From mountains to shores, Virginia is a breathtaking state with amazing views, a rich history, and unbeatable southern hospitality, ranking it the 7th best state to live in during 2018. The Commonwealth of Virginia is one of the original 13 colonies, so Old Dominion has a long and storied history. Tributes to the past can be found throughout the state, including Arlington National Cemetery, the United States Marine Corps War Memorial, the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, and historic homes that were the birthplaces of eight former Presidents. Virginia also teems with natural beauty, including 1,000s of miles of coastline, four major rivers flowing into the Chesapeake Bay, 217 miles of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and 555 miles of the Appalachians. Whether nurses are history buffs or nature enthusiasts, there’s lots to love about working in Virginia.
Top Locations to Live in Virginia
Virginia has five distinct geographic regions from a low-lying bay area to a mountainous region with cities that are vibrant, diverse, and beautiful throughout all four seasons. Cities in the south are more rural where laid-back southern hospitality and a slower pace of life are the norm. Up north is basically an extension of Washington, D.C., so life in these affluent cities tends to be faster-paced with higher housing prices but the spectacular natural surroundings still can’t be beaten.
Richmond: Virginia’s capital is one of the oldest major cities in the nation and known for being one of the most historical. Richmond is a smaller city with lots to offer, making it ideal for nurses looking to escape urban life, but without missing out on big-city opportunities. Richmond nurses discover a flourishing historical and cultural community enhanced by a treasure trove of historic landmarks, first-class museums like the Edgar Allen Poe Museum and the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, its own symphony, and professional theater, opera, and ballet venues. Trendy boutiques, a thriving restaurant scene, more than 30 craft breweries, and one of the nation’s largest river park systems help put Richmond on the list of top 100 best places to live in 2019.
Richmond’s 107 neighborhoods are beautiful and unique with striking architecture. The City offers a wide array of housing styles and types and more bang for the buck than many of the cities up north with a median home cost of $194,000 and apartment rentals averaging $890 per month. Some notable neighborhoods include:
- Richmond City Center is a densely populated urban neighborhood that’s highly walkable and boasts super-short commute times. Housing is primarily small to mid-sized apartment complexes and small apartment buildings with rental costs 54% lower than other Virginia neighborhoods.
- Westmoreland St/Grove Ave is a haven for socialites and ideal for nurses who are patrons of the arts and enjoy boutiques and the finer things in life. Housing is primarily medium to large single-family homes and apartment complexes built between the 1940s and 1960s.
- North Ave/W Ladies Mile Rd is a great neighborhood for nurses looking to buy, ranking among the top 8.4% of Virginia neighborhoods for first-time homebuyers with below-average median home prices. Rental costs are 79.1% lower than other neighborhoods with housing mostly small to mid-sized single-family homes and apartment complexes.
Alexandria: Boasting small-town charm and big-city amenities, Alexandria sits on the Potomac River, just south of Washington, D.C., making it a popular commuter area. While real estate and rental costs are higher, crime rates are relatively low. Nurses in Alexandria enjoy top shopping venues, an assortment of parks and walking trails, and a super dog-friendly environment with 18 dog parks and numerous Fido inspired events. Alexandria is also a foodie oasis with an array of delicious independent restaurants covering nearly every taste and cuisine. Old Town Alexandria is a nationally designated historic district with over 100 independently owned boutiques and interesting sightseeing like the George Washington Masonic National Memorial and the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Health-conscious nurses find the freshest produce at the Old Town Farmers’ Market, the oldest continuously run farmers’ market in the nation.
Alexandria has 83 neighborhoods with distinctive personalities. Considered a white-collar city, real estate prices are among the most expensive in Virginia and nationwide, partially due to its proximity to Washington, D.C. Popular neighborhoods include:
- Bucknell Heights/Bucknell Manor boasts streets lined with rowhouses, duplex townhomes, and attached Cape Cod-style homes that give the neighborhood an abundance of charm. The community is well-established with fully developed amenities and offers an easy commute to D.C.
- Belle View/New Alexandria is peaceful and quiet with above-average safety ratings compared to other Virginia neighborhoods and a wide range of housing options. Housing is primarily small to mid-sized apartment complexes and small apartment buildings, but there’s also a concentration of older homes built between the 1940s and 1960s.
- Eisenhower Ave/Mill Rd offers the contemporary ambiance of a newly built neighborhood with mostly newer homes. It has more studios and other small living spaces and a higher proportion of large apartment buildings than 99.7% of all neighborhoods in the nation. Most residences are renter occupied.
Charlottesville: Nurses may find their happy place in Charlottesville, which was named America’s happiest city in a study by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research and ranked third in National Geographic’s list of top 25 happiest cities in America. Set in the rolling hills of a historic landscape, Charlottesville offers an appealing array of arts and entertainment, independent restaurants, trendy shops, and just enough bustle to keep things interesting. Charlottesville nurses benefit from a relatively low crime rate and enjoy free trolley rides, an impressive collection of historic buildings, and nearby Shenandoah National Park with its breathtaking views and amazing hikes. Two of the largest employers are the University of Virginia Medical Center and Martha Jefferson Hospital with 8.64% of Charlottesville residents working in healthcare.
Ranked #5 on the top 100 best places to live in 2017 and again in 2018, Charlottesville is smaller than some Virginia cities but still offers plenty to do. It has 27 neighborhoods, including its popular City Center, and the Scottsville Rd/College Dr, Monticello Ave/Rialto St, North Garden/Arrowhead, and Woodbrook/Rio areas. Real estate is some of the most expensive in Virginia, but still more affordable than in the northern parts of the state with median property prices at $285,000 and rentals at just under $1000 per month.
Falls Church: Located just a few miles from Washington, D.C., Falls Church is another popular choice for those wanting to be near the nation’s capital and the renowned art galleries and museums found there. Falls Church is an affluent area with a small population that gives it a wonderful small-town feel without the big-city bustle but still close enough to a wide array of amenities. Crime rates are relatively low and nearly every neighborhood offers a wealth of shops, restaurants, and nightspots that reflect the city’s dynamic cultural diversity, including the State Theatre. Falls Church nurses enjoy the more peaceful, less-congested setting, which is home to Inova Fairfax Hospital, the largest hospital in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Falls Church has 31 neighborhoods with home prices among the most expensive in the state and the country. Its proximity to D.C. drives up real estate prices, which include median home costs around $600,000 and monthly rental prices at about $1,813 with 95.81% of the workforce employed in white-collar jobs. There’s a wide range of housing types available, including single-family homes, townhouses, condos, and apartments with historic Colonial homes, modern new-construction homes, and spacious craftsmen houses. Some popular neighborhoods include Jefferson Village/Greenway Downs, Donna Lee Gardens/Poplar Heights, Westlawn/Annalee Heights, Buffalo Hills/Ravenwood, and Sleepy Hollow/Bel Air.
Cost of Living in Virginia
Virginia’s cost of living index is slightly higher than the national average at 101.6, but some items are less like groceries at 97.1, utilities at 99, transportation at 91.9, and miscellaneous goods and services at 98.9. The cost of healthcare is also slightly lower at 98, but housing is much higher at 112.1 which includes buying and renting. Although Virginia’s cost of living is above the national average, taxes are comparatively low. Virginia’s property tax rates are 0.80%, well below the national average of 1.07%. Its income tax is slightly lower than the national average and average sales taxes are the 10th lowest in the nation.
Top Hospitals in Virginia
University of Virginia Medical Center: Located in Charlottesville, this 612-bed general medical and surgical facility is a teaching hospital with a med-surg ICU, cardiac ICU, and 24-hour on-site 70-bed emergency department that’s a Level 1 Trauma Center. Ranked #1 in Virginia, University of Virginia Medical Center is nationally ranked in two adult specialties and five children’s specialties, including ENT, gynecology, neonatology, pediatric cardiology and heart surgery, pediatric diabetes and endocrinology, pediatric orthopedics, and pediatric urology. It was also rated high performing in six adult specialties and nine procedures and conditions. UVA Medical Center is a Magnet Hospital for excellence in nursing services and was included on Becker’s 100 great hospitals in America in 2020.
Inova Fairfax Hospital: Located in Falls Church, Inova Fairfax Hospital is a 923-bed medical center serving northern Virginia and the D.C. metro area. Inova Fairfax Hospital ranked #3 in Virginia and #1 in Washington, D.C., and was nationally ranked #9 in gynecology. It was also rated high performing in one adult specialty and nine procedures and conditions. Inova Fairfax Hospital is a general medical and surgical facility, an independent academic medical center, and a regional medical school campus with a 24-hour Level 1 Trauma Center. It’s a Magnet Hospital for excellence in nursing services, was included on Watson Health’s 100 Top Hospitals in 2020, and received 2020 Beacon Awards for Excellence–Silver Level for its Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit and its Progressive Coronary Care Unit.
VCU Medical Center: Located in Richmond, VCU Medical Center ranked #2 in Virginia and #1 in Richmond and was nationally ranked for two adult specialties and four pediatric specialties, including cardiology and heart surgery, urology, and pediatric cancer, nephrology, pulmonology and lung surgery, and urology. It was also rated high performing in four adult specialties and four procedures and conditions. VCA is a general medical and surgical teaching facility with a med-surg ICU, cardiac ICU, and 24-hour Level I Trauma Center. It’s one of only two NCI-designated cancer centers in Virginia and was designated as a Magnet Hospital for excellence in nursing services for the fourth consecutive time in 2020. VCA Medical Center received the Get With The Guidelines–Stroke GOLD PLUS Quality Achievement Award, was included on Becker’s 100 great hospitals in America in 2020, and received three Gold Level, 10 Silver Level, and one Bronze Level Beacon Awards for Excellence in 2020.
Average Nurse Pay Rates in Virginia
NurseFly posted more than 1,500 jobs for various nursing and allied health positions in Virginia in December 2020. Top recruited nursing specialties included med-surg, ICU, telemetry, ED, intermediate care, OR, PCU, surgical ICU stepdown, and CVICU. In-demand allied health professionals included respiratory therapists, med techs, speech-language pathologists, med lab techs, CT techs, radiology techs, and surgical techs. Travel nurses were earning a gross weekly salary between $1,147 and $6,144 depending on the position, location, and the number of working hours required. Travel allied health professionals were grossing between $1,080 and $2,320 weekly.
Popular Virginia Attractions
Virginia is filled with attractions that make great day trips or weekend excursions. Areas in northeastern Virginia are just a few miles from Washington, D.C., making a visit to the nation’s capital a convenient day trip. Here are some popular attractions found within the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Shenandoah National Park: Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park stretches 105 miles from Front Royal to Waynesboro. Some of the Park’s main attractions include over 500 miles of hiking trails, cascading waterfalls, fields of wildflowers blooming in the spring and summer, stunning autumn colors for leaf peepers, 190 species of birds, abundant wildlife, and tranquil wooded hollows. With over 200,000 protected acres, there’s so much to explore. Entrance fees are $30 per vehicle or $15 per person walking in, or purchase an annual pass for $55. Camping is available at five designated campgrounds or in the backcountry. Nurses with limited time can tackle one of several beautiful day hikes.
Arlington National Cemetery: Spread across 600 acres overlooking Washington D.C., Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington honors those who’ve served our nation. Three of the most visited sites are President John F. Kennedy’s gravesite and eternal flame, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the famous Iwo Jima Memorial. ANC is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with $15 general admission for adults.
Presidential Homes: Virginia is commonly referred to as the “birthplace of a nation” or the “Mother of Presidents” because eight former Presidents were born in the state, more than any other. Homes tied to these Presidents are still standing and most are open for tours, an ideal attraction for history buffs. Nurses can tour:
- Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville for $29
- George Washington’s Mount Vernon for $23
- James Madison’s Montpelier in Orange for $30
- William Harrison’s Berkeley Plantation in Charles City for $15
- James Monroe’s Ash Lawn-Highland in Charlottesville for $8
- John Tyler’s Sherwood Forest Plantation in Charles City for $35
- Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum in Staunton for $10
- Zachary Taylor’s Montebello in Orange County is only a historical marker as he was born there but never actually lived there, and the privately-owned home doesn’t offer public tours
Virginia Public Transportation
The Virginia Transit Association supports public transportation systems throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation also provides public transportation services throughout the Commonwealth. Public transportation options are available in most cities and for those commuting to Washington, D.C., its Metrorail serves 91 stations in D.C., Virginia, and Maryland.
- Greater Richmond Transit Company has several routes that services the City of Richmond, Henrico County, and parts of Chesterfield County with about 1,600 bus stops in its system. Regular fares are $1.50 and the GRTC offers unlimited ride passes for one, seven, and 30 days for unlimited connections during the purchased time frame.
- Alexandria Transit Company’s DASH offers a unique transfer system with regular bus fares at $2 or money-saving monthly DASH Passes for $45. Alexandria’s King Street Trolley also provides fun trolley rides throughout Old Town for free.
- Charlottesville Area Transit runs 12 routes throughout the city with single rides for 75 cents, 24-hour passes for $1.50, 3-day passes for $4.50, 7-day passes for $10.50, or 30-day passes for $20. Charlottesville also provides a free trolley that runs a specified loop to popular destinations.
Best Time of Year to be a Nurse in Virginia
Virginia has four distinct seasons with balmy summers and crisp, yet relatively mild winters. It’s considered a humid, subtropical region with the air cooler and less humid in the mountains where it’s an average of 10 degrees cooler year-round. The hottest summertime highs occur in July, which is around 87 degrees, and the coldest wintertime lows occur in January, which is about 25 degrees. May is the rainiest month, October is the driest. The best time to be a nurse in Virginia is usually from April to October, but May, June, and September are the most pleasant. Virginia has some severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and snowstorms. Autumn is the most visually stunning time to be in Virginia with fewer incidences of hurricanes with storm season winding down.
Nurses and allied health professionals looking for permanent or travel positions in Virginia can count on NurseFly to help them find the perfect job. Experienced recruiters are ready to help applicants peruse 100s of jobs to match them up with potential employers right away.