With stunning mountain ranges, superb beaches and vibrant cities, Virginia has it all. As the tenth oldest state in the country, you’d expect it to have its share of wealthy, sedate centers, and you’d be right.
But along with the charmingly quaint historic communities of Williamsburg and Chantilly, you’ll find enough vibrant, fast-paced, hedonistic destinations to please even the most forward-thinking city slicker.
Here, we take a look at the best places to live in Virginia: whether you’re a 20 something millennial or a 60 something baby boomer, you’d be thrilled to call any one of these 20 hotspots your home.
Some quick facts about Centreville: the median income is $107,605. The median home value is $410,300, while the median rental price is $1,794. Of its population of 74,627, 23% have a master’s degree or higher, 34% have a bachelor’s degree, and a further 21% have a college or associate degree.
It has a first-class school system, with Chantilly High School, Centreville High School, Fairfax High School, and Westfield High School all scoring an A+ under Niche’s assessment criteria. If you need any more convincing as to why this suburb of Arlington deserves a place on our list, why not try its low crime rate, excellent walkability, and abundance of local amenities for size?
According to Livability, Charlottesville ranks as one of the top 100 best places to live in the entire US. As it notes, most of the city’s 45,084 strong population comprises of highly educated young professionals (thanks, no doubt, to it being the home of the illustrious University of Virginia, which over the years has educated everyone from Edgar Allan Po to Tina Fey), many of whom are activity engaged in the kind of civic causes that are turning Charlottesville into one the state’s most desirable destinations.
With excellent outdoor activities on its doorstep (including excellent hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, winter skiing and snow-tubing opportunities at Shenandoah National Park) and an abundance of first-class restaurants, boutiques, wineries, and other recreational pursuits, we anticipate an even higher position on our list for the popular town in the years to come.
What was once a small farming community is now a thriving community of 24,384. Located just 35 minutes away from the thrills and spills of Washington DC, Herndon is a place where families can raise their kids in peace, quiet and safety, while still enjoying easy access to the sites, jobs, shopping activities, and cultural delights of the big city.
The close-knit residents of this easy-going town are known for their community spirit, which is out on full display every year at the charmingly quirky Herndon Festival. If you want to join the happy little community, don’t expect much change from $379,900 for a single-family home- living in a town this desirable comes with a hefty price tag.
17. Tyson’s Corner
Fancy moving into one of Fairfax county’s most desirable hot spots? Then get saving. Thanks to an excellent job market, two of Virginia’s most famous malls (Tysons Galleria and Tysons Corner Center for the uninitiated), a close to zero crime rate, excellent schools, and a buzzing nightlife, the residents of Tyson’s Corner are only too aware they’re sitting on real estate dynamite. The end result? A mammoth median property price of $485,000. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
16. Bon Air
If you’re looking for somewhere that manages to combine highly rated schools, striking Victorian architecture, an almost nonexistent crime rate, a family friendly environment, and excellent civic amenities with supremely affordable house prices, you may want to take a closer look at the charming little town of Bon Air in Chesterfield Country.
Despite competing with the best of them when it comes to amenities, Bon Air’s property prices are among the lowest on our list, with the average cost of a three-bedroom single-family home standing at a very reasonable $212,900.
Granted, Richmond may not be the best for families or seniors, but if you’re an up and coming member of Generation Y, you’ll find its vibrant nightlife, affordable housing, excellent job prospects (at the last count, the city was home to 8 Fortune 500 companies, while the government, finance, and higher education sectors all offer some exceptional job prospects), stunning parks and excellent transportation network combine to make a very attractive proposition indeed.
Cheap housing can sometimes mean a less than desirable neighborhood, but in Lorton’s case, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While it’s median home price of $383,900 is half that of other prime locations such as Venice (more on which coming up), it’s close proximity to Mason Neck State Park, the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and Pohick Bay Regional Park guarantees its residents the kind of overdoor lifestyle other towns would kill for. Its excellent school system and low crime numbers, meanwhile, make it one of the most attractive places on our list for raising a family.
Founded in 1632, the town of Williamsburg has the kind of uniquely charming historic town center you could wander for hours without getting bored. Full of architectural delights, quirky little boutiques, and artisanal marketplaces, it’s easy to understand how Williamson attracts over 4 million tourists every year.
For the residents, the booming tourist trade translates to an abundance of excellent recreational and leisure pursuits (including the famous Busch Gardens amusement park), a high median home value, excellent job opportunities, and a place at number 13 on our list.
The charming town of Chantilly in Fairfax County is home to just under 24,000 people, all of whom can expect low crime rates, a smorgasbord of local attractions (including the Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, the Sully Plantation, and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center), great schools, an above-average median household income, and an almost permanent place on any compilation of the best place to live in Virginia.
Situated on the border of Virginia and Washington, the vibrant atmosphere of Arlington makes it a hugely attractive proposition to Virginia’s new wave of bright young things. This isn’t to say it’s a youngster’s playground only- the excellent economy, great schools, booming job market, high home values, low crime rates and abundance of things to see and do make Arlington as equally popular with seniors and families as it is with millennials.
10. Virginia Beach
Recognized by Only in Your State as one of the best places in Virginia for millennials, Virginia Beach’s vibrant urban atmosphere, ample activities, shopping opportunities, historical sites, beautiful beaches, and cultural events make it just as big a draw to the old as it is to the young.
The poverty rate may be slightly higher than some of our other entries (although at 8.0%, it’s still lower than the national average), but with a low unemployment rate of 5.3%, a median income of $70,500, and a median home value of $267,300, its fair to say the majority of residents are in no danger of feeling the pinch any time soon.
Providing you don’t have a pointy hat, a broomstick, and a black cat at your heels, you’re likely to be left spellbound by the pretty little city of Salem. A reviewer on City-Data.com summed things up best with the comment, "We feel incredibly safe in Salem. The houses and neighborhoods are beautiful, the people are friendly, and it's wonderful to have such good neighbors. People watch out for each other here, they teach their children to be respectful of others and things."
If you’re looking to make the state of Virginia your next home, you could do a lot worse than the little town of Warrenton. Surrounded on all sides by Virginia wine and horse country, Warrenton enjoys one of the most idyllic spots in the state. Combine that with low unemployment (just 3.9% at the last count), low poverty (5.8%), and an above-average median income of $70,863, and it’s easy to understand why incomers are happy to lay down $312,400 for a property in this highly desirable community.
Low crime rates, high levels of well-being, excellent walkability, fair tax rates, a good healthcare system, and some exceptional schools are among the many reasons Alexandria ranks as one of the most desirable places to live in Virginia.
As well as enjoying a median home value of $537,900 and a median household income of $93,370, the town’s 154,710 lucky residents get to enjoy an abundance of stunning historic neighborhoods to wander, some great shopping opportunities, and a plethora of cultural activities for the whole family to enjoy.
With just 4.1% unemployment, a poverty rate of 4.9%, a median home value of $394,000, a median income of $105,844, and a healthy population of 51,012, the historic town of Leesburg makes it to 6th place position on our list.
As Niche notes, most residents are highly educated (21% have a masters degree or higher, 31% have a bachelors degree, and a further 23% have a college or associates degree), while those that haven’t yet completed their education stand a very good chance of progressing to the same level thanks to an excellent, well-funded school system that comprises of such well regarded schools as Loudoun County High School, Evergreen Elementary School, and Heritage High School.
The next entry to our list is one for the Golden Oldies. With excellent public amenities, a host of groups and organizations to join, a cost of living 7% below the national average, low-cost housing, a temperate climate, and some of the lowest crime numbers in the States, there’s every reason in the world to understand why this quaint mountain town made it to Forbes Best Places to Retire for three years in a trot.
4. Falls Church
With a crime rate that’s among the lowest in Virginia, an unemployment rate of 4.2%, a close-knit community of 13,843, and a median income of $114,795, Falls Church scores exceptionally well across the board.
According to Home Snacks, the small town has the lowest level of poverty of any independent city or county in the United States… which may explain why its residents can expect a massive $742,000 in property price from any newcomer looking to enjoy the town’s attractions.
Up next we have Purcellville, a relatively small town that is so in demand, homeowners can charge a stonking $426,500 for their properties. So why the popularity? Other than the excellent school system and abundance of local amenities, Purcellville residents enjoy both the 2nd highest median income ($128,017 per household) in the state and the 2nd lowest crime figures. As you’d expect, unemployment and poverty figures are both correspondingly low, coming in at 5.3% and 3.8% respectively.
In 2nd place position with a population of 5,906, a median home value of $209,200, and an unemployment rate of 3.3% is the diminutive Bridgewater. Despite its tiny size, Bridgewater has more to its name than many towns twice its size, with enough by way of leisure and recreational facilities to keep even the most demanding city slicker happy. With a well-funded school system and a peaceful, close-knit feel, it makes a great place to raise a family.
With a population of 16,378, Vienna is the kind of close-knit, family-friendly community that picket fence dreams are made of. The crime rate is so low as to be almost non-existent, the unemployment rate is at an all-time low of 2.9%, while the school system is one of the best in the state. Thanks to its easy proximity to the state’s capital, Vienna’s lucky residents get to enjoy all the joys of the big city while raising their kids in a safe, peaceful environment. If you’re convinced enough of Vienna’s merits to make it your next home, you’d better start saving: thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of the town, its average property price stands at a hefty $662,200.
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Written by Dana Hanson
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