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Is Virginia a Good Place To Retire? Here’s What You Should Consider

Retirement Virginia

by Matt Lyons Posted on December 21, 2023

With its picturesque Atlantic shoreline location on the East Coast, Virginia is the perfect destination for those seeking a calm environment with lots of natural beauty. How does Virginia rank as a retirement state, in particular? According to multiple sources, including the personal finance website WalletHub, Virginia is consistently ranked as one of the best states for retirees. But is Virginia a good place to retire for you? Here’s what we think you should consider.

 

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Benefits of Retiring in Virginia

Some retirees prefer retirement spots where the weather is warm and sunny year round; however, there are many retirees out there who still enjoy experiencing each of the four seasons  — and you’ll get that in Virginia. 

Along with a low cost of living and various tax benefits offered for retirees, you’ll also be able to take advantage of Virginia’s available outdoor activities, prominent arts and culture scene, and historic sites related to the state’s rich history.

Gorgeous view of the Blueridge Mountains in Virginia during sunrise. A dense fog is settled between the rolling mountains, and the sky is a fiery pink and orange.

Blue Ridge Mountains

Pros and Cons of Retiring in Virginia 

Is Virginia a good state to retire in? Absolutely! But even so, no matter where you decide to relocate to for your golden years, it’s important to consider the positive and not-so-positive aspects. Here are some of the pros and cons of retiring in Virginia. 

Pro: Outdoor Recreation

It doesn’t matter where you live in Virginia, outdoor recreation can be found all throughout the state. Thanks to areas of natural beauty like the Blue Ridge Mountains and various Virginia beaches, outdoor activities like boating, hiking, mountain biking, and skiing are quite popular among local residents.

Con: Bad Traffic 

While some of Virginia’s major cities offer the best amenities for retired life, the surge in population over the last few years has resulted in heavier traffic congestion during peak hours of the day. And although you may not have to worry about commuting to a job during your golden years, it’s important to plan ahead, if you want to visit those larger cities. 

Pro: Real Estate Variety

Because of Virginia’s diverse mixture of large urban areas and small communities, retired home buyers have a wide assortment of real estate options to choose from. 

Con: Natural Disasters

Unfortunately, while living in Virginia, there’s a chance you’ll encounter one or a variety of natural disasters, such as coastal storms, flooding, and thunderstorms, along with tornadoes and even earthquakes. 

Pro: Historic Sites and Arts/Culture Scene

There are many important sites found in Virginia that are connected to crucial moments in history, such as the American Revolution and Civil War. Colonial Williamsburg, Monticello, and Mount Vernon are some of the best spots to explore the area’s history. 

And along with numerous museums, galleries, and performing arts venues, residents also enjoy attending local festivals, like the Chesapeake Virginia Wine Festival, the Virginia Film Festival, and the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival.  

Con: Lack of Public Transportation 

Retirees planning to relocate to Virginia must have a car, as the public transportation throughout the state is lacking. Other than in the major metropolitan areas of Fairfax, Richmond, and Virginia Beach, public transit is hard to come by. 

 

Residents canoe on a body of water in Massanetta Springs, Virginia. It’s summer,  the grass is green, and the trees in the community are filled with lush foliage.

Massanetta Springs, Virginia
(Source: Massanetta Springs Camp & Conference Center)

The Best Places To Retire in Virginia

The pristine landscapes of Virginia offer easy access to nature and a variety of outdoor recreation, while the historic sites in the state date back to the Civil War and suit the history buffs. What perks are you looking for in your retirement destination? Here’s a little about each of our top picks for the best places to retire in Virginia.

1. Massanetta Springs, VA

Full of natural beauty from the local forests, mountains, and streams, Massanetta Springs is situated right in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. And thanks to Lake Shenandoah and the Blue Ridge Mountains, this location has something for everyone, from swimming and fishing to hiking and biking. 

Massanetta Springs also offers a variety of indoor facilities that accommodate varying needs. The Massanetta Springs Camp and Conference Center, for example, serves as a great venue for spiritual retreats and corporate events, while the nearby Massanutten Fitness & Rec Club provides retired residents with an opportunity to maintain their active lifestyle. 

2. Merrimac, VA

Located in Montgomery County and a part of the Blacksburg-Christiansburg metro area, Merrimac is a small, vibrant community with plenty of outdoor activities to partake in, along with a variety of nearby annual events to attend, such as the Radford Redbud Festival

One can’t-miss local attraction is the Coal Mining Heritage Park and Loop Trail, a walking trail that goes through one of the oldest coal mines in Montgomery County, the old Merrimac Coal Mine. Fun fact: The mine, which was a government enterprise, took its name from the famous USS Merrimac from the Civil War. And the coal it produced was used to power the vessel, which has since been renamed the Chesapeake S. Virginia. 

3. Lake Barcroft, VA

Over a thousand homes are located in the Lake Barcroft neighborhood, and one out of every four of them are actually on the water. The area’s beautiful lake has five private beaches, which are staffed by lifeguards to ensure safety. Electric-powered pontoons, sailboats, and self-propelled boats are allowed during the summertime. And retirees looking to get involved in their local community will enjoy Lake Barcroft’s annual events, such as the Annual Turkey Trot, the Lake Barcroft Car Show, and fireworks on July 4th.

Aerial view of Bon Air, a census-designated place in Virginia. The community features large luxury homes amidst a lush forest

Bon Air, Virginia
(Source: Ruckart Real Estate)

4. Bon Air, VA

What makes Bon Air one of the best cities in Virginia to retire? Located just outside the larger city of Richmond, Bon Air is an area of rich history dating all the way back to the 1870s, when it was actually created as a resort for Richmond’s wealthy residents. When traveling through Bon Air, you will notice that the gorgeous Victorian architecture of the 1800s still remains today!

Retired shopaholics living in Bon Air can always explore the nearby Chesterfield Towne Center, a big mall that contains over 100 various retailers. And if you feel like staying active outdoors, you can always head to Huguenot Park to play sports or Girl Scout Lake for the most ideal afternoon walk. Popular eateries among local residents in Bon Air include Joe’s Inn and Kickback Jack’s.

5. Forest, VA

Located in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, the town of Forest is best characterized as quiet and leafy. It’s also known for its historic homes, such as Thomas Jefferson's summer residence, Poplar Forest. And because of the area’s low average rent price, Forest is also one of the most affordable places to retire in Virginia.

The town is surrounded by farmland and woodland, and it's well manicured with brick homes and low-density neighborhoods. Although it doesn't have a real downtown, the town still has a variety of local shops. Rick's Antiques, for example, is a great place to spend an afternoon!

Most residents of Forest go to nearby Lynchburg to eat, shop, and enjoy other amenities. And there are a couple of fantastic golf courses in the area, such as Ivy Hill Golf Club and London Downs Golf Club, which are great to visit in the fall, when the surrounding hills are lit up with vibrant colors. 

6. Wakefield, VA

Situated in Fairfax County, Wakefield is one of the most inviting suburbs you can find east of Richmond that offers a variety of outdoor activities and fun events. The local Wakefield Park is one of the most popular attractions among local residents. It’s close to 300 acres in size and considered one of the best migration spots in the state. In fact, it’s not uncommon to catch sightings here of the beautiful warbler species, including a variety of sparrows. 

The local Wakefield Farmers Market offers the perfect variety of goods, from seafood to fruit to baked goods and more. Fun local events include Arts in the Parks, with kid-friendly entertainment for the grandkids, and the Summer Entertainment Series, with music from all different types of genres, including jazz, folk, classical, and R&B. 

 

Q: Where does Virginia rank in best states to retire?
A:
When looking through various sources on the best places to retire, you will typically see Virginia at the top of those lists. .

A couple is using a calculator and taking notes on paper, trying to figure out how much they need to save for retirement.

How Much Money Do You Need To Retire Comfortably in Virginia?

How much money you need depends on several factors, such as your personal lifestyle and how much money you’ve saved up before retirement. However, it helps to look at how Virginia treats retirees when it comes to taxes. 

Is Virginia a retirement-friendly state? Yes, Virginia is considered tax-friendly toward retirees, as social security income is not taxed, and all other forms of retirement income are only partially taxed. Seniors are also entitled to a tax deduction of up to $12,000 annually against their other forms of retirement income. Those who rely on Social Security solely or other retirement benefits totaling less than $12,000 are not required to pay state taxes in the state.

The state's average property tax rate is around 0.75 percent, which also ranks as the 21st lowest among the rest of the 50 states. The value of properties will vary significantly in different areas of the state, however.

Retiring in Virginia: Making the Move

Once you’ve decided where to retire in Virginia, let PODS help make the moving journey easier. With three portable moving container sizes to choose from, you can pack and load your belongings at your own pace. And when you’re ready, PODS will take your moving container to your new VA residence. Need more time? No problem, you can keep your things in a secure PODS Storage Center as long as you need to. 

Editor’s note: For ease of reading, monthly rental prices were rounded to the nearest $25 and home values were rounded to the nearest $100.

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