Cons of Living in Norfolk, Virginia: A Candid Look at the Challenges

Living in Norfolk, Virginia, offers access to both unique cultural and geographical landscapes, but it's important to be aware of the challenges you might face if deciding to live in Norfolk, Virginia. Situated in the Southeastern section of Virginia, Norfolk's city living and storied naval history provide a distinct living experience. However, before you decide to settle down, consider some of the drawbacks that come with life in this coastal Virginia city.

You should be cautious about the crime rates in Norfolk, which have been reported to be higher than the national average, raising safety concerns that need to be considered. Also, despite reasonable housing prices, the cost of living indexes show that you may need to budget carefully to meet your needs without financial strain. Traffic congestion and the impact of naval base operations could affect your daily commute also, adding a significant amount of time to travel within the city or to neighboring regions.

Additionally, with any city in Hampton Roads, weather conditions such as humidity and the threat of hurricanes might also affect your decision. These weather patterns can lead to occasional localized flooding and the need for preparedness measures. All these factors combined make it essential to weigh the pros and cons carefully before committing to life in Norfolk, VA. Keep reading below as I review each con of Norfolk, Virginia further.

Norfolk Virginia Waterfront

Real Estate Taxes

When considering the cost of living in Norfolk, Virginia, it's important for you to be aware of the local real estate taxes. These taxes are a substantial part of homeownership costs. In Norfolk, real estate tax rates are set at $1.25 per $100.00 of the assessed value, which can significantly impact your annual expenses and is higher than other cities in the area.

Norfolk $1.25 Per $100
Portsmouth $1.30 Per $100
Suffolk $1.09 Per 100
Chesapeake $1.01 Per $100
Virginia Beach $.99 Per $100

Contrastingly, real estate tax rates in different parts of the Hampton Roads area vary. It is beneficial to compare these rates as they are indicative of the overall tax burden you might face if you purchase a home. For instance, nearby Virginia Beach is much lower, which could influence your decision on where to purchase real estate within the region.

Your property's assessed value is determined by the market value, which can fluctuate, influencing your tax bill. You can pay your tax bill semi-annually or choose a quarterly payment plan, offering some flexibility in managing your finances. Additionally, it can be added as an escrow payment to your monthly mortgage payment.

Navigating the specifics of these tax obligations can be complex, and staying informed about them will help you budget accordingly. In Norfolk, the real estate tax rate serves as a pivotal factor to consider when discussing the cost of homeownership.

Crime Rate

Norfolk Crime Rate

When considering safety in Norfolk, it's crucial to examine the crime rates closely. I like using the website when reviewing this information. In terms of safety, Norfolk ranks in the 20th percentile nationally, which suggests that 80% of cities in the United States are considered safer.

Violent crimes in Norfolk are present at a rate of 3.398 per 1,000 residents. As for property crimes, the frequency is higher, with a rate of 21.77 per 1,000 residents. The type of area you're in can significantly influence your chance of being a victim of crime; it's as high as 1 in 17 in the southern neighborhoods and as low as 1 in 65 in the northern parts of the city.

Comparatively, Norfolk's crime rate is similar to other cities in the Hampton Roads area. For instance, cities like Portsmouth, VA, share similar grades with Norfolk when evaluating overall crime, indicating a semblance in safety levels across the region.

The Crime Maps provided can give you a visual representation, with safer areas depicted in green and higher-risk areas in red. When interpreting these maps, however, it's important to factor in that crimes often occur in busy areas like retail centers or parks, potentially skewing the perception of safety per capita in Norfolk.

In reviewing the nature of crime, consider the breakdown by type per 1,000 residents:

  • Assault: 2.187
  • Robbery: 0.7926
  • Rape: 0.3643
  • Murder: 0.0541

For non-violent crimes, rates are as follows:

  • Theft: 16.11
  • Vehicle Theft: 1.699
  • Burglary: 3.841
  • Arson: 0.1135

Keep in mind that statistics on crime, whether violent or property-related, are not purely indicative of an area's general safety. Instead, these numbers should be one of several factors in your considerations regarding safety in Norfolk.

Flooded American street with stuck vehicle surrounded with water in Florida residential area. Consequences of hurricane natural disaster.

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Norfolk Weather & Flooding

Norfolk, situated on Virginia's waterfront and mostly below sea level, is particularly vulnerable to flooding and adverse weather conditions such as hurricanes. Residing in this city means staying vigilant, as your home and community may face flooding due to heavy rainfalls, hurricanes, or nor'easters.

Tidal Inundation and Wind-Driven Flooding:

  • Norfolk's geography includes over 200 miles of riverfront and bayfront areas.
  • Waterfront properties are at a higher risk of tidal and wind-driven flooding.

Sea Level Rise Impacts:

  • Sea level rise exacerbates Norfolk's flooding issues.
  • Flooding becomes more frequent and severe, impacting infrastructure and homes.

Being informed and prepared for these natural events is key to ensuring that you, your family, and your property remain safe. Widespread awareness and precautionary actions are crucial to mitigating the impact of these environmental challenges in Norfolk, Virginia.

Norfolk, Virginia Tunnels

Norfolk Traffic

As you navigate through Norfolk, Virginia, you may encounter significant traffic congestion, especially during peak hours. The city's roadways cater to a multitude of vehicles daily, leading to frequent slowdowns and occasional gridlock. The majority of traffic build-up occurs when the local workforce commutes to and from naval bases and downtown areas.

Additionally, if you're commuting across city bridges or through tunnels, like the HRBT, that connect Norfolk to neighboring areas, prepare for delays. The Hampton Roads Beltway, encompassing I-64 and I-264, sees substantial traffic flow, causing routine bottlenecks for drivers.

Here are some key points to consider:

  • Peak commute times can substantially increase travel time.
  • The confluence of land and waterways necessitates bridges and tunnels, which are often choke points.
  • Occasional accidents or ongoing roadwork can exacerbate congestion.

To stay informed on the latest road conditions and travel advisories, accessing real-time traffic information from relevant transportation research groups can help you plan your routes effectively. If you prefer to avoid the hassle of traffic, take advantage of Norfolk's public transportation options that may offer a less stressful alternative to commuting by car.

Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel Construction

Norfolk Public Schools

When exploring the education landscape in Norfolk, Virginia, you may find that the public school system has a mixed track record. Norfolk City Public Schools offers a diverse learning environment—achieving a grade of A for student diversity according to But when it comes to education itself, there are some areas that may concern you.

Norfolk's student-to-teacher ratio is favorable at 13 to 1, which is useful for providing individual attention to students. However, academic performance statistics raise some eyebrows. For instance, only 27% of students demonstrate proficiency in math, with slightly higher proficiency in reading at 56%.

In terms of resources, the schools have received a grade of B- suggesting room for improvement in this critical area. It's also worth noting that 25.4% of teachers are in their first or second year, which might influence the consistency of educational quality.

When compared with other areas, various Norfolk, Virginia Schools fall into different places on the educational spectrum. According to, the school district ranks among others in the region, giving it a competitive edge in some aspects, like diversity, but showing it trails behind in others such as academic achievements.

In sum, while there are comprehensive advantages to the educational offerings, it's imperative to look closely at what's important to your family's educational needs. The district's commitment to the community is evident, though the contrast in educational experiences across different schools in the district suggests a closer review would be beneficial.

Chesapeake School Rankings

This article has revolved around all the items you might not like about living in Norfolk, Virginia. However, the city has a lot of great things to offer. I wrote a blog article and a video on the pros of Norfolk. As with anything, before deciding on where to move, you need to do as much research as possible.

If there is anything you think I missed or you have any questions about the city, 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 of the information that didn't make this article. 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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