Norfolk is Virginia's second most populated city with 245,000 residents. The city is located on the Chesapeake Bay bordering the Elizabeth River, within one of the world's largest natural harbors. An early English settlement, Norfolk is filled with historic sites and monuments. The city is home to Naval Station Norfolk, the world's largest naval base, supporting 75 ships ranging from submarines to aircraft carriers. With many miles of riverfront and bay front property, the city is popular with sailing and water-sports enthusiasts. Norfolk has the second largest concentration of engineers in the country, employed among federal labs, research centers, private businesses, and universities. Military, defense, and shipping are major contributors to Norfolk's economy, and the city is active in alternative energy research, supporting the proposed construction of an offshore wind energy facility.
Norfolk began as part of the Virginia Colony, the first permanent English settlement in America. By 1775, Norfolk had developed into a prosperous city and an important port for exporting goods to the British Isles. During the American Revolution, Norfolk was heavily shelled by British cannon fire, and patriots destroyed the remaining buildings by burning them to keep the British from taking the city as a defensive position. During the 1800’s, Norfolk continued as a trade port, and when the Civil War broke out, the city was the scene of the first battle between two metal-fortified warships. The battle ended in a stalemate, but established the superiority of ironclad ships. The 1907 Jamestown Exhibition was held in Norfolk, and though the enterprise was a failure, the site proved to be ideal for a naval base and was acquired for use by the US Navy in 1917. During the 1970’s Norfolk’s city leaders began a successful effort to attract people back to the city core after decades of suburban migration. Many of the old piers and warehouses along the waterfront were replaced with a new boulevard, waterfront parks, and high-rise buildings, resulting in a vibrant and attractive urban setting for young professionals. Learn more about Norfolk’s history with the following links.
Norfolk typically has mild winters and sunny, warm autumns and springs. Summers are long and hot, but often interrupted by cool periods due to winds off the Atlantic Ocean. Extreme cold is rare, and winter snow is infrequent.
Norfolk provides a variety of public transportation options for residents and visitors. The Hampton Roads Transit system is the primary public transportation system within the region and connects the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Hampton, and Newport News. The Tide light rail system provides quick transportation on an east-west route through Norfolk. Paddlewheel ferry boats travel between Portsmouth and Norfolk, and F.R.E.D. is a 5 person electric-powered courtesy shuttle operating within the Norfolk downtown area. Amtrak provides roundtrip service to several east coast cities, ranging from Petersburg to Boston. The Norfolk International Airport provides convenient access to hundreds of cities worldwide on American, Delta, Southwest, United, and US Airways.
Cost of Living in Norfolk
Housing costs in Norfolk are 18% below the national average, but utilities and the cost of goods and services is somewhat higher. This results in an overall average cost of living that is just 3.6% below the national average. See how your budget matches living in Norfolk by using these cost of living calculators.
The Norfolk Public School District serves over 33,000 students from pre-kindergarten through high school. 38 elementary schools, 9 middle schools, 5 high schools and 11 alternative and vocational schools make up the district.
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital is the top-ranked medical facility in Norfolk and is also the number one hospital in Virginia. This medical facility provides general medical care and several specialties. If you’re relocating to Norfolk, get to know all the medical resources available to you.
Norfolk Real Estate
Norfolk offers a diverse market for home-buyers, ranging from historical early 20th century homes to luxury town homes and condos with waterfront views and easy access to the Chesapeake Bay. The many bridges and tunnels get congested during rush-hour, so you may want to pay attention to commuting time when choosing a home. Explore homes in Norfolk using the following links.
When staying in Norfolk, it’s hard to top the Norfolk Plaza, a top-rated hotel located in the heart of the arts and entertainment district. The Norfolk Waterside Marriott offers luxurious accommodations right on the waterfront, and is an easy walk to the shops and restaurants on Granby Street and the MacArthur Mall. The Freemason Inn is a distinctive bed and breakfast in a renovated Victorian era home, in the heart of historic Norfolk. Find more great places to stay using the following links.
If you are always on the hunt for great, fresh-roasted coffee, Café Stella is your destination. Omar’s Carriage House offers wonderful ambience and excellent choices for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and the Freemason Abbey offers excellent selections, reasonable prices, and a romantic atmosphere inside a 19th century former house of worship. For Mediterranean and vegetarian dishes, it’s hard to beat Pasha Mezze in the Ghent neighborhood. Explore great food and dining in Norfolk with these links.
Things to Do in Norfolk
Norfolk’s Waterside Marketplace is the centerpiece of the downtown Norfolk waterfront, where you can discover plenty of dining, shopping, and events held at the waterfront Town Point Park. Nearby you will find the Nauticus National Maritime Center where visitors learn about maritime commerce, marine life, and tour the USS Wisconsin. The Chrysler Museum of Art features a vast collection of painting and sculpture from American and European artists, contemporary and decorative arts, and one of the world’s most comprehensive glass collections. The Norfolk Botanical Garden features more than 40 themed gardens spread across 155 acres located just north of Norfolk International Airport. Discover more things to do in Norfolk by checking out these links.