Richmond is the most liveable city in Virginia and it ranks in the top 2% of the best places to live in the world. In this relocation guide to the cost of living in Richmond VA, we explore what makes this city so attractive to residents, and breakdown the average living expenses.
Cost Of Living In Richmond VA – Breakdown
The cost of living in Richmond, VA, is about 4.61% lower than the national average. In dollar terms, the average cost of living is about $1,736 per month (calculated from the average population of over 230 000 residents). This takes into consideration housing/rental, food and groceries, transportation, utilities, healthcare, and miscellaneous costs (entertainment, etc).
This promises a high quality of life at an affordable cost. But let’s break it down so you can see what you’re in for across the various cost of living categories.
Richmond has a great mixture of the owner and renter-occupied properties. The most popular type of housing is the single-family detached home, which accounts for over 50% of the city’s housing units.
If you’re looking at investing in property and buying a home in Richmond, the average price for a family home is about $260,000. The price of properties is, however, going up as Richmond gains popularity with young families and entrepreneurs.
Because there is a limited supply of homes, buyers often have to compete for properties, which results in higher prices. But this makes for an excellent property investment opportunity.
If you’re in the market for buying an apartment, the pricing is around $5,577.33 per square meter in the city center. The average price is $1,302.96 outside of the city center.
Entrepreneurs, along with the big student market in Richmond, may opt for renting over buying property. You can link the wealth of students in Richmond to a large number of schools and tertiary education facilities in and around the city. So, rental properties are in demand in the city. This resulted in 55% of households in Richmond, VA, having renters.
The median rental is about $1,318 per month for an average apartment size of about 862 square feet. Studio apartments are the smallest but also the most affordable, coming in at around $1,182 per month for an inner-city apartment. An apartment outside of the city center is about $968.57 per month.
A three-bedroom apartment in the city center will cost you $2,059.85 per month. A three-bed apartment outside of the city center, $1,729.87.
Best Neighborhoods For Rentals
The best neighborhoods for renters include Oregan Hill, Jackson Ward, Manchester, Three Corners, Westover Hills, and The North Side.
If you’re looking for the below-average cost of living in Richmond, VA, here are the areas and average monthly prices you’ll be looking at:
- Austin Park and Austin Heights: $847
- Brookland Park: $847
- Confederate Heights: $847
- Cloverland: $847
- Chatham Place: $847
- Woodland Heights: $1,124
- Monroe Ward: $1,169
- The Museum District: $1,184
Water and electricity, WiFi, gas, etc are important monthly budget costs. If you want to live in a single-family home, the monthly service charge may range between $15.52-$22.05 for water.
For wastewater, you’re looking at $18.92 for a ⅝-inch meter, $27.02 for a ¾-inch meter, and $68.22 per month for unmetered wastewater management. Between March and November, you can adjust your wastewater bills to account for unfiltered water used to water your garden and wash your car. This is part of the water conservation drive in the city.
For stormwater rates, you’ll be looking at about $2.43 per month for a single-family home under 1,000 square feet.
The monthly natural gas rate includes the service charge, volume used, and utility tax. Individual residences and owner-occupied duplexes pay a flat rate of $14.25 per month. This is based on a purchased gas cost charge (PGC) of $0.57 per 100 cubic feet (Ccf).
All in all, your general basic rates, including water and electricity, heating and cooling, garbage removal, etc, add up to about $155.62 per month. Mobile tariffs cost approx. $0.15 per minute and internet costs are about $64.82 per month for 60Mbps unlimited data.
Food costs in Richmond are lower than both the county and the national average. Richmond’s grocery price point comes in almost 5% lower than the national average, and 8% lower than the Virginia grocery price point.
Here are some daily grocery costs in Richmond so you can compare them to your current costs.
- A liter of milk: $0.76
- Loaf of fresh bread: $2.65
- 1kg apples: $4.45
- 1kg tomatoes: $3.88
- 1kg onions: $2.11
- 1kg potatoes: $2.37
- Bottle of mid-range wine: $12.00
- Half-liter domestic beer: $2.95
- 20-pack cigarettes: $7.40
So you’re looking at a food cost of living in Richmond, VA, of around $350 per person per month.
Schooling and Childcare
The average tuition cost across both public and private schools is about $13,833, which is lower than the Virginia average of around $14,199. There are 96 high-quality public schools in Richmond, with 31 private pre-schools.
47 Private elementary schools offer a variety of choices, with the top-ranked ones including Buford Road Christian Academy and Richmond Preparatory Christian Academy. There are also 24 private high schools to choose from, including Buford Road Christian Academy, Banner Christian School, and Saint Gertrude High School.
For tertiary education, you’re looking at around $58,570 per year for tuition.
Sports And Leisure
Richmond has a very active social scene, from arts and entertainment to food. If you’re an active individual, you’ll be looking at around $33.25 per month for a fitness club membership. And to watch the latest movie at the cinema will cost you about $12.00.
Eating out is also relatively affordable. For a meal at an inexpensive restaurant, you’ll be looking at around $15.00 per person. For a couple eating out, the cost will be around $60.00; and for your standard McDonald’s McMeal (or equivalent) you’ll be paying around $7.50.
Transportation In Richmond
Richmond has an excellent public transport system. So, if you don’t like to drive, walk, or bike, which are the commonly accepted modes of transport in the city, you can opt for public transport.
There is a local bus transit service provided by the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC), which runs an extensive network of routes through RVA and its surrounding counties. It is also a major hub for Greyhound buses, with multiple runs per day to New York City, Washington DC, and Raleigh. The average fares range from $1.50 for a one-way trip, $3.50 for a one-day pass, and $60 for a 30-day pass.
Richmond also has two railroad stations, which field regular Amtrack passenger train services to Philadelphia and Washington DC. For a one-way trip, you’re looking at around $16, and a round-trip from $38.
Seven miles East of Richmond is Richmond International Airport – the third busiest airport in Virginia. This is the main airport serving the Greater Richmond Area and holds airlines like American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, and JetBlue Airlines. A variety of airlines offer local domestic flights to destinations in the Northeast, Midwest, and South.
Why Live In Richmond, VA?
There are so many facets to Virginia’s capital city. Here are the top reasons that residents are so attracted to this city.
Richmond is located right at the center of the state of Virginia. It is a two-hour drive to Chesapeake Bay, Washington DC, and Virginia Beach respectively. It also places you at the intersection of Interstate 95 and Interstate 64. This is two hours drive to Blue Ridge Mountain and even less to Charlottesville wine country.
Traffic within RVA itself is vastly different from NYC or DC. The average commute is about 21 minutes, so the chances of experiencing road rage or hours long delays are fractional.
Diversity Of Areas
Richmond has a variety of different areas to meet diverse needs and tastes.
Richmond has some of the most incredible views and is located right on the banks of the James River. This is where Richmond got its name from. Standing on the edge of Church Hill, the view of the James resembles the view of the river Richmond in England.
Neighborhoods that capitalize on these views include Church Hill, Rocketts Landing, Shockoe Bottom, and Shockoe Slip, and Oregon Hill. Church Hill also boasts some incredible historic properties. It is home to St. John’s Church – where Patrick Henry gave his famous speech “Give me Liberty or Give me Death”.
If you’re keen on a condo or townhouse with views of the James River, Rocketts Landing is your stop. It also has views of the city and is home to a multitude of restaurants, two pools, and a marina and boat club.
Moving downtown to Shockoe Bottom and Shockoe Slip, properties here weave alongside the canal. The area is known for its walking and biking trails. Oregon Hill offers a combination of historic homes and more modern constructions.
Arts And Entertainment
RVA’s arts and entertainment scene is vast. The city has amazing theatres like the Richmond Ballet, Virginia Opera, and Carpenter and Altria Theatres. Small and large productions take place across these venues, with Richmond Ballet offering dance lessons to children.
Richmond’s Art District comes to life every first Friday of the month, with the district’s doors opening to celebrate the artistic and creative culture of the city. Murals and street art enliven the streets, and museums and galleries offer exposure to some of the county’s finest artistic productions.
For the more arty types, Richmond is a “hipster’s” paradise. An inclusive, free-thinking and non-conformist culture is quite prominent in Carytown – a nine-block collection of quirky shops and restaurants.
Food, Glorious Food
Richmond is a great city to taste your way through. From award-winning chefs cooking up intricate delicacies, like Sally Bell, to signature cocktails in the Quirk Hotel’s Maple And Pine. Plus, you just can’t pass up Proper Pie’s delicious traditional pumpkin pies.
The city even boasts the only restaurant in the State of Virginia to make Yelp’s Top 100 back in 2018.
Sports And Outdoors
Richmond is a mecca for sports and outdoor enthusiasts as well. The baseball team, the Flying Squirrels, calls RVA home, while the Richmond Kickers lead the soccer scene. If you’re a basketball fan, Virginia Commonwealth University is one of the best teams in the NCAA. There’s even a NASCAR track at the north end of town.
For the outdoors type of person, there are almost endless options for outdoor activities. From white water rafting the swells at the Pony Pasture Rapids to fishing or jogging at Floodwall Park. RVA is also a destination for the birding enthusiast, with interesting bird sightings at the Pipeline.
Avid golfers can access a number of both private and public golf courses. The top public golf courses include Belmont, Glenwood Golf Club, and The Crossings. Country clubs in the city include the Country Club of Virginia, Willow Oaks, The Lakeside Park Club, the Dominion Club, the Hermitage Country Club, and The Foundry.
If you’re more of a stroller, take a walk through the Japanese Gardens, or stroll through the exotic trees in the Arboretum at Maymont.
A Few Final Words About RVA
There’s so much to love about Richmond! From community events to embracing local arts and entertainment, and tasting your way through streets of local cuisine. It makes sense then why you may be thinking about moving to Richmond.
And how can we forget the best part (and the point of this article), the cost of living? Richmond is an affordable place to live, perfect for new entrepreneurs, students, and young families.