Comparing Virginia Cities (Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Richmond: middle-class, transplants, real estate)
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My family and I will hopefully be moving to the state of Virgnia very soon (once I am finished with my schooling).
I will try to be brief and straight to the point. I am looking for opinions and feedback (based on experience please) concerning OVERALL quality of life in a few Virginia Cities.
My criteria are:
1). Lowest possible Crime rate
2). Good public school system
3). Plenty of things for a family to do
4). Affordable cost of living
5). Plenty of Job opportunities (I will be looking for work in Real Estate Appraising).
Two somewhat shallow criteria I have are the best possible climate in the state (which I know would probably be VA Beach), and a city that is clean and have "some" charm to it.
A little bit about us:
We are a family of five. I am 33, my wife is 29. We have three sons ages 1, 5 and 10. We are African American although we have no preference where race is concerned. Our preference is for the safest environment that we can afford. We are outgoing and friendly, yet we are also pretty conservative. We don't go to clubs, bars, discos or rowdy parties. Neither one of us drink or smoke. We are not church goers though we do believe in GOD. In short, we try to live a basic, peaceful life and stay out of harms way as best we can.
We will be looking to rent first, so we can settle in the place and determine which area would be best for us to buy a house. I am looking to work in the Real Estate Appraisal field. I will soon also go to school for Home Inspection as well.
So far, we are looking at Alexandria, Fairfax, Va Beach, Charlottesville and Roanoke. A sixth possibility we haven't totally ruled out is Richmond (I have been reading very mixed reviews about that city here on this forum).
So, based on all that is said, what do you guys think would be the overall best place for me and my wife to consider?
My criteria are:
1). Lowest possible Crime rate - Northern VA probably has the lowest in the state
2). Good public school system -Northern VA has the best schools in the state
3). Plenty of things for a family to do - I guess this would depend on what you like, but there are plenty of things to do in all of the areas you mentioned.
4). Affordable cost of living - Depending on your definition of afforable, you can probably disqualify most of Northern VA. However, there are some areas where the home prices are still somewhat reasonable.
5). Plenty of Job opportunities (I will be looking for work in Real Estate Appraising). Many parts of Northern VA have less than 3% unemployment and it is one of a few places in the country where there aren't enough qualified people to fill all of the jobs, but the industry you are entering is extremely competitive here, so you will be fighting an uphill battle for business.
*chimes in* If crime rate is at the top of your list, then Roanoke definitely wins in that division. The overall quality of life in Roanoke is outstanding. You don't have a neverending array of big city things to do, but if you are into outdoor recreation, I pretty much guarantee the region. It is a very nice medium sized city with low crime, traffic, and sprawl. On the other hand, it has many of the things you want in a big city; shopping is okay, good dining scene for a city its size, decent entertainment and culture (civic center, city market, center in the square, zoo). The city has a very wonderful downtown area and many neat close in neighborhoods. The outlying areas can give everything from a suburban to totally rural feel. The biggest problem with Ronaoke is the job market, which is not very strong unless you are in service industries, government work, or manufacturing related business. It is, however, a strong place to start a new business.
Hi Vegatta, no problem with answering the questions to my knowledge.
1. I would think that Charlottesville has slightly lower crime, due to its financial status. Charlottesville, I believe, is much more wealthy than Roanoke. Still, I don't believe that crime is even remotely bad in either of the areas. (Mind you I live in Atlanta now).
2. Public School Reputation - I'm not that familiar with the public schools in Charlottesville, however, due to the proximity to UVA which is a very exclusive school, I have the perception that Charlottesville probably puts out a few more brainiacs than does Roanoke.
3. Depending on what type of business you are looking to open, Roanoke is undeniably an outstanding area to start a business. Due to it's size, which is much larger than Charlottesville, there may be slightly more employment opportunities in so far as raw numbers are concerned, however, C-Ville probably beats Roanoke in Employment statistics (unemployment, growth, etc).
4. Gang Problems - As with most cities, there will be a few teenage kids who claim to be gangsters, but would probably be beaten up if they went into a REAL gang area and stated that. In a nutshell, no gang problems at all in either place.
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i've lived in alexandria and SE virginia. i would say take VA beach for sure. Here in alexandria you may feel out of touch with your black neighbors will most of them will be transplants from DC/MD. I felt more welcome in VA beach/norfolk/hampton as there is a huge middle-class and christian presence. plus alexandria will be a hell of a lot harder than VA beach on your wallet. traffic is bad in both places but at least in VA beach it wont take a 1/2 hour to get to the store. schools are the same in both areas. but overall i'd go with VA beach over roanoke or c-ville.
HI. You mentioned possibly northern Virginia and Virginia Beach. Well, Northern Virginia is much more expensive to live, and a much busier lifestyle. I wouldnt dream of living there unless I was in a high-powered career.... (I'm talking all around DC...)
I havent visited Charlottesville.....
But, Virginia Beach. Yes, the climate is beautiful. Today is November 12 and it's supposed to be 75 degrees. A little unusual, yes, but the climate is very temperate here. As far as things to do, we are surrounded by ocean so there's everything associated with that. But also we have several state parks, including the 2700 acre First Landing State Park with 19 miles of trails. Our town is built to trade to tourists so that means there are water parks, golf, shopping, eateries, IMAX, museums. There's the Boardwalk by the ocean too.
Tons more to do here then other Virginia cities.
Also, this being a military town, your race wont be a problem. There is every shape and color here.
Like all cities, parts are safe and parts are not. Here's a quick rundown, and if you want more, let me know and I'll help you personally:
Shore Drive/Great Neck area: Most sought after portion of Virginia Beach to live in. Young urban professionals. Right on the water. I live here. Very safe.
Ghent: Gay/Student section to town. Quaint OLD houses and buildings, located actually in Norfolk. Near the Eastern Virginia Med School so tons of college kids. It's also the safe Gay haven. But there's actually only 2 or 3 gay bars there. People from all over go here to eat at the funky restaurants and go to eclectic bars.
Living near any military base: Dont do it. The military doesnt pay well, so the soldiers must live in very modest housing. Not the prettiest or safest neighborhoods.
OceanFront: A mixed bag. It's pretty expensive, except for if you find a rental that's 3 or more blocks from the ocean. But not the "nicest" neighborhood. Lots of barefoot, long-haired, smoked-a-lot-of-pot-in-the-sixties crowd lives here.
Strawbridge: Hey, you might really like it here. It's on the outskirts of Virginia Beach. Farming, but developments springing up like crazy. Very nice neighborhoods.
TownCenter: New tower complex in the middle of Virginia Beach. Not as safe as Shore Drive or Strawbridge, but modest homes are around here.
Portland: Outskirts of Virginia Beach. I wouldnt advise it.
Norfolk: Other than Ghent, I wouldnt advise it either.
My top picks for you would be Strawbridge, or the Great Neck/Shore Drive area. Dont know about schools in strawbridge, but the Cox Schools in Great Neck is considered the best in VB.
Well, I have decided that it would be best for me to shoot for Virginia Beach. I would love to migrate to Nova, but I can see that it will be way too expensive for me and I don't see myself as having a high enough powered career to sustain me...at least not right off bat. Maybe sometime in the future.
Thank you AlanBoy and Don'tCindyMe for your responses. Your input certainly had alot of influence on my decision making.
Since my mind is made up as to WHERE I wish to be, I hope you do not mind if I have some more questions for you to guide me along the way. DontCindyMe, you seem to have really extensive knowledge of the area and I hope you do not burdened with my questions and quest guidance from you concerning the area.
Once again, thanx guys for your help.
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