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Schools - 4/7/2008
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Norfolk, VA

Ranked #1 Urban School System 2 years in a row

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Norfolk, VA

Hampton Roads - 1/6/2014

The Hampton Roads area is a very close knit military town. There are very few good areas of town, it is pretty much street by street, it is a pretty consistent mix, you pretty much have to take street by street. You have to look,mut there are "Hidden Gems" everywhere...take the time and look around. [read more...]

Norfolk, VA

Living in Norfolk by the Sea - 3/21/2013

I have lived in Norfolk since 1983. It's the city at the center of the "Hampton Roads" region, which consists of roughly 7 competing cities all within a stone's throw of each other in Southeastern Virginia, the "city" of Virginia Beach being the largest by population and the "city" of Suffolk being the largest by land area. In actuality, Norfolk really is the only that looks or feels like a city to me, and that would be a smaller city. There is a bit of a skyline with some tall buildings in the downtown area. The other cities are more suburban in flavor and indeed many people choose to live in them and commute to Norfolk for work. The largest employers are the military, shipbuilding and the port. As in any place, there are pros and cons to living here. Here are a few generalizations: many people who live here, are not originally from here. They have ended up here mainly because of the military - and many have stayed to make a life here. This means that people here are used to being around people who are different from them, come from a different place, have a different perspective and they generally seem to get along well for the most part. It is a friendly, laid back kind of place. Norfolk itself, seems to be divided into a population of "haves" and "have nots." If you are fortunate enough to be a "have", then life here is good - lots of cultural opportunities - Opera, Symphony, art museums, historic houses, a good smattering of locally owned restaurants for foodies, Norfolk Botanical Gardens, arts festivals, marathons, broadway shows, local theater, close access to beaches, hiking, tourist areas of Williamsburg, Jamestown, Virginia Beach, Outer Banks of NC, etc. Probably one area of weakness for some is the lack of professional big league sports teams. There is a minor league baseball team (with a very nice stadium) and a decent hockey team. Basketball and football fans are very enthusiastic about attending games at Norfolk's two largest universities - Norfolk State University, an HBCU, and Old Dominion University. (Since I don't care about sports this is not a deficit to me, but I know many people would not feel that way.) In short, if you live here and you are bored, it's really your fault for not taking advantage of all there is to do. As a percentage, the "haves" do not make up the majority of the population. There is a large percentage of poor, mostly black residents whose quality of life, I believe, is not as good. Like many cities, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Hampton (the three original cities) experienced an epidemic of white flight during the 60s, 70, and 80s. Much of the white middle class fled to Virginia Beach and Chesapeake on the southside and York and Gloucester counties on the peninsula. As a result, Norfolk's (and Portsmouth's)public schools struggle with the challenges that a very high percentage of students from a lower socio-economic status bring. (Some people view this as an opportunity rather than a challenge, but that probably goes against the conventional wisdom for many.) This is excaberbated by many upper and middle class families placing their children in one of the private schools here. At the high dollar end, would be Norfolk Academy, and then in descending order in terms of price would be Norfolk Collegiate, then Norfolk Christian and then several Catholic K-8 schools. (Ironically Norfolk Catholic High School was moved to Virginia Beach a few years ago and "Norfolk" was dropped from its name.) While Norfolk schools suffer, Virginia Beach schools on the other hand, flourish. They are regularly named in national publications for all kinds of outstanding achievements and honors. There is a misperception (probably based on the white flight history) that VB schools are mostly white. This is no longer the case as the population of Virginia Beach has become much more diverse than it used to be even ten years ago. If you have school-aged children and want to put them in a highly praised school district, then you may want to consider living in Virginia Beach. Housing costs are higher there and the commute can be troublesome, but you get the benefit of the highly rated schools. There does seem to have been somewhat of a reversal in the flight of the middle class from Norfolk, starting in the late 1980s and continuing on to the present as many older couples chose to return to (or not leave) Norfolk as they sought to downsize. Urban renewal began in the Ghent neighborhood (our urban village, where you can get by without a car - hospitals,grocery stores, churches, restaurants, shops, museums all within walking distance) and expanded into the neighborhoods of Freemason Harbor and then downtown. Urban revitalization continues in the once very seedy bayside communities of Ocean View on the northern side of town. This effort had stalled somewhat with the economic downturn but appears to be on the rise again. I used to live in Ghent when I was in college and will likely return there when I retire because of the high walkability factor. I don't want to end up like my parents in their mid to late 80s stuck in suburbia when driving is becoming an issue. Because Norfolk cannot expand into the surrounding cities (that's why those counties became cities in the first place)it has essentially run out of room to build large new neighborhoods. Instead it has been revitalizing neighborhoods as I mentioned above. Despite this, much of the city's housing stock is postwar construction, which many will not like if they want to live in a brand new house. Because the city is laced with rivers (really tidal estuaries) and creeks, there are opportunities to buy "waterfront" homes at relatively reasonable prices compared to Virgina Beach. Then there is the weather. We do have four seasons. Winter is generally mild - typically in the 40s during the day. We usually get a couple of weeks at the end of January beginning of February where temperatures can drop below freezing. Snow is uncommon and schools and government offices close whenever we get a little bit of snow, which generally melts within a day or two. Spring is beautiful here in this very lush, green environment. (If you are an allergy sufferer, you may have issues.) Summers are long, hot and humid and you will probably want air conditioning unless you are lucky enough to live right on the bay where you might be able to get a constant breeze. Temperatures can be in the low 90s but it's the 90% humidity that will get to you if your are not used to it. Locals start going to the beaches (which are free) in May and you can usually go through September and sometimes into October. We do get an occasional hurricane but seem to suffer more from periodic "Noreaster" storms (winds out of the northeast) which push lots of water into the bay and onto the land. Some parts of Norfolk flood regularly especially in the older neigborhoods of Ghent and Freemason some of the neighborhoods on the Elizabeth and Lafayette rivers. They say that Norfolk is the most threatened city after New Orleans for coastal flooding. Fall is also beautiful and usually doesn't start until mid October. Many people like to drive to Skyline drive in the Virginia mountains about 4 hours away to see the leaves. Finally, I have to write about traffic. If you live and work in Norfolk, it's not too bad. 20 minutes commute would get you where you need to go. Public transportation is not great, but we recently completed the starter line of our light rail system called the "Tide". It will ultimately extend from the Norfolk Naval Base to the oceanfront in Virginia Beach one day, but that day may take quite a while to get here. If you choose to live in Chesapeake, Virginia Beach or on the Peninsula (Hampton and Newport News) and have to commute in to Norfolk, you will hate the drive, especially if you are coming through a tunnel under a river. Drives that might take 20 minutes without traffic can last an hour and a half if you run into trouble. I live in Norfolk and have commuted to Virginia Beach for the past 12 years. What used to take 30 minutes now generally takes 40 to 45. My job used to take me all over the US so I have seen a lot of towns and cities. One thing that strikes me about many of the smaller to mid-sized cities is the "sameness" - Walmart, Target, fast food chains - the same from one place to the next. While Norfolk does have those things, it also has enough other items to make it unique. It has enough cultural amenities to give it a slightly big city feel, but not the high cost of living or high crime rate of a true big city. All in all, it's not a bad place to be.[read more...]

Norfolk, VA

A Disappointing, mediocre military town - 10/2/2012

I have lived here in Norfolk for over 16.5 years and I would highly recommend that(if you are not a military service member,dependent, retiree, civil servant or DOD contractor) you think twice about moving here for the following reasons below: 1.) Increasing cost of living especially in the real estate market. You pay more for what the home is "worth"(coming from a former homeowner). 2.) High state and local property taxes(i.e.your vehicle(s), business, housing) 3.) Low wages in the private sector outside the military, civil servant or defense contractor markets. 4.) Mediocre school system (some schools are better than others depending on where you live) 5.)The local roads are horrible, not to mention damaging to your vehicles and it seems like construction can never be completed on the interstate (64 and 264) in a timely manner. Traffic has become extremely congested throughout the seven cities almost daily. 4.)The local and city municipalities nickel and dime their citizens heavily to make up for the shortfall in tax revenue. 5.) Their is mass gentrification happening in local communities in Norfolk ( which is not necessarily a bad thing) BUT I believe that they are sending a "message" to working class, low-income families to move out. 6.) Job growth is stagnant(particularly in the private sector). You are either going to be underemployed, unemployed(if you are non-military) for a long time or working for barely above minimum wage. Overall,I would not move here if you are a newcomer, a college grad(not from here) or a young family(non-military) seeking opportunities for gainful employment or career advancement. On a positive note, you will love... 1.) The great weather 2.) The Ocean View beach ( great place to bring the kids especially during the summer). 3.) The Norfolk Zoo and Botanical Gardens ( Great attractions) 4.) That Norfolk is relatively close to its neighboring cities (VA Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Hampton, Newport News). You can drive to each town within 10-15 minutes of other with the exception of Williamsburg (45 minutes). That's my take. I have been the newcomer, military spouse, veteran, taxpayer and displaced as well. I think Norfolk can do better if the state allows new markets besides the military or the government to revitalize the economy here thus bringing much needed tax revenue and new, sustainable jobs here. When that happens I think Norfolk will be a great place to live. For starters, the "Waterside" can certainly use fresh ideas and business talent.[read more...]

Norfolk, VA

tranportation - 9/1/2012

I grew up in this area and have seen many changes but the thing that I have really noticed is the traffic along with people driving habits. The traffic is really getting busier every year with accidents putting everything at a stand still. Driving up to New York on the Jersey Parkway no longer bothers me. They have builts all these new homes without considering the roads and extra traffic. This may be a common problem in most cities I don't know.[read more...]

Matthews, NC

Norfolk - 10/16/2011

I liked the living on the beach in Willoughby, but the cost of living sucks, if you're not in the military, then you're feeling the effects of the inflation. I was a nurse living up there, they don't pay the nurses well at all. the cost of living does not match the pay scale. [read more...]

Norfolk, VA

Norfolk, VA - 1/6/2011

Norfolk has a commitment to end homelessness, while at the same time they install benches isn public places which are designed so that no one can sleep on them. As the natives say, "It's much better than it used to be."[read more...]

Norfolk, VA

public school system - 12/29/2010

i love my neighborhood in norfolk, va. it is called riverview and situated in a low traffic area bordered by a large city park and zoo, a river and a major street. these "borders" protect it somewhat from outsiders and drive through traffic. it is tucked back away from neighboring areas having considerably more crime. norfolk is a city of many small neighborhoods, varying between "good" and "bad". this is definitely a GOOD one. i have never lived in an area consisting of so many friendly people. it is so easy to meet people here. it is old fashioned that way. when we moved here we were greeted with cookies, hellos, and an invite to a now friend's "garage bar". within a week i was invited to the neighborhood bookclub. my only concern now is safety and the public school system. this was not a consideration when we moved here since we did not have children then. most of our neighbors have chosen montessori or private school. we also do not feel entirely comfortable with the overall safety of the city. the good neighborhoods are FANTASTIC. but the bad ones are pretty BAD as far as crime is concerned. unfortunately, now we are considering moving once i retire from the military so that we can raise our daughter in safe environment that encourages outdoor activities and bike riding (bike lanes) and has a public school system with a great reputation.[read more...]

Norfolk, VA

Cleaner streets, a challenge. - 5/4/2010

I have been a Norfolk resident for close to 50 years. I have worked and retired here.I like our city even with it's problems. It has afforded me a living, and many activities to engage in if I wish. A problem that I do see daily as I drive or walk in most neighborhoods is LITTER. I believe this is a social problem. I have seen people "literly" throw trash from car windows, or dump thier ashtray in a parking lot of some business. I also see yards that apparently no one cares how awful their trash affects the neighborhood. I realize their are exceptions; but it is obvious that some just don't get it. This is about personal pride in our city, and the health of it's citizens. Thanks Brad[read more...]

Norfolk, VA

Straight up dump - 2/24/2010

Not only is norfolk filled to the brim and spilling out the sides with people on the workday, moving here is the worst thing a person can do to themselves. Everywhere you go is congested and dumpy, and there is no open space for miles. I feel like I'm living in a third world country with the crappy state of the roads and a bunch of construction junk sprawled out all over downtown. Traffic is the worst I've seen, and being from California that's saying a lot. I've never been so pissed off in my life at random idiots before I moved here. It seems like everyone is tired, stressed out and miserable. Don't come here unless you have to.[read more...]

Montgomery, WV

rmoving to norfolk - 1/19/2010

Wanting to know the best places to live in Norfolk.[read more...]

Norfolk, VA

Norfolk - 12/27/2009

Great town, inexpensive COL and close to great beaches. Four seasons are beautiful.[read more...]

Norfolk, VA

Norfolk: Life. Celebrated Daily. - 6/12/2009

Located in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk boasts a vibrant urban renaissance and takes pride in its military and American heritage. It has many miles of riverfront and bayfront property, and is linked with its neighbors through an extensive network of Interstate highways, bridges, tunnels, and bridge-tunnel complexes. A wonderful walking city, with a yearly average temperature of about 68 degrees, Norfolk is an appealing destination for visitors year-round to experience the city's diverse attractions, special events and festivities, cultural activities, waterside activities and eclectic dining. The Norfolk Tides, AAA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, and the Norfolk Admirals, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning, are based here.[read more...]

Charlie T.
Norfolk, VA

Norfolk still an old Southern town in many ways - 4/2/2009

I moved to Norfolk over six years ago from the rat race of Northern Virginia/DC area. When I first moved here the cost of living was reasonable particularily in the housing. Unfortunately, the housing prices have significantly jumped up and unlike Northern VA, the real estate tax rate is high considering the home stock is mostly of old homes. The city is terrible about real estate assessments. Homes are way over assessed sometimes as much 40% from what owners end up selling the home for! To make it worse, there is a large population of low economic households, crime is high, and public schools rank low compared to the rest of VA.[read more...]

Norfolk, VA

Norfolk Va. A nice place to live - 1/27/2009

With the crime rate having dropped, and the housing market not in to bad of a shape living here is getting much better. Job market is ok due to the very large military bases. With the addition of many new entertainment venues even the night life is better. Not even mentioning the boating, fishing, and colleges here. All in all I like it.[read more...]

Norfolk, VA

Not as crappy as say, London. - 6/27/2008

This is for anonymous, Portland another crappy city? Foreigners!? I get the impression that you are from the UK, isn't that a foreign country? I've been to Portland and I found it charming, cost of living, the same as any other city with easy access to the ocean and mountain ranges as well. Get a grip Brit, you obviously have crap for brains.[read more...]

Lorton, VA

Pollen and Allergies - 5/31/2008

I have lived in the Hampton Roads area for about 4 years. I seem to have allergic reactions to pollen, mold and everything else. The allergy season and peaks seem to come year round. I am looking for an area to live with less allergen. Terry [read more...]

Norfolk, VA

Schools - 4/7/2008

Ranked #1 Urban School System 2 years in a row[read more...]

Norfolk, VA

Climate - 3/8/2008

Tired of shoveling snow? Then this would be a wonderful place for you. Norfolk and Virginia Beach are only divided by a sign on the road as it is built up solid to become the tri-city area, usually called Hampton Roads. I have lived here for 11 years and there has only ever been a dusting of snow that quickly melted. We do have a high humidity being so close to the ocean. It has never been colder than about 19 degrees and that is rare. In the summer it hardly ever goes over 100 degrees. The gardening season is quite long due to the moderate climate here.[read more...]

Norfolk, VA

Living in Norfolk - 7/29/2007

Living in a military town gives the city a wide variety of people, but not always for the good. When the military receives raises, the cost of housing, groceries, and everyday expenses raise equally with it. Unfortunately, for those who are not military, do not have the luxury of receiving these raises, but end up paying for them. A pay increase for the military only increases the profits for local businesses, such as rent, groceries, and entertainment. You can expect your rent to increase every year at a minimum of 3% at the same time raises come out for the military. For the single female trying to support themselves on a single income with a civilian job is very difficult because employers base on a family with dual incomes; example: Military person with a spouse does not need to be paid a higher wage. Crime rate is high, higher than advertised. You can expect a shooting on a daily basis. Housing is way over priced. If you find anything under $200,000 it's in the hood. Weather and fishing is fair. Roads are in terrible condition, commuting is terrible with all the tunnels, and mass transit is non-existant. In Norfolk, you're either well off or dirt poor. There is no in between. Do I sound disgruntled? You bet![read more...]

Norfolk, VA

The Good Life - 6/28/2007

Norfolk, Virginia, is a southeastern seaboard city with reliable lifelines and a very strong heart. Norfolk’s heritage is largely derived from the businesses of light agriculture, clean manufacturing, burgeoning maritime commerce, military affairs, and suburbia. Cultural diversity is legendary in the 400-year old city located on the southern shores of the beautiful Chesapeake Bay. I first saw the Bay area and the city of Norfolk in the early 1980s, courtesy of the US military; I moved to Virginia from bustling southern California. Norfolk is not my “hometown,” per se, I am a Midwesterner by birth and childrearing, but the city and region always feels comfortable and welcoming. I am impressed by eastern Virginia’s pleasant climate 10 months of the year, abundant bay and ocean activities, diverse foods, hospitable people, small colleges, plentiful media, clean neighborhoods, and contemporary lifestyle. I have owned local homes and rented condos since arriving to the area over two decades ago. I have been fortunate to own and rent homes in desirable locations, ergo, turning over in-demand real estate is profitable. I feel physically safe anywhere most of the time. A major high-rise building boom is underway in the downtowns of Norfolk and the adjacent city of Virginia Beach in 2007. By 2010-15 the two cities will have truly recognizable skylines complete with major business centers linked by light rail, first-class shopping experiences, and top-of-the-line dining and entertainment. Major downtown area investments are planned well into the future. However, as the downtown and regional population density increases, so do citizen’s demands for enhanced city services. Demands on services are on a steady rise. Service demands are rapidly pushing up a wide range of traditionally low taxes and fees. By the middle of the next decade, the area will be well above the average cost of living, taxing, and dying for the US. Here is my bottom line on Norfolk: (Lifestyle goods) easy ocean access, comfortable climate, sociable peoples, diverse food choices, plentiful mid-paying jobs, reasonably priced and good quality housing today, mid-range cost of living, easy-going lifestyles, respected higher education system, abundant medical care, caring neighbors, and the lightly used airport!; (Lifestyle others) crammed roadways and tunnels, under-funded public transportation, increasingly costly housing and higher property taxes / fees, pockets of very serious crime,[read more...]

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