Virginia, a southeastern U.S. state, stretches from the Chesapeake Bay to the Appalachian Mountains, with a long Atlantic coastline. It’s one of the 13 original colonies, with historic landmarks including Monticello, founding father Thomas Jefferson’s iconic Charlottesville plantation.
The Jamestown Settlement and Colonial Williamsburg are living-history museums reenacting Colonial and Revolutionary-era life. When it comes to the best places to live in the United States, expect to find Virginia among the top contenders.
The Mother of Presidents is known for its scenic natural landscape, as most states around the mid-Atlantic area, temperate climate, vast cultural diversity and more.
This is one of those all-inclusive states that remain appealing to everyone – the young and old, parents and their kids, millennials and retirees; most of the roads in Virginia lead to satisfaction.
Virginia has the 11th highest per-capita income in America, and it homes four of the 10 wealthiest U.S. counties: Loudoun County, Falls Church City and Fairfax County (scooped first three positions based on survey by Code Black Group), as well as Arlington County (No. 7).
It is full of fun things to do for everyone, Virginia, and its public schools floor those in 42 states, not counting D.C. Healthcare is a big deal in this state, and there is significant opportunity for economic growth, with plenty of jobs for anyone interested in working for the federal government.
There is a reason they say this is a place for lovers. Lovers of life.
But even in the highly livable Old Dominion, there are towns and cities that outshine the rest.
In this list of best places to live in Virginia, we reveal the places where it’s mostly sunshine and rainbows, basing our arguments on the aforementioned factors.
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Not surprised, are you?
Starting us off our best places to live in Virginia list is Arlington, a vibrant city that sits on the border between Virginia and Washington.
Located in Arlington County, it is one of the most livable areas in the whole of America.
Livability.com ranks Arlington #3 on the Top 100 Places to Live in the U.S., while Niche.com has named it the Best Place to Live in Virginia and #3 in Best Cities to Live in America.
Because everything is going as it should in life in Arlington. Top schools. Low crime. Really low crime. Great diversity. Buzzing nightlife. Low commute time. Abundance of outdoor activities. Residents who take their health and fitness seriously. And everything else you can think of.
Curious as to what the cost of living is? Well, rent prices average $1,827 and median home value is $607,700.
For the benefits that Arlington promises, the 223,945 residents who live here are happy to put up with the high cost. After all, the $105,763 household income they enjoy, on average, is enough to sustain them comfortably.
2. Falls Church
Falls Church is a prime area that is perfect for anyone looking to stay close to the D.C. metro area.
This is a historic town whose roots go back to the 1600s when it was first established as a colonial settlement.
The 13,300 residents enjoy one of the highest incomes in the state, with average salary topping $120,500. What else these residents enjoy is a low crime rate, and its historical roots means history buffs will relish the wealth of attractions found in this area.
This is where George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate lies, as does the Arlington National Cemetery.
Which by default means life here is pretty steep, cost-wise, as the median home value stands at $718,900.
3. Virginia Beach
With a population of 448,290, Virginia Beach is one of the most occupied areas in the Mother of States.
And it’s understandable when you consider the cost of living here is as low as you will ever get in one of the best places to live in Virginia. The average price for homes is $259,900 and rent revolves around the $1,200 mark.
Despite it being a large city, Virginia Beach is also very safe. It should given it sits in an area considered one of the top tourist destinations in Virginia, the Tidewater region.
There are more restaurants here that you can dine in a different one every day of the year, and more attractions than you can keep up with: Mount Trashmore, the Maritime Museum, the Virginia Aquarium, the Boardwalk (which is always open), gorgeous beaches, just to mention a few of the prominent ones.
Chantilly is a town in Fairfax County that is home to just under 24,000 people. History diehards will know the Battle of Chantilly went down here, a battle that plays into the historic heritage of this beautiful town.
Chantilly is about 25 miles from Washington D.C. and its strategic accessibility to and from other locations is enhanced the more by the presence of the popular Dulles International Airport.
There is a smorgasbord of star attractions here including the Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, the cherished Sully Plantation, and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center – a National Air and Space Museum extension.
Chantilly is reasonably affordable compared to some great places on this list, with home values swinging at the $456,000 mark.
Locals can expect low incidences of crime, and Chantilly also offers a public library, with a running local newspaper that goes by the name The CenterView.
Next up on our list of best places to live in Virginia is Williamsburg, a town of almost 15,000 residents which was founded as far back as 1632. It served as the capital of the Virginia colony between 1699 and 1780.
To the unaccustomed eye, life in Williamsburg can be like stepping in a time capsule. The town has a massive historic district known as Colonial Williamsburg which measures 301 acres and plays host to four million visitors a year.
It provides education and entertainment to residents and visitors alike through tours, reenactments and other special events.
Young families are well sorted out with an amusement park in their vicinity (Busch Gardens), with the Williamsburg Premium Outlets serving as a major shopping attraction.
What’s more, the town is within close proximity of Tidewater and Hampton Roads areas.
Homes in Williamsburg go for $320,600 on average, although $195,000 is enough to get you a decent three-bed three-bath property.
Meadowlark Gardens In Vienna, Virginia
Vienna is located in Fairfax County and is home to more than 16,000 residents. Its touching distance of D.C. essentially makes it a suburb of Washington D.C.
This is a community best suited for those looking for serene surrounds, and although most of Virginia is characterised by these kinds of neighbourhoods, Vienna prides itself in offering a small-town appeal with convenient access to multiple metro areas.
There is a slew of restaurants in a town whose residents enjoy one of the highest incomes in the country. Household income averages $139,201, and cost of living is correspondingly high, with median home value way up at $639,200.
That is what you have to put up with in an area often ranked among the top 10 best small towns in America.
If Vienna sounds out of reach but you still want a nice place in Fairfax County, Lorton is one of your best bets.
Home prices here average almost half those in Vienna, sitting at $383,900.
But that is not to mean this is a low-budget neighbourhood.
Lorton just happens to be the most affordable town in one of the wealthiest counties in America, and all that wealth is sure to rub off, you know.
Crime in Lorton is so low it’s easy to forget the world can be evil, and the town of 19,700 residents is an outdoor attraction galore.
The Mason Neck State Park, the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and Pohick Bay Regional Park all guarantee plenty to do, be it wildlife watching, hiking, canoeing or kayaking.
Still sticking to the affordable theme, one of the best places to live in Virginia on a budget (not to be mistaken for cheapest) is Leesburg, a town of 47,900 residents located in Loudon County.
We did allude to the point that Loudon County was named the wealthiest county in America by Code Black Group. But who said living here has to be expensive?
Median home value in Leesburg stands at $382,800, and equally reasonable is the rent you can expect to pay: it averages $1,380 a month.
Leesburg is a town that perfectly marries the old and the new. The community is planned around a historic downtown area that is dappled with a wide array of unique shops and restaurants.
But it is also a town of contrasts, pocket-wise. While the cost of living is low going by the county’s standards, median household income is exceptionally high at $103,238.
And that can only mean good news.
Richmond might not appeal to certain demographics such as families or retirees, for obvious reasons.
One, the schools in the city of 213,735 residents cannot be said to be the best in a state known for high-performing institutions.
Neither can the hustle and bustle of the city be considered ideal for the elder members of the population, never mind the usual crime rates you would associate with a mid-sized city.
But the capital city of Virginia will appeal to millennials who fancy a fast-paced life in a city that is reasonably affordable. Median home value is $193,700, and rental prices in the capital average $896.
Richmond is home to eight Fortune 500 companies, with government, finance and higher education being the key economic sectors.
What’s more, Richmond has an evolved transportation network served by three interstates, and its residents enjoy a parks system that dates back to the mid-nineteenth century.
10. Bon Air
Bon Air is testament that it is possible to find a place worth of the best places to live in Virginia without having to break the bank. If what you are after is value for money, few places can match Bon Air.
The town of slightly more than 17,000 people is located in Chesterfield County where homes average $212,900, a figure that can easily get you a nice three-bedroom single-family home.
But don’t let that fool you that this is some cheap community.
Bon Air was originally developed as a resort community in the 19th century, and the town has managed to retain much of the striking Victorian architecture reminiscent of the time.
Schools in this town are highly rated, earning an impressive score of 9 on GreatSchools, which ties with the highest mark in the state.
Crime is almost non-existent in Bon Air, and these factors combined make up for a perfect neighbourhood for families with children.
If the name Poquoson sounds strange to you, it’s probably because this is the oldest continuously named town in the Old Dominion. It is an old name.
But names count for little in Poquoson, a small town of just over 12,000 residents.
The residents enjoy high incomes, averaging $83,735 per household. And while crime rate is not as low as most of the neighbourhoods we have listed here, it is reasonably low.
Poquoson also doesn’t boast as many local restaurants compared to other towns on our list, but it comes with the advantage of being in proximity of the hundreds of dining options in the metro area.
Hampton Roads is within this area, and this guarantees two major benefits: convenient access to an exciting array of dining, shopping and entertainment, and second, there is a plethora of attractions just a stone’s throw away.
It is an area best suited for families, especially when you consider Puquoson’s high-performing school district.
12. Tyson’s Corner
Tyson’s Corner is an affluent area in Fairfax County where single-family homes fetch at $485,000 on average.
If you are a shopper by heart (or design) Tyson’s Corner is an area in Virginia that will appeal to you like no other. It lays claim to two famous malls in Tysons Galleria and Tysons Corner Center where you will find just about anything you desire.
But Tyson’s Corner is not all about satisfying your guilty pleasures.
What else many of the 22,400 residents love about their hometown is the close-to-zero crime rate in the area. More than that, nightlife is as bustling as it could get, and it seems a little odd (in a good way) that a place best known for shopping and nightlife could also have some of the best performing schools in the mid-Atlantic state.
But this is Fairfax, and that lineup would not be complete without other guaranteed perks such as restaurants. Tyson’s Corner is chock full of choices, ranging from Thai to Lebanese fare, Italian to stunning local diners, you name it.
Herndon was originally a farming area that was central to Virginia’s dairy farming industry. It took a turn from the 1960s and it has never looked back.
Herndon is just 35 minutes away from Washington D.C. and with a population of 24,384, it is kind of a quiet town.
But that’s just how the residents like it. They are a close-knit bunch Herndonians, with the annual Herndon Festival serving to bring them even closer together.
Cost of living is a little steep, with homes averaging $379,900.
But with a salary that hovers just above the six-figure mark ($101,872 median household income), that is as cheap as it could get for these residents.
Virginia is famed for being the home of eight U.S. Presidents. Two of them hailed from Charlottesville: Thomas Jefferson (third U.S. President) and James Monroe (President No.5).
But it is also at Charlottesville that the famed University of Virginia is based.
Charlottesville warrants a spot on our list of 15 best places to live in Virginia not because of its wanting crime rate, but due to its wonderful mix of high-performing schools, affordable cost of living, wonderful commute time and numerous outdoor activities.
The 45,000 residents of this town are also served by two high-ranking hospitals and a massive Downtown Mall.
The Shenandoah National Park is one of the prominent local amenities, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home, a major attraction that draws half a million visitors each year, is also nestled in Charlottesville.
Median home value is $285,300 and rent is just below the 1,000 mark at $998.
And finally we have Centreville, a town of 73,660 residents whose majority of the population is made up of young families.
Median home value in Centreville stands at $390,500, which might sound expensive, until you get to know it sits in the affluent county of Fairfax.
Centreville is highly diverse, with some great public schools and a virtually non-existent crime rate. It is no surprise that it’s, to a large part, a family town.
Ellanor C. Lawrence Park and Cub Run Stream Valley Park are the town’s two main parks which offer a good escape into the streams and forests ideal for exploration by either foot or bike.