I lived in the Hampton Roads area for 11 years while I was in the Navy. It was a bit of a culture shock, since I grew up in a small rural town in Maine with 900 people. The weather was very different than Maine, but it was snice not having 7 months of winter.
The area has relatively low crime compared to the rest of the U.S. The worst area of town was/is Green Run. There has been a little surge in violent crime near the oceanfront, but it seems to be isolated incidents that are maybe gang driven from the areas outside of the beach.
There is a ton of stuff to do in the area.
There are numerous salt water and fresh water recreational opportunities. Whether you just want to fish, swim/dive, surf, parasail, or relax on the beach, it is there.
There is a good number of cultural things like the marine science museum/aquarium, Nautilus, the USS Wisconsin, etc. There is also all of the historical aspects of VB and the surrounding areas. You can visit Colonial Williamsburg or Jamestown in about an hour. Richmond is only about an hour and a half away, so if you want to catch a race at RIR, you can do that, or hit up the state fair.
There are some minor league sports teams that play locally. You have the Norfolk Tides baseball team, and the Admirals hockey team.
If you like your nightlife, there is something for everyone. From country western bars to biker bars to beach clubs to more nightclub/dance type spots.
If you are into cars, there is a huge car scene. There were always regular gatherings on the weekends. You would see everything from classics to rat rods to modern high end sports cars.
And then there is always the military bases. This means there are always new people coming into the area, and leaving the area. It keeps you meeting new people and experiencing different things. Because of this, there is a very diverse population and a matching diversity of restaurants.
If you cant find something to do, or have fun in VB, you don't know how to have fun.
The bad: (not very much)
The summers can get hot and humid for extended periods.
Traffic can get abysmal at times, especially if you are dealing with the HRBT.
Housing is pretty expensive. A lot of this is due to the fact that people know that a lot of members of the military get housing allowance, so they jack the prices of rents and houses for sale.
I moved to Cincinnati when I got out of the Navy. This place is markedly worse off than Virginia Beach. There is trash along a lot of the local roads and on the interstate exit ramps. The roads are absolutely terrible. The weather here is colder in the winter, and every bit as hot and humid in the summer, only with none of the fun summer things to do. On the flip side, VB is very clean, doesn't smell bad, and there is a ton of things to do in the area.
Also, I thought I might enjoy not having to get my vehicles inspected every year, since Ohio doesn't have state inspections. Wrong. There are so many vehicles around here with tail lights out, brake lights out, whole tail light assemblies missing. The same with headlights. Fenders hanging off, flapping in the wind from hitting another car. Hoods held down with bungee cords. Nobody uses blinkers, and they will cut you off and act like you are in their way. A lot of cars have half of their exhaust missing. I regularly point out to locals how this would not fly in VB. Your state inspector would fail your car and make you actually fix it.
The people in VB always seemed nice for the most part, even if they were transplants. With some exception, everyone seemed to get along pretty well. You will have some issues no matter where you live, especially larger cities. People here in Cincinnati are ignorant, belligerent, d-bags.
I am actually looking to relocate back out to the Southeast VA or Northeast NC area, since it is so nice compared to most of these Midwest cities, if that provides some additional context as to just how much better the quality of life is out there.
John | Cincinnati, OH