Is Virginia a Good Place to Live? (25 Pros and Cons)

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Essential Things To Know Before Moving To Virginia

First, I will address this question: Is Virginia a good place to live? Second, I will support my answer by examining the pros and cons of moving to Virginia. Let’s get started.

Is Virginia A Good Place To Live?

Virginia is a good place to live, work, raise a family, and retire. The state has good schools, low crime, quality healthcare, a strong economy, and diverse outdoor attractions.

Virginia is an excellent place for small families, big families, and your family. Whether you’re a summer beach lounger, a fall mountain hiker, a poolside wine sipper, or a rooftop oyster slurper, Virginia has something for everyone. (Source:

Virginia resident and local realtor Kat Massetti echoes what many say about the challenges of living in Northern Virginia. The high cost of living, bad traffic, lack of public transportation, and population density mean this area isn’t for everyone. (source)

With these comments in mind, here are Virginia’s pros and cons.

Pros And Cons Of Living In Virginia: Side-By-Side Comparison

Living in Virginia ProsLiving in Virginia Cons
1. Southern hospitality15. High cost of living
2. Low crime16. Excessive income taxes
3. Balanced politics17. Costly sales taxes
4. Rich in history18. More real estate taxes
5. Strong economy19. Traffic congestion
6. Military presence20. Limited public transit
7. Job opportunities21. Cars required
8. Good K-12 schools22. Jet noise
9. Top-notch higher ed.23. Nuclear plants
10. Scenic beauty24. Tourists
11. Amazing beaches25. Odd laws
12. Stunning mountains
13. Four-season weather
14. Quality health care
Table 1: Benefits of living in Virginia compared to the drawbacks

Next, let’s dive deeper into each item on today’s list of perks and pitfalls of living in Virginia.

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Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Pros Of Living In Virginia

1. Living In Virginia Means Southern Hospitality

After moving to Virginia, you and your family will feel welcome in your new community.

Virginia residents are friendly people. They have a subtle air of politeness, feel good about their communities, and like where they live.

I attribute the welcoming vibe to Southern hospitality. And the relaxed pace that is part of living in a southern state.

2. Low Crime Rates Mean A High Degree Of Personal Safety

Virginia has an excellent track record for low crime rates. The state has modest levels of violent crime and property crime.

U.S. News ranks Virginia as one of the top 10 safest states in the country.

3. Virginia Has A Balanced Political Environment

Virginia has a diverse mix of political views. However, Virginia politics follow specific geographic lines.

For example, in and around northern Virginia near Washington D.C., residents lean to the liberal side of the political spectrum. At the same time, people in the southern and western portions of the state are more conservative. The majority in these regions are Republican voters.

Perhaps the diverse political views stem from the state’s wealth of American history. Let’s explore this topic as the benefits of living in Virginia continue.

4. The State Has Deep Roots In American History

Virginia is home to the first British colony, established in Jamestown in 1607. Later, the area became one of the 13 original American colonies.

Visit Williamsburg to witness colonial history firsthand. You will discover a historic district and a museum that depicts daily colonial times.

Virginia’s Yorktown marked the end of the Revolutionary War. The British were forced to surrender here.

Virginia’s capital city, Richmond, was also the capital of the Confederacy during America’s civil war. The war ended in Virginia when Robert E. Lee surrendered the last major Confederate army at Appomattox Courthouse.

Finally, Virginia is referred to as the “Mother of Presidents”. Eight eventual U.S. presidents were born here.

Okay. That concludes the history lesson. It’s easy to see that this state is rich in American history.

Next, it’s time to move on to another one of the advantages of living in Virginia…

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5. Virginia Has A Strong Economy

Virginia has one of the top 15 largest economies in the country versus other states. Furthermore, economic output has nearly doubled over the last decade.

Virginia’s growing population, military presence, and major corporations create a favorable state for economic prosperity.

Let’s dive deeper into these topics.

6. There Is A Large Military Presence

Virginia has more than 25 military bases. All of the major U.S. military branches have operations within the state.

Virginia benefits from its proximity to the Pentagon, where large military spending decisions are made daily. Government and military spending support Virginia’s economy during good times and bad.

As a result, government and government contractors are some of the biggest employers in Virginia.

At the same time, there is much more to the state’s economy than military operations.

7. Ample Job Opportunities For People Who Desire To Work In Virginia

Virginia is home to nearly 40 Fortune 1000 companies. Some of these big companies include:

  • General Dynamics
  • Northrop Grumman
  • Capital One Financial
  • Dollar Tree Stores
  • CarMax
  • Altria
  • Dominion Energy
  • Norfolk Southern

Near Arlington, Virginia, Amazon has also located its second headquarters. Other sectors that provide large numbers of jobs include:

  • Technology
  • Education
  • Shipbuilding
  • Farming and fishing

As a result, Virginia’s unemployment rate is low and is consistently less than the national average.

8. Families Have Access To A Top Rated K-12 Educational System

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Virginia has a high-ranking public school system, resulting in excellent high-school graduation rates.

You will find some of the better school districts sprinkled throughout the state, including:

  • Fairfax County
  • Prince William County
  • Loudoun County
  • Virginia Beach City
  • Chesterfield County

9. The State Has An Abundance Of Top-Notch Colleges And Universities

Virginia has great higher education options when you or your kids are ready for college.

First, the University of Virginia was founded by Thomas Jefferson, our nation’s 3rd president.

Second, there is Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, known as Virginia Tech.

Finally, the College of William and Mary was founded in 1693. The school is the second-oldest higher-education institution in the United States.

Other excellent higher education options include:

  • George Mason University
  • James Madison University
  • Washington & Lee University
  • University of Richmond

Thus, living in Virginia means you won’t be far from a good college campus.

10. There is Amazing Scenic Beauty To Explore And Enjoy

Virginia has many excellent outdoor attractions.

The state has miles of coastal shoreline on its eastern border. Vast expanses of forested land capped off by the Blue Ridge Mountains are located in the western part of the state.

Virginia has four major rivers feeding into the Chesapeake Bay. The bay is a beautiful body of water shared with Virginia’s northern neighbor, Maryland.

Depending on your home base, you will only be a few hours away from the beach, the mountains, or both. So, let’s explore these two special features more closely since they are a big part of the pros and cons of living in Virginia.

11. Virginia Has Some Of The Most Amazing Beaches

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The Virginia Beach Boardwalk

Virginia Beach is the state’s largest city and has the best-known beach area. The coastal community has many attractions and is a great place to call home. Norfolk and Chesapeake, two of the state’s other coastal cities, are nearby.

Travel the Chesapeake Bay Bridge north to visit Assateague Island National Seashore. It is a 37-mile barrier island, part of the National Park Service. The island has beautiful sandy beaches and plenty of outdoor recreational options.

Virginia’s other stunning oceanfront beaches include:

  • Buckroe
  • Cape Charles
  • Chic’s
  • Colonial
  • Croatan
  • False Cape State Park
  • First Landing State Park
  • Ocean View
  • Sandbridge
  • Willoughby

Move to Virginia and “find your beach” to catch some rays or surf the big waves. You can choose from crowded to relaxed to pet-friendly, and more.

Next, let’s head west to find another one of the great things about living in Virginia.

12. There Are Stunning Mountains And Parks For Outdoor Recreation

pros and cons of living in VirginiaPin

Virginia’s mountains are incredible. The state has eight mountain ranges, with five summits towering more than 5,000 feet. Mount Rogers is the highest peak in the state.

Virginia is for hikers. Roughly one-quarter of the Appalachian Trail goes through the state.

Virginia has top-notch parks. There are nearly 60 state and national parks with plenty of mountains here. The parks are ready and waiting for your next adventure.

For example, Shenandoah National Park is less than 2 hours from Washington D.C. The park is a natural wonder with waterfalls, hiking trails, and hundreds of campsites. Skyline Drive runs over 100 miles along the Blue Ridge Mountains and through Shenandoah.

Drive Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway. This iconic road runs through the state for over 200 miles, offering amazing views and overlooks.

Virginia is for skiers. The state has miles of groomed slopes accessed by many resorts and ski lifts.

13. Living In Virginia Means Nice Weather

Virginia has an excellent climate. The weather is a perfect complement for enjoying the great outdoors.

First, the state has four distinct weather seasons.

Except for the higher elevations, residents enjoy short and mild winter seasons. Springtime brings seasonal rains and warming temperatures.

Summers are quite warm and humid. It’s the perfect time to spend on the beach or near the mountains.

Fall is the best time of year for the amazing fall foliage display. Cool, crisp temperatures start the transformation and mark the end of the summer season.

Virginia’s proximity to the ocean and the mountains creates rapid weather changes. Thus, temperatures and precipitation can vary significantly from day to day.

Finally, Virginia has little extreme or destructive weather. Most noteworthy, hurricanes rarely launch a direct hit here compared to other coastal states.

Next, here’s another one of the important things to know before moving to Virginia.

14. Residents Have Access To Quality Health Care

Virginia has an excellent healthcare system.

The state has more than 100 hospitals. Many of the hospitals are known for their high standards of care.

Notable healthcare facilities in the state include:

  • Inova Fairfax Hospital – Falls Church
  • University of Virginia Medical Center – Charlottesville
  • Sentra Norfolk General – Norfolk
  • Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center – Richmond
  • Winchester Medical Center – Winchester

Okay. That completes my top benefits of living in Virginia. However, an article about the pros and cons of living in Virginia is incomplete without addressing the reasons not to move to Virginia in the first place.

Cons Of Living In Virginia

15. There Is A High Cost Of Living

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Living in Virginia is expensive. However, the cost isn’t far off from the national average.

Virginia’s median home value is near the comparable nationwide figure at more than $400,000. (Source: Redfin and the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)

Apartment rents are ranked within the top 10 most expensive states in the country. (Source: World Population Review.)

Groceries, utilities, goods, and services all run at about the national average. (Source: RentCafe).

Where you decide to move within Virginia will have a big impact on your expenses, especially if you are investigating the pros and cons of retiring in Virginia and living on a tighter budget.

For example, it’s much cheaper to live in the central and western parts of the state near West Virginia. On the other hand, costs are dramatically higher near Washington, D.C.

Pro money tip #1: Earn cashback on your online purchases by signing up for the Rakuten cash rebate app.

Pro money tip #2: Manage your expenses, budget, and investments in one place online with the free app from Empower.

Next up, let’s stick with some more money-related topics that make Virginia an expensive state to move to.

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16. Living In Virginia Means High Income Taxes

Virginia has high income taxes.

First, the state has a progressive tax system. That’s a fancy way of saying the more money you make, the higher your tax rate.

Virginia’s top individual income tax rate is 5.75%. And it only takes $17,000 of income to get into this high tax bracket.

If you retire in Virginia, the state does not tax social security income. However, pension income and withdrawals from retirement accounts are taxable.

Are Virginia’s state taxes getting you down?

If you answered yes, then head west into Tennessee or move a little farther south into Florida. Neither state charges residents an income tax.

Next, two more quick points about taxes.

17. Sales Taxes Will Take A Bite Out Of Your Budget In Virginia

Virginia’s average sales tax rate is nearly 6%. For comparison, Delaware, just up the Atlantic coast, doesn’t charge sales taxes.

So, plan on paying more for the goods you buy to support your Virginia lifestyle.

18. You Won’t Find Any Savings On Property Taxes

Virginia real estate taxes on a median-priced home are in the top half of all states in the country. It’s not bad, but there are no big breaks regarding your property tax bill.

Okay. Enough about money and taxes. Let’s move on to other disadvantages of living in Virginia.

19. Parts Of The State Experience Bad Traffic Congestion

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Virginia’s traffic congestion is intense in spots. Thus, you won’t confuse Virginia with a rural state like Vermont.

The heaviest traffic is in Northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C. Arlington, just outside the nation’s capital, is a good example. One hour plus commutes are common.

In the Washington metropolitan area, consider using public transportation. The DC Metro rapid transit system serves the region, including Northern Virginia.

Virginia’s state capital, Richmond, has heavy rush-hour traffic too.

Finally, the summer and fall tourism season add to the state’s congested roads. The ocean beaches and mountainous regions are popular places for in and out-of-state visitors.

More reading: The best states for your lifestyle

20. There Is A Lack Of Public Transportation

Other than Virginia’s three major metropolitan areas (Arlington, Richmond, and Virginia Beach), public transit is almost non-existent.

You will find some bus networks and Amtrak trains. However, the systems are limited, slow, and often run behind schedule.

21. A Car Is A Must When Living in Virginia

After moving to Virginia, you should plan on owning a car.

Only 4% of the state’s population uses public transit. Those users mostly reside in the northeast corner of the state.

So, unless you relocate to one of the state’s metropolitan areas or live, work, and play in a confined space, car ownership is required.

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Virginia has some unique things to get used to. Let’s cover those topics next.

22. Jet Noise Can Disturb The Peace When Living In Virginia

Virginia has plenty of noise from military jets.

The military conducts extensive training operations in the state. Consider the noise pollution part of the price of democracy and freedom.

23. The State Has Several Nuclear Facilities                  

Virginia has four nuclear power plants if living around nuclear operations is a concern.

You’ll find two reactors about 40 miles northwest of Richmond. And another two about 17 miles from Newport News, near the Atlantic coast.

The U.S. Navy also has nuclear-powered vessels based in the state.

24. Tourists Will Desend On You After Moving To Virginia

Virginia gets a lot of summer tourists. The state’s Hampton Roads area is a magnet for visitors.

Hampton Roads is where the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. These popular cities are clustered in the area:

  • Chesapeake
  • Franklin
  • Hampton
  • Newport News
  • Norfolk
  • Poquoson
  • Portsmouth
  • Suffolk
  • Virginia Beach
  • Williamsburg

Furthermore, six of the ten largest population centers in the U.S. are within 750 miles of Hampton Roads. Visitors from the region pour into the area, adding to the traffic and congestion.

So, if you don’t like dealing with tourists, you may want to reconsider moving to Virginia.

25. Virginia Has Some Odd Laws

Virginia has some odd laws. Fortunately, law enforcement officials do not take them too seriously.

On a positive note for anyone who likes to throw around the occasional swear word, Virginia recently repealed its law fining people for swearing in public.

The law violated free speech. Thus, it was unconstitutional.

Okay. That’s it for today. Please allow me to wrap up with some parting comments.

Is Virginia a Good Place to Live? – Wrapping Up The Pros And Cons

Moving to Virginia is full of positives and negatives.

Hopefully, today’s article has helped you think through the answers to these important questions:

  1. Is Virginia a good place to live?
  2. What is living in Virginia like?
  3. Why should I move to Virginia?

Best of luck with your decision. No matter where you decide to settle down!

More Reading About Living In Virginia And Beyond…

Author Bio: Tom Scott founded the consulting and coaching firm Dividends Diversify, LLC. He leverages his expertise and decades of experience in goal setting, relocation assistance, and investing for long-term wealth to help clients reach their full potential.

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The Pros And Cons Of Living In Virginia – A Good Place To Live