Living in Portsmouth Virginia-Top Pros and Cons

Are you getting stationed in Hampton Roads Virginia or are you thinking about moving to Hampton Roads Virginia?  If so there are many different cities to choose from and Portsmouth, Virginia tends to get a bad reputation in Hampton Roads.  I will list some of  the things I think you will really like about living in Portsmouth, Virginia. Since I'm being brutally honest, I will also go over some of the negatives of living in Portsmouth, Virginia.

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Pros of Living in Portsmouth Virginia:

  1. Housing Cost

My #1 pro of living in Portsmouth, Virginia is the affordability of houses compared to other cities in Southside Hampton Roads.  Looking at the chart below that was populated using data from our local MLS,, you will see that the Median House cost in Portsmouth in August 2022 was $230,000. This is significantly less than the 4 other cities in the Southside.

August 2022 Portsmouth Virginia Housing Stats
  1. Centrally Located to Other Hampton Roads Cities

A lot of Portsmouth residents work outside of the city, however compared to some of the other cities Portsmouth is very centrally located in Hampton Roads.  Some examples of the drive time from Portsmouth include: Oceanfront 25 minutes, Norfolk International Airport 20 minutes, Norfolk Naval 20 minutes, and Oceana 25 minutes.  These numbers are with good traffic and definitely can be impacted by the tunnels in Portsmouth.

3. Olde Towne Portsmouth

In my opinion, one of the hidden gems in all of Hampton Roads would be Olde Towne Portsmouth.  Olde Towne is along the Elizabeth River and consists of many great restaurants, landmarks, historic buildings, and historical homes.  Some of the great restaurants within Olde Towne Portsmouth include the Bier Garden and the Commodore Theatre.

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Cons of Living in Portsmouth Virginia:

  1. Schools

If you have a family, then the schools will be very important to you.  When you look at the rankings on for Portsmouth, Virginia, you will see the overall grades are behind other cities in Hampton Roads.  The overall ranking for Portsmouth, Virginia is a C, this is lower than other cities such as Virginia Beach(A), Chesapeake(A-), Suffolk(B-), and Norfolk(C+).  Portsmouth has 3 High Schools, with Churchland High School being the highest ranked according to

Portsmouth Virginia School Rankings


     2. Tunnels and Tolls

The city of Portsmouth, Virginia has two tunnels that lead into Norfolk, Virginia.  These are the Midtown and Downtown tunnels.  Each of these tunnels require drivers to pay a toll in order to go through either way.  The toll prices are variably priced depending on the time of day or week.  As I mentioned a large amount of Portsmouth residents work outside of Portsmouth and these tolls can be a huge hit to your budget.  Below are the 2022 rates for these tolls.

Elizabeth River Toll Rates-Portsmouth Virginia 2022

       3. Real Estate Taxes

When you own a home, then the amount you pay in Real Estate Taxes will be very important to you.  When you look at the Real Estate Tax for Portsmouth, Virginia, which is $1.30 per $100 of assessed value,  you will see the dollar amount is higher than all the other cities in Hampton Roads.  The Real Estate Tax in some other Hampton Roads cities is as follows: Virginia Beach($.99), Chesapeake($1.05), Suffolk($1.09), Hampton($1.18), Newport News($1.22), and Norfolk($1.25).

Should you Live in Portsmouth Virginia?

As you have seen Portsmouth, Virginia has a lot of pros that make it a great place to live.  As with any city, depending on how you look at it, there are drawbacks to living in the City of Portsmouth, Virginia.  If you enjoy suburban living, then the city of Portsmouth, Virginia might be a great place for you.

For information on other cities in Hampton Roads, please visit our Pro and Cons page here.

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


I hoped 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 pros and cons of living in Portsmouth 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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