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Inside Info on Charlottesville/Richmond, VA?


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#1 of 17 OFFLINE   Scott_Sch

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Posted April 05 2005 - 03:23 AM

I know there are a lot of these types of threads, but I figured one more wouldn't necessarily hurt anyone.

Well, I've been living in central New York for about 7 years (right out of college) and have recently become engaged, with the wedding coming up in September. The soon-to-be Mrs. and myself have pretty much had enough of the two season climate up here (snow for most of the year, rainy weekends for the rest) and we're looking to relocate to a slightly more average climate. My parents are also thinking of relocating from Long Island to the same general location as me. My dad owns an art gallery and frame shop and we we're thinking of going in together on a new shop in the new location. I would probably continue to do what I do now (engineer) for a little while once we move as well, just to make the transition a little easier monetarily.

So, we were originally looking at the Maryland area but couldn't find exactly what we were looking for, then moved on to northern VA but had a heart attack when we saw the real estate prices, and since have started looking seriously at the Charlottesville/Richmond area which seems to be exactly what we are looking for. For my father's business we need a location with some expendable income (since pictures and frames aren't really a necessity) but at the same time we wanted to be able to afford a nice home and lifestyle. My parents are selling their house on LI, so I'm sure they will be fine money-wise (house they bought for $30k in '65 will probably sell for $500k or so), but coming from central New York I'll probably be looking at slightly higher real estate values.

Anyway, I know the area has been voted as one of the nicer areas to live in the country but was curious if people from the area still feel this is the case? Also, has there been a real big boom lately in people relocating based on this area's apparent popularity? Is this a fairly well-to-do region that could support a quasi luxury related business? Also, I'll be heading down to the area in May and was curious if people in the know could recommend certain towns or developments near by that are somewhat affordable and yet not out of the way too much. Somewhat affordable meaning $150k to $200k for a decent 3 bedroom house.

I realize I have a lot of research to do, but thought I would check with the fellow HTFers first see if you guys had any insight. Thanks for any help or info you can offer.

#2 of 17 OFFLINE   SteveA

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Posted April 05 2005 - 04:22 AM

I grew up in Charlottesville and have been living in Richmond for the past eight years, so I'll take a stab at answering your questions.

It is Charlottesville, not Richmond, that is widely regarded as one of the most desirable places to live in the U.S. Unfortunately, it has also become much more expensive in the last few years (although probably not bad compared to New York real estate prices). From what I hear, an older 3-bedroom ranch starter home goes for about $250-$300k there, depending on how close to town you are. Houses in some of the outlying counties (30-40 minute drive) are less expensive.

Richmond has a much more affordable housing market, but does not have the same small-city "quality of life" as Charlottesville. Richmond is a much larger town, flatter, with higher crime, but also more entertainment options and job opportunities. You'd have to spend a little time in both Charlottesville and Richmond to decide which town better suits your lifestyle.

As far as marketing to "high-end" customers, I think you'd find enough well-heeled folks in either town to cater to, providing you had a viable business.

One area to consider is the area in between Charlottesville and Richmond, which is rural, but becoming more popular. Certain areas like Louisa county would put you about 30 minutes outside of both Charlottesville and Richmond.

Let me know if you have any more specific questions.

Steve

#3 of 17 OFFLINE   Scott_Sch

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Posted April 05 2005 - 04:59 AM

Thanks for replying Steve. Yeah, sorry, I meant just Charlottesville as the highly tauted area. But it certainly seems like Richmond, although having its fair share of crime and other larger city issues, has a lot to offer as well.

Yeah the region in between the two cities seems like a good medium. I know I've seen some listings in Palmyra and Louisa that seemed affordable. Are these areas really rural, or just rural from a city standpoint? Meaning, would I have to drive 30 minutes to get to a supermarket or could I find a strip mall just down the road?

As far as Richmond, are there certain areas of the city that are nicer than others? For example in the city of Syracuse, the east side of the city seems to be the nicest with the south side having the most crime and what not. Does Richmond have a similar setup?

As far as Charlottesville, is the city pretty much just UVA or is there other recreational stuff to do? It seems like this would be a better area for an upscale business, just because a smaller city feel seems to make it easier to establish a relationship with customers and makes it easier to get into a sort of village type atmosphere.

Anyway, what is the ride like between the two cities? I know 64 runs directly between them, but is there a decent amount of traffic or is it fairly clear sailing?

Sorry for all the questions. We're pretty excited to get out of our current location, so excuse any general rambling. I have a recruiter contact in the region as well who is going to provide me with some more info on the area, so this is all good stuff.

Thanks again and keep any other info you guys might have coming.

#4 of 17 OFFLINE   Greg Yeatts

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Posted April 05 2005 - 05:07 AM

I live a little west of Richmond in a community called Short Pump (really). There is an all outdoor mall there called the Short Pump Town Center.

There is a lot of disposable income in the Short Pump area.

Short Pump Town Center

There are many other retailer in this community that offer upscale shopping oppurtunities.

#5 of 17 OFFLINE   SteveA

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Posted April 05 2005 - 07:55 AM

Scott:

Areas like Palmyra and Louisa have basic amenities like grocery stores in some areas, but if you want to go to Best Buy or the movie theater, you'll need to drive to Charlottesville or the west-end of Richmond (about 30 minutes either way).

As far as the distance between Charlottesville and Richmond, they are 70 miles apart on I-64 and the traffic is almost never bad on that stretch. Not a bad drive at all.

Richmond, like most cities, has its good areas and its bad. Richmond has some very affluent areas, some nice middle-class suburban areas, bohemian urban areas (the "fan" district), and areas you would definitely want to avoid. Most of the crime is concentrated in certain avoidable areas of the city.

Charlottesville is definitely dominated by the University of Virginia, but there is plenty to do in that area, especially if you like the outdoors. There are two ski resorts that are less than an hour away, as well as plenty of places to hike, fish, and that sort of thing. If you're looking for a "village" type of atmosphere, Charlottesville certainly is more like that than Richmond, but is still a decent sized town. I think Richmond would be much more like Syracuse, with the possible exception of the weather.

Steve

#6 of 17 OFFLINE   Scott_Sch

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Posted April 05 2005 - 09:11 AM

All good info, thanks guys.

Short Pump? That certainly is an unusual name for a community and I'm sure it has some sort of story behind it. Thanks for the link though, its always good to know of a few choice stores in the area.

So Louisa and Palmyra (and other towns along 64 in between the two cities) really are fairly rural. Thats definitely good to know. I grew up on Long Island so I got used to having a chinese food place, pizza place, and card shop every 1/2 mile or so. But now that I'm in Syracuse, I've grown much less dependent on that.

Steve, what do you mean by "bohemian urban areas"? Just curious...

It seemed like the type of region that would have some good outdoor activity options, with mountainous areas and coastline fairly nearby, so thats great to know as well. I've recently (last 4 years) gotten into golf. I'm kind of spoiled in the Syracuse area where its seems like there are more golf courses per capita than gas stations. Granted you can only play them three months out of the year. This also leads them to be pretty cheap though too. Any idea for what a round of golf is going for down in the Charlottesville or Richmond area? I wouldn't be looking for anything fancy, but not really looking for some beatup hacker's course either.

As I mentioned, I'll be heading down there to visit next month. Can you guys think of a few areas (up and coming residential areas or nice commercial business districts) or points of interest (tourism related) that shouldn't be missed? I want to make sure I get a good feel for the entire area in general, before making any decisions.

Thanks again.

#7 of 17 OFFLINE   SteveA

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Posted April 05 2005 - 10:53 AM

Bohemian urban area = an area of the city that is populated by lots of young, progressive, "artistic" types who like to live in and restore old row houses, hang out in coffee houses and art museums, and perhaps wish they were living in the 60's.

Up-and-coming residential areas (areas with a lot of new construction):

1. The area around Exit 136 on I-64 (15 miles east of Charlottesville).
2. Greene County, just north of Charlottesville on US 29.
3. The Midlothian area, in Chesterfield county - south of Richmond
4. Hanover county, just north of Richmond on I-95 (warning: I-95 traffic bites!)
5. Goochland county, just west of Richmond on I-64 - near Short Pump

Attractions that are worth checking out:

1. Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home (Charlottesville)
2. The grounds of UVA
3. Belle Isle and Hollywood cemetary in Richmond (Civil War history).
4. Charlottesville's downtown mall
5. Richmond's "fan" district (bohemian urban area)
6. Richmond's Shockoe bottom, which is where the nightlife is, if that's your cup of tea.

#8 of 17 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted April 05 2005 - 02:13 PM

I live a little west of Richmond in a community called Short Pump (really).


My sister used to live in Gum Spring, which is just a little ways west of Short Pump. The real estate is much cheaper there, but is rising quickly as Richmond grows towards it.

Charlottesville is OK, but Richmond is much more my taste. If you're a country club type that drives really expensive cars then you may enjoy Charlottesville and fit in well there. I realize that I'm really stereotyping here, but my experiences there have led me to this impression. It is a very nice town with a pretty cool downtown area, but social status seems to be the number one priority for most of the people there.

#9 of 17 OFFLINE   Greg Yeatts

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Posted April 06 2005 - 12:30 AM

SethH

Unfortunately, Short Pump is one of the great places to live so real estate prices are escalating through the roof. All things being relative, real estate here is still much cheaper than in NY. Howeveer, Short Pump is where the money is. This may make the area attractive to an art gallary.

#10 of 17 OFFLINE   Nathan*W

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Posted April 06 2005 - 04:06 AM

If you think "Short Pump" is a weird name, better not move to "Bumpass"!!
 

#11 of 17 OFFLINE   Scott_Sch

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Posted April 06 2005 - 05:03 AM

There's really a "Bumpass" town name? Somebody must have had a sense of humor when they established that place.

Once again guys, thanks for all the info.

Charlottesville being a little "snooty" certainly wouldn't be a bad thing from a business standpoint but its good to know for when it comes time to settle on a place to live. I've been in "snooty" locations before and sometimes the financial hierarchy (and the resulting glances one can get) does sometimes get on your nerve.

Very interesting to hear about some of these up and coming communities, especially around Richmond. We plan on moving in just under a year into an apartment at first, but purchasing some real estate certainly won't be that far off. I just hope the real estate market in the Richmond area doesn't continue to explode as much as some other regions. I can't remember the exact location, but I think it was down state New York, that some one mentioned to me that real estate prices had increased roughly 20% or so since the first of the year. I assume northern virginia is pretty much the same way.

This may be a stupid question, and feel free to ridicule me if it is, but is there some reason why the majority of houses on the market in that area of Virginia tend to not have a basement? Is it a groundwater issue or subsurface condition that drives this or are all the houses with basements just not being sold? Just seems kind of weird...seems to me like a basement could be constructed no matter what the conditions, just the means and methods would change...i.e. block foundation vs. poured foundation, etc. Maybe its just a cost thing?

Once again, thanks guys. This is all great info and will make our trip down in May all the more effective. Keep any tidbits and pointers on the area that you guys can think of coming.

#12 of 17 OFFLINE   SteveA

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Posted April 06 2005 - 06:38 AM

Supposedly the groundwater and soil consistency in certain parts of Virginia makes the ground unsuitable for basements. In Richmond, only about 10% of houses have basements (mine does not), and those that do are houses built into the side of a hill. Most houses in Charlottesville and points west of there DO have basements, though.

Yes, there really is a town called Bumpass in Louisa county. There is also a community just east of Richmond called Varina, which is frequently mispelled with a "g" rather than an "r".

#13 of 17 OFFLINE   Greg Yeatts

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Posted April 06 2005 - 08:00 AM

I know its not the same, but I do have a rather large walk-up attic. I agree that alot of mid/eastern VA homes do not have basements. The soil is unsuitable and the ground is too flat.

#14 of 17 OFFLINE   Scott_Sch

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Posted April 10 2006 - 04:19 AM

Bringing this one back to life to give a quick thanks to everyone who contributed. My wife and I are now proud residents of Chesterfield, VA and have been enjoying the endless sunny days since we moved about three weeks ago (although this sucks since I'm trying to grow grass...oh well).

Anyway, thanks for providing the inside info that got me pointed in the right direction.

#15 of 17 OFFLINE   todd s

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Posted April 10 2006 - 07:02 AM

Quote:
"Bumpass" town name


I don't know about the town. But, they better keep their damn dogs away from my x-mas turkey. Posted Image

Seriously, Scott how come you chose Virginia over NC? My wife is dying to move out of NJ to move to Charlotte. Besides being a Nascar fan. She is also tired of the high cost of living in NJ and the winters. But, while it might easy for her to find a job (she's a teacher). It would be harder for me. I own a family business with my father. And while we are not a retail location. It's a big expense to move...Besides the fact my parents don't want to move. Posted Image
Bring back John Doe! Or at least resolve the cliff-hanger with a 2hr movie or as an extra on a dvd release.

#16 of 17 OFFLINE   Scott_Sch

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Posted April 10 2006 - 07:26 AM

Good Christmas Story reference...all the times I have seen Bumpass and never made the connection. I only watch that movie for like 12 hours straight during Christmas...oh well.

The big difference between NC and Virginia to me, was that even though Virginia is south, its not SOUTH Posted Image (although certain sections of it certainly are). Being a northerner by birth (grew up on Long Island) I didn't want to jump right into the "South" deep end if you know what I mean. Virginia was sort of a wading pool for me to sort of slowing get into the southern state of mind. Whats funny is now that I've been hear for three weeks, I keep meeting people that have moved down here from New York, so I'm not alone. Plus Virginia kept me a little closer to family and friends that will still be on Long Island or up in Syracuse. Any hour of travel I can save is a bonus as far as I'm concerned. Also, in Richmond I'm about 1.5 to 2 hours from DC, 1.5 hours from the mountains and 1.5 to 2 hours from the beach....so your pretty well situated for all sorts of entertainment.

Now all that being said, you would probably find more affordable real estate in NC than you would in VA, but nothing compared to Jersey. This is all excluding Northern VA which is a monster unto itself real estate-wise.

All I can say about the Richmond, VA area right now (three weeks of experience) is that my wife and I were able to find a good size house in a nice neighborhood in our price range, the job market seems good (at least for engineers and scientists), the weather is great compared to upstate NY (what isn't?), the people are crazy friendly compared to the Northeast and as long as you know what bad areas to stay away from...its really a pretty awesome city.

Hopefully that helps. I just went through a whole relocation, so if your looking for more info, just let me know.

Also, my parents who own their own business are currently looking at property down here as well...so as time goes by I should be learning more about the business relocation aspect of it as well.

#17 of 17 OFFLINE   todd s

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Posted April 11 2006 - 06:10 AM

Quote:
I didn't want to jump right into the "South" deep end if you know what I mean.


Being Jewish I can understand. Posted Image Seriously, NC has a Jewish population of just over 26k. Compared to NJ's 500k. And both states have comparable general populations. I don't want to live in a all-Jewish area. But, I don't want to be the only one. And like you said with wanting to be near other northerners. We did some general looking near Charlotte. And it seems that the area south east of Charlotte has a lot of transplants from up north and at least somewhat of a Jewish community.
Bring back John Doe! Or at least resolve the cliff-hanger with a 2hr movie or as an extra on a dvd release.





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