Been thinking about moving to Norfolk, Virginia? Go for it. As a someone's that lived and worked in Norfolk, here are my top 10 reasons to move to Norfolk.
1. Central Location
Yes, Norfolk is the region's hub. It is only 15 minutes to Chesapeake, 15 minutes to Virginia Beach, 10 minutes to Portsmouth and only 30 minutes to Hampton/Newport News. Because of its central location, it's easier to call Norfolk home and feel comfortable working in any of these cities (although Newport News/Hampton can be a bear with tunnel traffic).
Home to Norfolk Southern, the world's largest Navy base, and more, Norfolk has a lot of jobs -- and quite a variety. As it is the only real downtown in the Hampton Roads region, corporations and businesses tend to flock to Norfolk.
3. It's Fun
There's plenty to do in Norfolk for all ages. Into museums and art? Check out Norfolk's public spaces and incredible museums, like Chrysler Museum. Into the food/bar scene? Norfolk is the place to be. Looking for a city that just always has something happening, whether it's a show, sports game, or social groups to meet up? Norfolk's the place.
Oh, did I mention there's a beach? Yeah, Norfolk has a beach, too, Virginia Beach. It's called Ocean View, and it's on the Chesapeake Bay. There's free public parking and easy access to the beach. Occasionally, there are outdoor festivals near at Ocean View, with the bay creating a nice background for its art festivals and the East Coast's largest St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Speaking of festivals, Festevents in Downtown Norfolk hosts several family-friendly events on the waterfront at Town Point Park throughout the year. The most notable event is called HarborFest, which is a massive weekend-long festival celebrating maritime life. It brings in tall ships from across the world, big-name musical acts, has fireworks, and turns downtown into a electric city in the middle of June each year. Visit www.festevents.com to see their full lineup of events.
Speaking of sports, Norfolk is a pretty solid sports town. Not great, like a Philly or New York City, but it's not bad for a mid-market. Old Dominion University (ODU) plays in the Conference USA and has historically good men's and women's basketball teams that have made runs in the NCAA's March Madness tournament. And within the last 10 years, their football program has brought a renewed enthusiasm of football back to Norfolk.
In addition to ODU, the Norfolk Admirals is a professional hockey team that plays at the Norfolk Scope. Near the Scope are the Norfolk Tides, a triple AAA professional baseball club that is the farm team to the Baltimore Orioles. The Tides are a popular venue in the spring and summer -- there's nothing like catching a good baseball game on a warm summer under the evening lights.
Other major sports in Norfolk include Norfolk State University, who is also an NCAA Division I program that competes in the Mid-Atlantic Eastern Conference (MEAC). Their men's basketball programs have made March Madness before and their football stadium is one of the biggest in the region.
5. Public Transportation
As I said, Norfolk is a city. As in, they actually provide public transportation. Residents have a variety of options on how to get around Norfolk. There is the Tide, which is a light-rail train that runs through the city all the way to the Virginia Beach border. In the city, from Park Place through Ghent to Downtown Norfolk, the city reduced some driving lanes and replaced them with dedicated bike lanes. Pretty cool, huh?
Buses are pretty active in the city as well. Savvy commuters will utilize the bus system to catch the light-rail to then ride their bike to their destination (you can bring your bike on the light rail). On the subject of transportation, Uber and other ride-sharing apps are very popular in Norfolk, too.
While it's a stretch, Norfolk is home to the region's biggest airport. It's an international one, and has a good selection of flights to Charlotte, New York, and Atlanta.
Speaking of getting around the city, Norfolk is by far the most walkable city in all of Hampton Roads. Many people don't have if they live in Downtown Norfolk, Ghent, or surrounding neighborhoods. Because of the proximity of schools, their job(s), and social life, having a car is not a necessity. Is it nicer? Yes, and if you have a vehicle, you will not have to drive far for anything. Norfolk really is like big city with a small town feel in many ways.
My brother, who spent a few years in Ghent, would everywhere. On many weekends, he would leave his car in his parking space and never touch it until Monday morning on his way to work.
7. Historical Neighborhoods
Love the charm of an old house? Or maybe an established neighborhood, where there's an active civic league that looks out for the neighborhood's interest? Norfolk's your place. Norfolk is all about its neighborhoods. Ghent, Colonial Place, Larchmont, West Ghent, Bayview, and many other neighborhoods have deep roots in the community. Many neighborhoods are part of the National Register of Historical Places.
Are you a shopper? Well, Norfolk just became an even hotter destination for spending time out looking for your favorite things. Between the triple-decker indoor McCarthur Mall in Downtown Norfolk, which as Nordstrom, Apple, and other popular retailers, Norfolk just opened a premium outlet mall which is anchored by Under Armour, Nike, and very soon -- IKEA! Brining IKEA to Norfolk is a major win for the region, and a major win for Norfolk residents. No more long trips to Potomac Mills in Northern Virginia or to Raleigh, North Carolina.
And although online shopping is definitely HUGE today, Norfolk has dozens of small, privately-owned boutique shops in Ghent that people love to spend money. Go to www.GhentNorfolk.org for a full list of the shops.
Norfolk has five public high schools, and several private schools. In fact, two of their private high schools are known as the most popular in the region. Those are Norfolk Academy, which is housed next door to Virginia Wesleyan University and is technically in Norfolk (it's on the border on the Norfolk/VA Beach line). Neverthless, many affluent families in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Chesapeake send their children there.
The other major popular private school is Norfolk Collegiate, which is without question in Norfolk. It's near Wards Corner right off Granby Street (and down the street from Norfolk Christian). Both schools are widely-known as premier private schools, but parents pay a price for it. Tuition is upwards of $20,000 per year.
But if you want to save money, public schools is an option for many families. Maury High School is commonly recognized as the school district to be in, but Granby High School and Norview High School are solid runner-up's when you look at the school's ratings.
10. Food & Music
Norfolk has a terrific music scene. Nearly every night somewhere in the city you will find a bar with live music, and several times per week, The NorVa in Downtown Norfolk brings in national acts like Passion Pit, Foster The People, and other big-name bands. But with good music often comes good food. And Norfolk is a "foodie town," as described by one of my Norfolk tenants. There are so many restaurants to choose from, fancy places like Freemason Abbey to a more casual yet trendy establishment called Supper to a good ol' local place for tacos and cheap beer at Tortilla West. There are literally dozens of good restaurants (Thai, Japanese, Italian -- I love La Bella) to choose from when deciding where to eat. Many of the restaurants are also close to popular breweries such as O'Connor's, Smartmouth, and Coelacanth Brewing.
But Norfolk is not just a place for for food and spirits. They have amazing coffee shops, like Cafe Stella, Fair Grounds, and CURE Coffeehouse and Brasserie. CURE literally has nearly 200 Google reviews. If you want/need the usual chains such as Starbuck's or Dunkin Donuts, those are available too. Norfolk has also has the major chain restaurants such as Olive Garden, Buffalo Wild Wings, and other well-known national places.
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Southerland Real Estate, Inc.
638 Independence Parkway
Chesapeake, VA 23320