The Ultimate Guide to Living in Virginia

Virginia is a beautiful state with an abundance of opportunities ripe for discovery.

From the Appalachian Trail to the Blue Ridge Mountains, coastal towns to small farming communities, Virginia has something for individuals and families of all ages and budgets.

If you’ve decided to relocate to Virginia, congratulations! You have made a great choice.

When relocating, it is important to be aware of the benefits and challenges of your new location. To make the most of your experience, you’ll need to find a community that fits your lifestyle and meets your needs. In this article we will discuss some of the advantages and drawbacks of life in Virginia. We will also explore some of the best cities in Virginia for different types of individuals and families.

In Section I, we’ll talk about some pros and cons of living in this beautiful state, as well as some fun facts about Virginia.

In Sections II through IV, we will examine some great communities for the following groups:

  1. I. Young professionals just starting out
  2. II. Families who have young kids
  3. III. Retired folks looking to spend their golden years in the warm weather

For each community within Sections II through IV, we’ve assigned a HOMEiA Score, which provides an overall assessment — based on affordability, employment, lifestyle, healthcare, education and other relevant factors — of the city’s appeal as a place to call home. Ranks have been assigned based on the HOMEiA Score(s).

I. Pros and Cons of Living in Virginia

Whether you want the countryside or the city; mountains or beaches; urban areas with easy public transportation or smaller, slower-paced communities; national parks or theme parks; Virginia has it. Whatever lifestyle you want to live can be lived to the fullest here in Virginia. Here are a few highlights of this unique state, which is known as the “Birthplace of a Nation” and the “Mother of Presidents.”

Pros

1. Whether you are looking for the country or the city; mountains or beaches; national parks or theme parks; it’s here.
2. Sharecare’s Community Well-Being Index ranks Virginia #11 out of 50 based on factors such as community, economic security, access to healthcare, financial stability, positive social interaction and purpose.
3. Virginia is unmatched in opportunities to see beauty wherever you look. Let’s talk about the beauty of Virginia.

    1. A. Water — Here in Virginia, we have many major bodies of water to enjoy: the Virginia Beach oceanfront; the Chesapeake Bay; rivers like the Potomac, Rappahannock, James, and York; and beautiful lakes such as Lake Anna, Smith Mountain Lake and Lake Drummond. There are also over 100,000 acres of wetlands in the state, including much of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.  Each of these beautiful bodies of water can be enjoyed for special events, water sports, swimming, boating and fishing. For a unique experience, visit Virginia’s Tangier Island, located in the Chesapeake Bay. The island is distinctive, as you must take a ferry to get to it and no cars are permitted. This allows for a slow-paced island village experience.
    2. B. Mountains and valleys — The Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains form a large part of Virginia’s topography. Skyline Drive winds its way along the Blue Ridge mountain peaks for over 100 miles, giving you the opportunity to delight in the beautiful panoramas around every corner.
    3. C. Rural agricultural and urban areas — We have national parks, rural agricultural communities and bustling urban areas. Half the state lives in northern Virginia, across the river from Washington, D.C. Small towns and cities are all easily accessible and have their own strong appeal.
    4. D. Natural wonders — You don’t have to travel very far into Virginia to find intriguing natural rock formations. For the ultimate underground experience, visit Virginia’s caverns. Begin with Luray Caverns, sometimes called Geology’s Hall of Fame.
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Geology’s Hall of Fame.

    • Luray Caverns is the largest cave system in the eastern United States and is very popular among locals and travelers alike. This registered natural landmark is filled with towering columns, crystal-clear pools and peaks up to 10 stories high.
    • Shenandoah Caverns near New Market includes remarkable formations such as the Diamond Cascade, Beyond the Veil, Grotto of the Gods and the striking Rainbow Lake.
    • Endless Caverns is so named because over six miles of this complex network of underground passages has been mapped, and many rooms are yet untouched, so an end has not been found. However, a fossilized wooly mammoth’s tooth has.
    • Skyline Caverns in Front Royal is known for its anthrodites—rare cave formations with needle-like crystals radiating outwards; they are sometimes called “orchids of the mineral world.”
    • Declared a national natural landmark in 1973, Grand Caverns in Grottoes has been open for tours since 1806, making it the oldest continually operating show cave in the United States. It is a subterranean beauty with a rich history.
    • Dixie Caverns in Salem was discovered in 1920 and has been open to the public since 1923. Discover the spectacular Magic Mirror Room and more.
    • Gap Caverns is located in the heart of Appalachia, in the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. You can hike five levels deep into these mountains.
    • Virginia’s Natural Bridge, a 215-foot-high natural arch located in Rockbridge County, is thought to be the remnant of an underground river tunnel. Designated a state and national historic landmark, it is believed to have been explored by George Washington. Thomas Jefferson called it “the most sublime of nature’s works” when he purchased the land from King George III of Great Britain in 1774. The nearby Caverns at Natural Bridge are the deepest on the East Coast, and visitors can descend 34 stories underground to explore features such as Mirror Lake, the Canyon and the Colossal Dome Room.
    • Natural Chimneys in Augusta County look a bit castle-like. The area is a geological timeline with layer upon layer of compacted fossil-containing sediment as well as layers of lava squeezed into limestone by powerful volcanic activity in the area. The seven rock “chimneys” range in height from 65 to 120 feet and are said to have left a geological record spanning five million years.
  1. The Ultimate Guide to Living in Virginia

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4. Assateauge Island National Seashore has a unique story and is unmatched in the beauty of its landscape. Hundreds of wild horses live on the island. The island is described in the book “Misty of Chincoteague.” Once a year the Virginia herd is rounded up to swim to the island of Chincoteague, where most of the young foals will be auctioned off in support of the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department. Enjoy the pristine beaches and unique island while appreciating the wild horses and their beauty from afar.

5. Virginia is known for its excellence in education, its low crime rate and its robust economy. The arts here are strong, too. Major attractions include the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts and the Virginia Fine Arts Festival.

6. There is so much to be said about the rich history of Virginia. Jamestown was the site of the first permanent English settlement, so Virginia became the birthplace of our nation. Eight presidents have been born here, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

7. Virginia has a very strong military presence.

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We assign a HOMEiA Score, which provides an overall assessment — based on affordability, employment, lifestyle, healthcare, education and other relevant factors — of the city’s appeal as a place to call home…

Cons

1. Traffic — The traffic can be extremely challenging, especially in northern Virginia, since so many people commute towards Washington for work. And Virginia is constantly making road improvements, which means there is constant road construction to deal with.
2. Noise near military bases — While having so many military bases in Virginia is a great thing, those who live near them have to deal with the sounds of military jets or munitions being used in training.
3. Lack of public transportation outside big cities — Virginia does have good public transportation options in northern Virginia — with the metro, commuter busses and ride sharing — but those only extend 20 miles or so outside of D.C.
4. Unpredictable weather — Virginia can have the hottest summers, the coldest winters, and anything in between. Depending on where you live in the state, transitions between seasons can be abrupt — you can go from the 70s to the 30s in one day.

Fun Facts About Living In Virginia

  1. a) William & Mary is the nation’s second oldest college (after Harvard).
  2. b) West Virginia and Kentucky were originally part of Virginia.
  3. c) Almost half of the Civil War was fought in Virginia.
  4. d) The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in Charles City, Virginia.
  5. e) Virginia’s counties were originally called “shires.”
  6. f) Virginia has had eight U.S. presidents born here — more than any other state.
  7. g) The early judicial system in Virginia became a model for the U.S. Supreme Court.
  8. h) Virginia has a 17.6-mile-long bridge-tunnel crossing the Chesapeake Bay. It is one of only 12 bridge-tunnel systems in the world.

II. Great Options for Young Professionals

The seven cities in this section have the types of amenities and employment opportunities that young professionals desire, along with affordable housing for buyers, renters or both.

While we list them from lowest to highest cost of living, their HOMEiA scores are based on a wider set of attributes that we have evaluated.

1. Norfolk

HOMEiA Score: 82/100

  • Population: 238,005 | Rank Last Year: #7
  • Cost of Living: 8% below the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $206,700/$51,590 = 4.01 (buying homes is moderately expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $51,590/$12,708 = 4.06 (renting homes is affordable)

Norfolk is located in the southeastern corner of Virginia, where the Elizabeth River meets the Chesapeake Bay. The population in Norfolk grew by 2.1% from April 2010 through April 2020, below both the overall U.S. rate of 7.4% and the Virginia rate of 7.9%.

The population in Norfolk is young, with 19.7% of the population under 18 and only 10.9% over 65 years old.

The median household income in Norfolk is $51,590, and the median home price is $206,700 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.4% (August 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.2% and above the Virginia rate of 4.0%.

There are many educational opportunities for young professionals in Norfolk, including Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University and Tidewater Community College, as well as Eastern Virginia Medical School, with its four internationally recognized research institutes. Norfolk is also the home of the world’s largest naval base and the North American headquarters for NATO.

Norfolk boasts a vibrant harbor; the USS Wisconsin battleship; the Sail Nauticus sailing center; and Virginia’s only cruise terminal, the Decker Half Moone Center.

Norfolk is replete with cultural activities. It hosts the Virginia Art Festival, with its famous Virginia International Tattoo (which bills itself as “the largest spectacle of music and might in the United States”). Other popular performing groups include the Virginia Opera, the Virginia Stage Company and the Virginia Symphony. The Norfolk Public Art Program and Commission on the Arts and Humanities help to ensure endless opportunities for young adults.

The Ultimate Guide to Living in Virginia

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2. Richmond

HOMEiA Score: 88/100

  • Population: 226,610 | Rank Last Year: #6
  • Cost of Living: 5% below the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $230,500 /$47,250 = 4.88 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $47,250/$12,300 = 3.84 (renting homes is affordable)

The capital of Virginia, Richmond is 92 miles south of Washington. It lies at the intersection of Interstates 95 and 64, along the James River, in the east central part of the state.

The population in Richmond grew by 11.0% from April 2010 through April 2020, above both the overall U.S. rate of 7.4% and the Virginia rate of 7.9%.

The population in Richmond is young, with 17.6% of the population under 18 and only 12.8% over 65 years old.

The median household income in Richmond is $47,250, and the median home price is $230,500 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.1% (August 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.2% and just above the Virginia rate of 4.0%.

Richmond has solid educational opportunities, including the University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University (a Carnegie-certified research university) and Virginia Union University. Randolph-Macon College and Virginia State University are located nearby, in Ashland and Petersburg.

Richmond has a high concentration of Fortune 500 companies, which engage a creative, intelligent workforce.

Cultural attractions include the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Science Museum of Virginia, the Virginia Holocaust Museum and the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia. Richmond also has all manner of festivals, fascinating historic sites, and opportunities for exciting outdoor adventures.

With its strong industry presence, top-ranking universities and cultural offerings, this diverse capital city is attractive to young professionals.

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3. Alexandria

HOMEiA Score: 89/100

  • Population: 159,467 | Rank Last Year: #2
  • Cost of Living: 40% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $572,900 /$100,939 = 5.68 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $100,939 /$20,964 = 4.81 (renting homes is affordable)

Alexandria is located along the western bank of the Potomac River, seven miles south of downtown Washington.

The population in Alexandria grew by 13.9% from April 2010 through April 2020, above both the overall U.S. rate of 7.4% and the Virginia rate of 7.9%.

The population in Alexandria is young, with 18.2% of the population under 18 and only 11.3% over 65 years old.

The median household income in Alexandria is $100,939 and the median home price is $572,900 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.8% (August 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.2% and above the Virginia rate of 4.0%.

Within 30 miles of Alexandria, there are 33 colleges and universities. Nearby schools include Northern Virginia Community College, Georgetown University, George Mason University, the Art Institute of Washington, American University, George Washington University, Howard University and Wesley Theological Seminary.

Alexandria has over 35 sports bars and pubs catering to young adults with live music and fun. Favorites include Blackwall Hitch, The Light Horse Restaurant, Daniel O’Connell’s, 219 Restaurant’s Basin Street Lounge and the world-famous concert venue The Birchmere. For a more relaxed vibe, the Barkhaus is Alexandria’s first ever dog-friendly restaurant and bar, and it’s popular with young professionals.

Visitors to Alexandria fall in love with its waterfront museums and historic King Street, which provides easy access to over 200 shops, restaurants and attractions.

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4. Tysons

HOMEiA Score: 89/100

  • Population: 26,374 | Rank Last Year: #4
  • Cost of Living: 42% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $563,000/$107,388 = 5.24 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $107,388/$24,048 = 4.47 (renting homes is affordable)

Tysons, also known as Tysons Corner, is located in Fairfax County in northern Virginia, bordering 495 and the Dulles Access Road and intersected by Route 7.

The population in Tysons grew by 34.4% from April 2010 through April 2020, well above both the overall U.S. rate of 7.4% and the Virginia rate of 7.9%.

The population in Tysons is young, with 17.5% of the population under 18 and only 12.1% over 65 years old.

The median household income in Tysons is $107,388, and the median home price is $563,000 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.4% (August 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.2% and above the Virginia rate of 4.0%.

Many colleges and universities are in or easily accessible from Tysons, including a campus of Virginia Tech; Columbia College; Stratford University, and Tysons’ Institute, a private computer training institute.

Fairfax county is working to transform Tysons into a walkable, green urban center where people live, work and play and are engaged by their surroundings. Now with its own metro station, Tysons offers large shopping areas, business centers, design-focused high-rise residential buildings and high-quality public parks and walking areas.

With restaurants, shops, and venues for the performing arts establishing a sense of place for young urbanites, Tysons’ design focuses on being green and encouraging a pedestrian community.

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5. Herndon

HOMEiA Score: 88/100

  • Population: 24,655 | Rank Last Year: #5
  • Cost of Living: 45% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $442,700/$111,371 = 3.98 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $111,371/$21,684 = 5.14 (renting homes is very affordable)

Herndon is located in western Fairfax County, 22 miles from downtown Washington and minutes from Dulles Airport.

The population in Herndon grew by 5.9% from April 2010 through April 2020, below both the U.S. rate of 7.4% and the Virginia rate of 7.9%.

The population in Herndon is young, with 24.8% of the population under 18 and only 9.9% over 65 years old.

The median household income in Herndon is $111,371, and the median home price is $442,700 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.4% (August 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.2% and above the Virginia rate of 4.0%.

Four-year colleges near Herndon include George Washington University, George Mason University, the University of the Potomac Virginia Campus and Marymount University.

Once the heart of northern Virginia’s dairy farming industry, historic Herndon now offers art galleries, walking tours, museums, breweries and parks. The NextStop Theatre Company offers professional theatre productions. The town green, popular Elden Street, ArtSpace Herndon and the Herndon Fortnightly Library add to Herndon’s charm.

The Ice House Café offers delicious food and live jazz, and the Washington & Old Dominion Regional Park, with its red caboose, is popular with local nature enthusiasts. Visit the Herndon Town Green and enjoy the many festivals and community events held there.

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6. Leesburg

HOMEiA Score: 89/100

  • Population: 48,250 | Rank Last Year: #4
  • Cost of Living: 50% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $434,300 /$114,444 = 3.79 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $114,444/$19,488 = 5.87 (renting home is very affordable)

Leesburg is located in Loudoun County, 33 miles west-northwest of Washington, along route 7. It is at the base of the Catoctin mountain ridge next to the Potomac River.

The population in Leesburg grew by 13.2% from April 2010 through April 2020, above both the overall U.S. rate of 7.4% and the Virginia rate of 7.9%.

The population in Leesburg is young, with 26.7% of the population under 18 and only 8.5% over 65 years old.

The median household income in Leesburg is $114,444, and the median home price is $434,300 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.4% (August 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.2% and above the Virginia rate of 4.0%.

Colleges near Leesburg include Shenandoah University, George Washington University, University of the Potomac Virginia Campus and Stratford University.

Leesburg offers a wide variety of fun and entertainment for young adults, with its remarkable historic downtown, chic boutiques, restaurants, bars, golf courses and nearby vineyards and breweries. The Inside Ski Training Center, Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park, Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park and the Morven Park International Equestrian Center also offer countless opportunities for outdoor fun.

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7. Arlington

HOMEiA Score: 90/100

  • Population: 238,643 | Rank Last Year: #1
  • Cost of Living: 62% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $705,400 /$120,071 = 5.87 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $120,071/$23,640 = 5.08 (renting homes is very affordable)

Arlington is located in northeast Virginia, on the southwestern bank of the Potomac, directly across from Washington.

The population in Arlington grew by 14.9% from April 2010 through April 2020, above both the overall U.S. rate of 7.4% and the Virginia rate of 7.9%.

The population in Arlington is young, with 17.8% of the population under 18 and only 10.5% over 65 years old.

The median household income in Arlington is $120,071, and the median home price is $705,400 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.4% (August 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.2% and above the Virginia rate of 4.0%.

Arlington has a lot to offer, and that includes higher education. Here you have easy access to Cornell University, Virginia Tech, Marymount University, George Washington University, Georgetown, the Arlington campus of George Mason University, and many more.

If you like bike paths, city tours, museums, or boutique shopping, your time will be well-spent in Arlington. You can also visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

If you love music and the arts, there are endless opportunities to experience them here. You can even experience weightlessness with the Zero-G Experience. From the Pentagon to Crystal City, whatever you want to find is here in Arlington.

III. Cities to Suit Families with Young Kids

Next, we’ll describe 6 cities that are great to raise kids in. They have good schools and plenty of options for families to enjoy themselves. Affordability to own and rent is also considered.

These cities are presented in order of affordability. Their HOMEiA index rankings are based on a more complex rating system with many additional variables.

1. Virginia Beach

HOMEiA Score: 91/100

  • Population: 459,470 | Rank Last Year: #4
  • Cost of Living: 3% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $280,800/$76,610 = 3.67 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $76,610/$16,404 = 4.67 (renting homes is affordable)

Virginia Beach is located in the southeastern corner of Virginia, along the Atlantic coast.

The population in Virginia Beach grew by 4.9% from April 2010 through April 2020, below the overall U.S. rate of 7.4% and the Virginia rate of 7.9%.

The population in Virginia Beach is relatively young, with 22.3% of the population under 18 years of age.

The median household income in Virginia Beach is $76,610, and the median home price is $280,800 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.4% (August 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.2% and above the Virginia rate of 4.0%.

There are 90 public schools and 187 private schools in the Virginia Beach area. There are also eight local options for higher education, including Christopher Newport University, Hampton University, Old Dominion University, William and Mary, and Regent University.

There are many activities for families available in Virginia Beach. The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center offers dolphin watching, ropes courses, zip lines and, of course, all the amazing animals inside. The beach, with its three-mile-long boardwalk and Neptune statue at the center, is the main event.

You can enjoy concerts, amusement parks, indoor skydiving, mini-golf, and several maritime-related museums, lighthouses and tours, all while experiencing the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay.

Several options are available for healthcare in Virginia Beach. Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital is the largest, with multiple facilities and specialties throughout the city, including Sentara Hospital Medicine Physicians, Sentara Palliative Care Specialists, Sentara Cardiology Specialists, and Sentara Orthopedic Trauma Specialists. There are several general practitioners and urgent care clinics available in the city as well.

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2. Charlottesville

HOMEiA Score: 93/100

  • Population: 46,553 | Rank Last Year: #1
  • Cost of Living: 5% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $299,600/$59,471 = 5.04 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $59,471/$13,704 = 4.34 (renting homes is affordable)

Charlottesville is located in the center of the state of Virginia, along the Rivanna River and about 30 miles east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Routes 29 and 64 intersect here.

The population in Charlottesville grew by 7.1% from April 2010 through April 2020, a little below the overall U.S. rate of 7.4% and the Virginia rate of 7.9%.

The population in Charlottesville is relatively young, with 15.6% of the population under 18 years of age.

The median household income in Charlottesville is $59,471, and the median home price is $299,600 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 3.4% (August 2021), which is below both the U.S. national rate of 5.2% and the Virginia rate of 4.0%.

There are 30 public schools and 52 private schools in the Charlottesville area. There are also two local options for higher education, including the one Charlottesville is built upon: the University of Virginia.

A top attraction in Charlottesville for families and others is Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, which has been fully restored and is open to visitors. Carter Mountain Orchard is also popular with families, as are several spots along UVA’s campus.

Charlottesville also offers trails and hiking, the historic Downtown Mall, concerts and events at John Paul Jones Arena, and The Virginia Discovery Museum — a children’s museum for all ages. Visit Crabtree Falls, James Monroe’s Highland, James Madison’s Montpelier, the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, and Mulberry Row.

Healthcare options in Charlottesville are primarily led by UVA University Hospital and include the UVA Children’s Hospital, Behavioral Medicine and Primary Care Center. Other options include Sentara Starr Hill Health Center, Sentara Blue Ridge Internal Medicine, CVHS Health Services and the Albemarle Health & Rehabilitation Center.

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3. Culpeper

HOMEiA Score: 86/100

  • Population: 20,062 | Rank Last Year: #5
  • Cost of Living: 9% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $263,600/$68,208 = 3.86 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $68,208/$13,836 = 4.93 (renting homes is affordable)

Culpeper is in the Piedmont River Valley at the midpoint between Washington and Charlottesville.

The population in Culpeper grew by 22.5% from April 2010 through April 2020, well above the overall U.S. rate of 7.4% and the Virginia rate of 7.9%.

The population in Culpeper is relatively young, with 27.4% of the population under 18 years of age.

The median household income in Culpeper is $68,208, and the median home price is $263,600 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.4% (August 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.2% and above the Virginia rate of 4.0%.

There are 11 public schools and 14 private schools in the Culpeper area. There is also one local option for higher education: Germanna Community College. Lord Fairfax Community College, George Mason University and UVA are all within an hour’s drive.

Enjoy a family breakfast at Moving Meadows Farm and Restaurant, then head to Burke Farm Trail System for mountain biking or a guided river tour with the Rapidan River Kayak Company. For hiking, Shenandoah National Park offers many options, including the favorite Old Rag Mountain Loop — only 35 miles from Culpeper.

Head back to town to enjoy Rockwater Park’s splash pad and outdoor fitness course. Take a farm tour at Andora Farms, fish in Lake Pelham, or take a helicopter sightseeing ride at Skyline Heli. The nearby quarry even has dinosaur footprints! There is no end of things to do in Culpeper.

Healthcare in Culpeper is readily available from UVA Culpeper Medical Center, Novant Heath UVA Health System and the Culpeper Health and Rehabilitation Center, as well as several primary care and urgent care centers in the area.

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4. Warrenton

Warrenton Virginia

HOMEiA Score: 85/100

  • Population: 10,057 | Rank Last Year: #6
  • Cost of Living: 34% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $342,600/$73,402 = 4.67 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $73,402/$15,768 = 4.66 (renting homes is affordable)

Warrenton is located just east of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Piedmont Region of Virginia. As the county seat of Fauquier County, it is considered part of Northern Virginia. The population in Warrenton grew by 4.8% from April 2010 through April 2020, below the overall U.S. rate of 7.4% and the Virginia rate of 7.9%.

The population in Warrenton is relatively young, with 24.7% of the population under 18 years of age.

The median household income in Warrenton is $73,402, and the median home price is $342,600 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.4% (August 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.2% and above the Virginia rate of 4.0%.

There are eight public schools and 24 private schools in the Warrenton area. There is also one local option for higher education in town: Lord Fairfax Community College. Nearby colleges include Northern Virginia Community College and the Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Manassas, and George Mason University in Fairfax.

The Fauquier History Museum at the Old Jail in Warrenton is always a popular attraction, as is the DC Skydiving Center. The former army base at Vint Hill has an escape room, ball fields, indoor and outdoor pools and playgrounds, with a hiking trail or two on site.

Charming Old Town Warrenton comes alive with art galleries, music, crafts, farmer’s markets and community events. There is a lot of fun for kids on the Fourth of July and Christmas, with parades, fireworks and Gum Drop Square.

Families also love the Warrenton Aquatic and Recreation Facility. It has soccer fields, an accessible playground, pools and a lazy river. And right down the road is the Flying Circus Airshow and Hot Air Balloon Festival.

Fauquier Health is the cornerstone of healthcare in Warrenton, with Fauquier Hospital, Fauquier Health Rehabilitation Center, OBGYN and Heart and Vascular Care, and Orthopedics & Spine care all within town limits, along with several other specialty offices, family doctors and urgent care services.

The Ultimate Guide to Living in Virginia

12 Key Factors to Know About Living in Washington, D.C.

The capital city of the United States has a reputation for being a busy political and business hub, but there is a lot more to discover and enjoy for residents of this diverse city. Washington, DC is consistently ranked among Business Insider’s and Niche’s top 50 cities to live in, and there are…

5. Ashburn

HOMEiA Score: 91/100

  • Population: 46,349 | Rank Last Year: #3
  • Cost of Living: 50% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $493,400/$132,331 = 3.73 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $132,331/$22,764 = 5.81 (renting homes is very affordable)

Ashburn is located in the eastern part of Loudoun County, bordered by Routes 7 and 28 and the Dulles Greenway (267). The population in Ashburn grew by 6.5% from April 2010 through April 2020, below the overall U.S. rate of 7.4% and the Virginia rate of 7.9%.

The population in Ashburn is relatively young, with 26.5% of the population under 18 years of age.

The median household income in Ashburn is $132,331, and the median home price is $493,400 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.4% (August 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.2% and above the Virginia rate of 4.0%.

There are 25 public schools and 63 private schools in the Ashburn area. There are also five local options for higher education, including the George Washington University Virginia Science and Technology Campus, Janelia Research Campus, and Shenandoah University Scholar Plaza.

The Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum is great for families. Ashburn also offers ice skating at the Ashburn Ice House, indoor skydiving at iFly, bowling, rock climbing and recreation centers. There are playgrounds and bounce houses as well as several parks with trails and sports fields.

Ashburn has museums, professional theaters, and even the Washington Football Team Training Camp. The list is long, and you can find just about any activity you are interested in here in Ashburn.

Ashburn Healthcare includes the Ashburn Healthplex, Inova Primary Care and the Inova Occupational Health Center, along with various specialties, family practitioners and urgent care centers.

The Ultimate Guide to Living in Virginia

10 Best Places to Live in Wyoming

Wyoming is known for its big skies, open prairies and cowboy boots — yet it’s more than that. It reminds you that open space matters. In Wyoming, space is allotted for what’s essential, and the rest is left open for all to enjoy. It’s a place where you can relax, breathe in and breathe out…

6. Falls Church

Falls Church

HOMEiA Score: 92/100

  • Population: 14,658 | Rank Last Year: #2
  • Cost of Living: 56% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $789,300/$127,610 = 6.19 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $127,610/$22,404 = 5.70 (renting homes is very affordable)

Just miles from Washington, Falls Church in northern Virginia is easily accessible from Routes 66 and 50 and two metro lines.

The population in Falls Church grew by 18.9% from April 2010 through April 2020, above the overall U.S. rate of 7.4% and the Virginia rate of 7.9%.

The population in Falls Church is relatively young, with 24.9% of the population under 18 years of age.

The median household income in Falls Church is $127,610, and the median home price is $789,300 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 3.4% (August 2021), which is below both the U.S. national rate of 5.2% and the Virginia rate of 4.0%.

There are 33 public schools and 49 private schools in the Falls Church area. There are also multiple local options for higher education, including the American College of Commerce and Technology, Stratford University, University of the Potomac Virginia Campus and Standard Healthcare Services College of Nursing.

Nearby you can find community colleges and larger universities, such as George Mason, Marymount University and the VA Tech MBA Program Campus.

Falls Church has several parks and playgrounds that families will enjoy as well as historic sites, theaters and recreation centers. Within Falls Church, families can enjoy concerts, ice cream socials, mystery theater, parades, craft shows, carnivals and Easter egg hunts.

The Cherry Hill Historic House and Farm provides tours and educational programs about life in the mid-19th century in what was then rural Virginia. Being only nine miles from the White House, Falls Church is also close enough to enjoy the many attractions in Washington.

Falls Church’s healthcare offerings include Inova Primary Care, Kaiser Permanente and Dominion Hospital. The town is very close to the Inova Fairfax Hospital Complex as well as the Virginia Hospital Center.

IV. Great Options for Retirees

The five cities and communities below are ideal for seniors living their golden years. Many are affordable, though some are expensive but offer luxuries that some budgets can afford. In all cases, they have the amenities, safety and healthcare that seniors seek.

As with the previous sets, the HOMEiA index scores are based on many variables, but the cities are displayed below in order of affordability.

1. Lexington

HOMEiA Score: 84/100

  • Population: 7,320 | Rank Last Year: #5
  • Cost of Living: 14% below the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $235,700/$42,632 = 5.53% (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $42,632/$ 9,456 = 4.51 (renting homes is affordable)

Lexington is located in southwest Virginia, 30 miles northwest of Lynchburg. It is within Rockbridge County and accessible via Routes 11 and 60.

The population in Lexington grew by 3.9% from April 2010 through April 2020, below the overall U.S. rate of 7.4% and the Virginia rate of 7.9%.

In Lexington,15.6% of the population are seniors over 65 years of age (2019). This is lower than the U.S. (16.5% seniors) and Virginia (15.9% seniors). By comparison, 9% of the population are under 18 years of age, compared to 22.3% in the U.S. and 21.8% in Virginia.

The median household income in Lexington is $42,632, and the median home price is $235,700 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 3.6% (August 2021), which is below both the U.S. national rate of 5.2% and the Virginia rate of 4.0%.

For nature lovers, Lexington is in a perfect location with its proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the nearby national forests. Visit Natural Bridge State Park or take a horse-drawn carriage tour of historic Lexington with the Lexington Carriage Company. Lexington is home to Washington & Lee University and the Virginia Military Institute, and both Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson are buried here.

Make sure to add the Stonewall Jackson House to your to-visit list. Strolling down Main Street Lexington offers the chance to browse boutique shops and enjoy restaurants and galleries, but the beauty of it all is your surroundings.

Lexington offers the Carilion Rockbridge Community Hospital, Carilion Clinic Family Medicine, Rockbridge Health and Augusta Health Primary Care, giving retirees several options for healthcare.

The Ultimate Guide to Living in Virginia

10 Most Affordable Places to Live in Michigan

Michigan is the only state in the United States with two separate peninsulas and five surrounding Great Lakes. Its landscape is diverse, ranging from industrialized skylines to sweeping sand dunes to gorgeous waterfalls. Once home to Henry Ford, it’s also considered the epicenter of America’s…

2. Staunton

Staunton Virginia

HOMEiA Score: 89/100

  • Population: 25,750 | Rank Last Year: #4
  • Cost of Living: 14% below the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $169,000/$52,611 = 3.21 (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $52,611/$10,332 = 5.09 (renting homes is very affordable)

Staunton City is located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley at the intersection of Interstates 81 and 64.

The population in Staunton City grew by 8.4% from April 2010 through April 2020, above the overall U.S. rate of 7.4% and the Virginia rate of 7.9%.

In Staunton City, 21% of the population are seniors over 65 years of age (2019). This is higher than the U.S. (16.5% seniors) and Virginia (15.9% seniors). By comparison, 19% of the population are under 18 years of age, compared to 22.3% in the U.S. and 21.8% in Virginia.

The median household income in Staunton City is $52,611, and the median home price is $169,000 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 3.2% (August 2021), which is below both the U.S. national rate of 5.2% and the Virginia rate of 4.0%.

Beautiful parks, golf courses, community events and a vibrant art scene are just some of the ways that Staunton is a great place to retire. The Frontier Culture Museum, a museum of living history detailing the daily lives of the early settlers in the Shenandoah Valley, and Blackfriars Playhouse, the world’s only recreation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre, set a high standard for the arts culture in Staunton.

Woodrow Wilson’s birthplace and Presidential Library and Museum add to that culture, as does The Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind. The Staunton Augusta Art Center’s Art in the Park Festival, held every year in Gypsy Hill Park, the Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts, and many other events foster an appreciation for arts and culture.

Augusta Health in nearby Fishersville is the largest hospital near Staunton. Sentara RMH Medical Center and the UVA Medical Centers are less than an hour away. Staunton has several specialty care offices and urgent care centers available as well.

The Ultimate Guide to Living in Virginia

10 Best Places to Live in Montana 2021

Montana is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Known as “Big Sky Country,” Montana is the fourth largest state in the United States, but with a population of just over a million, there is a lot of space to spread out…

3. Williamsburg

HOMEiA Score: 89/100

  • Population: 15,425 | Rank Last Year: #3
  • Cost of Living: 4% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $306,000/$57,463 = 5.33 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $57,463/$14,316 = 4.01 (renting homes is affordable)

Williamsburg is located in the northern part of the Hampton Roads area on Virginia’s Peninsula. It is bordered by James City County and York County. The city lies on the high ground between the James and York Rivers.

The population in Williamsburg grew by 9.6% from April 2010 through April 2020, above the overall U.S. rate of 7.4% and the Virginia rate of 7.9%.

Williamsburg has a relatively high proportion of seniors, with 15.7% of the population being over 65 years of age (2019). This is slightly lower than the U.S. (16.5% seniors) and Virginia (15.9% seniors). By comparison, 10.4% of the population is under 18 years of age, compared to 22.3% in the U.S. and 21.8% in Virginia.

The median household income in Williamsburg is $57,463, and the median home price is $306,300 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.4% (August 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.2% and above the Virginia rate of 4.0%.

Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg together make up the “Historic Triangle,” which draws more than 4 million tourists every year. Colonial Williamsburg is a living history museum that includes several hundred restored or rebuilt buildings, giving an interpretation of Colonial America and celebrating the history of the United States, and many retirees play a part in it.

The Williamsburg Pottery Factory, Williamsburg Winery and Busch Gardens are also great ways to enjoy your time; plus, there are more than a dozen professionally designed golf courses to test your skills on. The living history of the area and the culture it creates make Williamsburg a very nice place to retire.

Healthcare around Williamsburg is plentiful, with several nearby hospitals and medical centers, including Riverside Doctors’ Hospital, Riverside Health Center, Tidewater Medical Center, VCU Medical Center and Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center. Any specialty office you need is nearby.

The Ultimate Guide to Living in Virginia

The Ultimate Guide to Living in Wyoming

Choosing to relocate can be quite overwhelming. Once you decide on a state, you still need to choose the right community. If you’ve decided to make Wyoming your new home, you’re in luck — it’s a big and varied place with something for all ages, family dynamics and budgets…

4. Poquoson

Poquoson

HOMEiA Score: 95/100

  • Population: 12,460 | Rank Last Year: #1
  • Cost of Living: 8% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $323,100/$97,118 = 3.33% (buying homes is affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $97,118/$14,664 = 6.62% (renting homes is very affordable)

Poquoson is located on the Virginia Peninsula in the Hampton Roads area. The population in Poquoson decreased by 2.6% from April 2010 through April 2020, while the overall U.S. population increased by 7.4% and the Virginia’s increased by 7.9%.

In Poquoson,19.6% of the population are seniors 65 years or older (2019). This is higher than the U.S. (16.5% seniors) and Virginia (15.9% seniors). By comparison, 22.1% of the population are under 18 years of age, compared to 22.3% in the U.S. and 21.8% in Virginia.

The median household income in Poquoson is $97,118, and the median home price is $323,100 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.4% (August 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.2% and above the Virginia rate of 4.0%.

Those living in Poquoson always enjoy the annual Poquoson Seafood Festival, which includes boat races, craft beer, delicious food and live music. The Poquoson Museum and Miss Becky’s Store are staples of the town, encouraging an increasing sense of community.

Chesapeake Bay Adventures offers boat tours and water sports, while Poquoson Gifts offers unique hometown clothing, food and gift items. Take a trolley to charming Yorktown Beach and enjoy the calm and relaxing atmosphere while strolling around the walking path to the museum, shops and restaurants.

Explore Sandy Bottom Nature Park or visit the Virginia Living Museum, which showcases 250 live animal species native to Virginia in its indoor and outdoor exhibits. Poquoson is simply an enjoyable place to live.

Healthcare options in Poquoson include the Riverside Regional Medical Center, various specialty Riverside facilities and Sentara Hospital Medicine Physicians. There are also several large hospitals in the surrounding areas, as well as the Langley Air Force Base Hospital.

The Ultimate Guide to Living in Virginia

10 Best Places to Live in Oregon in 2021

Oregon is a study in contrasts. It has 363 miles of the most breathtaking coastline you’ll encounter anywhere in the world. But it also has dense forests, mountain ranges, and high desert country. Here’re the 10 Best Cities to Live in Oregon

5. Vienna

Vienna Virginia

HOMEiA Score: 94/100

  • Population: 10,652 | Rank Last Year: #2
  • Cost of Living: 78% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $743,500 /$161,196 = 4.61 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $161,196/$24,972 = 6.46 (renting homes is very affordable)

Vienna is located in Fairfax County and between Route 66 and Tysons.

The population in Vienna grew by 5.0% from April 2010 through April 2020, below the overall U.S. rate of 7.4% and the Virginia rate of 7.9%.

In Vienna,13.8% of the population are seniors over 65 years of age (2019). This is lower than the U.S. (16.5% seniors) and Virginia (15.9% seniors). By comparison, 27.7% of the population is under 18 years of age, compared to 22.3% in the U.S. and 21.8% in Virginia.

The median household income in Vienna is $161,196, and the median home price is $743,500 (2019 estimates). The unemployment rate is 4.6% (August 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate of 5.2% and above the Virginia rate of 4.0%.

Vienna is a place where small-town charm combines with nature, music, beer and fascinating history — all within the greater DC metro area. The Washington & Old Dominion Trail crosses through Vienna, and several parks are nearby, including the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens and the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, the nation’s only national park dedicated to the performing arts.

In addition, the Jammin’ Java coffee house and music club on the town green is the stage for live music and theater performances for all to enjoy. Stroll through the Church Street Shops to enjoy upscale consignment at Just Like New, see over 500 clocks on display at The Clock Shop of Vienna or take home some homemade chocolates from Cocoa Vienna.

Virginia Family Medicine is a good option for your medical needs, as are Inova Primary Care, Vienna Internal Medicine and Virginia Integrative Health. And with Vienna being so close to Washington, there are highly rated healthcare options everywhere.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are plenty of great cities to live in around the state of Virginia. Whether you are a young professional just starting out, have a family or are looking to retire, we hope this guide is helpful as you take the first step on this journey.

Bonus: Here is a checklist for moving — some of the most important items to take care of when you relocate.

The Ultimate Guide to Living in Virginia

The 10 Best & Most Affordable Places to Live in Arizona

Arizona is world-renowned for its dramatic beauty, a combination of rugged mountains and vast desert landscapes. The sixth-largest state by area and the 14th largest in terms of population, Arizona is indeed beautiful–but it’s much, much more than that…

HOMEiA is a city living guide site where visitors can find detailed information about communities of interest. HOMEiA’s City Living Guides, created in partnership with local writers, are curated lists of the best, safest, and most affordable places to live. The guides feature the HOMEiA Score, a proprietary index that rates communities on such factors as housing costs, education and employment.

HOMEiA.com aims to be the premier site for people planning to relocate, providing them with insightful content and connecting them with skilled real estate professionals.

We also empower real estate professionals to establish or strengthen their web presence by highlighting their experience, knowledge and achievements. If you’re selected to join our list of certified real estate professionals, you will distinguish yourself from your peers — and earn HOMEiA’s support.

If you believe in HOMEiA’s mission, please share the site with others.

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I’m an avid writer who often focuses on real estate, business consulting, economics and finance. Before leading business and investment advisory services for over 25 years, I got a Ph.D. in Economics and taught at the university level. I have lived in Houston, Texas and Chicago, Illinois for a combined 35 years. I also traveled to 40+ states on business and pleasure, and love writing about the great cities and small towns across the US. Read more >>
I am a freelance writer who has lived in the beautiful state of Virginia since the age of 2. Growing up, I lived in a small town in the picturesque Shenandoah Valley, surrounded by mountains, music, outdoor activities, kind people, and generations of cherished family members. Now living in the Piedmont Region of Northern Virginia, I am a busy mom, grandma, and small business owner, spending my weekends on the side of whichever field, court, or stage that my grandchildren… Read more >>