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Old 05-01-2011, 04:48 PM
Location: Charlottesville
9 posts, read 62,299 times
Reputation: 19


My husband and I, recently retired college professors, are seriously considering a move to Charlottesville, VA. We’re currently in the upper midwest but have lived in NJ and NC and from our research Charlottesville sounds like it may have many of the qualities that we are looking for in retirement. We think we want to buy a single family house in the city because we want easy access to become part of the community with its many college and other community activities, though we are disappointed by the current high cost of houses. We’re thinking of coming out next month (June 2011) to check the feel of the city and see some of the neighborhoods.

We’d like to know more about the various neighborhoods since we’d be there for a short visit. We’re looking for one that has these features: safe, near walking/hiking paths (for daily walks on sidewalks or good trails), quiet (but friendly and willing to have “block picnics/potlucks”), terrain (for small backyard gardening), no water flow/drainage problems. We look forward to becoming part of a nice, friendly, neighborhood community, neither isolated nor in traffic. Is there a neighborhood distinction or one that might be best for us? (We saw the city’s great website but not all the neighborhoods have links to descriptions of them.)

Please help ASAP. Thanks!
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Old 05-02-2011, 05:04 PM
Location: Reston, VA
124 posts, read 258,550 times
Reputation: 96
I live in Northern Virginia and visit Charlottesville only once a year, so I can't claim any expertise in C'ville and its neighborhoods. On the other hand, like you, I am considering C'ville as a possible retirement locale. I have stayed a few days in the North Downtown neighborhood and liked it a lot. It is in easy walking distance to the downtown pedestrian mall with its stores and restaurants. The downtown mall has a great independent bookstore and a few rare/used book stores, as well as First Friday art walks. The North Downtown neighborhood seems to have a good mix of older residents and students -- lively, but not rowdy -- but I've only visited in June, outside the main academic year. I can't say what it's like when the University is in full session.

I also like the Woolen Mills neighborhood. It has an interesting assortment of single-family homes, and is adjacent to Riverview Park and the Rivanna Greenbelt Trail. But, again, I am speaking from very superficial acquaintance.

I hope you'll get replies from people with a better knowledge of C'Ville than I have. I like Charlottesville and would live there gladly.
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:58 PM
Location: Charlottesville
9 posts, read 62,299 times
Reputation: 19
Thanks for your insight on some of the neighborhoods Wallop. Unfortunately June is also when we're planning to visit so I hope someone from C-ville will post regarding the neighborhoods during the main academic year.
The more I read about C-ville, the more excited I am getting!
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:22 AM
5 posts, read 22,049 times
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I've lived here all my life and don't think its at all pedestrian friendly. Most streets in the city only have one side of the street with a sidewalk and some streets have no sidewalk. I am leaving when I retire in a couple of years. It's fairly expensive to live here and thats partly because of the school system is very good, so unless you have kids in school its kind of a boring town and pricey town to live in. I am leaving to find less expensive housing so I can do more traveling
If you do come here even to just visit, the REAL charlottesville is not even in the town, its on Route 231 which runs between Charlottesville and Middleburg aka "Hunt Country". Being a "lifer" in Cville I remember how we used to be economic proof, we HAD a Utopia here, but it has all gone. We are basically a too far away suburb of DC now. Old timers like myself would like nothing more than to see the last 25 years or so disappear, and for me personally the subdivisions be leveled and returned to farmland.
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Old 06-27-2011, 05:29 AM
Location: Roanoke, VA
1,813 posts, read 3,910,147 times
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I do not live in the city, but use some of the businesses located there.
If affordability is an issue for you, other places may merit consideration.
The cost of housing in C-Ville is high. If money is not an issue, you won't have a hard time finding a nice place to live in the city.

Like Tizzielu, I would not consider C-Ville overly pedestrian friendly. The downtown mall is pedestrian friendly, but dealing with the panhandlers and the gangs of teenagers is not my idea of friendly.

I don't know about friendliness and block parties, but I do not consider Charlottesville a friendly locale overall. I lived in the Shenandoah Valley before living here. It is much friendlier and easier-going over that way.

Have you considered Harrisonburg or Staunton? You may want to search those cities out a bit too.
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Old 06-27-2011, 06:30 PM
Location: Thornrose
894 posts, read 2,183,193 times
Reputation: 1304
I agree that Charlottesville could use a lesson in manners. But I won't go off into a tantrum. And it is waaay overpriced. But in my opinion as far as being pedestrian friendly; it could be MUCH worse. It's not NYC, DC, or even Richmond, but as far as I have seen, all major roads and streets have sidewalks, and even many smaller side streets. The streets that don't have sidewalks are the ones with very little traffic and it's not dangerous to walk in the street.

As far as Cville being an extension of DC? That's a real stretch. People argue whether Culpeper is an exurb or not(it is). Cville is it's own place. If anything, Richmond has claim over it more than DC.
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Old 07-02-2011, 03:03 PM
43 posts, read 80,606 times
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If you have the money to spend, you will likely find what you want in c'ville. The Rivanna trail surrounds the city with many access points. Shenandoah national park is 30 minutes away. Belmont neighborhood has a nice community feel to it but the lots tend to be on the small side (there are exceptions, however).
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Old 08-03-2011, 07:15 AM
2 posts, read 29,774 times
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My husband plans to retire in April of 2112 and like you, we were thinking of Charlottesville as perfect retirement place. We currently live in western MA (Berkshires) and are totally car-dependent. Want walkable college town (love to audit classes) and milder weather. We have not yet been to C'Ville but plan to visit- hopefully before end of year.
These postings in reply to yours have created a little anxiety.
I think I have too much of a fantasy.
How are you doing in your search?
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Old 08-04-2011, 03:08 PM
Location: Charlottesville
9 posts, read 62,299 times
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Default C-ville visit

We visited C-ville in June 2011 and it met many of the good expectations that we formed from many web searches. The downtown mall area is a must visit and was very active with people and enjoyable with a very good variety of shops, activities and cuisine. Our visit disappointingly also confirmed the much higher than average housing prices mainly in the downtown city and in some of the immediate suburbs (see more below).

We loved the mountain views and many trees and the fact that this was a very "green-conscious" community that's also up with the digital age. There are two large "acclaimed" hospitals there: UVA and the Martha Jefferson which has just been rebuilt on the east side of town. We were told the MJ hospital is known for its women's health and cancer treatments. We stopped in the C-ville public library and were pleased. They also have books you can download to read.

It was very congested around edge of the UVA campus with narrow roads and much traffic to negotiate (...but what do you expect for a campus of 10,000 students, though spring semester had ended just before we arrived.) The campus itself looked like it could be "walkable" as most campuses are; however, street parking was a premium near campus and the downtown main street. There is a parking ramp near the beautiful downtown "walking" mall and a "trolley" which is a dressed up bus gives free transportation from campus to the downtown walking mall area.

It's like the housing bubble just hasn't burst there. A realtor told us many home owners just refuse to lower their extremely high prices (e.g. $300,000+ for a basic 3 bedroom, 2 bathrm home). Some may drop them $5-10 K but they've elevated them $50-100+ K from their purchase price. What is even more amazing is that the older homes in the downtown area are priced as high or higher than some brand new houses downtown or in a suburb just outside the downtown area. I also was extremely surprised at the lack of garages for the homes in the downtown area and for many in the suburbs. I know they don't have the "staying" snow that we have in ND but it does rain and can get very hot on the steering wheel and car finish (from our NC experience) if you have to park your car on the street or in a driveway all the time. Also, some downtown areas have hills and curves which interfered with backing vision, and sidewalks do not exist in all downtown residential areas. Many areas are separated from others by hills or ravines, which restricts the open community feel but then could allow a smaller community feel in your housing area within the larger city. We found we needed to adjust our original thoughts of living in the "downtown" area, mainly because of the price/value comparison in the downtown homes compared to others in the suburbs or surrounding communities.

We found that many developments just outside the city limits are pretty self contained and serviced by a main road; some have HOAs which vary in price and services. We did NOT find Hwy 29 to be a traffic problem at all! Maybe it had been enlarged since the previous post regarding it. It was a nice boulevard with very adequate turning lanes and traffic lights. (Now, maybe we didn't drive at the main commuting times, but I figured since we're retired we could just avoid those times IF they were a problem. We've lived in larger and smaller cities and this was easy driving.) Another thing we noticed was that signage for businesses were very low to the ground and sometimes very non-invasive and hard to see (e.g. I was told there was a Target on 29 but didn't actually see it until our third time on the road.) And our motel sign could only be seen from one direction. Now again, we're coming from the open plains, so adjustments would have to be made, AND once we saw where businesses were, it was easy to find them again.

If you're willing to drive a little ways, developments in the Lake Montecello area have much newer and larger houses for less $. I don't know how much of a "community" feel exists in any of these developments themselves but many do have some potential "connectors" there via a swimming pool, golf course, or hiking trails, etc., and minimal services are available nearby (grocery store, gas station).

Also, we found that Crozet (~15 miles west of C-ville has growing developments with medium to high priced homes). We were told that the "old-timers" there resented the newer developments and the changes they brought to their "community," but we didn't encounter any in the week we were there. If you travel 30 miles west to Waynesboro which is just past the first range of the Blue Ridge Mts. we were told the houses are much more reasonable in price. But we really prefer to be closer to the action and many services in C-ville.

The people we interacted with on the street, in shops, on tours, in church, in the library, in restaurants were very friendly, courteous, and helpful. We felt we could enjoy living and interacting with people there. There are many organizations one could join for interaction with connections available on the city website. We were told there is a very active Senior Center there, but we didn't have time to visit it.

We liked the wide variety of cuisine available at the grocery stores and in the types of restaurants as well as the diversity of ethnic food available. (It wasn't only Tex-Mex, Chinese, and pizza, although they exist there too.) Prices vary greatly too at the grocery stores and at the variety of restaurants. But at least you have many, many options!

Entertainment, Activities:
Many are available. Prices vary greatly. Some activities are free, others can be quite pricey. Again, a variety is good. Different strokes for different folks.

Bottom line: We would like to move to C-ville and have been busy sorting through 27 years of accumulations so we can put our house on the market. We're hoping that C-ville's housing prices will come down to reality in the next year because we would like to move there. 30 min. from mountains, ~3 hrs from the coast and 2 hrs. from DC sound good to us! Wish us luck finding a decently priced house for its value.

Last edited by Carab; 08-04-2011 at 03:35 PM..
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Old 08-04-2011, 04:47 PM
2 posts, read 29,774 times
Reputation: 12
Hi Carab,
I am so delighted to read your post and to see how you are positive (and realistic) about C'Ville (I sound as though I know it but have only admired it via internet). We also have to sell our house (and we have been more gatherers than not) so lots of work there. And of course, we need to visit that city.
I am most interested in walking - I HATE being car-dependent) and having access to book stores, libraries, campus classes, etc. No longer need a large city but like the idea of a small-large city ambience.
Would you consider contacting me via Facebook? I would love to connect with you and discuss "retirement" (do not like that word but that is what it is).
Just listening to Marketplace on NPR. Awful. Hope the economy picks up within the coming year.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Natalie Jacobson
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