A city that’s possibly more patriotic than Washington D.C., the Old Dominion’s favorite town retains our capital’s professional air, pricey rents and beautiful historic setting, but moves at a slower pace. Here’s what to keep in mind when you start exploring the Tidewater’s (our term of endearment) rental-universe.
Room with a View: Water equals money. In real estate, views command a premium price. However, your budget-conscious side can meet your beachy-dreams side if you look for a spot a few blocks inshore: here you’ll find lower rents, beautiful homes and a 5 minute walk to the waves.
Board for the Brass: For all you military men and women either transferring to Norfolk or already hunkered down here, consider giving Pilot Online (http://pilotonline.com/) a whirl. Aside from classified ads, it has military-specific information about the community.
Naval Station Norfolk: If you’re going to work at the base, live by the base. The station is situated on a peninsula connected to the rest of the city by the Hampton Boulevard bridge (boring, but important geographic details, we know). And this bridge could quite possibly become the bane of your existence if you have to make this looonnnggg commute every day.
Is it a college town? A navy town? A vacation town? It’s sort of all of the above, nestled together in chunks of residential areas separated by artsy boulevards and seriously old-skool apartments, all kept free from the Southern heat by an ocean breeze. Sounds nice, right? Right.
Let’s Take this Party Downtown
Shiny new lofts! Condos! Nightlife! People in expensive designer clothes! It’s the modern downtown and Nofolk’s (with the notable exception that our skyscrapers simmer at about 15 stories) is much like those found across the country.
Downtown/Freemason: The Freemason hood, with its quaint brick sidewalks, is the perfect place to make your 20’s, or 30’s (or 40’s—we’re not judging!) dreams of having a Sex And The City lifestyle a reality. Not a grocery store in sight and tons of bustling young urban professionals.
The Ghent District: We’re not exaggerating at all when we say that The Ghent is everyone’s favorite neighborhood. The new pads (other parts of Norfolk can be on the shabby side) walkability, views and delicious restaurants make this the most coveted ‘hood in town—not to mention one of the most expensive.
Old Dominion University Neighborhoods:
Old Dominion University is the major economic player (after the military) in Norfolk, and it’s generated a handful of interesting neighborhoods around it. Students, families, retirees and even some blocks of college kids make it a diverse place to live. And, naturally, you can scoop up something by the water.
Larchmont/Edgewater: The word you’ll hear thrown around most often when people talk about the Larchmont Edgewater area is “charming”, and even though it’s a word used to describe just about anything (“Isn’t that fun-size Snickers so charming?”), here it’s appropriate. Located North of ODU, these areas have a healthy mix of college kids, peaceful streets, families and a genuinely friendly atmosphere.
Colonial Place/Riverview: A little further from ODU—and a little more affordable—this residential area isn’t especially pedestrian friendly, but it’s home to many younger families in the area that like inexpensive rent.
Last, but not least, a handful of useful information to arm yourself with before becoming native-Norfolk.
Retirees: Thanks to the amenities provided by the large military bases (commissaries, hospitals, etc.), Norfolk is home to a sizeable older population. When scoping out your new block and neighbors, consider things like: Could your get-togethers be considered particularly loud? Do you want children running around for your own kids to play with?
Don’t Hold Your Breath: There are hundreds of bridges, tunnels, and interstates connecting the Hampton Roads together (Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Hampton and Newport News), but none will you come to dread more than the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel (HRBT). This asphalt tangle is notorious for tacking on hours to trips and should be avoided like that monster it is.
Ride the Tide: Speaking of transit, the HRT Tide is brand spanking new, and makes areas that were previously only car-friendly, now easily accessible for bikers and pedestrians. Look up the proximity of stations to your potential home to see if service extends to you.
Now go discover your new favorite water sport, introduce yourself to one of the locals (who are incredibly friendly, by the way) and if you’re feeling really arty, check out the Chrysler Museum of Art and/or the Virginia Opera. Look at you, being all cultured. Bien!