but there are also several parts that overlook the shipyards, which won't strike you as very "picturesque." I used to live in an area called Freemason, and that section of Norfolk has beautiful brick sidewalks and cobblestone roads. Crime is low there. I had an apartment, which was great, but cost of living there was high. Now, I know you're from California, so we might have different expections of what constitutes high costs of living. Many would say that Norfolk is one of the most expensive areas in Virginia outside of the D.C. area -- at least if you want to find a safe neighborhood. Many of the best neighborhoods have shot up in prices, and they're still hovering pretty high despite the trend of the nationwide housing downturn.
People in the downtown and historic areas are generally pretty friendly. I can't speak for other parts of Norfolk since I haven't spenting lots of time there. In the historic part of town, there are lots of kind of "hippie" laid-back types who are pretty cool to most everyone.
Hope this helps, at least a little. Let me know if you have other questions.
Gosh, it's hard for me to come up with something that really fits all of your criteria:
Virginia Beach: On the water, but not at all picturesque. Think strip malls and suburbs. And flat. Housing prices are the highest in the region, and you don't get much for your buck. The tourist beach is tacky, but there are two other beaches worth going to. Also, there are two state parks and a National Wildlife Refuge in the city.
Chesapeake: Oddly, not on the water, but pretty close to it. Undeveloped land is swampy, in general, but there are some pretty out-of-the-way roads and housing there. People are pretty nice. There's a good mix of shopping/food and rural places.
Roanoke: My personal fav. My fiancee and I are moving there soon. Mountains make it very picturesque, and the people are friendly. It's a biggish city with a small-city feel. Not near any bodies of water. The Roanoke River, which flows through the city, is kinda ugly. I've found some good places to eat there. Outdoor activities dominate the area, but if you're not into that, you might not find much to do.
Those are the only places that hit me where you might be able to find jobs that fit both you and your husband. Virginia Beach and Chesapeake are close to Norfolk, so you might be able to find a mix of what your looking for by living in one of those places. The five cities around there blend pretty well. And there are obviously lots of little towns around Virginia that might work, too. I'm orginially from Indiana, and I've found that even without a Southern accent, I'm pretty well accepted by folks all across the state. People are generally nice.
Again, it's kind of hard to give a good recommendation without having a full idea of what you're looking for. I certainly don't want to steer you wrong!
Norfolk could actually be your perfect city....in about 10 years.
The waterfront of Norfolk has it's pretty areas, but there are also several parts that overlook the shipyards, which won't strike you as very "picturesque." I used to live in an area called Freemason, and that section of Norfolk has beautiful brick sidewalks and cobblestone roads. Crime is low there. I had an apartment, which was great, but cost of living there was high. .
I grew up near Norfolk and its "old" reputation was rough. Granby Street/Downtown was a place to get in a fistfight or robbed. I recently stayed several nights in a nice downtown hotel and was really impressed w the positive changes. I enjoyed the "working waterfront" element, watching the barges, tugs, pleasure boats come and go. The latest bridge-tunnels and highway improvements have helped traffic, I dint have the chance to see Freemason but heard good things about it. My brother does a lot of work down there and he said the only thing holding downtown Norfolk back is the lack of affordable housing for working professionals.
I just moved to Norfolk from Southern California exactly a year ago to this day. It is nice being by the water... although, I have only been to the beach a handfull of times even though I live 5 minutes from here. I find that people's attitudes are pretty much the same... probably because so many people are in the military and come from all over the country. The drivers (as in California) aren't the smartest people. But, I used to live near LA and it is nice to get away from all the traffic. I will be moving back to California, but I have no intentions of staying there very long. I'll be completely honest... there is a HUGE problem with illegal immigrants in California. In Virginia, they're hard to find if you spend all day looking. Virginia has the lowest percentage of illegals of all the states (so I read). They have awesome Super Wal-Marts here! LOL! Oh, and a word of advice: stay out of most of Portsmouth... especially at night. Anyway, I came from a small town in Cali called Wrightwood. Made me miss the town when I was feeding my newborn baby at 2:30 in the morning and there were 3 gunshots directly outside my front door (and I live in the better area). Gas and electric bills can be outrageous... mine were about $350 in the hotter months. AND IT GETS HOT AND HUMID COMPARED TO CALI! It gets cold, but Im sure you're used to it. Im just happy to be away from all the snow! I'm telling you all the cons... oops. But, it isnt too shabby here. YOU CAN MAKE WAY MORE U-TURNS THAN IN CALI! Oh, and, before I moved here, I REFUSED to watch the news. Here in Virginia, they have WAY more acurate weather reports, they don't care so much about having 'attractive' reporters, and they actually talk about the important things (it seemed that in Cali they would fill their time with nonsense stories. Oh, you should know that rush hour on the highways is no joke. Theres a good chance you will have to use one or more tunnels. Theyre restricted to two skinny lanes. And, of course, there are hurricanes. My home in Cali lies DIRECTLY ON the San Andreas fault line. That makes for some discomfort and expensive house insurance, but I would take an earthquake over a hurricane ANY DAY! Minimum wage is WAY lower here, so when you first move out here with Cali money, you will feel wealthy, but it eventually evens out. Well, I hope I helped you out and gave you some heads up. I figured I would reply since I come from Cali, too.
If you are looking for a picturesque city on the water, I would try Savannah or Charleston (if you can handle the hot summers). Savannah in particular is just beautiful. If you are better with the cold, you could try New England. For a major city--maybe Boston, though I only have been there once some 15 years ago. Seattle also has some beautiful areas, though the cost of living is still high and it has the sprawl and the traffic problems. I am certainly not an expert on Norfolk since we are still in the process of moving there. However, I would not call Norfolk picturesque, except in a limited number of areas. I was disappointed when I first saw the area. The waterfront is nice, but there are many ugly, though economically important, factories and ship yards. There are a number of rundown areas. The tourist beach in Virginia Beach is concealed by a long line of high rise hotels--Nothing like the more beautiful Outer Banks or even the beaches in New Jersey, Long Island, Maryland etc. Despite all this, Norfolk and its surrounding areas definitely have their advantages. I have found the people to be very friendly, and if you are coming from California, you may have enough money to live in one of best or most picturesque areas -- West Ghent, historic Portsmouth on the water (one of the very few nice areas in Portsmouth), or the Great Neck part of Virginia Beach. If those areas are too rich for your blood, there are some nice suburban type areas in Chesapeake. That's where we're hanging our hat. I have heard that Williamsburg is quite nice. I haven't made it up there yet, though I am not sure if it has the night life you are looking for. Good luck!
Thanks for all the posts. I think I have ruled out Norfolk. Charleston and Savannah look amazing via the net, but I am concerned about the crime levels there and employment. The search goes on...Roanake sounds interesting...
NOt sure if you have considered Charlottesville VA.... it is nestled between the blue ridge mountains and the southwestern mountains. It is the home of President Jefferson, Monroe and Madison. Lots of history, great hospitals, wonderful school systems... VERY PICTURESQUE!!!!!!!!!! University of Virginia is here so opportunities for your husband to work at UVA hospital or Martha Jefferson would be available. Teaching opportunities would be available for you too. Not sure if you have/will have a family but it is a wonderful place to raise a family. Safe, clean, wholesome, friendly people. Housing costs can be higher than surrounding counties.... not sure exactly what you would want to pay. I have absolutely loved living here...and I have lived a lot of places.
Norfolk/Va Beach is cool but leaving Cali for it is a little much. Cali is the east coast dream, you will see why when you get here. Good Luck tho'
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