Just a two-hour drive south of Washington D.C., you’ll find Richmond, the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, at the fall line of the James River. Incorporated in 1742 and an independent city since 1871, Richmond is the perfect place for both historophiles and those seeking modern city life. There is plenty of civil war history around the city, especially on Monument Avenue, where controversial statues to confederate leaders can still be found standing tall on their pedestals. A hotbed for political activity even today, Richmonders stay involved in the local and national political scene through activism, leadership initiatives, and often packed city hall meetings.

 

Housing costs

Though Richmond has become a true city with a sprawling metro area and impressive job growth, within the city limits there were only 220,289 people as of 2015. Residents are known to enjoy local services and industry, public parks such as Maymont, one of the oldest farmers markets in the nation, shopping in Carytown, or sipping a local brew from one of the new microbreweries popping up in the Scott’s Addition neighborhood. The median listing price for a home in Richmond is $225,000. The average price to rent a one-bedroom apartment is $927 per month. These prices are on the rise.

Among Richmond's most interesting architectural features is its cast-iron architecture. Second only to New Orleans in its concentration of cast iron work, the city is home to a unique collection of cast iron porches, balconies, fences, and finials. These new antebellum architectural fashions are well known on streets with rich history, like East Grace Street. Homes on East Grace Street range from nearly $300,000 to approximately $650,000.

Neighborhoods by the number

Richmond is home to many significant structures, including some designed by notable architects. The city contains diverse styles, including significant examples of Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Neoclassical, Egyptian Revival, Romanesque Revival, Gothic Revival, Tudor Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Art Deco, Modernist, International, and Postmodern buildings. The city cares about its history, and over 45 districts throughout the city hold coveted spots on the Virginia Landmarks Registry and the National Register of Historic Places.

Richmond's urban residential neighborhoods also hold particular significance to the fabric of the city. The Fan, the Museum District, Jackson Ward, Carver, Carytown, Oregon Hill and Church Hill are largely single use town homes and mixed use or full retail/dining establishments. These districts are anchored by large streets such as Franklin Street, Cary Street, the Boulevard, and Monument Avenue. Home prices and rental rates on these streets are found to be on the steep side, but that doesn’t stop students and other residents from moving here. In fact, the city's growth in population over the last decade has been concentrated in these areas. If money is an issue, you might be able to stretch for living in these areas if you learn to save money in other areas of your living expenses.

Growing small business community

It’s not uncommon to see small businesses around Richmond pay respect to one another in the form of collaborations, events, or social media shout-outs. A few local favorites include 68Home, Tiny Space, Boketto Wellness, Saadia’s Juicebox, Rosewood Clothing Company, Nanin, and Dear Neighbor. There is a growing incubator scene for entrepreneurs hoping to get their idea off the ground, and a number of co-working spaces that facilitate creativity have opened within the last couple of years to help solo owners build their own community. One thing is certain, Richmond is a great place to move if you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner.

Within the local community, there’s a wide assortment of health-conscious grocers and restaurants, as well as a number of local farmers markets. You’ll find that there are plenty of gyms both boutique and national. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, a cycler or a yogi, you’ll be sure to find your fit.

Got a bike? No problem

In 2015, Richmond hosted the UCI Raceworld World Championships, a legacy cycling event that brought in over 645,000 visitors to the city and spurred a variety of city-wide initiatives to make street biking within the city a safe and exciting pastime. Much of the city has implemented individual bike lanes and has recently premiered a city-wide bike share that spans the major areas of Richmond. With these recent improvements, the residents are hopeful that the bike community will continue to improve and grow. There are still incremental changes to be made for bicycling in Richmond to size up to other large cities.

Richmond is also home to a number of incredible parks. There are parks located on two major islands in the river: Belle Isle and Brown's Island, which are host to a number of events, such as the weekly Friday Cheers concert series or the James River Beer and Seafood Festival.

Things to do on a budget

Richmond is no stranger to a party, as evidenced by the huge number of concerts, shows, and street festival that happen every year. Traditional Virginian folk music, including blues, country, and bluegrass are also notably present, and play a large part in the annual Richmond Folk Festival. Richmond is also the home and birthplace of famous metal act GWAR. GWAR is run by an art collective known as Slavepit Incorporated, which has over the years involved hundreds of Richmond locals during their yearly GwarBQ event. Some particularly notable festivals are the Richmond Street Art Festival, Broad Appetit, Dominion Riverrock, Richmond Jazz Festival, and NASCAR. Although fun, attending every festival can get expensive. Keep an eye on deal sites for discounted tickets.

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The community offers plenty of incentive to call Richmond home. As a local, you get access to amazing events, beautiful architecture, rich history, and a booming community. Before you take the leap, make sure to do your research to ensure Richmond, Virginia is the right place for you.