16 Pros and Cons of Living in Richmond, VA

The city of Richmond was an integral part of the development of the original colony of Virginia. It played a significant role in the Revolutionary War, and this community was also front-and-center in the Civil War too. After the Reconstruction period, the town’s location at the falls of the James River allowed it to become a hub for transportation. This transformation helped to diversify the economy and make it an even stronger force in the region.

There were some notable firsts that occurred in Richmond, such as the election of Oliver Hill in 1948 to become the first African-American elected to the city council since the Reconstruction Era. Important roads, like US 1 and US 301 helped to connect the city to the region. Before the creation of the interstate system, there was a 15-exit tollway planned for the city that was completed in 1958.

Because of the challenges to the economy during the late 20th century, Richmond experienced four consecutive decades of population loss. That finally reversed itself in 2010 thanks to the revitalization and gentrification of several neighborhoods, including Manchester, Jackson Ward, and Church Hill.

List of the Pros of Living in Richmond, VA

1. The local art scene is an excellent resource for families and households.
There is a lot of talent at VCU that puts creativity into the streets of Richmond. If you work in an industry that demands innovation, then this is the place to be. You will find galleries filled with some excellent works here as well. Although it doesn’t receive the acclaim that you’ll find in other stretches of the East Coast, you will enjoy a chance to= embrace your creative side if you start living here.

2. It is an excellent hub for new jobs.
Although the unemployment rate in Richmond is slightly higher than the rest of the region, there are still several opportunities to find an excellent job when you move to the city. New employers are coming to town as well, such as Stone Brewery. With a total employment level of about 700,000, their growth rate in 2017 was 1.5% and more than double what the national average experienced. Over 10,000 new jobs were added in the past year there, making it the 15th-fastest growing market in the United States for employment.

3. Richmond offers an excellent culinary experience.
There are some excellent places to find a bite to eat when you start living in Richmond. With several hundred restaurants from which to choose, you’ll find a blend of old-world styles with modern swagger to create trends that filter to the rest of the United States over time. Many of the establishments work from an organic approach, sourcing local ingredients to ensure that there is another level of support for the economy.

4. You’re a quick road trip from wherever you want to be.
Richmond is in the heart of Virginia country, which means you can take a few hours to drive almost anywhere when you live here. Want to get away from the city for a while? Then you can head west to visit the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. If you want to spend some time by the ocean, then you can head down I-64 to Newport News, Norfolk, or Virginia Beach. You can also take the I-95 north to visit Washington, D.C., Baltimore, or continue up into Philadelphia.

This advantage makes it possible to commute into one of the larger cities by train if you want while living along the East Coast.

5. The housing market in Richmond is on a 3-year hot streak.
Homes in the Richmond area are selling quickly, with many owners reporting that they are receiving cash offers that are above their asking price. The Richmond Times-Dispatch tells the story of Eric and Meredith Mayton, who put up a 1,300-square-foot home in Westover Hills with a listing price of $309,500. They had 30 showings in the first 72 hours, and then there were 10 offers, with three of them cash. The property was under contract in less than a week for $20,000 more than their asking price.

If you are moving into the market, it might be a challenge to find a place because of its low inventory levels. You will also have an excellent opportunity to get equity out of your home right away if you can afford to get into the market. The median home cost is about $214,000, with an appreciate rate of more than 13% in the last decade.

6. There are plenty of places of historic interest to enjoy in Richmond.
The city of Richmond is rich in American history. You can spend each weekend exploring a new place and not run out of something new to do for at least the first year that you start living in the city. You can visit the capitol building that Thomas Jefferson designed and Queen Elizabeth toured. Re-enactments of the Second Continental Congress occur each year to commemorate Patrick Henry’s famous speech. You can follow the Revolutionary Trail, see cannons from the Civil War, or visit the headquarters of Robert E. Lee from his time in the war in 1862.

You can go back all four centuries of history in Richmond with a visit to the Henricus Historical Park as well. That is just a sampling of what you can do when you start living here.

7. There is a lively social scene to enjoy in Richmond.
You will find that the social scene in Richmond is something that you would expect to see in an urban area that is five times larger than this one. There is plenty of live music for you to enjoy throughout the week, whether you want to go to a large concert or an intimate venue. There are festivals that celebrate music and food as well. If you like local brews, there are several options from which to choose. You can’t go wrong with one of the coffee shops in the area either.

8. Traffic is not a problem when you start living in Richmond.
Although you might hear some folks complain about the traffic that happens during rush hour when living in Richmond, it is far better here than in most other urban centers. Even if you are driving to or from work on a bad day, you might get held up an extra 15-20 minutes. That still means you’re spending less than an hour in your vehicle. If you’re used to the traffic in a city like DC, Seattle, NYC, or Los Angeles, then the noticeable reduction is going to be a tremendous improvement.

9. You can get an education at VCU.
You might hear some complaints about the public schools in Richmond, but you can definitely get a high-quality education after high school thanks to VCU. There are many excellent programs and professors there that can help you start your first career or transition to the next one. There is a close relationship between the university and the local schools that works to improve the local systems as well.

10. There’s a place for anyone regardless of their life perspectives.
Richmond is a city of polarities. If you tend to fall on the liberal spectrum of beliefs, then you’ll find some welcoming spots close to the VCU campus. When your ideals fall closer to the conservative spectrum, then you’ll find groups along the outskirts of the city that share some of your ideas. The city has a successful rehabilitation program for those who are jobless or homeless, which means there is a plan in place to manage the extreme poverty that is sometimes apparent in the region.

No community is 100% perfect, but you will also discover that Richmond goes out of its way to be as helpful as possible in almost any situation.

List of the Cons of Living in Richmond, VA

1. The transportation infrastructure in Richmond could use some work.
You will find that the drivers in Richmond rarely obey the laws of the crosswalk for pedestrians when navigating the city. Some don’t even stop, even though you might have the right of way to go across the street. There are cars in the bike lanes all of the time in the city. To make matters worse, many of them will get upset with you if you get in their way, which can lead to the occasional road rage incident. You’ll want to keep your head on a swivel to make sure you stay safe.

There is one benefit to the infrastructure: a shorter commute. The average time in your vehicle in the United States is 26 minutes, but it is only 22 minutes to get to work when you start living in Richmond.

2. The best schools are in the most expensive neighborhoods in Richmond.
Families that decide to start living in Richmond will typically move to a neighborhood with an excellent school on a lease to make sure their enrollment is possible. A lot of the public schools in the city are rated as average or below, so the better ones attract a lot of attention and charge the most in rent or have the highest home values. Mary Mumford is often rated as the best one in the area, so a two-bedroom house could go from $250,000 to $300,000 – and if you have a larger family, you’re in the $400k to $500k range.

Many of the schools are underfunded in Richmond, and the school district has a reputation for not paying its bills.

3. Crime in Richmond is higher than the national average.
Although the crime rate in Virginia is low when measuring violent and property crime, the same cannot be said of Richmond. The city experiences a 17% higher rate than the national average in most years, giving it a C- grade by Area Vibes. The total crime rate in the city is 3,198 incidents per 100,000 people, but the rest of the state experiences a rate of 2,0001 incidents per 100k people. Violent crime measures are at 332 vs. 208 in Richmond compared to the state for violent crime per 100,000 people as well.

4. You are going to be living with two nuclear power plants in your backyard.
Virginia’s nuclear facilities are often listed as a potential disadvantage for living in the state. There are four facilities currently in operation, with half of them located in Richmond. The other two are near Newport News. That means there is always the threat that something could happen with one of these locations. You will want to pay attention to the evacuation routes for your area and have an emergency plan in place for your family so that you can manage this situation as needed.

This disadvantage might not bother everyone, but there are some people who do not want to move within a 50-mile zone of these facilities because of the risk of contamination. If you do want to make the move and don’t mind living closer to the facility, you might find a nice price on your home.

5. The cost of living in slightly higher than the national average.
Although there are nearly 700,000 jobs available in the Richmond metro area, the actual city has a total population of a little more than 220,000. People are moving here at a rapid pace, with the growth rate in 2010 at nearly 10%. This popularity creates the disadvantage of cost since supplies have more scarcity. The cost of living is about 2.5% higher here than it is on average throughout the United States.

6. Richmond is one of the worst U.S. cities for allergies.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies every year, then Richmond might not be the best place to live. Although it ranks 20th on the list of worst cities for this issue, it is far worse here than if you are moving to the east from the west. Stock up on your antihistamine if you are coming to the city no matter what so that you can get through the worst of each weather transition. Most people feel like they start to see a reduction in symptoms after a couple of years, but that may not apply in your situation.

The pros and cons of living in Richmond, VA show that this metro area might not be the best choice for everyone, but it can be a family-friendly environment. You will have better proximity to the mountains and the larger cities in the region while enjoying a lively social scene. Cost is a barrier to entry to this market, so you’ll want to find a job and have some money saved up first to make the most of this experience.

Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.