Moving to Portsmouth

Enveloped in history and brimming with promising prospects lies the city of Portsmouth, VA, poised graciously on the Elizabeth River's western shore. Imagine awakening to the sight of a city that seamlessly blends rich landmarks with thriving modernity. From the pulling allure of lush parks to the lively docks, endless antiquity at the Naval Shipyard, or the vibrant arts scene, Portsmouth has you covered. Our comprehensive Portsmouth relocation guide promises an engaging journey, highlighting why this waterfront gem should top your list of potential new hometowns. Fasten your seatbelts; we invite you to envision your future in Portsmouth.

Moving to Portsmouth, VA landscape image

What to Know Before Moving to Portsmouth

1. Portsmouth is Flooding...With History

When we say Portsmouth is flooding, we don't mean it's underwater, even if it is a coastal city. The 'flooding' we're talking about is the rich depth of American history that can be found at every turn. Portsmouth is one of the oldest cities in the US. Founded in 1752, it has seen Revolutionary and Civil war tumult, and the echoes of these events still reverberate today. Points of interest, like the Naval Shipyard Museum, the Hill House, and the Olde Towne district, offer a unique perspective on the past. So, if you appreciate history, Portsmouth is definitely for you.

2. Ferry Fun

The Elizabeth River Ferry isn't just a mode of transportation in Portsmouth, it's a staple of living. Daily commutes to Norfolk are transformed into leisurely cruises, with fantastic views and often, lively camaraderie amongst passengers. Not interested in a daily commute? No problem, the ferry ride, which conveniently starts at the High Street Landing, is often used as a sightseeing tour, offering spectacular views of the Norfolk skyline and Naval Shipyard.

3. Wonderful Walkability

Get ready to invest in some quality walking shoes! Portsmouth boasts a very walkable Olde Towne district. With a walk score of 74/100, you can easily ditch the car and stroll to local pubs, cafes, antique stores, the farmer's market, and even water views. This pedestrian-friendly atmosphere creates an amazing sense of community spirit, where neighbors become friends and the slower pace of life is savored.

4. The Art and Heart of Portsmouth

It's not just history that Portsmouth holds in high esteem, but local art too. An innovative public art project has seen over twenty murals adorning the city buildings, created by local artists. Each piece of art tells a unique story, adding vibrancy to city life. The Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center offers a rotating showcase of local talent, while outdoor concerts are a seasonal delight at the waterfront pavilion. Artistry runs deep in the veins of Portsmouth, making it a true haven for culture vultures.

5. A Soft Spot for Soft-shell Crabs

Alright, foodies, this one's for you. Portsmouth is located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, an area famous for its soft-shell crabs. If you haven't tried this delicacy yet, moving to Portsmouth is the perfect excuse. Soft-shell crabs can be found throughout local restaurants menus, showcasing the bounty of the bay and the creativity of local chefs. It's definitely a must-grab at any seafood dive, but beware- they're only available for a few weeks in spring!

6. Legend of the Gosport Ghost

Now here's something most people don't know, unless they're a local. The legend of the Gosport ghost is an intriguing slice of Portsmouth folklore. Let's set the scene: The year is 1813, Gosport Naval Shipyard, and a man now known as 'Michael' was hanged after being accused of mutiny. Ever since, numerous sightings of an ethereal figure in 18th-century sailor's garb have been reported. So, whether you're an avid ghost hunter or just like a little paranormal intrigue, Portsmouth's Gosport ghost is waiting to say "hello".

Whether you're a history buff, an art enthusiast, a foodie, a ferry rider, a walker, or a ghost hunter, Portsmouth, Virginia is a city that will scratch your itch. It's a place that combines the charm of a small town with an astonishingly rich history and a vibrant cultural scene. If you're thinking of moving, Portsmouth is definitely worth a closer look!

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Pros and Cons of Living in Portsmouth

Pros of Living in Portsmouth

Natural Beauty

Portsmouth is nestled along the Elizabeth River and adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay, providing residents with scenic views and ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as boating, fishing, kayaking, and more. The city also boasts numerous parks and green spaces for residents to enjoy.

Rich History

As one of the oldest cities in the Hampton Roads metro area, Portsmouth is brimming with history. From the Historic District's charming 18th-century houses to the Naval Shipyard Museum, there are many opportunities for residents to learn and appreciate the city's rich past.

Strong Naval Presence

Home to one of the largest naval shipyards in the world, Portsmouth prides itself on its strong military heritage. The presence of the Navy brings a vibrant community, as well as job opportunities in military-related industries.

Cultural Activities

Portsmouth is home to a variety of cultural attractions, including art galleries, museums, and theaters, such as the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center. It also hosts numerous festivals and public events throughout the year, providing ample entertainment for residents.

Easy Accessibility

Portsmouth's location in the heart of the Hampton Roads area makes it easy for residents to access the larger metro area. The city itself is very walkable, and a ferry service provides easy access to Norfolk across the river.

Cons of Living in Portsmouth

Higher Than Average Crime Rates

Compared to many other cities in Virginia, Portsmouth does have a higher crime rate. However, like any city, crime rates can vary widely from neighborhood to neighborhood, and there are many safe and comfortable areas in Portsmouth.

Economic Instability

While there are sectors with robust opportunities (such as military-related jobs), Portsmouth has a history of economic instability. Recovery from the recession has been slower here compared to other places in Virginia, and the city has struggled with higher unemployment rates.

Traffic and Commute Times

As part of the larger Hampton Roads metropolitan area, Portsmouth residents can experience heavy traffic, particularly during peak hours or when there are closures or issues with the area's tunnels and bridges. This can lead to lengthier commute times.

Climatic Conditions

Portsmouth experiences a hot and humid summer that may be uncomfortable for some. Additionally, being a coastal city, it is vulnerable to extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes.

Lack of Nightlife

Compared to other larger cities, Portsmouth's nightlife scene is relatively subdued. While there are some local bars and restaurants, those seeking a vibrant nightlife scene may need to venture to surrounding cities such as Norfolk or Virginia Beach.

Modern day picture of Portsmouth, VA highlighting pros and cons of living in Portsmouth, VA

Is Portsmouth a Good Place to Live?

Portsmouth, VA is a great place to live because of its rich history, welcoming community, and its delicious array of sea-side eateries. Plus, nature lovers will be thrilled with the city's impressive recreational parks and waterways perfect for a myriad of outdoor activities. Not to mention, Portsmouth's access to quality education and health care services ensures residents have all they need at their doorstep!

What Is Portsmouth Famous For?

Historic Olde Towne Portsmouth

This charming neighborhood is the heartbeat of Portsmouth. Olde Towne is a walkable, vibrant area teeming with historic homes, eclectic shops, art galleries, and mouth-watering local eateries. Simply take a stroll down High Street and you will easily understand why Olde Towne is so special.

Norfolk Naval Shipyard

Let the sailor in you explore the historic Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Initially established in 1767, it's one of the oldest and largest naval facilities in the country. Although it's primarily used for building, repairing, and modernizing navy ships, it's also a notable site for its significant contribution to America's naval history.

The Lightship Portsmouth Museum

Step back in time at The Lightship Portsmouth Museum, a floating lighthouse that once guided ships at sea in the early 20th century. It's not just a beacon of light; it's a beacon of Portsmouth's rich maritime past. Visitors can explore nautical exhibits and learn about the life of a seaman aboard this historic ship.

The Portsmouth Naval Medical Center

If you're into sci-fi, you might remember seeing The Portsmouth Naval Medical Center in several feature films - it's that cool. Yes, it's an active-duty hospital, but its breathtaking architecture, historical significance and expansive campus make it an unparalleled sight to behold. Satisfy your architectural appetite amidst its art-deco and colonial revival styles.

Capital building of Portsmouth, VA in artistic rendering

Overview of Tax Rates

Property Tax

As of 2023, the property tax rate in Portsmouth, VA, is $1.30 per $100 of assessed value, which is slightly higher than the average rate in other parts of Virginia but lower than the national average.

Sales Tax

In Portsmouth, the combined sales tax rate is 6%, which includes both state and local tax. This rate is similar to the average sales tax rate across the United States.

Income Tax

Virginia's state income tax ranges from 2% to 5.75%, with Portsmouth residents falling into this range. This is generally lower than many other states, as some have rates exceeding 8%.

Housing Market

In Portsmouth, VA, the median home value is approximately $173,200, lower than the national median of $231,200, presenting an opportunity for homebuyers. However, Portsmouth's median rent price of $1,050 is slightly above the US average. Home values have experienced a 4.7% increase over the past year, indicating a stable growth. The housing market in Portsmouth is leaning towards buyers, but high rent could be a concern for renters looking for affordable options. This contrasts to other parts of the US where markets may favour sellers or boast more affordable rent rates.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Portsmouth, Virginia, is slightly lower than the national average. Essential factors such as housing, utilities, and healthcare are more affordable when compared to most U.S cities. The lower cost of living doesn't compromise the quality of life as Portsmouth offers a wide range of amenities and attractions. However, it's important to note that while overall costs are lower, individual experiences may vary depending on personal lifestyle and financial management.

Weather & Natural Disasters

Portsmouth, VA, nestled by the Elizabeth River and the Chesapeake Bay, experiences a humid subtropical climate characterized by distinct seasons. Summers are hot and humid, with temperatures in the high 80s and 90s, whilst winters are typically mild, with temperatures rarely dipping below freezing. Spring and fall see comfortable, moderate temperatures in the 60s and 70s. The city receives about 47 inches of rain annually, higher than the national average. Snowfall tends to be light, averaging around 3 inches per year. Portsmouth is susceptible to severe weather events, chiefly hurricanes and tropical storms due to its coastal location. The hurricane season traditionally runs from June to November. It is also vulnerable to flooding from rainfall and storm surge, driving the need for robust disaster preparedness and response strategies.

Typical weather in Portsmouth, VA

Economy & Job Market

* Government Services

* Healthcare and Social Assistance

* Retail Trade

* Manufacturing

* Accommodation and Food Services

Portsmouth, VA has a rich and storied history, and this is reflected in the tapestry of its economic landscape. Roll back the times and Portsmouth was heartily tipped its hat to the shipping industry, with the naval shipyard creating and maintaining majestic ships. As the times have changed, so has Portsmouth embraced the evolution. Today the economy proudly raises the banners high for Government Services, counting active duty military personnel and civilian employees amongst its ranks. In addition, healthcare, retail trade, manufacturing and food services have also bloomed, creating a miscellany of opportunities for job seekers.

If you're planning a move to Portsmouth and wondering about the job market, here's the scoop! Portsmouth's low unemployment rate often hovers around the national average, making it a reasonably competitive market for job seekers. But don't let that deter you, because the opportunities are as diverse as the pancakes at a Sunday brunch. Government services are still a big player, thanks to the continued operational importance of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. If you're in healthcare or social assistance, you're in luck because that's another major piece of the job market pie. Retail trade, manufacturing, and food services are also enticing areas, so depending on your skills and interests, there's likely a position waiting just for you. Head on down and join the Portsmouth parade!

Traffic and Transportation

Hey there, speedy commuter! Astonishingly, the average commute time in Portsmouth, VA, is a brisk 24.5 minutes, lower than the national average. But, if time behind the wheel isn't your thing, hop onto HRT (Hampton Roads Transit) buses or ferries that offer smooth and worry-free commuting options. Choo-choo over to Norfolk by taking the Tide light rail train for a fun change in scenery! Prefer soaring through the skies instead? Portsmouth is within a comfortable commuting distance to three airports, Norfolk International being the closest at only 12 miles away. So whether by road, rail, water, or air - Portsmouth, VA has got your travel needs covered! Just make sure you don't forget to pack your favorite travel snack!

What is the traffic like in Portsmouth, VA?

Best Neighborhoods in Portsmouth

1. Olde Towne Portsmouth

Step into Olde Towne Portsmouth and you'll feel like you've been transported back in time. With streets lined with buildings dating back to the 1700s, living in this neighborhood feels like you're living in a picturesque, history-rich painting. But don't let its history fool you. This is not a quiet, boring neighborhood. Portsmouth's Main Street is dotted with boutique stores, restaurants, wine shops, and art galleries. It has a vibrant nightlife scene with bars and live music venues that would please any night owl. The Commodore Theatre, a restored 1945 Art Deco facility, is a great spot for a unique movie-watching experience.

2. Park View

Got some young ones in tow? Check out Park View. Noted for its family-friendly vibe and strong sense of community, Park View lives up to its name with multiple parks within its vicinity - including the waterfront Portsmouth City Park, perfect for leisurely picnics, scenic walks, and fishing. The houses here are a mix of charming historical and modern homes, adding to the neighborhood's unique character. Plus, Park View's proximity to top-tier schools makes it a top choice for families with children.

3. Port Norfolk

For those who enjoy the charm of small-town living while still having easy access to city conveniences, Port Norfolk is the place to be. Situated by the Elizabeth River, the neighborhood offers a stunning view of the water and the bustling Norfolk waterfront. It's a compact neighborhood, so locally-owned eateries, shops, and community parks are just a short walk away. With friendly neighbors and a warm community spirit, it's hard not to fall in love with Port Norfolk.

4. Churchland

Love nature? Churchland could be your perfect neighborhood. This area brings the best of the great outdoors right to your doorsteps. Peaceful, with a relaxed atmosphere, Churchland is surrounded by some of Portsmouth's best parks, including the scenic Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve where local fauna and flora abound. Not a fan of the hustle and bustle of the city center? No worries! This neighborhood is serene but also equipped with enough local stores, restaurants, and entertainment that you'd hardly miss the city hubbub.

5. Cradock

Known as Portsmouth's first planned community, Cradock has a special kind of charm that's steeped in tradition yet infused with a youthful spirit. With its quaint antique homes and the historic Afton Theater, the neighborhood strikes an interesting balance between old and new. Cradock regularly hosts events like the annual Patriotic Salute and Christmas on the Square, cementing its reputation as a neighborhood that celebrates community and camaraderie. With its solid community vibe and blend of history and charm, Cradock truly is a gem of a neighborhood.

To conclude, Portsmouth is a city rich in history, culture, and community spirit, and its diverse neighborhoods mirror these traits. Whether you're drawn to the historic charm of Olde Towne, the family-friendly vibe of Park View, the waterside allure of Port Norfolk, the serene nature setting of Churchland, or the strong community ties of Cradock, you'll find a neighborhood that perfectly matches your preferences. Welcome to Portsmouth, your new home awaits you!

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Things to Do

Are you moving to Portsmouth, Virginia? Congratulations! As your soon to be local guide, allow me to introduce you to seven must-try experiences in this charming bayside city. From photo-perfect views, historic landmarks, to secret spots known only to locals, there's so much waiting for you to discover.

1. Stroll through Olde Towne Portsmouth

What better way to start than by exploring the heart of Portsmouth - Olde Towne. This historic district brims with beautiful architecture, boutique shops, art galleries, and restaurants, all packed into tree-lined cobblestone streets. Be sure to visit during one of the many special events held here throughout the year.

2. Step back in time at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum

A trip to Portsmouth would be incomplete without delving into its maritime roots at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum. With impressive displays of ship models, uniforms, and weaponry, it's a fascinating lesson in the city's naval history. Don't forget to check out the adjoining Lightship Portsmouth Museum too!

3. Enjoy panoramic views from the Portsmouth Seawall

Take a scenic walk on the Portsmouth Seawall for breathtaking views of Elizabeth River, the bustling Norfolk harbor, and the iconic shipyards. Don't forget to bring your camera and picnic blanket; sunsets here are a sight to be seen!

4. Explore Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve

This nature sanctuary is one of Portsmouth's best-kept secrets. Wander through well-kept trails and paths, enjoy the peaceful lake, and spot a variety of local wildlife at the Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve. It's a perfect spot for bird watching, kayaking, or simply unwinding amidst nature.

5. Dine at the Bier Garden

This is not your common eatery but a family-owned, authentic German restaurant. The Bier Garden offers a comfy, homely atmosphere, paired with hearty Bavarian fare and a beer list that could take you a year to work through. It's one of the hidden gems that locals absolutely rave about. Prost!

6. Catch a flick at the Commodore Theatre

This single-screen cinema is a Portsmouth institution. The Commodore Theatre Art Deco building exudes old-world charm combined with state-of-the-art THX sound and a classic 1945-style dining experience. Movie nights never looked so good!

7. Visit the "other" Portsmouth - Portsmouth City Park

Let's end this list off the beaten path, in Portsmouth City Park. Situated on the Elizabeth River, this park is a gorgeous slice of green in our urban setting. With boat ramps, a golf course, and a myriad of family-friendly amenities, it offers more than just stunning river views. It's a great spot to escape the city for a while.

All in all, Portsmouth promises remarkable adventures amidst its rich history, charming old town, and scenic waterfront venues. So tie those laces, pack that picnic, and ready that sense of adventure - your Portsmouth experience awaits. Happy exploring, fellow Portsmouth adventurer!

Things to do in Portsmouth, VA?

Find Movers for Your Portsmouth Relocation

Having journeyed through this Portsmouth, VA relocation guide, you can confidently plan your move to this charming city. As your next step towards a hassle-free transition, Great Guys Moving is here for you. We collaborate with industry-leading moving companies, known for their quality service combined with affordability, all of whom are licensed and insured for your peace of mind. By submitting your basic move details, you'll swiftly be connected with movers ready to serve your needs, making the quote acquisition process seamless. Take advantage of our streamlined service by requesting your free moving quote today.

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