If you’ve always dreamed of having a sunny beach near home, you’ll find what you’re looking for in coastal Virginia (as long as you’re smart about your home search). You’ll want to start your quest with the two largest metro areas of the region: Virginia Beach and Hampton. Both of these cities are bigger than you might think: Hampton encompasses 136 square miles and Virginia Beach a whopping 250 square miles. What follows is useful insight from locals about what makes coastal Virginia a great place to call home.
1. Sense of Community
For those looking for a sense of belonging, coastal Virginia offers a community and familial feel that keeps families local for generations. “The best thing about coastal Virginia is the vibe of community here,” says Glen Sweitzer, with custom renovations company Regal Renovations. “There’s a special unity about being part of our region—many people are so proud to live here and have their heritage here.”
2. Brand New Buildings and Renovations
Older buildings in the region are being renovated with newer, sturdier materials, and modernized to reflect the styles preferred by younger families, making it a more attractive destination for potential residents.
“Older areas, hotels, and buildings are undergoing significant renovations or are being demolished. New buildings are coming in—some with all-inclusive amenities. Buildings with living spaces above and street-level small businesses, restaurants, and other shops below are replacing dated, small-town beach businesses and hotels that ruled the area several years ago,” Sweitzer says.
3. Quiet Country Escapes and Fine Dining
According to residents, coastal Virginia offers much more than long sandy beaches. Quaint, country-living neighborhoods are a quick drive to the beach, and locals report that foodies are satisfied with so many dining options and high-quality cuisine.
“The variety of great local dining spots—where one does not have to pay homage to national chains—means that residents can choose from small to large restaurants, and fine to casual dining,” says Rick Sterling, a real estate broker in Virginia Beach. “Many restaurants now offer locally sourced food, everything from freshly-caught seafood to local, organic, farm-raised beef, pork, chicken, and veggies.”
4. Haunted Locations Abound
Most beach towns aren’t known for their ghost stories, but coastal Virginia is seeped in history and so it’s got quite a few skeletons in the closet.
“In the colonial days here, witches were tried for their crimes by being tied up and thrown into the Elizabeth River in an area that’s still called Witchduck in Virginia Beach,” he continues. “If they escaped, they were considered a witch and other measures were taken to make sure they were eliminated, and if they drowned, well they were fortunately, or unfortunately, not guilty—but dead.”
5. It’s Known for Lovers
On the other side of the spectrum, Virginia Beach is a popular spot for couples—whether it’s enjoying the frequent date night activity or honeymooning in a short-term rental on the water, locals know the spots where love lingers in the air. Options include dinner at a waterfront restaurant, a walk on the boardwalk, or drinks in front of the sunset over the water.
The romanticism of these coastal towns inspires droves of families to move here. “From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Virginia Beach has free live music all over the oceanfront—some big names, too,” says Jason Sampson, realtor with Seven City Homes, adding to the plethora of activities a loving pair can experience together in their own backyard.
6. First-Time-Buyer Affordability
Despite outrageous home prices across the country, coastal Virginia has affordable real estate for first-time homebuyers and those who’d like to trade up without breaking the bank, according to Dennis Blackmore, realtor in Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads. Neighborhoods around the Virginia Beach area, like Redmill, are seen as up and coming. Premium home developments have also been built in Sherwood Lakes and Ashville Park, which is perfect for residents as they’re close to South Virginia Beach, an exciting area to live in and considered prime real estate.
7. One of the Safest Places
Due to several military bases surrounding the Virginia Beach metropolitan area, including the U.S. Naval Air Station Oceana, jets can be seen flying overhead frequently, and military personnel are running up and down the beach almost every morning. Because this naval station is the largest employer in the area, most of the region is filled with generations of military families.
Whether you’re moving for the boardwalk and food options or the familial community, Virginia Beach has a deluge of activities available for every personality.