We are considering relocating from the Albany Ny area to southeastern Virginia
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VA Beach is pretty expensive. Wiliamsburg actually has some affordable housing and its only an hour from VA Beach. The humidity is worse in Virginia, but the main difference is that it lasts much longer. Don't expect to get out your winter wardrobe 'til after Christmas.
Like most areas right now, Southeastern VA is overvalued right now for homes. We owned a home in Chesapeake VA (Greenbrier) which we bough for $115K our tax value was maybe $96K I LOVED my house, be we were transferred and sold it. Fast forward 5 years, the tax assessment is now $236K. Would I pay over $260 for that some 20+ year old 1800sf house on 1/4 acre lot. No way.
The plus, the weather is great, you can have some the best schools in the nation and everything you need is right there. Wages don't stack to other areas, because there is a big workforce to pool from, and unless you're extremely lucky be prepared to sit in some sort of morning/afternoon commute as traffic is horrendous!
I know some mention Suffolk, they're right about it's growing by leaps in bounds but if you choose to live there, personally I'd be prepared to pay for private school for your kids.
I would recommend Southwest Virginia as well. I grew up in Southwest, Lynchburg, Va and now reside in Moneta, Va (Bedford, Co.) It is in my opinion, just about the best place to raise a family in this region, mild weather most of the year, great schools, tons of natural and cultural history, mid-range cost of living prices, and decent housing cost (around $150,000 is common for a 3 BR/2B). The closer you get to Smith Mountain Lake, Roanoke City or Lynchburg City the more expensive homes get, however. The crime rate is also incredibly low in Bedford County! Check it out!
Hi--I don't know about the other places, but Williamsburg is a very nice place to live and there are things to do for families. There are a lot of retired people here, fyi. For its size, it's got a pretty active cultural life, because it is the home of the College of William & Mary and Colonial Williamsburg. It is very fun to be able to walk around in Colonial Williamsburg whenever you like and to sit in outdoor cafes here and watch the world go by. When you live here, you get to have a Good Neighbor pass for CW too so it is practically free. We are also close to Jamestown and Yorktown and two hours away from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We are also home to Busch Gardens amusement park & Water Country water park and a lot of people here get season passes for them both. And we have Prime Outlets for great shopping. We are also roughly one hour away from Norfolk & Richmond, which are bigger cities.
The only thing I really don't like is that it is very spread out and you have to drive around a lot to get here and there. Also, if you are from NY, you will find the political climate more conservative. But a lot of NYers & NJers have also migrated here, especially retirees. I am from North Jersey originally. But I must say that people are more friendly than in NJ, where they often seem so busy & stressed. (Still, I generally like people from NJ a lot--they usually are very down-to-earth & have a good sense of humor--of course I would think that.)
It is a safe & pretty place to live, but it is also growing all the time with lots of building going on in lots of places, bcs of all the reasons I listed above, and I didn't even mention the nice weather (except for hot, humid summers).
By the way, tourist attractions attract our Northern friends and relatives as house guests, but I enjoy that.
Would be happy to answer other questions.
PS We may be renting our house this summer & moving back North ourselves, only for a job opportunity that was too good to turn down.
I would like to relocate to VA, too, Becca. I too live in the Albany area! Too long winters, and the people can be cold, too. Looked a lot into the Lynchburg area, and that is where we are focusing. There is a lot of new home building going on in the Forest area.
Does anyone know about the public schools in the Lynchburg area? I have heard that Glass and Heritage are good. Forest and Brookville look like their test scores and "numbers" are better, but I have heard that Forest is overcrowded and there is tension in the school. I've heard that Brookville has tension also. We are white, and live in a suburban area - very Vanillaville. I wouldn't mind my kids being in a school with more color, and think that's really better. I just wouldn't want them to feel insecure if there is tension... Most city schools in our area have a lot of crime, and the teachers have to spend a lot of time disciplining the troublesome kids, which then takes away from the kids who are there to learn. I would never send my kids to the city schools in our area. But I want to be open minded about schools in VA. Does anyone know about Glass and Heritage High Schools in Lynchburg? We would also consider christian schools. Anyone know about Liberty Christian Academy?
We also love OLD homes, and noticed that Boonsboro has a lot of them. Looks like a beautiful area.
We moved to Chesapeake, VA 8 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Coming from the north, Southeastern Virginia is VERY different and you should be prepared for the changes. Yes, the weather is mild and we rarely get snow, and taxes are lower (but increasing rapidly). This part of the country is nice, lots of plants, but SE Virginia is VERY FLAT (no hills at least in S. Hampton Roads). the ocean is nearby but there are no real lakes in Virginia. The positives include friendly people, relatively conservative, and a slower pace of life. The public universities are also generally good (esp. U.Va., William and Mary, Virginia Tech and James Madison), but for an area of 1.5 million there are not many colleges and universities in Hampton Roads, and some of them are mediocre. The negatives include overcrowded and underfunded public schools, terrible traffic in and out of Norfolk, inadequate roads, and many more poor and uneducated people. In addition, things move VERY SLOWLY here and dealing with businesses, there are often mistakes made, which take time to correct. An example is that medical bills and insurance payments are often in error. There is not a high value placed on efficiency and accuracy. Regarding construction, good workmanship is in short supply, so if your husband can build a solid house, his work will be in demand. Houses are thrown up here by developers who use cheap materials and shoddy workmanship. Sometimes new homes have roofs that leak. Some of the developers declare bankruptcy to avoid buyers from suing them (ours did), then go back into business as a different company. Oh, there are no basements either, so you end up using your garage to store things and your cars are outside on the driveway. And there are termites (we got them 4 mos after we bought, after our house had been declared termite-free by an inspector. Closing costs are high compared to other states. Try to avoid some of these costs by buying a sale-by-owner house.
Overall, though, despite the negatives, we have enjoyed living here and don't desire to return to the Midwest. We can be at the beach in 45 min, in the mountains in 3 hrs, and in Washington DC in 3-4 hrs.
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Also, how is the construction industry in this area? My husband is a self-employed contractor who has a strong customer base up here in NY. We were thinking about him working at a Home Depot or Lowes down South as an installation contractor. We have 4 children. Two of them will be in college by the time we would make our move. We like living in the country as we do now, about 20 to 30 min. away from the Schenectady, Albany area. So we definately don't want to be in the city.
To continue my reply, construction is a good business to be in SE Virginia, because there is lots of new construction, especially in outlying areas such as Suffolk, Williamsburg, and further out.
Living in the country is possible if you don't work in the central cities on Norfolk and Portsmouth or Virginia Beach. If you worked in Suffolk, it is easy to live further out in the country - very sparsely populated areas. However I would disagree with the statement that the public schools in SE Virginia are good. Compared to Wisconsin, they are weak, in general. Many are overcrowded, especially Chesapeake, with many portable classrooms, classes of 30 or more students, overcrowded buildings, etc. There are some great teachers and some weak ones. In Virginia, most teaching is aimed to help students pass state Standards of Learning tests, which are good, but it means that there is a LOT of memorizing, and less time for teaching students how to think and especially how to write. Chesapeake has some decent schools, as does VA Beach and even Norfolk. Avoid Suffolk and Portsmouth public schools. We hear that Windsor schools (Isle of Wight Co. near Suffolk) are good. My guess is that Virginia schools are in general better than N.C.'s, but that is only an impression.
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