Maybe you’ve heard Richmond is a river town, and that is an appealing notion. Or you’ve got wind of its flourishing restaurant or arts scene. Or maybe you’ve been asked to relocate to the city for your job. Regardless of your reason for moving to Richmond, let’s make it easy to figure out where you might want to live.
Because let’s face it. Moving to a new city is much less stressful when you have a good idea where you should live.
First thing’s first: determine your ideal daily commute
Despite an influx of people moving into the region, we are fortunate that Richmond traffic has not gotten out of control. Other areas across the state have almost punchline-worthy traffic snarls, but Richmond is only moderately affected. Like most cities, you can expect a slight slowdown during the usual M-F drive times, or if there’s an accident. But the drive-time traffic is generally measured in minutes and could be considered a nuisance rather than a frustration.
Even with our current traffic situation, the first thing for you to consider is how much you love—and want to be in—your vehicle. This question is part of an overall lifestyle mindset. Whether this is work, school, or daily errands, how far away from these activities do you want to be?
“I didn’t need to be within walking distance to work, but I did want a few local restaurants I could wander to during my off-hours. Understanding that need pointed me to in the Northside.”
If you prefer to be a short work commute, yours might be a quick-and-easy decision. Simply take the map and look at a radius around that location. That will give you a good baseline. Then use the following guidelines to more closely pinpoint which of those spots is right for you.
Just as a note: The majority of Richmond’s jobs are located in clusters around Downtown and South Richmond, Innsbrook, and West Creek. Additional opportunities can be found at our local universities and Medical campuses. These are the only employment locations, of course. But it is where some of the biggies like Performance Food Group, CarMax, Markel, CoStar Group, and Amazon are located.
Figure out your dining and nightlife vibe
Sometimes it isn’t an either-or. Perhaps living near work isn’t an option. But what about restaurants or grocery stores? If you close your eyes and picture the happiest you, are you walking to grab a bite or are you hopping in your car?
When I moved to Richmond more than 20 years ago, my goal was to make my life as pedestrian as possible. I grew up down a mile-long dirt lane—then moved to one of those snarly traffic locales—so while I loved my car, I was more inclined to see it parked in front of my home.
At the time, I worked downtown, so I looked at areas with the smallest commute to work, but plenty of places to walk to during my off-hours. Once I did that, it took me no time to figure out the perfect neighborhood for me! And it was Bellevue, a small neighborhood in Richmond’s Northside.
While you may or may not care about your proximity to work, how do you feel about the proximity to restaurants and/or entertainment?
In my scenario, I didn’t need to be within walking distance to work, but I did want a few local restaurants I could wander to during my off-hours. Understand that need pointed me to the Northside. Being from the country, I wasn’t well practiced in the art of parallel parking, so I had to factor that in as well.
Knowing your parking tolerance may also help
If you prefer to be able to walk to restaurants and nightlife, your trade off may be parking availability. Areas with more mixed-use functionality (restaurants melded with residential living) can come with more restricted parking—especially if it’s a popular eatery or hotspot. For example, if you live in the Fan, you may find that some streets are harder to park on—especially during nights and weekends when more than just residents flock to your streets.
Not all urban or mixed-use areas have parking concerns, though. Some properties come with off-street options. Whether it’s a garage or a dedicated spot, off-street can be a win-win when living in a more pedestrian area.
Plenty of good walkable neighborhoods in the Richmond Metro Area
If you are interested in a more walkable lifestyle, there are many Richmond communities that satisfy that need. If condo or townhouse living is appealing, you might find your spot in Manchester, Rocketts Landing, Church Hill, Shockoe Bottom, The Fan, Museum District, and Scott’s Addition.
You can also find this pedestrian lifestyle outside the city, too. In Henrico County, about 20 minutes from downtown, there are several mixed-use developments where you can walk to shopping and dining. In both, you can find either condos or row homes, with a few single-family options in Greengate later in the year.
If you’re a fan of either Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, you might look first at West Broad Village. Aside from either grocery store, residents can also walk to ACAC Fitness & Wellness, as well as a plethora of yummy restaurants and fun shops.
A little further West on Broad Street is Greengate, which is a short walk away from Wegman’s or LIDL, Cyclebar, and numerous shopping/dining options. Greengate is Henrico’s newest mixed-use community, so keep checking back for more updates.
Areas like Bellevue, in the city’s Northside, and Forest Hill and Westover Hills in the Southside, offer single-family homes within walking distance of restaurants. Living close enough to walk to places like Demi’s on Macarthur in the Northside or the Little Nickel in Forest Hills is definitely a sumptuous aspiration.
Privacy is another consideration
We talked about people and proximity, now let’s talk about the opposite: Privacy. Whether you have the desire to homestead or just want a bit more land between you and the neighbors, Richmond can accommodate your wishes.
While there are a few larger parcels within the city limits, many will be found outside in more suburban areas. And the farther you go in each direction, the larger the parcels can be.
For example, if you long for a more suburban feel, Henrico’s East and West Ends might be good places to start. In both locations, you can find established neighborhoods that were built as early as the 1950s. These are not developments, with HOAs and site maintenance, but old-school neighborhoods with no real restrictions beyond what the county ordinances dictate.
Mechanicsville, located in Hanover, also has some suburban developments along with some single-family neighborhoods that are less structured (see above). And Chesterfield is also a great suburban community. From Bon Air, with its rolling terrain to the newer Moseley, there are a lot of options heading south as well.
If you are curious about Richmond’s architecture? Read about the 12 main styles, where Robert Batchelor deep dives into the top designs you can find around town.
Beyond the suburbs—deeper into the counties—you can find larger parcels of land and more privacy to be had. Henrico, Powhatan, New Kent, and Goochland have multi-acre plots available. Some even have that within a development if you prefer a more planned atmosphere.
For example, Riva Ridge in Hanover is less than 10 minutes from the town of Ashland, but each lot is anywhere from 5 to 8 acres, and it allows horses, goats, and other animals. Vontay Estates, another development in Hanover, has 10-acre spots.
Also for you aspiring farmers, check out the article on where to raise chickens around town. There are some nuggets of information that might surprise you.
Richmond has a lot to offer almost everyone looking to relocate
There may be other things to consider as well when you’re looking to relocate. But these are the biggest questions that can help you—and your agent—find the right home for you. The best advice I can give is this. Sit down, close your eyes, and picture yourself happy. What does the area look like? Are you surrounded by people energy or nature energy? Then go from there.
And as someone who’s been through this journey, I’d be honored to help guide you through this process. Together, we can find the ideal perch for you.
Mair Downing is the editor at BeranGroupHomes.com. She oversees the development and creation of all of our articles, so if you like them, be sure to let her know!
Mair is also an amazing Realtor with The Beran Group. She’s never met a stranger, so it’s no surprise if you feel like old friends after the first meeting. Mair is passionate about helping sellers and buyers navigate the sometimes complex world of real estate. She is experienced in helping clients buy, sell, invest and rehab-to-sell. Mair is a born problem solver and relationship builder, which helps to make transactions go smoothly!