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Looking for info on moving to VA

667 Views 11 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  sashamama
Hello ladies. My name is Donna and I'm a SAHM to Nolan (3) and Conor (1). I've been an MDC lurker for a while and hope you don't mind me making my first post here.

I currently live in Slidell, LA. About 20 min. outside of New Orleans. DH and I have been considering moving for a long time. We have never been real happy with living in Louisiana for various reasons (economy, education, politics, climate, environment, hurricanes). We settled here because that is where our first job out of college was and also our family lives. But we knew that we would eventually want to move out of state when the opportunity arrived. We are trying to speed up the process now with this past year's hurricane season. We don't want to have to go through to many more. Plus I want to be out of here before school time comes for my boys. We hope to move in a year or two.

We have been doing a lot of reading and research about other areas of the country that we would like to live in. Virginia really seems to have a lot of the things we are looking for: Great Education system (so many school are rated in top 1000 American High Schools); Healthy Economy; Four Seasons; Valleys and Mountians with access to Beach and Ocean; History. I know that actually living there is a lot different from reading stats, ranking charts, and reviews. I've gotten on a few different web sites like CNN Best places to live and Sperlings Best places to Live. I'm trying to get more "real" information from people who live there. What about community/ap community (I cloth diaper, baby wear, ap mama, considering homeschooling, want access to organic foods and clothing), great places to raise kids, culture, etc.

We are trying to investigate living somewhere between the Richmond area and surrounding cities and Roanoke/Lynchburg. I'm open to other information on other areas too. I have seen so many mixed things about Richmond. It is ranked number 5 in worst cities for crime.

We want to use the upcoming year to travel to the areas that we are interested in and start the process of looking for somewhere to live.

Also, my DH is a teacher at Jesuit High School of New Orleans. It's not neccessary that he stay at a Jesuit school or a catholic school, but we would like to know about the private schools there too.

I just got a packet of books from Virginia tourisim department. All the upcoming apple orchard picking, corn mazes, and Jamestown celebrations look great.

I would really appreciate any information that anyone can share with me.
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Anyone have any links I could check out for the info I'm looking for? I would really appreciate any information at all. TIA
cuddlebugzlovey I totally wanted to reply the first time I read your post, but I don't have ANY info on Richmond are and can't say one way or another about the issue of crime (and finding a good neighborhood if it IS a big prob). I decided to write this time because I can at least share what I know about where I am in VA. And since I'm going to be moving and have felt a little lost here at MDC because mamas in the state I'm moving to haven't really responded... I really wanted to help you in SOME way!
Hope it DOES help!

So, I'm in Norfolk, VA but practically in Virginia Beach. I've lived in VA beach most of the time that I've lived in VA. Ok, so the schools in VA Beach are, generally, quite good. I would definitely recommend that your DH steer VERY far away from Norfolk, Portsmouth, Hampton and Suffolk schools (if you would even consider this area) because there are fewer good schools in those areas AND a higher likelihood of getting into a school of miscreants. I taught in Norfolk Public Schools and almost had a nervous breakdown!

I also did a search in google for public schools and came up with:
It looks pretty thorough - even too much so because it goes into the preschool type schools. But I hope you can sift through it and find something helpful. There is a Christian school (I believe it may even be Catholic) on Princess Anne Rd in Va Beach. I don't have any idea if they need teachers, though.

These are Va Beach schools.
You could also look at Chesapeake schools - there are more good than rough ones there.

I do have to tell you that the housing costs in Va Beach are rediculous to my husband and me! It's nearly impossible to find a single family home for under 200,000. You can find condos and townhomes, but even those are pretty difficult to find in good neighborhoods! *sigh* However, Chesapeake has more reasonably priced homes. Make sure you check out the neighborhoods, though. I'm not that knowledgeable about Chesapeake, but I do know (from others) that there are some rougher areas (though I get the feeling that, for the most part, those aren't as rough as the rough spots in Norfolk).

One thing about Norfolk... if you consider buying in that area, they are working to polish it, so it's entirely likely that the house value there will increase dramatically! Something to consider, especially as long as your kiddos don't need to go to school... I would NOT put my own children in public school in Norfolk, though! Of course, I don't want my kids in public school at all! But that's me.

I hope this helps!
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Hi cuddlebugzlovey!

My family just recently moved to Richmond at the beginning of the year. We wanted to live in the city to minimize my dh's commute as he works downtown and had been commuting 2 1/2 hrs round trip we looked *all over* the city (with a *wonderful* agent, I might add, who could be a real asset to you if you narrow your search down to seriously include Richmond...she is fantastic!!!) We decided on the northside in Bellevue...if you look on a map find the intersection of Hermitage and Laburnum, that's your sw corner, Laburnum to Brook that's your se corner, Brook up to Westbrook, or Westwood...that's basically Bellevue. There are some other terrific neighborhoods in Richmond too.....the south side-Westover Hills, near Forest Hill Park, can't remember the names of the other neighborhoods over there....also some parts of the Fan and Carytown are good, Near Maymont Park....depends on what you are looking for living or suburbs. The surrounding counties have a way better school system than the city. the city has a few star schools..I think Mumford and Fox...and I'm hoping Holton is up and coming, it is relatively new. My dd is too young for school and we may homeschool so I can't really speak to the schools.... Richmond certainly has its faults, and I've only been here half a year, but I amhappy to be here and starting to meet folks and make some friends. I feel relativley safe....the crime seems mostly to be in specific areas. There is an API group that we have yet to meet officially, but they have a yahoo group, there is LLL, homeschooling groups, homebirth supportive group, a wonderful natural food store, Ellwood Thompson's; Maymont Park, Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, VA Museum of Art, an organic CSA if that interests you and she also sells at the farmers market, *lots* of history related stuff which I'm sure your tourism package told you about....goodness, there is a lot and we are by no means experts on the city. The 'alternative' weekly paper is called Style Weekly.

I hear that Charlottesville is nice but have no real info on it....oh, there is also a Families for Natural Living yahoo group that may be able to offer some opinions. I would personally avoid Northern Va unless that's where the job has to be...the traffic is terrible and cost of living is HUGE.

What else can I tell you? CAnt' really think right eyes are starting to bug out and I'm spending as much time backspacing to correct spelling as I am actually tyrping...anyway.....I'll think some more and get back to you! Good luck with your searching !!!!


ps--i know there are quite a few private schools in Richmond...some are Catholic but that's all Iknow about that. There is a Tandem Friends school inChar'ville...
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Hi! We moved to Richmond from N. California 3 years ago. We like it well enough, but the weather is hard on us. There was a great thread a few months ago that may answer alot of your questions.
(hope this works...I haven't referenced a thread before

There are a number of catholic schools here including two high schools and a cathedral. And there are lots of private schools. Crime wise - it's not as bad as it sounds, the counties have less crime than the city, but even in the city, the crime is concentrated is specific neighborhoods. I will write more when I have more time.
Best of luck to you!
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Just wanted to reply to PP...Norfolk is not as bad as it sounds. Ilive in a BEAUTIFUL part of Norfolk. I have a farm market near by, also 2 organic stores right down the street. Yeah, the schools arent that great, and you can turn the corner and find yourself in a questionable area, but that can be said about Va Beach also. The beach is nice, but i do agree with pp, way to expensive, and to me not worth the money. option is live in Norfolk, and school at the beach....which is what i did when I was a little girl. Va Beach has a GREAT private school called Friends School. I'm sure if you google it you can find more info on it. But like i said, dont be scared of Norfolk. I've lived here all mylife and I enjoy it. Not to say i plan on spending the restof my days here
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We moved to the Richmond area two years ago. We actually live in on a "farmette" in Powhatan County, which is about 25 miles West of Richmond. Just an FYI--My husband is a high school physics teacher. He teaches for Henrico County, which is one of the better, more progressive educational systems in the area. Check out a listing of education jobs in the state.

There are a few good Richmond City public schools, but the reality is that most people who live in the city and can afford to, send their kids to private schools. The catholic private high schools in the area are Benedictine (all boy) and St Gertrude's (all girl). Other private high schools to check out are St Christophers, St Catherines, Steward, Collegiate and Trinity Episcopal. These are the premiere private schools in the Richmond area. Just an FYI, Collegiate School is always voted as one of the best places to work in Richmond, by Richmond Magazine.

I have two kids whom I homeschool. We're in an awesome homeschool group that has 17 families. I absolutely love the other moms in the group--they're an incredibly interesting and intelligent group of women--in fact, 4 of them have PhD's, two are former military officers, one is a former FBI Agent, one is an anthropologist, etc... There is also an active e-mail list about homeschooling in Richmond. Check out: and

It's taken a bit of time, but I have to say that I really like living here. Richmond isn't the "crunchiest" town per se, but there are plenty of crunchy moms around. In fact, I've lived in Boulder, CO and Amherst, MA--two of the crunchiest towns in the nation, and to be honest, sometimes I couldn't help but feel people were on a constant mission to prove just how crunchy they were, instead of just being themselves.

This past Sunday, the Richmond Times Dispatch had an excellent magazine about living in the Richmond area. If you contact me off-list with your address, I'd be happy to mail it to you.

Good Luck and please let me know if you have any specific questions...
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Oh, just a few more things...

--I've read several places that Richmond Crime's rate is exacerbated by the way it's structured (part of several counties are included in their crime rate). There is crime, don't get me wrong, but there are plenty of safe areas in the city. Richmond has a new mayor (Douglas Wilder) who is really trying to turn things around--in my opinion, if I couldn't live on land in the country, I'd live in Richmond--there are plenty of VERY cool areas.

--If you move to Richmond:

--the mountains are a little over an hour away
--The ocean is just over 1 1/2 hours away
--There is a huge mt bike, hiking, running trail network right in downtown
--You can canoe, w/w raft and kayak right in downtown
--Skiing is less than 2 hours away
--There are wonderful museums and parks (Maymont is a total gem).
--There are two terrific universities--both of which are booming right now. (VCU and Un of Richmond)

I guess that's it for now.

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the other thread that rinnerin mentioned does have a lot of info on it.
also, another plug for our neighborhood/community (Bellevue): we have a bookstore, bakery, coffee & tea & sandwich shop, yoga studio, antique shop, diner, pizza joint, highly rated wine and beer store, mechanic, caterer who also does dinners to go, plus a coulple of other businesses all within a couple of blocks and then in another bit there's aCVS, a cleaners, a soon to be opening sandwich shop, a French restaurant....there is a community newsletter...let's see...what else? I think another poster mentioned lots of thrift stores in Richmond....anyway....hoping some of this info is helping you!!
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Thank you soooo much Tori, Jennifer, Erin, Maureen, and everyone else who replied. You were all extremely helpful. I will look up all the links you all posted and google some of the other things. The more we look at it, I think DH and I have narrowed it down to Richmond and Roanoke areas. I guess it will all come down to the job and house we find. We are continuing to research these areas and find out as much as we can, so everything you all posted is really helping. We are gonna try to take a trip up to one or both of those areas during DH's Christmas break.

I don't think we are too interested in moving to the Hampton Roads or VA Beach areas because we want to be a little farther inland (we have had enough of the coast life). I'm glad you posted about it Tori because it is still good to know about these places to help us decide and learn about the state.

I've read so much about the crime in Richmond. Thanks to you all for addressing it. It actually doesn't sound as bad as New Orleans and at least there is a new Mayor who is trying to do something about it (and I believe New Orleans is #1 in crime over Richmond.....or was before hurricane Katrina).

Anyone have info they could share on taxes, property taxes, car insurance, etc.

If anyone knows anything about Roanoke or Lynchburg I'd love to hear it. Thanks for all the info so far.
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In Richmond property taxes are pretty high...not much fun...definitely on the "con" side of pro v/s con...I think car insurance is pretty reasonable. Not sure how income tax fares against other states....let me know if you'd like our agents could probably set up an appt with her while you are here and she could tour you around.
I lived in Richmond for 2 1/2 years, and grew up outside of c-ville. Richmond is a pretty cool city The Fan is really safe but pricer then other parts of richmond. Church hill is near the bottom and is turning into a nicer area, with a lot of renovations.
Charlottesville is a great town. There are better options for schools here then richmond. So is the surrounding counties nelson county is a good rural option and is not too far a drive to c-ville.
I would recommend North Branch which is a small liberal private school in Afton Va.

I have also lived in SW va. And yes it is very beautiful and cheaper to live but i think that Charlottesville and Richmond is worth the extra cost of living.
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