Portsmouth, Virginia is home to the largest naval shipyard in the world. Don't let the name confuse you, though. It's named after the neighboring city of Norfolk.
Portsmouth is a city that forms a piece of what seems like a seamless community surrounding the Chesapeake Bay. The Seven Cities of Hampton Roads include Norfolk, Hampton, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Newport News. The first official successful settlement in the Americas, Jamestown, lies only a few miles up river. Colonial era homes still line the streets mixed with modern advancements and the skyscrapers of downtown Norfolk. The military has a strong presence in the city and makes for the majority of the local infrastructure. Unemployment is remarkably low and cost of living is more reasonable in this area than adjacent cities.
Moving to the City
Portsmouth is an outlying suburb of the major commercial centers of Norfolk and Virginia Beach. The majority of residents live in the city and work across the river. Prices are cheaper than downtown and though public transit is improving, it is easier to drive than get around any other way since all areas are connected by I-64 and it's offshoots with little inconvenience.
The entire area that surrounds Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is geared towards military personnel and their families. This is a huge boon to the community for a number of reasons. Crime is lower here than you would initially expect. Residents feel safe at night when walking downtown or through neighborhoods. Like any large city there are areas to avoid but they are few and everyone knows where they are. The economy has flourished in spite of difficult times due to the constant influx of government support. The bases located nearby, including Oceana Air Force Base, provide stability for local businesses that has encouraged growth on a persistent basis. The constant presence of battleships and carriers in the harbor are just part of the scenery here. A lot of the charm and personality that the city owns is a direct result of these subtle features.
The entire eastern seaboard is rich with history, for those who are into learning more about America’s past. Dating back to its beginnings in 1752, Porthsmouth has several neighborhoods in particular that will make you feel as though you’ve gone back in time. If American history is your thing, it might be worth your while to take the three-hour trek northwest to Washington DC with stops along the way to some amazing little towns that helped shape the future of the country.
For the most part, Portsmouths sister city of Norfolk is the happening place for nightlife. It may seem unusual but this area does not segregate one city from the other in the way most states do. Moreover each city seems to designate a purpose. Businessman and college students spend their time in Norfolk, professional workers and shoppers go to Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach is for tourists or locals looking to get away from it all. Portsmouth is where a large portion of over two million of the region's population resides. Just across the bridge on Granby street is downtown Norfolk. Bars, clubs and restaurants of every possible type line the strip marked by the presence of the battleship Wisconsin which practically overshadows Waterside Drive. On weekends it can get quite crowded. MacArthur mall butts up against the nightlife center, which offers a logical end to a long day of shopping. Ferries and taxis make it easy to travel back and forth between the two cities safely and legally. Public transportation is thankfully improving along with the continuing construction of a light rail connecting the oceanfront with the cities along the bay.
Weather or Not
Weather in Portsmouth is typical of the mid Atlantic. It can at times be turbulent but what can be assured is no one weather pattern will last very long. Rainstorms are intense but come in frequent short bursts. Typically a shower will last from fifteen minutes to an hour at most. All four seasons are represented including an occasional snowfall that will remain for a week or two in early February which is just long enough build a snowman, have a snowball fight and be ready for it all to melt away. Spring is full of flowers and life as the geese come out with their new hatchlings for the first time in the year (much to the despair of many locals waiting for the new families to cross the street). Summers are hot enough to urge most people to the beaches for a welcome cooling off in the ocean, but the the days give way to luxurious if slightly nippy autumns full of color changing leaves and pleasant evenings.
Olde Town: Located directly on the bay with stunning skyline view of downtown Norfolk, Olde Towne Portsmouth is home to colonial buildings, townhouses and cobblestone streets. An eclectic mix of restaurants pepper the community. If you focus your apartment search here you will find plenty of studios and one bedroom apartments. Prices are slightly higher due to the location and coveted scenery. $$$$
Downtown: Downtown is largely preserved as a historic monument. The majority of homes are two story turn of the century and colonial styles. Renovated for modern comforts the aesthetic sensibilities have been preserved throughout the ages. Many larger houses have been converted into multiplexes for singles and college students. $$$
Midtown: This area is the hub of suburbia in Portsmouth. I-264 across the river, route 58 to NC and route 17 from Fredericksburg to Florida all pass through here. This is also a large medical center for the city. Midtown offers architecture from across the centuries. Queen Anne inspired homes, turn of the century, waterfront colonials and Cape Cod style homes mingle together for an air of merican history unfolding before your eyes. $$$
Victory: Victory was a planned expansion to the city. This region is mixed in its development. The Elizabeth River like much of Portsmouth plays a major role in the residential layout of the area. Retail outlets and commercial developments are in abundance with the larger more modern homes being placed strategically along the river banks, often with their own piers. Fishing is a major pastime in this area due to easy access to the Chesapeake Bay. The harbor houses a full complement of private boats year round for enthusiasts. $$
Churchland: If youre going to call any place home, Churchland is probably going to be it. Spacious living areas with river views are plentiful here. Apartment complexes are replaced by townhomes and condos. Brick, ranch style homes and traditional partial brick homes are common. This is the most family friendly neighborhood in the area. The YMCA and several cultural centers provide a welcome boost to the local community spirit. Churchland was designed to encompass the needs of all of Portsmouths citizens. Large sections of luxury homes were constructed to attract economic improvement to the area as well as several fairly priced homes designed with first time buyers in mind to assist new families looking to move to the area. Anywhere in Hampton Roads enjoys a unique atmosphere that could not exist anywhere else. $$