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Richmond, VA skyline at dusk

14 Things to Know About Living in Richmond

Thinking about moving to Richmond? With an affordable cost of living, strong job market, great restaurants, and so much more, it’s no wonder Virginia’s capital city is one of the best places to live on the East Coast! Check out these 14 things to know about living in Richmond!

Move to an Affordable East Coast City

With more affordable rent than similarly-sized cities and an overall cost of living lower than the national average, Richmond is an affordable option for people moving to the East Coast! RVA real estate is also less expensive than in other Virginia cities—like Virginia Beach and Charlottesville. Additionally, Virginia has a lower property tax rate than many other states in the country. With all these factors in mind, Richmond’s affordability may be a contributing factor to its recent population growth, which continues to outpace the rest of the state.

Get Around with RVA Public Transit

In addition to Richmond’s walkability and bikeability, there are also multiple public transportation options to help you get around the city. Virginia’s capital wasn’t always known for its public transportation, but many recent improvements have made the metro much easier to navigate! Hop on the bus to get throughout the city or use the R-Van service to find commuter ride share options via the GRTC Transit System. Find a bus line to take you where you need to go with RVA Rapid Transit. Rent a bike and cycle the city using RVA Bike Share. Looking for long-distance travel options? Get tickets for a cross-country bus ride from the Richmond Greyhound Bus Station. Take a train to cities like Charleston and Savannah from the Staples Mill Road Amtrak Station. Or book a flight via the Richmond International Airport.

Get a Degree at Richmond Colleges

Moving to Richmond to seek higher education? RVA has a variety of colleges and universities to choose from! Take classes in dozens of undergraduate and graduate programs, from accounting to women, gender, and sexuality studies at the highly-ranked University of Richmond. Get hands-on experience in fields like education, biology, and more at one of the country’s top 100 research universities, Virginia Commonwealth University. Obtain a high-quality education with undergraduate majors like psychology and chemistry and a variety of graduate programs at one of the South’s oldest historically Black universities, Virginia Union University. Prepare yourself for a nursing career with a student-focused education at Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing. Take your prerequisites to set the foundation for a four-year degree elsewhere, or enroll in one of 80+ programs to get an accelerated degree or certificate at Reynolds Community College.

Seek a Career in Richmond

Dominion Energy headquarters in Richmond, VA. Photo by Instagram user @dominionenergy

Photo via @dominionenergy

Did you know Richmond is one of America’s best mid-sized cities for jobs? River City has everything from Fortune 500 companies—like CarMax, Dominion Energy, and Markel—to small businesses aided by programs like Startup Virginia. Begin your tech career at Richmond startups like Hatch and Terazo. For jobs outside of tech, the Richmond job market spans industries from financing to manufacturing and beyond. Find rewarding work in finance at a company that helps elderly people live independently, Genworth. Seek manufacturing work focused on fuel and lubricant additives at Afton Chemical. Or pursue a medical career at a major Richmond healthcare employer, Richmond VA Medical Center.

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Experience Richmond’s Outdoor Activities

Kayakers on James River in Richmond, VA. Photo by Instagram user @jamesriverpark

Photo via @jamesriverpark

There are plenty of things to do outdoors in Richmond! Shop produce, fresh food, and more at the 17th Street Farmers Market, one of the oldest public markets in the U.S. Go whitewater rafting, jogging, or bird-watching at James River Park. Take in natural views and make pit stops at historic sites along the 52-mile bike path of the Virginia Capital Trail. Relax on a leisurely pedal boat ride in the lake, play tennis with friends, or have a picnic at Byrd Park. Explore the beautiful Japanese Garden and stroll among exotic trees in the Arboretum at Maymont. Go rock-climbing, take a walk, or sit and enjoy the waterfront from the riverbank at Belle Isle. Or bring your dog to run and play off-leash at Church Hill Dog Park at Chimborazo Park.

Get to Know the Local Richmond History

St John's Church in Richmond, VA. Photo by Instagram user @lookuprichmond

Photo via @lookuprichmond

As a former British colony with ties to both the American Revolutionary War and Civil War, Richmond is full of historic sites and museums! Check out St. John’s Church, where Founding Father Patrick Henry delivered the “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech at the start of the Revolution. Take a tour of the Old Senate Chambers, the oldest legislative body in the U.S., at the Virginia State Capitol. See artifacts from the Civil War at the American Civil War Museum. Peruse the Enchanted Garden and keep an eye out for black cats at the Edgar Allen Poe Museum. Or take a staycation to admire the ornate architecture and historic touches at The Jefferson Hotel.

Celebrate Pride in Richmond

Richmond has a vibrant and thriving LGBTQ community, with plenty of opportunities to celebrate pride. Attend family-friendly Drag Bingo and other LGBTQ-friendly Richmond events, or rent the space for private use at the Diversity Richmond Event Hall. Connect with the Richmond LGBTQ scene through OutRVA, a community of creatives and activists providing resources for River City locals. Watch the parade, support local vendors, and celebrate pride at Pridefest. Shop vintage furniture, clothes, and more, all while supporting local LGBTQ causes at Diversity Thrift. Participate in a pride-themed 5K with Pride Run Richmond. Or party with friends, drinks, drag, and more at Richmond’s oldest LGBTQ bar—Babes of Carytown.

Attend Fun RVA Festivals & Events

Richmond Folk Festival concert. Photo by Instagram user @rvafolkfest

Photo via @rvafolkfest

There are several events and festivals in Richmond throughout the year, with something for everyone to enjoy! Dance to live folk music at one of the largest annual River City events—The Richmond Folk Festival. Jam out to internationally-known live acts like Shaggy and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony alongside more underground musicians over the course of multiple days at the Richmond Jazz and Music Festival. Challenge yourself to join 25,000 other runners at the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K. Go rock climbing, take a yoga class, or enjoy other group fitness activities at the Dominion Energy Riverrock Festival. Sample signature dishes from 60+ local restaurants and watch live cooking demos at Broad Appétit. Feast on whole hog barbecue and sample brews and whiskeys at the Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ Festival. See everything from boat races to Chinese cultural performances and enjoy a craft brew at the beer garden during the International Dragon Boat Festival each August. Or attend the HeART & Soul Brewfest for hearty soul food, hip-hop concerts, and an epic collection of urban art.

Find Family Fun in Richmond

There’s no shortage of things to do with kids in and around RVA! Travel just outside the city to ride the Woodstock Express, brave the Paradise Plunge water slide, or visit Charlie Brown and friends at Kings Dominion & Soak City. Watch monkeys swing from trees, feed the giraffes, or try your hand at the Treetop Zoofari Course at Metro Richmond Zoo. Explore more than 50 acres of gardens or bring your kids to family-friendly events like Storytime at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. See the stars at a Planetarium Show, check out real train cars and submarines, and enjoy hands-on experiences like the Eco Lab at the Science Museum of Virginia. Or let your kids learn and play through exhibits like the interactive Little Farm or the Living Tree House at Children’s Museum of Richmond.

Root for Richmond Sports Teams

Sports fans moving to Richmond will find plenty of spectator sports to check out. Experience the rush of a NASCAR race at Richmond Raceway. Root for the Richmond Flying Squirrels (MiLB) as they hit home runs at The Diamond. Cheer on the longest continuously-running professional soccer club in the nation, the Richmond Kickers (USL-1), at City Stadium. Get court-side seats to see the VCU Rams Men’s Basketball Team (NCAA) shoot nothing but net at the Siegel Center. Or enjoy a unique sports experience watching River City Roller Derby, the city’s first WFTDA league.

Experience River City Performing Arts

Street mural in Richmond, VA. Photo by Instagram user @dccitygirl

Photo via @dccitygirl

When living in Richmond, you’ve got an incredible art scene at your fingertips. Admire street art from some of the country’s top creators on buildings throughout the city through the Richmond Mural Project. See some of the finest collections of Art Nouveau and South Asian art in the world at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Browse or buy original works by standout artists at the annual two-day Arts in the Park festival each May. See live theatre, orchestral performances, opera, and more at University of Richmond’s Modlin Center for the Arts. Get tickets to watch stunning performances live on stage from the Richmond Ballet. Or watch Broadway shows like Les Miserables, Hadestown, Hairspray, and more at Altria Theater.

Richmond’s Food Scene Is on the Rise

With a wealth of unique Richmond restaurants, this Virginia city is a growing foodie destination! Try creative takes on breakfast classics like the Pulled Pork Benny, Crabcake Quiche, or Tomato Pie at The Fancy Biscuit. Feast on rib-sticking entrees like the Lump Crab & Scrambled Egg Enchilada or the Devil’s Shrimp & Grits at Millie’s Diner. Experience the finer side of dining with Baked Oysters and Paella at Rappahannock Oyster Co. Order the Pork Schnitzel, Sourdough Pappardelle, or other flavorful offerings at Metzger Bar & Butchery. Savor authentic Italian cuisine with dishes like White Pizza to share or Mussels Marinara as a solo entree at Dinamo. Have date night with elevated offerings like Pan Seared Whole Bronzini or Chilean Sea Bass, or try the Five Course Chef Tasting Menu at Spoonbread Bistro. Or sample delicious traditional Chinese entrees with a modern flare, like Beef Jalapeno Fried Rice and Hot Pot Black Bean Chicken at Fat Dragon Chinese Kitchen and Bar.

The Craft Brews Just Keep Flowing

Craft beer from The Veil Brewing Co in Richmond, VA. Photo by Instagram user @htothe2

Photo via @htothe2

As one of the top beer destinations in the country, Richmond has a fantastic brewery scene. Sample a little bit of everything with a trip down the Richmond Beer Trail, totaling 35 stops. Grab a Tropication IPA, Bourbon Cru Belgian Quadruple, or many other brews at the Hardywood Richmond Pizza Kitchen & Taproom. Enjoy the diverse selection of IPAs, Hefeweizens, and more in an unpretentious setting at The Veil Brewing Co. Sip on a Chocolate Cheese Quake Porter, a Double Barrel Sasquatch Elvis Stout, or a variety of other refreshing beers and cocktails at The Answer Brewpub. Find a diverse beer menu with year-round releases, including the Stone IPA at the Stone Brewing Tap Room. Or if you prefer ciders, check out the large selection of hard apple ciders at Blue Bee Cider.

Fun Doesn’t Stop When the Sun Goes Down

Classic Whiskey Sour In Front of Bottles from The Jasper. Photo by Instagram user @jasperbarrva

Photo via @jasperbarrva

Whether you’re looking to party all night long or have a low-key evening with some friends, Richmond’s nightlife provides experiences for all. Rock out with some of America’s best performers, like Third Eye Blind and Hawthorne Heights, at live music venue The National. Dance to live music, sing karaoke, and attend live party events at Visions Dance Club. Try unique cocktails like the Mango Unchained and the Hailstorm Julep at The Jasper. Enjoy live jazz with a glass of wine with friends at C’est le Vin. Drink craft beers while playing skeeball, pool, and classic arcade games at Bingo Beer Co. Or see side-splitting Richmond comedy acts—including the recurring Community Night: Jambalaya interactive improv event—at Coalition Theater.

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About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.