PLACES TO RETIRE – VIRGINIA RETIREMENT – Virginia is a state of mind-boggling density. Every acre of soil is packed with some saga of national significance, be it the USA’s colonization, Revolution or Civil War. The geographic setting is stunning, with long beaches, pine-clad marshes, and the lush, rugged beauty of the Appalachians to the west.
History buffs will find endless opportunities to explore one of the USA’s original colonies. Virginia has attractions from before the time of the American Revolution to more recent history. Here you find Jamestown, the first permanent English colonial settlement in America; Yorktown, the site of the British surrender in 1781; and Colonial Williamsburg, the capital of Virginia from 1699 to 1779. Williamsburg is a cultural gem, a place of living history, a lovely colonial smorgasbord. It rightly bills itself as a place to step back in time, where costumed interpreters engage their visitors and explain the significance of the place with living history.
Four out of the first five US presidents came from Virginia: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, collectively known as the Virginia Dynasty. Virginia is home to the estates of George Washington at Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. It also has well-preserved Civil War battlegrounds at Manassas National Battlefield Park, Fredericksburg National Military Park, and Richmond National Battlefield Park, all administered by the National Park Service. Arlington National Cemetery serves as a resting place for veterans of all armed conflicts from the Civil War onward, the most famous of whom is probably President John F. Kennedy.
The business of the “beltway” region adjacent to Washington DC is government. There is also a ship building industry at Newport News where aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines are built in addition to major liners for the cruise ship industry. As a foundation of Virginia’s early wealth, tobacco remains a major cash crop, joining tourism, manufacturing, fishing, and communications as a force in Virginia’s very diversified state economy.
Virginia’s largest city, Virginia Beach has a population of approximately 438,000 residents. The Virginia Beach Boardwalk, first constructed in 1888, has been featured by the Discovery Channel, and in magazines such as Coastal Living, Southern Living, and National Geographic Traveler. The Boardwalk has remained the symbol of Virginia Beach, and today it stretches for three miles featuring a separate bike path, making it ideal for strolling, rollerblading and cycling.
Climate: The climate of Virginia Beach is characterized by hot, humid summers and cool winters. The area receives 48 inches of rain per year, and snowfall of 7 inches.
Cost of living: This resort area is expensive, 11% greater than the national average. Housing is also 34.6% greater than the national average, with the median cost of a retirement home at $253,100.
Colleges and Universities: Atlantic University has a connection with Edgar Cayce, and therefore offers many New Age subjects.
Transportation: The region’s major commercial airport is Norfolk International. Transportation within the city is provided by a regional bus service, Hampton Roads Transit, and Amtrak offers rail service.
Travel and tourism: There is something for every retiree’s taste in Virginia Beach, whether it’s touring along the boardwalk, catching crabs in Chesapeake Beach, or finding the perfect ensemble while shopping in Town Center.
Norfolk, with approximately 240,000 residents, is the cultural, educational, business and medical center of Hampton Roads. Norfolk is located where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. It is a friendly, modern city where you will find the world’s largest naval base, the region’s international airport, and one of the busiest international ports on the East Coast of the United States.
Climate: Norfolk has moderate changes of seasons, with summer temperatures that can be hot, often topping 90 °F with high humidity.
Cost of living: Relatively expensive, the cost of living in Norfolk is 13.3% greater than the Virginia average, and 11% greater than the national average. There is better news on the housing front, where the median home value is 22.6% less than the Virginia average and 2.2% less than the national average.
Colleges and Universities: Retirees will be attracted to Norfolk because of the many institutions of higher education located there such as Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University, and Virginia Wesleyan College. College towns always provide opportunities for intellectual and cultural stimulation in retirement.
Transportation: Norfolk’s Airport has international connections. Hampton Roads Transit is one of the pre-eminent transportation organizations in the nation, serving the community through high quality, safe, efficient and sustainable regional transportation services.
Travel and tourism: Retirees will enjoy exploring Norfolk’s historic attractions, world class museums, and unique shopping adventures, all within walking distance or a short bus or car ride from the downtown waterfront. Artsy types, foodies and cappuccino lovers flock to the historic Ghent district, west of the city center.
Richmond, with a current population of 204,214 people, was the former capital of the Confederacy. It prides itself on being the poster-city for melting-pot America, with one of the most vibrant African American communities in the country. Richmond exemplifies the gradual absorption of a traditional Southern city into the international environment of the Northeast Corridor.
Geographically, a river runs through it. The James River gives Richmond the designation of the only urban setting in the US with Class IV rapids. While there is abundant history here, the retiree looking for outdoor excitement will find an experience that is anything other than textbook.
Climate: Richmond has four seasons, with hot and humid summers and generally mild winters. Autumn is especially enjoyable with long periods of pleasant, mild weather.
Cost of living: Somewhat above average, the cost of living in Richmond is 9.2% greater than the Virginia average, and 7% greater than the national average. But better news awaits retirement home shoppers, where the median home value in Richmond is 23.4% less than the Virginia average and 3.1% less than the national average.
Colleges and Universities: The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Richmond combines intellectual stimulation and civic engagement with a vibrant community of like-minded students age 50 and better. Here retirees can pursue a special interest, learn new skills, and become involved with social issues.
Transportation: Richmond has options by land, sea, and air. Air travel is conveniently accessible from Richmond International Airport.
Travel and tourism: History and Civil War buffs will enjoy tracing the history of the Confederate States of America with the country’s largest collection of civilian and military artifacts at the Museum & White House of the Confederacy. The most visited attraction in Richmond is Maymont Park, a former private estate which is now a 100-acre public park. It contains the fully furnished Maymont House, Japanese and Italian gardens, an arboretum, and a small zoo.
Arlington with 207,627 residents is located directly across the Potomac River from Washington DC. It is an ideal retirement destination due to its central location in the Washington DC metropolitan area, its ease of access by car and public transportation, and its many cultural and historic attractions.
Climate: Arlington has warm summers and very cold winters. The annual average precipitation is 39.35 inches.
Cost of living: Proximity to Washington, D.C. creates a big price tag. The cost of living in Arlington is 40.8% greater than the Virginia average, and 38% greater than the national average. And retirement housing is through the roof, with the median home value 104.8% greater than the Virginia average and 159% greater than the national average.
Colleges and Universities: Retirees are sure to find lifelong learning programs of interest at Marymount and George Mason, two of the major universities in the Arlington area.
Transportation: One way to save money in this expensive retirement area is that one will never have to drive a car living in Arlington! The Washington Metro serves the area by the Orange, Blue and Yellow lines. In addition, there is the Virginia Railway Express (commuter rail), and Metrobus (regional public bus). Arlington has 86 miles of on-street and paved off-road bicycle trails for the bicycling retiree.
Travel and tourism: The attractions here are too numerous to mention, so retirees will choose their own favorites from the Arlington County Convention and Visitors Service.
Virginia Retirement Summary:
Although a relatively expensive are to retire in, the cultural and educational opportunities make this area very attractive to retirees who can afford it. Money-rates.com ranks Virginia as #6 on its list of top ten states for retirement. Read Mark’s blog of 3/10/2012 http://retireusa.net/blog/best-and-worse-states-for-retirement for a complete list and more details.