Beyond the Surface: A Deep Dive into the Livability of Norfolk, Va

When moving to a new area, you want to find a place that meets all your needs. You might want to consider moving to Norfolk, Virginia. However, is Norfolk, Virginia, a good place to live?

As a general rule, Norfolk, Virginia, is considered a good place to live. The city is centrally located to the local Military Bases and has great options for restaurants and nightlife. However, driving can be challenging, and the city is known for its flooding issues.

Keep reading to learn about the things that make this city great, in my opinion, such as Military Bases, restaurant options, and some of the negative aspects of the city.

Centrally Located To The Area's Military Bases

Norfolk, Virginia is located in the heart of Hampton Roads, Virginia. Norfolk is home to the largest Naval Base in the world, Norfolk Naval Station. The base has been around since 1915 and takes up almost 4 miles along the water! This base is home to Naval Squadrons both in the air and sea. It's located on the city's Northwestern side along the Chesapeake Bay and James River.

Naval Station Norfolk isn't the only Military installation in Hampton Roads; in fact, far from it. A couple of the larger bases would be NAS Oceana, Little Creek, Dam Neck, Portsmouth, Langley AFB, and Ft Eustis. While each of these installations is located in a city other than Norfolk, based on Norfolk's location, each is a fairly short drive from the city's center.

Norfolk's central location within Hampton Roads is a great city feature, as many residents work outside it. The beaches of Virginia Beach are about a 25-minute drive, whether going to the oceanfront or the Shore Drive area. However, the city of Norfolk also has it's own nice beaches in the Oceanview area. These beaches are generally much less crowded than the Oceanfront in the Summer.

Norfolk, Virginia

Norfolk Restaurants & Nightlife

If you enjoy different cuisines, you will be glad to know that Norfolk has many options. From the family-style, budget-friendly options to where you would take your spouse on an anniversary dinner. The options are very abundant in Norfolk. Below is a list of some of my favorite restaurants in Norfolk:

  • Doumar's Cones & Barbeque

    This place is one of my family's favorite spots to go. There is nothing better than the Ice Cream Shakes in the summer. While you can eat inside, I find it more fun when enjoying the food curbside!

  • 456 Fish

    If you enjoy seafood, this is a must-eat place for you. My wife and I enjoy eating here before we catch an Admirals game or a show at Chrysler Hall. If you happen to stop by, try the crabcake, as it's delicious.

  • Varia's

    Varia's is an incredible Italian Restaurant located in the heart of downtown Norfolk. This is a great place to have an anniversary dinner or any special occasion. My wife really finds the Sea Scallops to be out of this world!

In addition to the great restaurants throughout the city, many breweries are popping up around the city over the last few years. These are great spots to try many different homebrewed craft beers. Norfolk has breweries located throughout the city, whether you are in Ghent, Downtown, East Beach, Oceanview, or Larchmont.

Two young workers of large contemporary beer production factory discussing new equipment while moving along huge steel tanks

Norfolk Traffic

If you have read my other blogs on any of the cities in Hampton Roads, you will know that traffic can be an issue in every city. Norfolk is no different, as traffic around the downtown area and the Norfolk Naval Base tends to be very challenging.  Each area is especially challenging during peak rush hour, between 7-9 am and 4-6 pm.

Another area of concern for traffic would be located at the city's tunnels. The worst location is the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, which connects the Southside and the Penisula. This bridge and tunnel are currently being constructed to expand from one tunnel to two tunnels. The other two tunnels in the city are the Downtown Tunnel and the Midtown Tunnel. Each of these tunnels will cause traffic issues as you travel through them during peak times.

Norfolk, Virginia Tunnels

Flooding in Norfolk, Virginia

Due to the proximity to large bodies of water and its low-lying elevation compared to the sea level, Norfolk tends to experience flooding issues occasionally. This is especially true during heavy rain periods, occasionally during hurricanes, nor-easters, or quick pop-up storms during the Spring and Summer months.

During these heavy rain periods, it isn't uncommon to see vehicles stranded in the water throughout the city. The areas of Berkley, Ghent, and Colley Ave are usually impacted the most.

Conclusion on Norfolk

The Hampton Roads area is a trendy place to live. It has great beaches throughout the area and is home to many of the larger Naval bases on the East Coast. Norfolk, Virginia, is at the center of all this activity and, as a whole, is a great place to live. With its central location in the outlying area and the number of awesome restaurants, many people will find Norfolk a wonderful place to call home. However, you want to ensure you are ready for the traffic and also find a place to live that is out of the potential flood zones in the city.

If there is anything you think I missed or you have any questions about the city of Norfolk, please comment below or reach out to me here.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you didn’t get a chance to watch the video, then you may have missed out on some extra tips about what it's like to live in Norfolk, Virginia. Check out the video, and for more content, head over to our YouTube Channel, “LIFE IN HAMPTON ROADS”. Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE!


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DJ Parker is your local Realtor and guide to Hampton Roads, Virginia. As a native of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, Virginia for over 30 years, he has the local knowledge you need. He has helped clients with Real Estate throughout Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Suffolk and all of Hampton Roads Virginia.

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