Where in Virgina should we move to? Please help.

pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)May 18, 2006

I know this is a bit of an oddball topic, but I'm a regular on the Ponds forum and since you all are so nice, I thought I'd ask for help.

We're considering moving from Long Island, NY to Virginia. We don't know the area all but we hear it's so nice. So we'll be coming down for a visit in a month or so. We just can't afford the high taxes on LI anymore and our giant mortgage keeps us awake at night.

So, where do you guys think is a nice area for a Mom and Dad and 5 kids. Schools and jobs are paramount. Affordability is key. Land for gardening is key. We're looking for something under 250k with good schools. A nice quaint downtown area is really nice too. Something that says: Stars Hollow (for you Gilmore Girls fans).

Any input would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks very much.


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harryvetch(Cent.VA/ Zone 7)

Virginia has many differant areas...Northern VA (too expensive, too much traffic, too many democrats)...The Tidewater area of Norfolk & VA Beach (too much traffic)...I live in Central VA (Richmond), Hanover County, is about 10 miles to the north of Richmond, has an excellent school system, I think you can get something decent for 250k.
Those are the three most populated areas, I personally would like to retire to the western part of the state (area of Luray or Harrisonburg) but I don't think the job market is all that great up there.

And besides, the gardening climate in Hanover is excellent!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2006 at 3:51PM
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pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)

Thanks, Harry. How are the taxes?
Do you know anything about Lynchburg and it's suburbs?




    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 6:55AM
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I live in Richmond as well, and it's a nice place to be, except for all of the Republicans :). Sorry, couldn't resist.....
There are many rural areas around here that have good school systems, but the word is out and real estate prices have gone up like everywhere, but you could still find something in that range I would think. The climate is mild winters, and hot, humid summers, but it's nice because you can do work in the yard almost year round!
Good luck with your search!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 9:46AM
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bellefleurs(z7 VA)

I live in Charlottesville ~one hour west of Richmond, great small college town atmosphere, GREAT for gardening (except the rock hard clay soil and zillions of deer). But housing is REALLY expensive, it is impossible to find anything under 300,00 - 350,00!! for a basic 3 bedroom/2 bath house.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 1:01PM
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harryvetch(Cent.VA/ Zone 7)

Lynchburg is a great area, I really haven't spent enough time there to give you a knowledgeable answer. Bedford County, one of the counties that surrounds Lynchburg is absolutely beautiful. Let me do some research, and I'll get back with you in the next couple of days about the L'Burg area.
I'm with Bellefluers, I'd move to the Charlottesville / Albemarle County area tomorrow if it wasn't so darned expensive.
Be ready for a real culture shock if you move to the Lynchburg area from Lawn Guyland, that is no knock on either, there are just REAL differances!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 2:05PM
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pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)

I though that everyone was mentioning Richmond because of Eliott in American Idol!! JK...he did great. Probably has the best voice out of all of them.
Anywaze..I figure there's going to be culture shock wherever we go. But we need a little culture shock. I want the LawnGuyland of my youth. Where we could leave the doors unlocked, go out after lunch and ride bikes with friends 'till dinner. Just be a kid and explore. Now it's all play dates, and fancy parties...and too much traffic and sex offender notices. AHHHH!!!!! GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!!


    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 3:50PM
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PF, I also lived in New York before moving here (Yonkers, went to school in Manhattan), and it can definitely be a bit of a culture shock. I'm really glad I wound up in Northern VA, despite the high property values and traffic congestion. I'm just not comfortable being in a fairly homogenous population, especially having lived in NY. Much rather live some place where I'm not the odd one out (I've had students from more rural parts of the state, and the tales they've told have made my skin crawl), have arts and theater nearby, and the food isn't beige.

Since practicality matters in these things, I'm going to suggest that you find out where the jobs are first, and then make the decision on where to live. For all you know, the field that you and your spouse are in just might happen to be right near a lovely little town or two.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 5:08PM
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Brent_In_NoVA(z7/6 VA)

Don't listen to those guys...250k will get you a nice place here in Northern Virginia...a nice 1 bedroom condo with a 1 hour commute that is! ;-) BTW, I know a really nice guy with a house for sale in the Sterling for under half a million*...and it already has a decent garden started! The schools in Northern Virginia are top notch, the job market is steady but traffic and housing prices are a bit out of control.

- Brent

*okay it is mine...and it is only under by $100

    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 5:49PM
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pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)

Brent..you're killin' me? Anyway...where are you going?

Hey, does anyone have an opinion on Richmond and vicinity?


    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 10:45PM
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I've lived in the Richmond area all my life (more years than I'll admit to!) so I can speak with some knowledge of the area.

It's a great area with lots of diversity in lifestyles and things to do. The schools are excellent except for within the city which has the typical city problems. Housing is moderately priced compared to other areas but depends in part on how far you're willing to comute to work. We have opera, concerts, museums, probably way too much history, a fairly new and excellent botannical garden as well as other public gardens, lots of parks, a decent road system that could be better but will get you where you want to go with not too much pain. We even have a small zoo.

Some of the counties surrounding Richmond include Hanover, Henrico, Goochland, Chesterfield, Powhatan, and Louisa. Henrico, Goochland, and Chesterfield are the most expensive regarding housing with Hanover, Powhatan, and Louisa being less expensive and more rural. Of course, there are exceptions and million dollar plus houses everywhere but I'm speaking generally here.

The school systems in all the localities are excellent (except the city.) We also have two community colleges here as well as Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Richmond, and Randolph Macon. There are technical schools around every corner.

There are several Fortune 500 companies with headquarters here, a biotech park in the city, retail and manufacturing facilites everywhere. The unemployment rate is almost non-existent. We have a decent airport that is expanding almost yearly but I hear the ticket prices are a bit steep. Plus there are several small regional airports surrounding the city. We even have a port on the James River for commercial shipping.

The location is ideal for vacationers since we're only a little over an hour away from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Kings Dominion is a short drive north of the city in Hanover County and Bush Gardens is in Williamsburg another short drive east. Colonial Williamsburg is a pleasant day trip or you can make it a long weekend and take in lots of history and the beach. Washington, DC, (if you can stand the drive) is just over an hour away. Plus the James River through the city and several large lakes nearby make water sports practical.

The climate makes year-round gardening possible except for the 3 days every winter when it's too cold to do anything outside! LOL The only serious gardening problem we have is growing a decent lawn since we're just a bit too cold for warm season grasses and just a bit too hot for cool season ones. There are some beautiful lawns here but they require work and/or money.

Can you tell I'm sold on the place? LOL That's probably way more than you wanted to know. Come on down and take a look around. You'll find many born and bred southerners as well as many of your neighbors from up in snow country who couldn't stand the weather and rat race any more.


    Bookmark   May 20, 2006 at 2:03AM
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hscsusiq(z7 VA)

I'm in Farmville, an hour from Richmond & an hour from Lynchburg. We have two colleges here, good schools (if your kids study! LOL), including a VA Governor's school, and several private schools. I'd recommend subscribing to the Farmville Herald (Farmville, VA 23901) to see the local activities.
I came from Ft Walton Beach FL, a busier town, and have loved seeing the growth of this area. I was a Realtor there, so I've watched with interest the Real Estate Market grow here. You can get a nice home with land for $250K, and commute on unclogged 4 lanes anywhere in the area. Winter's are generally mild, and Summer's are hot: haven't had the heat on for over a month and won't use our new A/C for a while. You can save a lot of money on utilities.
If you're passionate about gardening the soil is usually loamy clay, alternating with loamy sand. You need to check each prospective lot. Most use wells & septic. I've enriched ours and love working in it. There's a very active Master Gardener's group here, too.
This area seems to be the place folks from NJ come, because it's like NJ used to be. (FWIW)
Put a comment on my Blog and I'll call you if you want a referral to some Realtors ( I get NO finder's fee!!!)

Here is a link that might be useful: Virginia Country Life

    Bookmark   May 20, 2006 at 8:15AM
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Lynchburg Virginia and surrounding counties are beautiful. Lynchburg is the "City of Seven Hills". The Downtown area is great and it borders the James River, there are festivals along the river, fishing, shopping, an old fashioned Farmer's Market on Saturdays. Nearby is Bedford County with Smith Mountain Lake - (look up on internet for land values, etc.) Roanoke is close also. Lynchburg borders Campbell County, Amherst County (which is the other side of James River) Altavista has cheap land prices (south of Lynchburg). Elon and Buena Vista are close and it is some of the most beautiful landscape you will ever see! Amherst County has orchards and mountains almost any direction that you turn! Walton's Mountain is close, there are so many things to do and see, you may never want to see NY again!
My suggestion would be the outlying counties or the edge of Lynchburg towards Bedford County. Look up information for Campbell County and get tax information. Like any city, there are parts that you would not want to live, however the good far outweighs the bad. Hot Dogs - are great! Cream Puffs rule also. If I can help you with any information email me. I live in Powhatan County now 45 miles west of Richmond. As you can see, my heart remains in the seven hills.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2006 at 5:27PM
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taxonomist(7b VA)

When each of your five children produces five more children to add twenty-five beings who'll need twenty-five more spaces in school, and twenty-five more automobiles to congest our roadways then Virginia will have the same congestion and unpleasantries that your present area has. We don't need more population in this fine commonwealth!
Why don't you just stay where you are?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2006 at 8:03PM
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Suja -

So glad you're ready to disparage an entire state based on "tales from your students." I moved from NoVA to Richmond and grew up in SWVA and take offense at your willful ignorance.

Having lived in many cities, NoVA was the most soul-sapping demoralizing place by far. I chose to no longer be a slave to my car and have a life instead.
Based on my personal experience,

    Bookmark   May 21, 2006 at 9:21PM
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I lived in NOVA 6 years during the 60's, when it was nicer than it is now and hated it. Lived in Richmond for 28 years and found it a good place to raise a family and a pleasant place to live. Housing is afforadable and the schools are good, except for the city. Richmond has a lot more going for it than a lot of people realize.
Now I live in Blacksburg, a college town in SW Virginia (home of Va Tech) The climate is moderate--milder than W. Pa or Upstate NY in the winter but cooler and dryer than Richmond or NOVA is the summer. The university provides many good cultural advantages not generally available in most small towns. We have beautiful mountain scenery and lots of outdoor recreation available. Housing prices are still moderate, although we are attracting retirees from the D.C. area and NYC. Schools are good. The university attracts quite an international community. The only problem might be finding a job, depending on what you're looking for.
I would recommend Richmond and SW Virginia. The Shenandoah Valley is very nice, too. By the way, Virginia has an excellent public university system--flagship schools are UVa, William & Mary and Va. Tech. James Madison, George Mason, and VCU have a lot to offer also.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2006 at 7:38PM
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pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)

Yeah, Lynchburg seems really beautiful and different. (at least from what I can see on the web). I'm not sure the wife would approve of being so far from family. You see, we have family in Maine and we go up there quite a bit. It's about a 7 hour drive. And, Richmond is about a 7 hour drive...just in the other direction. So it's not that bad. We would've moved to Maine already but the winter is just so long! We're ready for a slightly longer growing season...not colder! Here's a pic. from our backyard pond :-)

Thanks again all, for your southern hospitality! If you have any more suggestions, please keep 'em coming!


    Bookmark   May 22, 2006 at 7:45PM
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JB, it wasn't my intent to disparage an entire state. I wanted to present a different perspective. And no, my experience isn't based on just "tales from my students", although some of these students came from the sort of towns and families whose attitudes have been borne out by my personal experience and those of my family members and friends.

I have personally experienced incredible insensitivity in certain parts of the state. My brother and friends have had terrible experiences with both cops and locals at some places. There aren't a whole lot of ways to interpret 'It's a good thing you stopped here only because your car broke down. When it's fixed, I want you gone and stay gone'.

I'm not saying that all people in all parts of the state are bad. I'm not even saying that all people in any one part of the state are bad. I'm also not naive enough to think that people aren't threatened by "different", or believe that that racism is dead. I unfortunately have *plenty* of personal experience to back that up. I've just opted to stay some place where I won't be an oddity, and where the color of my skin is not an issue.


    Bookmark   May 22, 2006 at 7:47PM
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pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)

Yeah, Lynchburg seems really beautiful and different. (at least from what I can see on the web). I'm not sure the wife would approve of being so far from family. You see, we have family in Maine and we go up there quite a bit. It's about a 7 hour drive. And, Richmond is about a 7 hour drive...just in the other direction. So it's not that bad. We would've moved to Maine already but the winter is just so long! We're ready for a slightly longer growing season...not colder! Here's a pic. from our backyard pond :-)

Thanks again all, for your southern hospitality! If you have any more suggestions, please keep 'em coming!


    Bookmark   May 22, 2006 at 7:48PM
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pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)

Oops! How did that happen? ;-)


    Bookmark   May 22, 2006 at 7:49PM
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bobkat13(z7 Richmond VA)

I live out in New Kent county, about midway between Richmond and Williamsburg. I can drive to the far west end of Richmond in 45 minutes, downtown Richmond in 30 minutes, and Williamsburg in 30 minutes. Whoever made the comment about "beige" food if you venture south of NOVA hasn't checked out the incredible diversity of ethnic food available in Richmond! I personally love Vietnamese, Thai and Indian. There are many many more cultures to "taste" down here, too! Just to compare prices, we bought our 3 BR 2 bath ranch on just over 2 acres in 2003 for $135K. It's gone up since then, but not too awful bad....

I love living out here. If I crave fancy food or fancy shopping I hop in the car. But when I start to get close to our home in the country then my shoulders start to drop and I begin to breath a little more deeply.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2006 at 9:27PM
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Filbert(7 VA)


I'm reposting a post by "Moorehal" from last October. It's a very comprehensive review of living in Northern Va.


Posted by: moorehal 6 (My Page) on Sat, Oct 22, 05 at 20:16

Although prices in Charlotte/Mecklenberg can be as high as this area, the first question is to determine where you will be working and what your expected hours will be. The hours are important because they will help you to strategically plan your commute. If you can have the flexibility to work early and come home early, then you will have more flexibility in where you can live. If you have to be at an office on K street from 9 to 5, you will want to live near Metro, and will have to give up on the horses, unless you want to commute for four hours per day. There are virtually no areas where you are going to be able to have horses in Falls Church or Fairfax City.
The closest areas to the Beltway that would have horse properties are Great Falls, Oakton, and the Occoquan Watershed communities of Fairfax Station and Clifton.

The Watershed was created in the early 1980s to protect the Occoquan Reservoir. No new commercial development has been permitted, new minimum sized lots are five acres, and almost everything in Clifton and Fairfax Station is zoned for horses.

I have included a few links of interest:




You may also find horse properties in Great Falls and Oakton, although there are not the same rules on development as in the Watershed. As a result, sizeable horse properties are more spotty.

I am "guessing" that you live in Matthews or SW/SE Mecklenberg County. You can get a modest home (4BR, 2500 sq. ft.) on a 5 or more acre lot there for $350k. That combination is relatively rare here, as most of the homes on large lots here tend to be more the 6,000 sq. ft. luxury home variety. Everything here looks like Rivendell estates in Mathews. Currently, in Clifton and Fairfax Station the lowest price house on the Market suitable for horses is selling for $1.2 million, and I am sure that homes on 5 acres in Oakton or Great Falls are selling for that price or better. I believe that the average price of a home in Fairfax County now (which includes all homessingle family and condo/townhomes) is in the upper $400k range.

If you search in 20124 or Clifton, the zip code boundaries leave the Watershed and cross into an area commonly known as Centreville. Centreville is very densely packed, and is not a horse community. It it says "Clifton" and it is not on five acres, it is probably actually in Centreville.

DonÂt look at buying a property that requires you to use Old Yates Ford Road or Henderson Roads. Those roads connect to a bridge that goes over Bull Run into Prince William County. It is very packed with commuters who live in Prince William and work in the Dulles Corridor or Fair Lakes area. Once you get north of the intersection of Henderson and Clifton Roads, you are safe.

As you may have gathered, traffic in Northern Virginia is a struggle. The interstates and surface roads do not move at their posted speed limits between 5:30am and 10:00am, and 3:00pm and 7:30pm. For example, for me to drive to my office in Reston from Clifton is about 35 minutes during non-peak times, and averages about 70 minutes during peak. For me to drive to my Tyson's Corner office, it is about 45 minutes non-peak and about 1 hour 20 minutes at peak traffic. People here are very strategic at organizing their driving. From Clifton to the Vienna or Franconia Metro (25 minutes) or the Burke VRE station (15 minutes), peak and non-peak are about the same.

The next closest horse area is Western Loudon and Fauquier Counties. Eastern Loudon and most of Prince William County are largely populated by tract houses on 1/2 acre or less.

Check out the links at www.middleburgonline.com.

Horse appropriate properties start at around $500k in Fauquier. However, Western Loudon and Fauquier present an astounding commuting problem, unless you are working in the western Dulles Corridor, Route 28, or Fair Lakes. My sister-in-law works in Arlington and lives in Bristow, which is west of Manassas in Prince William County. She needs to get up at 4:30 am and hit the road by 5:00am in the morning. She must leave work by 3:00pm. Otherwise, the commute becomes untenable.

Everyone complains about how expensive it is here, but it is also true that salaries here are high and jobs are plentiful. When my wife and I first moved to Fairfax in 1991, it was hard to make that mortgage payment, but it got easier over time. When we moved to Clifton, it got hard again, but again is getting easier over time.

Taxes on a percentage basis will be lower than what you have in North Carolina. The max income tax rate is 6% (NC is 8.75%), and the sales tax rate is 5% (7.5% in Charlotte/Mecklenberg).Most real estate property taxes are around 1% of appraised tax value, which currently is about 20% below marked value. Fairfax County is 1.0%, Fauquier is .99%, Loudon is 1.04%, Arlington is .958%, and Fairfax City is .9%. Towns, such as Herndon and Vienna, are overlays of the County Government. Herndon is .25% and Vienna is .22% on top of the Fairfax County Rate of 1.00%. For your additional tax dollars, the "towns" provide extra police, libraries, etc. I believe that your Charlotte/Mecklenberg rate is around 1.25%, so this category of taxation is lower in Virginia.

Unlike other states, when you buy a home in Virginia, the purchase price does not become the new appraised value. Most of the local governments in Northern Virginia raise or lower home assessments uniformly each year based on the average increase or decrease in prevailing home sales prices. The one exception in our area is Fauquier County, where they redo the assessments once every five years. As a result, FauquierÂs tax rates should drop next year when the next round is due as home prices have increased substantially and county supervisors do not want to anger constituents by doubling their bills. Fairfax has brought its tax rate down from 1.24% to 1.00% in the past 7 years.

When I first moved to NOVA in 1991, I paid $189,000 for a house with a tax appraisal of $240,000, but the house did not match its market value in appraisal until about 1996. Since that time, tax appraisals have been below market value. I would estimate that if you buy a house for $1million in 2005 you will have an appraisal of around $800,000. So if you have a 1% property tax rate, then you will have an $8,000 tax bill.

Like South Carolina, Virginia has a personal property tax on cars, trailers, boats, and recreational vehicles. NC did not used to have it, but I think that NC may have implemented one in the early 1990s. However, I believe that your standard tax rate for real estate is applied to vehicles, which is not the same as Virginia, where the tax rates on vehicles are substantially higher rates. This tax is often a shocker for people who have lived in states without the personal property tax. For most people, what they pay in real estate taxes is buried in their mortgage payment. But the VA personal property tax comes as a big fat bill in the late summer, and gets people very upset.

The tax rates are

Fairfax County:

Real Estate 1.00%
Cars: 4.57%
RVs, Trailers Boats: 4.57%

Falls Church City:

Real Estate 1.03%
Cars: 4.71%
RVs, Trailers Boats: 4.71%

Fairfax City:

Real Estate .90%
RVs, Trailers Boats: 3.57%

Loudon County:

Real Estate 1.04%
Cars: 4.20%
RVs, Trailers Boats: 4.20%

Arlington County:

Real Estate .958%
Cars: 4.40%
RVs, Trailers Boats: 4.40%

Fauquier County:

Real Estate: 0.99%
Cars: 4.65%
RVs, Trailers Boats: 1.50%

The rate varies by locality. In the more rural counties, the rate for trailers, RVs, and boats is often lower than that of motor vehicles, as there is a more outdoor lifestyle and the constituents would be angry if they had to pay the same rate as they do for cars. In the late 1990s, the state government started paying the local governments for their revenue on this tax. The state is paying 70% of the tax on cars (up to $20,000), but this does not include boats, RVs, and trailers. So if you have a Suburban worth $40,000, take the first 20k, multiply it by the applicable tax rate, and multiply that number by 30%. Then take the $20k in excess of the state coverage maximum and multiply it by the applicable tax rate and add it to the other half for your total bill. For RVs, boats, and trailers, multiply their value times the applicable rate. In general, the local government will appraise your vehicle at more than what you could get for trade in. The local governments have been quite clear that if Richmond is not willing to continue its share payments of this tax, they will go to the tax payers to make up the difference.

I have found that the vehicle taxes take newcomers the most by surprise. So if you own a Suburban ($40,000), an Accord ($20,000), a 4 horse trailer ($10,000), a Coleman RV Trailer ($30,000), and a Bass Boat ($10,000). In Fairfax County, you will pay $3747.00 per year, but only $2,238 per year in Fauquier County.

Vehicles when you buy them are not taxed at the full sales tax rate, but at a lower transfer tax rate. So North Carolina wallops you with the sales tax on your vehicles, while Virginia wallops you with the local government personal property tax.

Unlike the Carolinas, where you cannot renew your registration without proof that you have paid the personal property tax, it is a separate process in Virginia. The second tag (next to the inspection tag) on your windshield is your local property tax sticker. The police check these and will often set up checkpoints at intersections and pull people over with expired or no decals. They also have some sneaky ways of ensuring that people do not delay in registering their cars when they move here.

When you move to Virginia, you will not be required to pay the prorated sales tax surchages that a lot of states make you do, largely because VirginiaÂs sales taxes on vehicles are so low. When my late mother had to move from South Carolina to Louisiana in the mid 1990s, Louisiana made her pay an $800 charge on her one year old Ford Aerostar, because Louisiana does not want its citizens buying cars in states with lower sales taxes. New York does this as well. There is no tax on moving polluting vehicles into the State (which can be several hundred dollars per vehicle if you move to California) or a tax on your investment portfolio ( Florida, which has no state income tax, hits new residents with a one time levy on their stocks and retirement portfolios).

Although I donÂt know about NC, auto insurance is about 20% less than South Carolina and 35% less than Lousiana. When I moved from Monterey, CA to NOVA in 1991, my auto insurance premiums dropped 40% (same company, USAA, same cars, same coverage). I pay about $1,300 per year of homeowners insurance on a $1.5 million home.

As for utilities, the two main companies are Dominion Virginia Power, which serves the more urban areas, and the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) which serves the more rural areas. The gas company is Washington Gas. NOVEC currently charges about 10 cents per kilowatt hour, and when I moved from Fairfax City to Clifton in 1999 (Va Power to NOVEC), Virginia Power was about 2 cents less per kilowatt hour than NOVEC. For an 8,000 sq foot house, with 8 people (4 kids and my wifeÂs parents), two laundry rooms with gas dryers, two full size kitchens, gas heat, gas stoves, I pay about $400 per month in electric and $130 in gas per month. Duke Power in North Carolina is about 8.97 cents per KWhr, so electric power rates are comparable. The climate here is slightly cooler than Charlotte, but the primary difference is in warm season temperatures, so your power bill should be lower here. I do not pay for water or sewage ( we have well and septic in Clifton), but when I was in Fairfax City I paid about $150 per month for both with 4 people then living in the house.

Be wary of homeowner association fees. The Commonwealth maintains the roads (not the county) in Fairfax County. In many areas, homeowner associations maintain their roads, including the snowplowing. In addition, in the rural areas, you will have to pay for garbage collection. I pay an HOA fee of $90 per month, which pays for snow plowing and an equity fund to pay for eventual replacement of 1.5 miles of roads shared by 26 homeowners. Some neighborhoods may charge you an assessment for local recreation facilities, such as the Reston Association that can be in the $200 per annum range. I also pay $20 per month for once a week garbage collection. If you live in Fauquier County or Western Loudon, it is unlikely that you will have to pay for homeownerÂs fees or neighborhood assessments. Eastern Loudon and other areas of Fairfax County, it is fairly likely. You need to ask that question and get copies of key HOA documents long before you go to settlement. You might close on a house and discover that an assessment of several thousands of dollars is being contemplated by the HOA.

A sample commuting fair and time for Metro is Vienna to the White House area downtown (28 minutes, fair of $3.45). Metro varies by the distance between stations, and the time of day traveled. Figure on $11 per day for parking and roundtrip metro fairs. The fares are lower on the weekends and parking is free on the weekends. If you can use Metro, it is the way to get around town.

People here are buying hybrid cars. However, the main motivation is that with hybrid cars they can get a "Clean Special Fuels" license plate which lets them use the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes. I know that in Charlotte, you recently started HOV on I-77. However, your rules are different from ours. Hybrid vehicles canÂt use them in North Carolina. Also, HOV lanes are reserved for HOV vehicles 24 hours a day in NC, while in Virginia they are only reserved for HOV vehicles during peak travel hours. Non-HOV vehicles can use them at other times. The HOV minimum is two per car on I-66 and the Dulles Tollroad, and 3 per car on I-95. The HOV times are different for each road, and Congress meddles in the formulation of the HOV rules in Virginia. The shoulders on I-66 convert to travel lanes during peak times, but those times do not coincide with the HOV times on I-66. The police enforce the mish-mosh of traffic congestion rules on what lanes to use much more religiously than they enforce the speed limits. The ability of hybrid vehicles to use HOV will end in March 2006, unless the Virginia General Assembly extends it. However, there is a bill in Congress to mandate that Hybrid vehicles with a single occupant can use HOV lanes anywhere in the country. Of note, all of I-66 inside the Beltway is HOV during peak commuter times, so if you are planning to use it as a commuting route without other riders or a hybrid vehicle, think again.

Everyone complains about the cost of living here, but I discovered that when I was looking at a career change, there is more to it than meets the eye. Entry level and middle level housing is very pricey here. But I discovered that more upper level housing is no more expensive here than in other parts of the country. For example, I was looking at moving to a job in Columbus, Ohio. Granted, a 2000 square foot home there is only 40% the cost of a comparable home here. However, we wanted to move up from our 3200 sq. ft. home in Fairfax to something in the 4500-6000 range, on a bigger lot. We discovered that Columbus, Ohio houses in that market were just as expensive as those in Fairfax. However, the salaries and number of high paying professional service jobs were less in Columbus, and so we abandoned the idea of leaving NOVA.

I am sure that you will find the same with Charlotte. An average starter home in Gastonia will be cheaper than anything in Fairfax, Arlington, or Alexandria. However, if you look at homes on either side of Providence from Sharon Road to I-485, their equivalent in the DC area would probably be just as expensive.

Part of the explanation is that there is no real working class in Fairfax County and the inner suburbs of Northern Virginia. Many of the plumbers and carpenters seem to live in places like Hagerstown, MD and Culpepper, VA, because it is the only place that they can afford. The economy here is driven more heavily by service professionals, who are directly or indirectly related to the federal government, who may make six figures, but are not millionaires, and so you get a huge demographic lift in the middle to upper middle of the housing market. A higher percentage of families have two bread winners than most metro areas. However, you do not see a lot of the extremes of wealth that you see in other metro areas. Other than the single kids fresh out of college (who live with roommates), most families are working couples making $100k-200k. There arenÂt many captains of industry or wealthy doctors as you find in other places.

One advantage to the area is that museums, the zoo, and monuments are free. Symphony and Opera tickets are comparable to smaller metro areas, and much cheaper than New York.

People are very satisfied with the public services, especially the public schools. I think that in Mecklenberg County, most upper income people send their kids to private schools, which is not the case here. Most of the kids who attend private schools in North Arlington, Falls Church, and Fairfax, do so for cultural or religious reasons. The two largest private schools I believe are Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School and the Lycee Rochambeau (French curriculum). There are so many foreign nationals here that their companies and governments pay for thier children to attend schools that will allow them to be integrated into their settings back home. Hence, you have the Washington International School, the Deutsch Schule,and the British School with over 500 students. Sidwell Friends, and St. Albans/National Cathedral are largely patronized by residents of the District, where the public schools are not very good. There is a growing homeschool movement, but that group again would not attend either an excellent public or private school for philosophical reasons.

I think that for most people, the major drawback of this area is traffic. Supposedly, we have the second worse traffic after Los Angeles. However, I have spent a lot of time in LA. Yes LA is crowded. But my experience seemed to indicate that the number of hours per week when the roads are running at less than their posted speeds is less than it is in Washington.

Compare the number of freeway lane miles between the Virginia suburbs of Washington and another area of comparable population, such as Santa Clara County, California. We have 25% the number of freeway lane miles. Compare Charlotte with our area. Mecklenberg County has half the population of NOVA. Yet between I-77, I-277, I-85, and I-485, you have more freeway lane miles. Also your major surface roads, such as Sharon and Providence, move better than ours do due to better traffic light timing and turn lane setups.

About 20% of the daily commuters here use mass transit (Metro, Virginia Rail Express) which is higher than almost any metro area, and it is growing. It is predicted that Metro by 2010 on its Orange/Blue Line will not be able to add any more cars or any more trains the carry the estimated ridership. The only option is to build another rail line through downtown.

Metro and VRE are very good at carrying riders into downtown. But a lot of the commuting pattern is now semicircular or even north/south outside the beltway, which are routes not served by mass transit. The inner loop of the Beltway coming in from points further south in Virginia into Tysons Corner, which is, in effect, "downtown Washington" now, is horrendous, as well as the outer loop coming into Tysons from Maryland.

The one transportation advantage to our area is air travel. Unlike "one airline" cities like Charlotte, Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas (with the closing of DeltaÂs hub), almost every major domestic and international airline serves one or more of our three major airports, making it very easy to get a cheap non-stop ticket to most places. The hard part is trying to get from home or work to the airport through the congestion.

As for gardening, I have lived in the Adirondacks, Coastal South Carolina, Maine, Louisiana, and the Central California Coast. Just about anything that will grow in those places will grow here. It may not grow well, but it will grow. You should find that the summers are not quite as severe here as they are in Charlotte. You will get a bit more snow here and fewer ice storms, which is better for the plants.

I have found that it is easier to keep up my much larger yard in Clifton (30,000 sq ft.) than my much smaller yard in Fairfax (6,000 sq ft). In Clifton, I canÂt see my neighbors homes, while in Fairfax I had one neighbor who was growing a lawn of zoysia grass, while I was growing fescue, and the other neighbor didnÂt care and was growing crabgrass. It was a constant battle to keep your neighbors "stuff" out of your yard. Most people here prefer to grow cool season grasses, but some try the warm season stuff. It looks great in the summer, but they turn dormant and brown in November and donÂt perk up until April. The cool season grasses stay green all year.

I have an incredible variety of trees ( I am guessing about 1000 trees total) on my property. Elm, beech, oak, poplar, and maple are the most common. There are some pines. Ornamentals, such as lilac, dogwoods, azaleas, seem to flourish here with little care. My vegetable gardens are very successful. My water comes from a well, and I have had it tested twice since 1999. Both results were almost perfect and much better than the public water systems in the area.

The gardening drawback of my area are the deer. They are very pretty, but they eat almost everything. They especially like lilies. The squirrels, and other small animals are kept under control by the foxes and hawks. We have eastern coyotes that come up from Bull Run, and they keep the other small animals under control.

We have an enormous number of beautiful butterflies and bird species. The largest garden center in our area is Merrifield, which is by far the biggest garden place I have ever seen anywhere in the country. They have their own TV show on Saturday morning.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 10:14AM
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pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)

Wow...now that's a lot to digest. Thank you!

Does anyone know or have an opinion about the Newport News area?


    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 11:54AM
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Brent_In_NoVA(z7/6 VA)

"Anyway...where are you going?"

I packed up the family for a whopping 1 mile move! I managed to change zip codes, and people like to call this place Potomac Falls but I am still basically living in Sterling Virginia. I got more sq ft, a basement, a little more land and a higher mortgage.

I enjoy Northern Virginia and my commute into Reston is only about 20 minutes. Though after reading Sandy's post, maybe I should have moved Richmond. ;-)

- Brent

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 4:52PM
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Newport News - hot and HUMID, HUMID, HUMID in the summers.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 6:27PM
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thistle5(z7 VA)

I agree, Richmond sounds great! We live in NoVA, Fairfax Co.-my husband is in the military & we've been here 6 yrs,not consecutively, 2 as homeowners. We purchased our house 2 yrs. ago, & it seemed to be much higher than we thought we'd be paying for a first house, but it's fairly priced for this area, we have great schools, we both have a

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 9:09PM
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pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)

I don't think I would like to live in Richmond proper. (don't want to be a 'city-dweller') But an easy commute to Richmond. Say...15-20 minutes. What are some of the names of nice towns right in the Richmond vicinity?


    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 8:35AM
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yankee_in_va(z7 VA)

One thing that I noticed was different when I got to Virginia is that it's all cities and counties. It's not like the north where if your address says Philadelphia, you live in the city of Philadelphia. So my address says Richmond, but I don't live in the city, I live in Henrico County. So the town name thing is a little tricky. I hope that makes sense.

As mentioned above, Hanover, Henrico, Goochland, Chesterfield, Powhatan, and Louisa are counties around the city of Richmond, areas of which could provide a 15-20 minute commute to downtown Richmond. Personally, I am in the west end of Henrico County and love it.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 8:47AM
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Towns in Richmond commuting distance:
Ashland (north of city with nice college town atmosphere)
Mechanicsville (northeast but a little more red-neckish than Ashland - I was raised there)
Sandston (east - more a wide spot in the road than a town)
Chester (south - again not a town, but nice place with community college - John Tyler Comm. Col.)
Midlothian (southwest - my personal favorite but can be a little pricey - John Tyler CC has a campus there also)

Of these, Ashland is the only one that's actually a township. The others are more villages within the counties. If you want to go just a little further, south of Richmond are Petersburg, Hopewell, and Colonial Heights, commonly called the tri-cities area but I'm not sure all are actually cities. Petersburg has some poorer areas as do all cities but the area is nice and there are some colleges there also. Virginia State University has an excellent agricultural facility there. I took a tour earlier this spring and was impressed.

What more info do you want?


    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 8:53AM
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I just went back and read your opening post again and see that "quaint downtown" is attractive to you. Richmond has several older neighborhoods that are being revitalized and attract a lot of young professional types. Since I'm not a "city girl" myself I'm not very familiar with them but The Fan is one that has really boomed in recent years. It is in the heart of the city and surrounds/is surrounded by Virginia Commonwealth University campus. You might check out some real esatate websites for housing costs there. I know it will vary a lot depending on whether the house is a "fixer upper" or already remodeled.

What type of work are you looking for? That might play a big role in where you would want to look. Of course, all the areas I've mentioned are within an hour or so of each other at the most so commuting would probably not be a problem. As an example, I live near Midlothian on the southwest quadrant of the area and can get to my daughter's house in Ashland in 45 minutes at rush hour.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 2:05PM
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pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)

I'm in technology/networks etc. (right now) but I'm back in school finishing up an English degree. I'm almost done so that won't factor in the move.
You all have provided so much information. We really appreciate it. All the opinions count, too. This is so much better than Real Estate folks trying to sell us something.
One of the reasons we want to make this move, is that our children will never be able to settle on Long Island. It's something that everyone here talks about. Where are they going to live? And, we didn't have 5 kids just so they'd have to move away. I mean, if they want to, fine. But I just don't want them to HAVE to.

I know prices are going up everywhere, but I'm paying about 7k/yr. property taxes on my 60x100 plot.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 5:58PM
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Wow! I'll never complain about RE taxes again! Chesterfield County, 3 acres plus house, less than $1,500 per year RE tax. Another thing to factor into your decision! LOL

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 9:07PM
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Although Luray does have it's beauty, there are absolutely no jobs there. They've had one plant close after another. Between the two, Harrisonburg would be a much better choice (Charlottesville would probably be even better job-wise, and is also a nice place to live) Harrisonburg is a city that is constantly growing and there are always plenty of job ads in the paper. There are also a few technology businesses there also. Houses are expensive in Harrisonburg....I would say the average 3 bedroom, 2 bath home is in the $200,000.00 + range (going by home sales in the local newspaper). I don't live there but I've worked there and I do like Harrisonburg. I honestly don't know anything about any other areas of VA because I've lived here in Page county all my life:(

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 9:51AM
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I moved from Chicago to Richmond 8 years ago and haven't looked back. As for "city living," below is a picture of my house just on the northern boundary of the city...an acre of land in a neighborhood of architecturally diverse homes from the early 20th century...blocks from a large public park and just minutes from Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.

While Richmond has a decent balance between northern ambition and southern politeness, (though in truth, and not that it's a bad thing, southern politeness dominates...if you want to succeed in business here, pretend your great great grandmother tended confederate soldiers before moiving to LI to establish a branch of the Daughters of the Confederancy) be warmed that it has one of the highest murder rates in the country (US90 is a major drug highway giong from Florida to DC/NY).

But as a former Chicagoan, I know that everything depends on the neighborhood you choose. I would climb on a cross for my neighbors.

Once you get used to the relatively mild night life (which I like), hesitant art scene (although VCU is a growing art education powerhouse) and conventional theatre/performing arts options (but there is always DC and there is a good music scene here) as well as the uber-conservative Republican Baptist nonsense, it can't be beat for the money.

Oh, grocery store options are downright dismal, though a Fresh Foods just opened. And it's very expensive to fly out of the city, even with Jetblue etc.

Fredericksburg however may be your best bet. Midway between DC and Richnmond (a relatively easy commute to either for work) it has a charmning "antique-y" main street.

Oh and one more thing, when someone says, "Do drop in anytime!", don't. LOL> Just one of those southern things.

I wouldn't live anywhere else, except maybe Paris or Vasncouver Island or New Zealand.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 1:24PM
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Link to photo:

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 2:45PM
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LOL. Sorry!....

this should work...

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 2:48PM
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Please don't misunderstand cottagegrder's comments. If you're not into drugs, domestic violence, or other illegal activities, the chances of being murdered are almost nil anywhere you live and Richmond is no exception. There are areas of the city that are off limits to most sensible people but it's a small area in comparison to the total community. There are drugs everywhere and Interstate 95 is definitely a drug corridor but it is such a small part of the total area it's not a problem for most people. I travel the highway fairly often and this "chicken" feels comfortable that I won't be killed by gun violence. The bigger problem is the "I'm in a hurry" drivers who think "95" is the speed limit, not the route number! Once in a long while there is a robbery gone bad that ends up in violence to innocent people but you're far more likely to end up in a nice, civil argument with your neighbor as to whether Ukrops is better than Food Lion for your weekly grocery shopping trip!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 3:18PM
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Agreed. Like I said, it all depends on the neighborhood you choose. When I moved to the northside in 98, everyone said it was a violent crime-infested ghetto etc etc... Well, having lived in some violent neighborhoods in Chicago, I didn't let that stop me esp since the house prices were so good. In the 8 years I've been here, the whole area has turned around with lots of young families moving in, a new grade school (though I would avoid Richmond's public schools for your kids) and new stores and cafes opening just blocks away on a previously dead strip.

But I would agree that boredom is more likely to kill you here than a gunshot...in certain areas.

Really, I DO love it here, casrpetbagger though I may be...in fact I encourage people NOT to move here because I like it so much.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 3:41PM
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leslies(z7 No VA)


I moved here from Manhattan a year and a half ago and my best friend (also from NYC) lives in Richmond, so I've been there a number of times. Richmond isn't a city like you're thinking of. True, it's the capital of the state and it's got real streets and sidewalks and older, rundown areas and houses-like-they-just-don't-build-'em-anymore and an art museum and an orchestra etc., etc. I even got "Thai-hot" Thai food there for lunch. But it's generally MUCH quieter and saner than either LI or NYC. You can grow camellias there! It also, however, doesn't seem to be a very energetic city. I just don't get the sense that it's thriving. "Thai-hot" is also very much the exception.

I moved to Loudoun County because I changed jobs. Although I like the place where I live and there's room for my horse near my house, it's clear to me that this area is paving itself over with asphalt just as fast as it can and, in another five years, will be indistinguishable from Fairfax, covered with splats of tract housing and malls. I am not sure how long I will stay here. If I have to live in Reston just to get to Herndon in less than an hour and a half, I may as well live in New York where I can at least take a subway....

The cost of housing here really took me by surprise and I find that I didn't adequately take it into account during salary negotiations. It is difficult out here to find a relatively small house (not, I suppose, a problem you will encounter). Schools in Loudoun are lackluster, although those in Fairfax have had a stellar reputation for many years and, at one point, were rated the best in the country (don't know whether they still are).

It's nice to have DC not too far away. I don't go into the city often, but always enjoy it when I do. I lived in DC for three years while I was in school and liked it a lot (I'm from Philadelphia, so I've always been a city person). Richmond to DC isn't something you'd want to do for a day trip, but it would certainly make an OK weekend visit.

Shopping is almost duller than you can imagine. You don't think much about NYC being carpeted with unique mom-and-pop stores and restaurants (some fabulous, some dreadful), but you absolutely notice when everything you see is a chain store. NoVA is a chain store wasteland.

I would say, finally, that you shouldn't have to spend more than about ten seconds finding a job here. The area is heavily populated by companies that can use people like you and are willing to pay decent salaries. Competition for skilled employees is brisk, so look around a little.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 6:37PM
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gardennoob(z7 VA)

My two cents would be to move to Suffolk, VA. It has a quaint old town feel mixed with enough city life in the outer boroughs ie. Norfolk, VA Beach and Chesapeake within 30 mins of driving. Plenty of land to be had here although we have just gone through an adjustment of the housing assessments. A couple of hours away from Richmond and 3 to 4 hours to the northern state parks (Shenandoah Valley region is awsome camping, hiking and exploring as well as to the west the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Also you are within (traffic nonplus) 40 mins to the great VA.Beach. Shopping galore and plenty of things to do to keep the kiddies happy. And I mustn't forget Williamsburg which is about an hour drive and easy to get to now because of the nice jump on to the Monitor Merrimac Bridge Tunnel.
Oh and plenty of local festivals to keep you spinning. Lets see, there is the Suffolk Peanut Festival (local fav and home the famous Mr Planters Peanut!)and then there is the Seawall fest and Parade of Sails and Neptune fest and well there is just a bunch... and loads of fun. Also Nauticus (learn about the sea and sea life)(btw..way cool place to visit) and the USS Wisconsin museum. And we are also a stopping point for cruise ships in case you would like to vacation to well, where ever it will take you! There is so much here to do and it's a nice place to live and there is so much American history here. I never get tired of learning about it. (PS we are the home to one of the largest naval bases in the US)

I know I rambled on a bit but this is an exciting area and it would take a book to tell you about all the good stuff.

Tracey from Portsmouth,VA

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 10:10PM
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dougs(z7 VA)

While you have been advised on just about everything that has no relation to gardening, I'll mention a couple that do. Virginia is a big state with a lot of variation in terms of climate and soil. The Richmond area is interesting since it seems to be something of a dividing line in both soils and zones. I live in Chesterfield County. The northwest corner of the county is famous for the clay soil. The southeast corner is somewhat sandy. The dividing line is somewhere in the middle and is not all that gradual so you might want to do some soil sampling before buying acerage. Richmond is zone 7a. It is not very far to the south east before you get to 7b and there are pockets of 8 before you get out of state. In Chesterfield, we get by 9 years out of 10 planting zone 8 species (there are a lot of nice things in this 'almost 8' category) but the occasional bad year keeps you honest. A mite to the southeast is Gloucester where the deep, sandy soil makes great daffodil farming. Not far to the west we get into zone 6b and mountains.

There is a downside to this middle status. There are some plants that just don't do well in Richmond. Most notable is lawn grass. Most people grow fescue but it is a commitment to regular reseeding and more work than I consider worthwhile. Bluegrass does not like the hot summers. Warm season grasses that are popular a little south of here struggle and stay off color longer than most people can tolerate. Raspberries and 'real' blueberries don't work here. We have blackberries and 'rabbit eye' blueberries but those accustomed to the more northern fruit may not be thrilled. The same factors that allows us to cheat and overwinter some zone 8 plants make it impossible to establish long term heat sensitive plantings.

I'd suggest selecting a county with a good Master Gardener program and a friendly Extension office. Do some test calling to the Extension offices and see if you feel your calls were welcomed or if they consider you more trouble than you are worth. After you move, you may enjoy having a source of information about the two or three factors all these replies you have been getting may have missed. Chesterfield has an excellent extension office as do a couple of the other counties in the region. Richmond has no extension office but the surrounding counties take pity on them and allow border crossing.

Good luck with the decision.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2006 at 8:10AM
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I live in Forest, Va., which is just on the outskirts of Lynchburg. Lynchburg is a really great place to live. I have lived there until I got married. It has a kind of slow lifestyle. It is a college town, with 4 major colleges close by. The traffic is nothing compared to other cities. The school system is also good. Right now, I live in Bedford County, and my grandson is in kindergarten there, and his school is just great!. It has lots of trees and grass and flowers, etc. Bedford county is just beautiful. We have rolling hills and the Peaks of Otter in the Blue Ridge mountains. From Lynchburg, you can go skiing at Wintergreen (there are also others close by) mountain climbing the the Blue Ridge Mountains, swimming at Va. Beach (Or we are just 6 hours from Myrtle Beach). We have a lot of craft shows and festivals and the downtown area of Lynchburg is really coming alive with art, theater, and parks. Please check us out when you come down.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2006 at 7:18PM
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I live in Spotsylvania, Va which is basically Fredericksburg. It's about halfway between Richmond and DC so we have people who commute both ways. I don't know much about specific home prices or tax rates etc. I just know it's not cheap. I have horses in NOVA at a trainer's barn and I commute up there almost every day, usually during peak traffic times. Traffic is bad, I'll admit, but still I'm sure it could be much much worse. Whenever the main roads clog there is always some other way around it. My dad is in the construction business and is currently restoring some homes in historic Fredericksburg. Dowtown/historic Fred. is pretty neat, and really great to walk through. It had been falling into decay but it is coming back really well. It has a really neat history (Battle of Fredericksburg and more I don't recall). We have a LOT of Civil War history around here, if you are interested in any of that. I personally live amongst about 3 battlefields (I think).
My biggest complaint and thing I couldn't live without in this area is "central park" on route 3. It has just about every restaraunt/store I have ever heard of, and if it's not there it is a couple miles down the road at Massaponax. All that convenience doesn't come without a price and there is a lot of traffic, but it actually is fairly easy to navigate through once you notice the patterns, strategic driving is key. Most of my info is about the side of I-95 that Spotsylvania, Orange, Culpepper counties are on. I guess you know most about the places you regularly go by. I don't know if this is any help, just thought I'd share.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 10:58PM
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pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)

I think the Mrs. is leaning toward Lynchburg. It seems to have the right combination of good schools, low crime, and afforable "country-ish" housing.

What do you guys think?


    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 12:56PM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

If your job is not an issue, Lynchburg is indeed a lovely town. I would suggest spending some time visiting there, just to look around without being in a rush. Find which area appeals to you most, and then pretend: visit the grocery store/s, library, hospital, fire dept., garden suppliers. Also, find out if there are local clubs for whatever may be your favorite interests - gardening of course, but maybe also chess? quilting? civil war history? woodcarving? golfing? You can also get "a feel" for the community by having local residents recommend a good restuarant, the best bakery, or a reliable auto mechanic :) --after all, if you plan to live there, you're going to need to know all that!

Try some of these links for info -- I especially recommend reading the newspapers!

Lynchburgs own community info:




local newspapers: (Actually lists links to most of Virginia's papers)


    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 1:56PM
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deshima(Heat Zone 7 Richmond VA)

I have lived in Richmond all my life, 48 years and I would not move to this area for love of god. We have between 60 and 90 days or temperates above 86, at that point your plants will suffer and be damaged. Washington County is the place to be,if you most come here, is is much cooler and the people are much nicer. Remember VA is very conservative, this state kills more prisoners then any other state per capita . The police in Henrico County and Richmond City are out for blood and as a matter of fact the law allows any police officer to arrest anyone for reckless diving at there discretion. Yes I said it correctly it carries a 1 year in jail and 1500 fine. Come on down, but I advise you to stay out of the cities.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 5:36PM
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I live on the Eastern Shore of Virginia -- eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula. Lots of former Long Islanders here -- they say it reminds them of how LI used to be. Great soil, great gardening, VERY friendly people, and we don't even know where the key to our house is. RE prices climbing but still reasonable. Schools & jobs - might be a little iffy but not impossible. Several nice B&B's in my local area if you're interested in checking us out.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 3:23PM
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pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)

Hey Margie.
Thanks for that post. Thanks everyone, actually!
I hear good things about Roanoke. Does anyone have opinion about the greater Roanoke region?

thanks everyone!!!

-PF (andy & nancy)

    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 9:31PM
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Although I've never lived in VA, I've spent a lot of time there, and am thinking about moving there in a few years. In fact, we are going to give Lynchburg a long, hard look. Real estate prices are very low there if you live out in the country, which is what we intend. My only concern is employment, but I have good connections there in my field, so I should be OK. Our other 'target' city is Greenville, SC, which offers a lot of the same things a Lynchburg, with a larger city. We looked extensively in the coastal area north of Newport News (also very affordable), but it wasn't nearly as pretty as the mountains. My brother-in-law lives in Richmond, but we can't afford that area (at least where they are- Midlothian).

    Bookmark   June 25, 2006 at 12:14PM
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jbcarr(7 VA)

One thing to consider is how homogenous is the population? Areas like Richmond are "Southern Lite" because it has a lot of people from outside the state (mostly Yankees), and dilutes the redneck factor mentioned earlier. I personally love the small town areas, but my wife can't take the "that's the way we've always done it" type of stuff that goes with the territory. They'll have a different view of the confederate flag than you. It just depends on how adaptable you are. The other one mentioned is the job market- much easier in the larger towns. Regarding the schools, I think the VA standards of learning (SOL's) have made it a lot more of a draconian atmosphere. My daughter in third grade was worried about passing third grade, and missed recess many times to review math. One of her vocab words was Obstreperous.And she was in a school that was one of the 3% that passed the first time around. Of course the higher ups didn't say maybe we designed a bad test, must be that the kids and the teachers are stupid, and ramped up the pressure. She will be going to private high school. Can't beat the Universities.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2006 at 8:13PM
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Well, why Virginia? I simply ask because we transplanted here from Michigan 17 years ago because of a job. I grew up in Ohio and graduated with 100 other kids and loved it. I lived with farmers not red-necks- there is a difference. Most of my neighbors were cows and corn fields. After I married, we lived in suburban Michigan where I could make eye contact with my neighbor- we were both INSIDE our homes! After freaking out, he looked for a new job. That transplanted us to the Richmond area.
I love the area we live in now, but still miss home, things are green there and we left family behind. No built in babysitters or a network to help when one of us was in the hospital. Neighbors, Church and work associates lend a hand but not the way family does.
I agree culture shock is also another issue. We have found our niche, but I do have proof of lineage to the Daughters of the Revolution! and Civil War ties, although to which side I'll never tell!!
Not that I'm a traitor to VA, but consider PA. Closer to LI and family. To do again, we'd stay as close as we could afford.
Transplanted from OH,
Heather on 40

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 5:48PM
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It's been awhile since the beginning of this post, but I'm curious as to what PQ has done since last post. I moved to NOVA a year ago myself from Long Island (fell in love) and I see that many of the people on here have similar impressions of the area (whether they are dem or rep).

My uncle and his family live near Spotsylvania and their schools are pretty good. Their taxes and RE prices are rising as well. I don't foresee PQ finding the lawnguyland of yore, but the areas are still pretty nice in this state, but commutes are never easy. If you are involved in a field such as computers, where you can telecommute, then it's much easier. Personally, I have a nice commute, but that's because I'm a teacher. I do miss the seafood of lawnguyland and the beaches, but there are also areas in eastern/southern VA where that is not the case. I have to agree with Heatheron40 that if you're looking for "not too much culture shock," good schools, decent commute, and the ability to not have to lock your doors at night, PA is good.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 12:16PM
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I live in Newport News. NN has become nothing but miserable sprawl. Disgusting McMansions popping up on every 1/8th acre.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2006 at 5:40AM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

I have lived in many different places over the years, including Minnesota, Virginia, and Massachusetts. What I have learned is that every place has some great attributes and some not so great attributes. And many of these factors are highly subjective (do I prefer lots of below zero Minneapolis winter days or lots of extremely hot humid Norfolk days)? Hmmm...I'm not so sure. To each his own I guess. And I know we like to believe that people are really different in different places, but my experience is that people are really the same, inside. For example, my experience in Virginia was that "southern hospitality" was really more about "southern protocol", which is different from a sincere friendly demeanor. And I think perfect strangers are more "cautious" here in Massachusetts, but once you break the surface skin, people here are just as friendly as other places I have lived. I have found that, most of the time, if you treat others with a friendly demeanor, you will be treated the same, regardless of where you live. And you can run from some types of taxes only to find other taxes. When I moved to Masachusetts, I thought I was going to encounter a huge tax burden. But that is not the case. The state income tax rate is 5.3%--not very different than most places and I pay $2000/year in real estate tax for a very nice home in a coastal community. The sales tax 5%--also not unusual--and I don't pay tax on my groceries in Massachusetts like I did in Virginia. So you can't just focus on state income tax as a cost of living index. I'm not sure what my point is here. Perhaps it is simply to say that too many Americans are always frantically running toward something they think is better instead of enjoying the quality of life and enormous prosperity we all generally share, wherever we are.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2006 at 9:21AM
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I have a job offer in South Bend In & Roanoke Virginia. I am from Mi, my husband is from TN & my Dad is from Al. We currently live in TN. I perfer Tn for their long growing season, yet we have incountered some prejudice. I dont like MI it's too snowy. What is other's opinions on should we choose South Bend IN or Roanoke Virgina?

    Bookmark   December 30, 2006 at 2:59PM
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jbcarr(7 VA)

I can't compare the 2, but Roanoke is going to be a small sized city, in a valley surrounded by the blue ridge. The blue ridge parkway goes right by it. It is not an area known for being progressive- if anything just the opposite. However, its a very nice place, with lots of outdoor things to do. I would base it as much on your family needs as anything- schools, housing, proximity to relatives, etc. It may not be much different than TN.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2007 at 7:19PM
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spunbondwarrior(7 wst nc)

Forward: No offense intended, it's just the way it is....
Deal with it. Save your diatribes for those they
will have an affect upon. Which is most assuredly,
not me.

The attitude I am about to display is far more prevelant than you might wish or want to believe, but it is a real and IMHO growing in acceptance and desire. So maybe you should either stay where you are, or move where there are none but others from where you hail. Long island sounds perfect for the several million of those rather recently moved south.

I am educated, articulate, and was born and raised on the edge of the universe in old Florida before the northerners took over, (I have a longgggg history of hating all things yankee-centric) and have lived and worked in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississipi and Virginia, owned property in three of those states and I am living in NC, and currently considering an offer to sell our small farm in the foothills and buy another slightly larger right across the state line in far southern sorta-central Virginia (though I am leaning more towards WV south of I-77 everyday) and the following quoted post sums up my feelings pretty well, though IMO the post was just a tad bit too mild.....
And hey Yankeelanders... While yer at it.... stay the hell out of NC and Tennessee and Alabama too, and Mississippi and SC and Georgia, and how about inviting all them yankeelanders in Florida back with you too while you're at it. Well, why don't y'all just stay where the hell you are and try and make it a better place instead of coming down here to wish want and hopefully remake the SouthLand into a clone of where what was once your home was, and take a few of your "where we come from ..." friends and relatives and aquaintances back where they come from with you too.

Posted by taxonomist 7b VA (My Page) on Sun, May 21, 06 at 20:03

When each of your five children produces five more children to add twenty-five beings who'll need twenty-five more spaces in school, and twenty-five more automobiles to congest our roadways then Virginia will have the same congestion and unpleasantries that your present area has. We don't need more population in this fine commonwealth!
Why don't you just stay where you are?

I hate to sound spiteful, but having had many occasions to travel around the USA, it is my personal feeling that folks from Ny NJ Pa Ma Delaware RI, pretty much the entire NE save Maine and Vermont should either stay where they are, or go the heck back, yesterday! And take all y'alls apparently culturally embedded from birth woefully misplaced and certainly mistaken superiority complex back with y'all too.

To be fair, I have met some really great folks from all over the USA, including the NorthEast. But among the NorthEasters,almost all of them were/are either country folks or small town people who would be a welcome asset to any community. All y'all eastern big city folks either move to inside the biggest city you can find, or just move back.

And BTW, I have been to LI on several occasions, and IMHO the people there have amongst the worst "well back where we come from" attitudes around.

If I ever wake up Emporer of the Universe, all y'all will either be back, or headed back by noon. Except for the yankeelanders I approve of and don't mind being around....

    Bookmark   February 10, 2007 at 4:23AM
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ssfkat3(7/8 virginia)

Hmm, anywhere NOT next to the last poster would be my choice. I've lived in Virginia for the last 20 years, moved down from Michigan to Richmond, then Newport News, and Williamsburg and now Hampton for the last 14 years. The attitude you just saw unfortunately is very prevalant around here, not quite so much in this area because there is so much Military. Hard to come by a "true Virginian" these days, at least ones that admit it :D

Personally, if you like city life, this area is good, can't tell where one ends and the other begins from Va Beach to Williamsburg :D

I'd choose Kentucky in a heartbeat if given the choice. It's the most beautiful state I've ever seen from my truck driving days. How Kentucky is to live, I don't know. Around here, it stinks in my mind.

What did you all decide to do?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 9:23PM
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Whoa! Y'all take a deep breath and relax, OK?

If by "true Virginian" you mean one born and bred and lived all their life in this lovely state, then I'm very proud to say I qualify. I can't say what living in anyplace else in this wonderful country is like since I've only lived here, but let me assure any poor frozen soul from the northern reaches that the warmth down here is not just in the weather, but comes from the few remaining "true Virginians" as well.

No properly raised southerner would ever insult someone simply because they were not lucky enough to be blessed with southern roots. Now, if you bring an "attitude" with you, it doesn't matter which point of the compass you hail from, you should go back. And if you're faced with any "attitude" from someone in our fine state, just smile and feel pity for them since their education was sorely neglected, wherever they came from.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2007 at 1:36AM
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ssfkat3(7/8 virginia)

Hi Sandy, I'm sorry if I offended you and other born and raised Virginian's, that truly was not my intention. In the areas I've lived, it's mostly military and tourist oriented, and just doesn't seem to be many that are originally from here. I'm not a "city girl" in any way, I left the town I grew up in (pop 25,000 in michigan) because it was too big for me. I've often wondered how I came to rest here, several times in fact. So I'm a bit jaded about this area. I see where it came across quite rude in what I said earlier.

When I was 13 years old, I came down here with my neighbors who were from here, for a visit in the summer. I'll never forget the time we stopped in a little mom and pop type store, and I asked where they kept the "pop". the lady told me he was "out back". I was young, impressionable, and this lady treated me pretty rough. told me if I was coming down here, i'd better learn to talk the language or go the he** back north where I belonged. It didn't make for a good impresson, but is a lasting impression. Many times over the years I've come across that attitude.

I've been in 42 of the 50 states, when I drove a truck, and somehow I always end up back here, so there must be something I love about Virginia :D It's been home for over half my life.

Again, I apologize for what I said earlier, I do seem to have put a foot or two in my mouth on that one.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2007 at 10:44PM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

I've spent time in 49 of the 50 states, and in all cases I found that the pleasant, polite, friendly people way out-numbered the rude ones - but every place will have at least a couple rude people, just like those same places will have lots of 'nice' folks.

And sometimes whether we think a person is rude or polite will depend on *our* definition -- a chatty person from a small town where most people know and talk about their neighbors, will likely not be looked upon with favor if s/he takes those same chatty questions to a large city --- the chatterer may see city folk as cold, impersonal, and rude... the city dweller may see the chatterer as nosy, pushy, and rude...

I think it comes down to whether you are treated with kindness and courtesy, and I am especially sorry to hear that any child anywhere would not be treated kindly; but real-life often not nice to non-natives, whether plants or people.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2007 at 9:26AM
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Hi, I grew up the NY Metropolitan area and worked at JFK and LGA airports most of my life. For the last 14 years I lived in CT on a small âHobbyâ farm of 7 acres. Iâve gone from owning 7 acres with 6 outbuildings of various sizes and functions to an apartment that is 900 sq. ft. in size. Iâm now living on Long Island until my lease expires at the end of this coming April. Iâve experienced both ways of living.

Iâm a 68 years old and live alone. My son and three grandchildren live on Long Island while my daughter and three grandchildren live in Arlington, VA. I plan on moving to VA to live âNearâ her and her family. I know near is a relative term. Iâve looked at the map time and time again and Iâm at a loss. Iâve thought it might be sensible to live near either of the two commuter train lines so I could visit with her or spend some time in Wash, DC at the various museums without the hassle of notorious heavy traffic. I have no idea of the communities to visit when I go to VA in February to look for a place.
Iâm not looking for a large place. Actually something the size of where I am now. A one bedroom or something like that would be fine. I prefer a mixed aged area and do not want to go into an over 55 community. Iâm also wondering is realtors are used to find rentals or if itâs something you seek out on your own.

Comments would be appreciated.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2014 at 12:00PM
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I live in Fairfax County. You can find a rental on your own. Use the Washington Post classifieds on line or craig's list. My daughter has a townhouse in the area that she rents through craig's list (just be careful of scam artists). If I were in your position, I would look in Arlington for either a small appartment or a condominium. There is a good bus system, so you need not be real close to a subway. Your daughter can probably advise you.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2014 at 12:42PM
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