Virginia was the first permanent English colony of the New World, as established by the London Company in 1607, which gives it its nickname of “The Mother of States” and the “Old Dominion”. It’s long Atlantic coastline on the east coast of the country is one of the many many desirable things. But there are much more practical stuff about moving to Virginia that you must know before you make that decision. So keep reading to find out more about what you can expect and what your life might be like when living in Virginia.

What Should I Know Before Moving To Virginia?

Virginia or the Commonwealth of Virginia is the 35th largest state by area. It is spread across 42,774 square miles (110,785 km2), 3180 square miles (8236 km2) of which is water. The state has a population of 8.54 million, as estimated in 2019.

It’s easy to move to Virginia but next to impossible to move out of it. That is because of the quality of life of the state and its ability to let its residents strike the perfect work-life balance. The diversity of the populace here ensures a cultural context that never stops teaching while adding a certain vibrancy to life here.

Now, one thing to know, the food in Virginia deserves a highlight of its own. Think oysters, country ham, blue crabs, trout and Brunswick Stew. The culinary landscape of Virginia is wide, with each region having a special fare of its own. If you happen to be in downtown Hampton, do visit the Brown Chicken Brown Cow restaurant. It’s where you can treat yourself to a brisket that has been smoked for 10 hours. Or if you happen to be in Williamsburg, have a bowl of the peanut soup, which is a southern favorite. Virginia oysters are legendary and you must go exploring on the Virginia oyster trail. Or if you would like a fried chicken bathed in buttermilk and spices, try the southern fried chicken at the Iron horse restaurant.

When it comes to culture, expect it to be the culture of the deep south. The state is no stranger to museums, open-air or otherwise, opera houses, performing arts centers, restaurants, bars and other places. What’s more is that Virginia has often been called the best place to hang your boots and enjoy the finer things and nuances of life, given its idyllic setting and pace of life.

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Crime Rate In Virginia

Virginia has one of the lowest crime rates in the United States. According to data taken from NeighbourhoodScout, the rate of crime per 1000 residents is 2.08, making your chances of being a victim of violent crime 1 in 485. Concerning property crime, the rate per 1000 residents is 16.43, meaning 1 in 61.

Virginia Weather

Virginia’s climate is ‘humid subtropical’ on the east of the Blue Ridge Mountains and ‘humid continental’ to the west of them. The climate of Virginia is quite varied due to the diverse landscape. While the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream have quite a substantial effect on the eastern and south-eastern areas of the state, giving them a warmer, more even climate, most of the extremes occur at the Blue Ridge mountains.

The average rainfall in Virginia is 43.34 inches (110 cm). The Shenandoah Valley is the state’s driest region as it is right in the middle of the mountains. April and September are quite the tumultuous months with storms being quite common during this time. This is also the most common time for tornadoes. From August to October, coastal areas can expect hurricanes and tropical storms. Due to the Appalachian Mountains, December to March experience the phenomenon of cold-air damming which leads to significant snowfall.

Virginia is sensitive to climate change, with the higher temperatures leading to heavier rains and consequent flooding. Urban heat islands are an increasingly common phenomenon. To counter this, Virginia has closed down its coal power plants which has led to significant improvement in the climate, especially around the mountains. Another 6 coal plants are under the scanner and are expected to shut down. One of the more sustainable plans of the state is for 30% of the state’s electricity to be from renewable sources by 2020 and 100% by 2050.

Is Virginia Expensive To Live In?

Virginia is one of the more expensive states in the country, but it has also been seen that given the diversity of the population and the economic opportunities, people of almost every income bracket find a place here.

In the matter of taxes, the income tax rate for the state is 3% to 5.75% and the sales tax would be 6%, which includes the state tax, regional tax and the optional local tax. Virginia sure is tax-friendly for retirees, in that it does not tax social security benefits and provides an exemption of $12,000 against other forms of retirement income.

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Cost Of Living In Virginia

The cost-of-living index of Virginia is 103.7 and the median household income is $74,222. As per Numbeo, a family of four would need $3,184 for their monthly expenses, minus the rent of their house. Similarly, a single person would require $899 on average per month.

A trip to the supermarket would cost you $0.74 in eggs and $2.58 for a loaf of bread. A dozen eggs would be around $1.76 and a kilogram of potatoes could cost $2.88. On a Sunday when you might want to give a holiday to your kitchen, you would probably spend $15 for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant. However, if you take this opportunity to go on a date, it costs $60 for a meal for two at a mid-range restaurant.

As far as Health insurances go, a comprehensive plan with full benefits costs $574 for a single individual.

Buying A House

According to BestPlaces, the median home price in Virginia is $258,400, slightly more than the national price. It is quite the affordable place to invest in a house.

Renting A House

The rent for a two-bedroom house, on average, would be $1800 according to Zillow. The price is an estimated average and differs as per the city and the neighborhood.

Utility Bills

An average apartment in Virginia would run utility bills up to $150 per month. An internet connection added to that would cost $68, for an unlimited plan.

Transportation costs are another expense that must be taken into account. A one-way ticket on the public transport costs $1.75 and a monthly pass costs $60. The base taxi fare is $3 and the price per kilometre thereon is $1.55. If you own your own vehicle, a litre of gas costs $0.60.

Virginia Economy And Employment Opportunities

The economy of Virginia can be broadly divided into the local and federal government, military, farming and high-tech. The gross-domestic product was $476.4 billion in 2018 and that happens to be the 13th largest among all the states.

When it comes to employment by the government, Virginia is provided 900,000 jobs by the defense sector itself. Many also find employment in federal agencies like the Central Intelligence Agencies, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense and others. Government contractors employ a lot of people and there are currently 15,000 active federal contracts. In total, Virginia employs 106,143 public employees and has some of the highest expenditures spent on its government agencies.

One of the primary drivers of the Virginia economy, agriculture takes 28% of the land of the state, an estimated 7.8 million acres. It employs 54,000 people on the farms is the single largest industry of the state. Cotton, soybean, corn, tobacco and cut flowers are the leading products. Tourism is a popular industry, especially in the Blue-Ridge mountains where wine-harvesting is a popular practice. Some of the home-grown varieties are Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay.

The state also happens to be one of the leading producers of seafood in the country. Some of the produce is oysters, sea scallops, menhaden, blue crabs and clams, which are then exported to France, Canada, Hong Kong and others. Fishing, commercial or otherwise, provides for more than 24,000 jobs. A decade ago, Virginia was the base for 653,190 separate businesses and the number has only grown since. 21 Fortune 500 companies have headquarters here, some of them being Freddie Mac, General Dynamics and Capital One. Technology is also a major employer in the state.


The state has one of the best ranked education systems in the country by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress. A major indicator of that is how the students here constantly exceed the averages in the subjects and grades. The Virginia Department of Education maintains a certain regime known as the Standards of Learning, to maintain certain educational standards and to ensure that the schools meet such.

The counties and cities are responsible for the running and maintenance of the public K-12 schools. There are around 2,300 local and regional schools, 8 of which are charter schools along with an additional 98 special education centers. An interesting fact is that about 20,000 students are home-schooled in Virginia.

In 2019, 91.5% of the students enrolled in high school graduated on time, and a total of 89.3% adults over 25 had their high school diploma. The state has large public-school districts, which makes the economics of education easier to navigate.

Virginia also has the sixth highest percentage of people with bachelor’s degrees or more, the figure standing at 38.2%. There are 169 colleges and universities in the state with some of them being ranked very high on the list of best colleges in the country and the world. Some of the names are the College of William and Mary, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia and the Virginia Commonwealth University. The state also operates its fair share of community colleges.

Getting Around Virginia

The network of transportation by air, land and water has been developed and worked on in Virginia from almost 400 years ago. For its vast population, the state made sure to have an equally well-developed transportation system to ease the life of its residents as much as possible.

Road Travel

Virginia has quite a few publicly funded bus and paratransit services which include Arlington transit, Blacksburg transit, DASH and others. When it comes to intercity bus travel, the service providers are Megabus, OurBus and Greyhound Lines. They keep the public transport for the state smooth and running.

Rail Travel

Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express run the passenger rail service in Virginia. The busiest stations are Richmond, Northern Virginia and Charlottesville. The state has further plans to build a high-speed passenger rail service from Washington DC, in line with the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor (SEHSR). Amtrak is also extended to freight railroads, in addition to the service received from Class I railroads Norfolk Southern and CSX.

Water Travel

Virginia has a very well-established network of waterways, whose origins lie way back when that was the only means of travel for the people of the state. Hampton Roads is known as the world’s greatest natural harbour, with it being located only 18 miles (29 km) from the open ocean. Along with being the leading coal exporter in the US, it is ranked 9th in vessel port calls and 3rd in terms of import and export tonnage combined. Norfolk, Portsmouth and Newport News are the cities that use this port. There are also several other smaller docks and terminals. Other rivers that are used for navigation are the James River, York River, Elizabeth River and the Potomac River.

Best Cities To Live In Virginia

1. Virginia Beach

Does one really have to think too much about living in a beach town? It is a safe city and a tourist hotspot. It has miles of beaches and hundreds of hotels and restaurants. The place also carries the Guinness record of having the longest pleasure beach on earth. Also, the economy consists of corporates, manufacturing, defence contracts and locally owned businesses, carrying enough of a job diversity to accommodate most people.

The average cost of a house, as per Zillow, in Virginia Beach is $314,669, and the rent for a similar house would be $2,300 per month approximately.

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2. Vienna

The town sees incredible growth and is home to a bed of opportunities due to its proximity to Washington DC. The life here is what one would call ‘family-oriented’. There is a strong sense of community and the life is tailored around that. Consider long walks, great schools, lots of parks and an incredibly low crime rate. Raising a family in Vienna would become a matter of great convenience and joy.

The average cost of a house here is $650,000 and the rent for a similar house would be $2,800 as per Zillow.

3. Arlington

It is not just one of the best cities of Virginia but also one of the best in America. This is the place where singles, young professionals, families and retirees make the most of their life alike. Combining that with an incredibly low crime rate, and it is a city that one breathes in freely. Dog owners will find plenty of parks like the Utah Dog Park, the Shirlington Dog Park and others.

The average cost of a house here is $794,723, as per Zillow and the rent for the same would be $3,200.

4. Richmond

This is the capital city of Virginia and the center of the history of the state. Along with some historic districts, the south side of the city is the most affluent. The main sectors of the economy are law, finance and technology. The city also has several museums, churches, and visual and performing arts center.

The cost of a house in Richmond, according to Zillow, is $267,878 and the rent for the same would be $1,600.

Is Moving To Virginia A Good Idea?

A question like that finds an answer in the evaluation and comparison of one’s personal needs and expectations, and the opportunities present in a place to meet them satisfactorily. Virginia is a great place to live in, offering a great quality of life and suitable economic opportunities to its citizens.

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