So Confused- Need Help on Safe Neighborhoods! (Richmond, Roanoke: transplants, apartments)
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Hi. My fiance and I are moving the Richmond area later this month and we are very confused about where to live. Our primary concern is safety, safety and more safety!
We are going to be renting initially and are concerned about the news reports we hear that make it sound as if all of Richmond is swarming with random shootings and break-ins. We are looking at areas outside of Richmond like Midlothian, Goochland, Ashland and Powhatan; originally we were looking at Chesterfield but the statistics seem to indicate a high crime rate with a lot of break-ins. Is this true? Regardless are these other areas safer or more dangerous? We heard that Midlothian was on Sperling's best places to live, and it looks very nice; however it is in Chesterfield County, is there more crime in Midlothian? What is Short Pump like, it apparently has virtually no crime and looks very nice, however it is close to downtown Richmond, so what does that mean?
We also looked at Ruther Glen and Ladysmith Village, are those reasonable commutes?
Ideally we would like a rental not very hard on the wallet with a good-sized yard (we are in Phoenix, where most backyards are tiny). We are willing to pay up to 1700.
One problem we are having is that Richmond looks beautiful all over, but we have heard about the segregation and racial tensions is this legitimate or just media hype? Additionally, we are in our early thirties with no kids yet, is Richmand generally accepting to outsiders or is it more closed-off and difficult to make friends (we have read some sources that it can be difficult)?
We've spoken to a few agents, all of whom have been flaky, not getting back to us or being unable/unwilling to provide specific details. I know that there are some legalities involved, however they seemed to be overly-tight-lipped.
Any comments would be very-much appreciated and helpful. Thank you in advance for your help.
Hello, Having grew up in Richmond and lived there up until last year I feel I can answer your questions pretty fair and honestly. I think Richmond is a great place to live, it has lots of shopping options, pretty good schools, and I like the quick acess to Va. Beach. Richmonds major counties are: Henrico, Hanover, & Chesterfeild. There are other great counties around the city to the north, west and south. The reports on crime are true but most of the crime happens in the city. You have crime in every city (even here in Roanoke where I live). Like other area you can have nice parts of a county/city and bad ones. Chesterfield has great schools and tends to be less expensive than the other two counties I mentioned. You should check out the Brandermill & woodlake areas of the county, you can find plenty of rental homes there and I recently found a few just browseing on craigslist, for around $1400 or so. In Hanover county I would definatly recommend the Mechanicsville area. Homes are a little more pricey there but the schools are excellent and very little crime and has a nice neighborhood feel. There are lots of transplants in the Richmond area and it will be easy to meet new friends. I think you would be surprised after you move to Richmond it really isnt all that bad on crime. Dont worry you will be just fine! Ps. Short pump (in western Henrico co) is nice but its very pricey and crowded. If you have any other questions feel free to ask me!
IMO Richmond is great. First of all its broken down into North Side, South Side, West End and Far West End and East End. Powhatan and Goochland are a lot more rural "country" if you will. You would still have to drive to the west end (closest) to do any major shopping, etc. But those areas are generally a little cheaper and quiet so it really depends on what you want. Hanover and Ashland are not quite as country but still more rural. Short Pump area definitely continues to grow and traffic gets worse but again depends on what you are used to - I am used to Northern VA and DC traffic and Short Pump is nothing compared to that so for me I still don't mind it. It also has upscale shopping. Chesterfield is southside but there are very nice areas in Chesterfield that are similar to Henrico County. The only area of Midlothian that I am familiar with is not really as desirable as the other areas you mentioned. The schools in most of the counties surrounding Richmond are very good. Ladysmith Village would be a doable commute but again you are going to have to drive towards Richmond (Ashland) or toward Fredericksburg to do any real shopping. You can search the forums for Ladysmith Villiage. I remember someone else having good things to say about it. I wouldn't be worried about most of the areas you are looking at...check out richmondcrime.org and you can check further into areas.
Thank you for your comments, they are helpful. What about the racial segregation? We are both Caucausion and don't have much tolerance for people who are racist. We are both originally from the south so we are not ignorant of the stereotypes but after reading several posts here, not to mention the fact that we are coming from the West where there tends to be a more accepting attitude in general, we are a little concerned. We do not know what is hype and what is truly legitimate.
Maybe we should tell you more about us. We are 31 and 32, educated both holding a graduate degree . One of us already has a job downtown (which is why we are moving there) and will be commuting to downtown Richmond for work everyday. Most likely the other one will to.
We have also read several things about carjacking's and I am wondering if this is something to be concerned with or not. I know things like that happen here in Phoenix but honestly we never really think about it and I do not think it happens that often. I feel we travel in safe enough areas that it really is not a concern. Will it be like that in Richmond as well? Or do you have to be more aware of things to avoid being a victim of crime there? I am sorry if these question's sound ridiculous but after reading the newspapers for the Richmond Metropolitan area for the last few months this is the impression left on me. Keep in mind that we have a very narrow knowledge of the area.
The carjackings are probably in the "bad" areas. There are some areas of southside that are not too good and also in the city. But the outskirts like Henrico (short pump area), Goochland, Ashland, Hanover I can't imagine you would really have a problem with crime. I grew up in the West End near Short Pump and while it was more white than black the majority of my friends were black (I'm white) and I feel it is very diverse and there are not many racial issues there at all. There are also east indian people and really every type of culture in that area and everyone seems to be generally nice towards each other. I am not in the Maryland, DC, Northern VA area and boy its night and day between here and Richmond. The people here in general do not have the same southern hospitality you feel in the Richmond area. I really like Richmond and people seem much friendlier and the crime is much lower than up here. Of course I am really speaking mainly about the west end but I spent a lot of time in Goochland and wasn't aware of any racial tension there. I cannot really speak for Hanover or Ashland as far as that's concerned. The areas of Chesterfield that are similar to Henrico I imagine is about the same - diverse and just a good overall place to raise a family, etc. If you really start leaning towards a particular area, let me know and I can probably weigh in. I still have friends all throughout Richmond and my mom still works there so I can ask around. Right now I would suggest you take a visit to the area (if you haven't already) and visit all the parts. You may find that Goochland is way to far out to drive downtown and not what you want or that the Short Pump area is right up your alley and a convenient drive to downtown and then you will have a better idea but really I don't think you have much to worry about in making the move. Here's a good map that may help you put things in prospective. I think the only major iffy area is parts of the city (fine to work there, shop, go to a concert, etc but don't want to be roaming around at night) now some areas of downtown are really nice and pricey to live in and considered pretty safe, but I would avoid the east end for the most part and some areas of south side that border the city but again, look up some info on the desirable areas of Chesterfield and consider that or west end. Still don't rule out the other areas you mentioned but I think the commute will be longer and not as much to do.
I am going to weigh in here as someone who has lived a few places in/around Richmond, but did not grow up here. It's a fine -- even great -- place to live as long as you do not expect it to be terribly metropolitan. It is a somewhat sleepy southern city that has had a lot of good luck drawing corporate interests/headquarters here for the past 50 years.
I noted your "safety, safety, and more safety" comment, and I am sure that you know that every city has "bad neighborhoods" and that much crime -- anywhere -- is random. That said, I would not suggest downtown Richmond's beautiful historic districts for you, but would steer you to the Southside (yes! -- in Chesterfield!) or the far West End (Henrico County), as you have already been advised.
Midlothian is a lovely village-like area (that has grown into some suburban sprawl); the "far" in "far West End" basically means beyond Parham Road on Rt. 250/the closer to Short Pump, the better. I must tell you that the Richmond area is bisected by the James River and there are somewhat strident views of "best areas" on either side of that, depending upon your background and preferences. Both of these areas (Midlothian and Short Pump/Glen Allen) have about 30-40 minute commutes to downtown in typical traffic.
There are closer-in areas that are "nice," but the safety meter does ratchet up a tad. (I live in far-out , rural Goochland county now, and we even have the occasional break-in "crime of convenience" out here. I have lived in much more urban downtowns -- not only here, but in D.C. and in Northern Virginia. I grew up in a very small rural town of 5,000. Crime is everywhere.)
There is also racial tension here. It's almost inevitable in a city that still prides itself as being the "Capital of the Confederacy." That does not mean it is prevalent -- it just means that like any metro area with diverse racial and economic stratification there are (what we call) "issues." It seems to be getting better, but we will see what the economic downturn brings, with more competition for fewer dollars. Likewise, the area seems to be getting more accommodating to "outsiders." (Then again, it might just be other "outsiders" -- myself included -- being more accommodating to people like ourselves who keep moving here.) The whole metro area has definitely changed over the past 20 years, but there are segments that are determined to re-live the past.
I would (personally) not consider Ruther Glen or Ladysmith (however lovely) a "reasonable" commute. I-95 is known on radio traffic reports as "the world's longest parking lot." It is THE major north-south corridor for trucking, and it is clogged every day. I did the commute for years to Richmond from D.C. Unless you have a very flexible schedule, I wouldn't consider it.
I doubt that you will get much rental help from realtors, although I could be wrong. It would seem that they would have some incentive to help out some of their clients who are not in any danger of selling anytime soon, but there seems to be little rental help online for houses or apartments, based on other posts I see here. I do see lots of rental communities that look nice as I drive around, and they are actively advertising for tenants. If you have time to visit before your move -- or take a temporary place for a couple of months -- I'm sure you can find just what you're looking for.
Last edited by whynot?; 08-10-2008 at 06:25 PM..
Anyone have any info (good and/or bad) on the Jefferson Trace apt on Atwell Drive or the general area? They are located off of 1/301/Jefferson Davis Hwy ~ South of the James River ~ just south of Bellmeade Rd ~ north of 161 that connects with 95 ~ in the GENERAL area of the Philip Morris Facilities?
. . . but because PMBird has seemed interested in this property for a long time here, I suggest that you search the address on Google Local Google Maps then use the "Satellite" and "Street View" features to get an overhead shot and a web cam panorama of the neighborhood to see if it's to your liking.
Then you might go over to RichmondCrime.org and enter the address on the "Your Address" link, and a period of time and radius that you're content with, and see how many and what kinds of crimes have been reported -- and whether you feel comfortable with that.
As you mentioned, the address is in an industrial zone, and is just off Rt. 1/301/Jefferson Davis Hwy which is a heavily traveled north-south business alternate to I-95. There don't seem to have been any posters who have specific knowledge of the area when the question was posted earlier. Unless we have specific experience, it's hard to recommend or discourage a neighborhood because everyone chooses where to live for their own reasons: proximity to work/shoopping/extended family, budget, schools, aesthetics, amenities, etc.
And to JDR2032, my apologies for the side conversation, but you might like to know about RichmondCrime.org's site, too.
Also, RichmondCrime is only for within the city limits. It does not have a data feed for the surrounding counties.
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