Best Places To Live In Virginia In 2023: Top 5 Old Dominion Cities, According To Experts

Often known as the birthplace of America, Virginia has been home to Americans for hundreds of years. The state boasts the most presidents, with eight calling Virginia their home. It is rich with history, natural beauty, and culture, making it unsurprising that more than eight million people have chosen to make it their home state. The best places to live in Virginia offer access to beaches, mountains, and lively cities.

As the state slogan goes, Virginia is for lovers. And research supports that statement, with a recent survey finding that the best city for dating is Richmond, Virginia (our 4th pick!). But whether you’re single and looking for love or raising a family, Virginia has a place for you to call home. 

With beautiful Appalachian mountains, over 7,000 miles of coastline, and 22 national parks, the state is rich in natural beauty. Research shows that spending more time in nature is full of positive health outcomes, with one study finding that increasing nature-based activities leads to a boost in mental health for adults, even in those with a pre-existing mental health diagnosis. 

From its cities to its mountaintops, the state is full of Virginia lovers. And whether you’re looking to move to a D.C. commuter town or an oceanside beach town, Virginia is full of potential new hometowns. To help you find your perfect fit, StudyFinds searched the internet for local experts and rounded up this list of the best places to live in Virginia. As always, if you have a recommendation we didn’t include, be sure to let us know in the comments!

The List: Best Places to Live in Virginia Most Recommended By Experts

1. Arlington

Arlington is a commuter’s dream, offering a smaller, more familiar feel than neighboring Washington D.C. while remaining nearby. “If you’re seeking the amenities and diversity of a city without the full bustle of Washington, you may find a home in Arlington,” says Zumper. “So close to the hub of the nation’s capital, Arlington sports an impressive arts community and several historically significant sites.”

And for those who prefer to stick closer to home, Arlington has much to offer as a city in its own right. “While the federal government is the largest employer in Arlington, it is more than just a commuter county.” UpNest says.

“The reasons people love Arlington are its top schools, lively nightlife, extremely low crime rate, short commute times, and a plethora of outdoor activities,” states UpHomes. “Arlington [also] houses a big art community and historical sites including several cultural destinations and museums.”

Silhouette at the National Cemetery in Arlington
Arlington’s National Cemetery (Photo by Chad Stembridge on Unsplash)

2. Virginia Beach

Ocean lovers will feel right at home in beautiful Virginia Beach. “The area boasts access to over 10 beaches, including Sandbridge, Croatan, and North End,” says Zumper. “Enjoy the abundant outdoor destinations to relax, exercise, and socialize along the water. Residents bask in a daily celebration of life on the coast with aquatic-inspired attractions such as the Virginia Aquarium, the Maritime Museum, and the Boardwalk.”

While its shoreline location may make movers expect a high price tag, Virginia Beach is a surprisingly affordable place to enjoy vacation-style living all year round. “Living in Virginia Beach might be more affordable than you think,” UpNest says. “The median home price is $320,700, lower than the state average. You can find a house close to the beach and enjoy the coastal lifestyle without paying Miami prices.”

Looking for something to do? Virginia Beach will keep you occupied. “There are more restaurants here that you can dine in a different one every day of the year, and more attractions than you can keep up with,” claims The Crazy Tourist. “Mount Trashmore, the Maritime Museum, the Virginia Aquarium, the Boardwalk (which is always open), gorgeous beaches, just to mention a few of the prominent ones.”

sunset in Virginia Beach
Sunrise in Sandbridge, Virginia Beach (Photo by jae bano on Unsplash)

3. Alexandria

If you love Washington D.C. but also value a quieter lifestyle, Arlington might just be the city for you. “Alexandria is a walkable, smaller D.C. rich with history, but not quite as bustling as the nation’s capital,” says UpHomes.

“It’s a diverse city that has experienced steady population growth for the past 11 years, with that trend expected to continue into the future. It’s easy to see why. When you put down roots in Alexandria, you won’t want to leave,” claims Apartment List.

With its nearby access to Washington D.C., Alexandria attracts a decent crowd of both tourists and commuters. With this comes excellent public transportation, a boosted economy, and countless exciting attractions. “Lining its cobbled streets are centuries-old houses, churches and a couple of excellent museums with award-winning restaurants and local boutiques being dotted here and there,” Touropia says.  “Those who enjoy spending time in nature have access to many parks, walking trails, and riverfront views of the Potomac,” adds Zumper.

harbor in Alexandria Virginia
Alexandria’s waterfront (Photo by Mark Stenglein on Unsplash)

4. Richmond

Virginia’s capital city primarily draws a younger crowd, with its appealing offer of vibrant city life on a smaller budget. “Due to its fast-paced life, Richmond mainly appeals to millennials and young professionals,” claims Touropia.

“Richmond has award-winning restaurants, diverse galleries and museums, and an exciting music scene. Its residents enjoy a park system that dates back to the mid-nineteenth century,” UpNest adds.

History lovers will appreciate Richmond’s extensive ties to America’s past. “There are a ton of interesting historical sites, including Richmond National Battlefield Park and Hollywood Cemetery,” says Apartment List. “Residents love its historic charm but have also fallen for the melding of the modern and the antiquated that makes up the city’s culture.”

the river along Richmond's downtown
Downtown Richmond (Photo by STEPHEN POORE on Unsplash)

5. Charlottesville

Home to the University of Virginia, Charlottesville is everything a college town should be. “Regularly ranked amongst the best places to live in the country, C’ville has a dynamic, youthful feel with its high-performing schools, affordable cost of living and innumerable outdoor activities only adding to its appeal,” says Touropia

Charlottesville is beloved for its small-town feel paired with many of the benefits of life in the city. “The city is full of wineries, beer shops, eateries, and parkland. The Shenandoah National Park is located nearby, and it has spectacular views as well as a lovely walking route,” ViaTravelers says.

“While technically a city, this haven in Central Virginia is often categorized with other towns thanks to its close community feeling and small city status,” Only in Your State adds.

snowy college campus
Winter at University of Virginia (Photo by Ryan Ledbetter on Unsplash)

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links.