Looking for the best places to live in Virginia? This handy list of the best cities in Virginia was written by a handful of locals from various parts of the state.
The group of us sat down and compared the perks (and cons!) of living in certain Virginia cities. We hope this list of the best cities in Virginia serves as a helpful guide to make your decision of moving to Virginia a tad bit easier.
5 Best Large Cities in Virginia
Cities in Virginia with a population of 200,000 or more.
- Population: 457,658
- Median home price: $373,500
- Average age: 36.4
Virginia Beach is most often associated with being a much-desired coastal getaway, which is why so many folks choose to call this city home. In fact, Virginia Beach is the most populous city in Virginia.
Laid-back vibes permeate daily life, but that’s not to say the city is all about slow living — quite the contrary. There’s an unmistakable bustling beach town vibe brimming with excellent outdoor adventures, contagious entrepreneurial spirit and youthful energy.
Effectively earning this gem of a city a spot on our list of the best places to live in Virginia.
And here’s the kicker: the median home price in Virginia Beach ($373,500) is comparable to the national average.
Couple that with highly-rated schools and abundant employment opportunities (from IT to medical fields), and it’s easy to understand the city’s explosive growth.
Locals enjoy proximity to several relaxing beach spots, from the beloved Virginia Beach Boardwalk to hidden gems like First Landing State Park.
In addition to its outdoor delights, this charming Virginia city also has a thriving creative scene. Check out world-class art at the dynamic Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), or head to the Vibe Creative District to explore small local businesses.
- Population: 238,644
- Median home price: $770,000
- Average age: 34.8
Chances are quite high that Arlington needs no introduction. One of the most well-known cities in Virginia, Arlington is a delight for history buffs.
Home to iconic landmarks including the Pentagon and National Cemetery, this Virginia city sits just across the Potomac River (from Washington, D.C.). As such, Arlington serves as a home-base for many white-collar professionals working in the nation’s capital.
Looking past the star attractions, it’s one of the most livable cities in Virginia. The Potomac Overlook and Mount Vernon Trail offer superb outdoor recreation, and the dining scene is excellent.
From cheap eats in the revamped Ballston Quarter to ultra-trendy hotspots in Clarendon. Plus, the nightlife here may be Virginia’s most happening. All told, Arlington is one of the best places to live in Virginia for young professionals and families.
But I don’t want to fool you, living in Arlington won’t come cheap. With average home price clocking in at $770,000, this is one of the most expensive places to live in Virginia.
Renting won’t come cheap either — median monthly rent of $2,300. All told, you can expect to pay for close access to Washington D.C.
However, the city does offer a multitude of high-earning careers that can support the higher expenses required to live in one of the most popular cities in Virginia. In terms of employment, the city’s biggest heavyweights are undoubtedly Amazon and Boeing.
- Population: 251,269
- Median home price: $372,500
- Average age: 37
Chesapeake is the second largest city in Virginia. Offering more of a suburban vibe, the city is home to more quiet residential neighborhoods than trendy bars and restaurants.
Chesapeake’s biggest draw is affordability: the median $372,500 for a single-family house makes it one the best places to live in Virginia for families.
Likewise, houses tend to be on the larger side with extra perks like a pool or nice yard. Safety is another major asset in Chesapeake. In terms of crime rates, it’s safer than other large cities in Virginia like Norfolk.
Located in an intersection of several major hubs, Chesapeake also has many jobs to choose from within a short commute.
The Virginia city is just 10 minutes from Norfolk’s business district and 30 minutes from the energetic coast in Virginia Beach.
Honest Local’s Insight: On that note, Chesapeake itself doesn’t have much in the way of entertainment or nightlife, and the town is essentially shut down by 11:00 pm. Which means this isn’t one of the best cities in Virginia for nightlife.
- Population: 235,089
- Median home price: $277,500
- Average age: 30.8
First and foremost, Norfolk is a military city — it’s home to the largest naval base in the world! Surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay and the Elizabeth River, Norfolk has the atmosphere of a bustling port town.
The median price of $277,500 makes Norfolk is one of the most affordable places to live in Virginia. The city’s most pleasant area is Ghent, with historic homes, waterfront parks, boutiques, and independent eateries.
However, stray just a few blocks in the wrong direction, and crime — both petty and serious — becomes problematic, making the city less appealing for families.
Nevertheless, Norfolk’s friendly atmosphere, convivial nightlife, and beaches just a half-hour away make it an economical choice chock-full lots of perks.
- Population: 226,604
- Median home price: $328,900
- Average age: 34.1
Virginia’s capital since 1780, Richmond exudes historic character with some of the state’s best museums and cultural attractions. Better still, the city has become popular with millennials in recent years — adding an invigorated wave of young, creative energy.
Picture small indie-music venues, lively breweries, and independently-owned, chef-driven restaurants. Whether it’s tubing down the river or exploring colorful murals in Carytown, Richmond offers both traditional roots and modern vibrancy.
The city’s affordable housing is also a major draw for professionals and families. With a median home price of less than $329,000, the market remains approachable, with options in both the center of town and the suburbs.
Throw in abundant job opportunities in finance, biotech, and defense, and it’s not hard to see why Richmond is one of the best places to live in Virginia.
5 Best Mid-sized Cities in Virginia
- Population: 154,706
- Median home price: $602,800
- Average age: 36.8
With one the best preserved historic city centers in the country, Alexandria is full of postcard-worthy charm. There are tons of incredible restaurants, captivating museums, and a picturesque promenade along the Potomac.
Beloved by tourists, Alexandria makes for a great place to live, too. Its riverfront location and upscale feel lend to comparisons to Arlington, and there’s a rail line linking directly to central DC in less than 30 minutes — especially handy since traffic is problematic.
With the median home price above $602,000, prices are steep, but still lower than other East Coast cities, making Alexandria one of the best places to live in Virginia particularly for couples and young professionals.
The city is smaller and slightly less buzzy than some of its neighbors, but it’s hard to beat the walkability and scenery.
- Population: 98,865
- Median home price: $243,600
- Average age: 38.2
Roanoke is all about laid-back mountain living surrounded by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, making it one of the best places to live in Virginia for a slowed-down pace.
The town center has an artsy vibe, with a year-round farmer’s market and delightful museums. While drinking and dining options aren’t as abundant as coastal cities, there are serious local gems to uncover (don’t miss dinner at The River and Rail!).
The real magic, however, lies just outside of town. Among the dense forest and hills, explore beautiful vineyards and hiking trails. Both the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway are close!
Roanoke’s signature sleepiness keeps median real estate prices at an ultra-affordable $243,000. Local industries are somewhat limited, anchored by the region’s largest medical center, Carilion Clinic. Before settling here, rent a cabin for a weekend getaway.
- Population: 79,009
- Median home price: $232,900
- Average age: 28.5
A traditional country town, Lynchburg doesn’t make it into many guidebooks, but perhaps that’s its strongest quality. Despite its slow-paced character, Lynchburg is bolstered by a young student population and genuine Southern hospitality.
Prices are refreshingly accessible, with median home prices of $232,900 and apartments averaging $995 a month. The school system is well-rated, and there are jobs in insurance, healthcare, and even nuclear energy, making it one of the best cities in Virginia to settle down.
While Lynchburg doesn’t have much nightlife and is no foodie mecca, it is a convenient base for weekend trips. The Blue Ridge Mountains are 30 minutes away, and other hubs like Richmond and Charlottesville are within two hours.
- Population: 48,908
- Median home price: $754,900
- Average age: 35.1
Nestled by the Potomac River, Leesburg’s scenic city center is full of chef-driven restaurants, cafes, and boutiques. Leesburg doesn’t just seem like a nice town, though — it is.
The school system is one of the best in the nation, there are several lush parks, and the library’s outstanding. Plus, DC is only an hour away. Checking all the requisite boxes, Leesburg stands out as one of Virginia’s best places to live for families.
But make no mistake, the word is out (especially after the pandemic). The median home price has increased to a costly $754,900 and renting isn’t much better, with a monthly average well over $2,000. For those prices, young professionals may prefer to be closer to an urban core.
- Population: 45,672
- Median home price: $455,700
- Average age: 32.3
Despite its small size, Charlottesville stands out among its rural surroundings. Home to the University of Virginia and a steady stream of tourists, there’s a palpable buzz in the air.
Big-ticket attractions like UNESCO-protected Monticello and Shenandoah National Park are close to town. The city center is charming, with historic brick buildings housing quaint eateries, bars, and boutiques.
Fans of craft beer, cider, and distilleries can explore a wealth of local establishments nestled in the nearby foothills.
The easy-going vibe combined with academic employment opportunities have driven home prices up to $455,700. Student leasing options keep rent more affordable, averaging $1,500.
For those who fancy a happening downtown mixed with small-town energy, Charlottesville is one of the best places to live in Virginia.
5 Best Small Cities in Virginia
- Population: 28,367
- Median home price: $429,100
- Average age: 30.7
Another historic Virginia town, Fredericksburg draws its prominence from the Civil War Era. It offers a similar experience to Williamsburg, with the University of Mary Washington near downtown and a constant trickle of tourists.
Fredericksburg is a bit more laid-back, with the downtown area home to a sprinkling of breweries, pizza spots, and other casual haunts. There’s also a lovely riverside park with wooded trails and even a couple of swim spots.
The town’s best quality is its location: only an hour from DC, with a direct train line running right from the middle of Fredericksburg.
For such proximity to DC, $429,000 isn’t bad. That alone makes this one of the best small cities in Virginia.
- Population: 15,590
- Median home price: $413,300
- Average age: 25.7
Williamsburg played an important role in the American Revolution, a legacy it carries on today with a historic town center and costumed reenactments. It’s also home to one of America’s oldest universities, the prestigious William and Mary.
College and sightseeing tours aside, Williamsburg is also a pleasant place to live, with a quaint small-town vibe. Public schools are highly-rated and the atmosphere is relaxed, with a diverse mixture of people from a variety of areas and all walks of life.
The restaurant, bar, and entertainment options are slim, but the town’s proximity to Richmond, Norfolk, and DC means it’s easy to mix it up on the weekends for a quick change of scenery.
The approachable median home price of $413,000 helps Williamsburg stand out as one of the best small towns to live in Virginia.
- Population: 4,423
- Median home price: $124,300
- Average age: 44.6
Tiny Tazewell is simply stunning. The Blue Ridge Mountains are at their most rugged here, with Virginia’s tallest summits nearby. In fact, the town is located near Burke’s Garden, an extinct volcano ring.
The town itself is home to just a few businesses, but the community has a tight-knit, welcoming feel. This culture especially shines during Main Street Moments, a festival held every July in the city center.
There are several hikes to explore near Tazewell, but the real stars are the nearby rural properties, with prices averaging an accessible $124,300. Relax on an oversized porch, watching sunsets unfold in one of the most picturesque places to live in Virginia.
- Population: 3,306
- Median home price: $307,600
- Average age: 56.7
Looking for quiet island life, away from it all? That opportunity exists on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, in the small town of Chincoteague.
While homes are generally close to one other, the island has a rural feel, with an early-to-rise, early-to-bed schedule. Bolstered by year-round tourism, there’s a small but excellent selection of dining and drinking options in town, plus outdoor adventures aplenty.
Chincoteague’s best attribute is perhaps its close proximity to some of Virginia’s most gorgeous beaches. It’s best known as the Virginia side of Assateague Island, the famed home of free-roaming wild horses.
Completely contained in a National Wildlife Refuge, the sand here is refreshingly free from development. The median home price is a surprisingly approachable $307,600, making Chincoteague one of best places to live in Virginia, especially for retirees.
- Population: 787
- Median home price: $189,000
- Average age: 39.5
The Appalachian Trail passes directly through Damascus, making it a beloved hub along the route. The Trans-American and Virginia Creeper cycling route also intersect the town, so unsurprisingly, everything here revolves around The Great Outdoors.
Despite its tiny size, there are always new people to meet, lending a vibrant, upbeat vibe. Damascus embraces any and everyone with open arms, a mentality materialized during the Trail Days Party held every May.
Sure, there are only a literal handful of businesses in town, but there are always new places to explore. Plus, homes are an affordable median price of $189,100, making Damascus one of the best places in Virginia for outdoor enthusiasts.
Best Cities to Live in Virginia (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a roundup of the best places to live in Virginia.
- Virginia Beach