Tips for Relocating to Richmond, VA?
May 26, 2005 2:00 PM   Subscribe

We're off to Richmond VA. What neighborhood should we live in? How much should we pay? Any tips for looking for an apartment?

We have a very small dog. This seems to limit things a bit

Boyfriend will be making pennies as a grad student at VCU, and I'll be making pennies as an Autism teacher/researcher at a hospital in the Ginter Park area. I can drive to work. He should be able to walk/bike/bus to school.

We found a big one bedroom for $550 (+$25 a month for the dog) in Carytown near a bus to VCU. Is this a rip off? Should we jump on it? I would be nice to have things finalized asap...
posted by lalalana to Travel & Transportation around Richmond, VA (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've never lived in Richmond (only Charlottesville), but had many friends (including my twin brother) who have done so. My sole contribution is that a big one-bedroom for $550 is a beautiful thing, all other attributes being reasonable.
posted by waldo at 2:06 PM on May 26, 2005

Live in the Fan! South of Boulevard but north of... oh, Thompson. Old world Richmond. Lots of nice little coffee shops, cafes. At least when I lived there back in '97-'01.

But get some window AC units, for the love of $DEITY.

I miss that neighborhood. Not much else about Richmond, though.

[/Richmond ex-pat]
posted by xmutex at 2:29 PM on May 26, 2005

Oh, Church Hill is another gorgeous neighborhood. Unfairly has (or, had) a reputation for being a little on the crime-y side. Not sure what's happened in the last few years, though.
posted by xmutex at 2:31 PM on May 26, 2005

Sorry, shoulda rolled this all into one post, but during my second year @ VCU I lived in Jackson Ward. It was in walking distance to the campus. I really did like the neighborhood and it was very affordable from a college student's standpoint.
posted by xmutex at 2:34 PM on May 26, 2005

Carytown is a pretty nice area as far as Richmond goes. If you're not familiar with it, it's near quite a few little shops and bars and whatnot. And $550 sounds like a pretty reasonable price for Richmond. Have you seen the apartment? Most of the buildings in the area are not brand new, so I would suggest at least looking at the apartment before you sign anything.
posted by geeky at 3:19 PM on May 26, 2005

$550 does not sound bad, though if you looked for something in the Fan (as mentioned above), your boyfriend would be much closer to his classes -- although anything around Carytown is within easy biking distance (and possible walking distance). I also would second the warning about making sure to check the condition of the apartment, if that is a concern.

The Fan, and the areas north of the Boulevard (where Carytown is) and around VCU are great places to live -- beautiful houses, great restaurants, etc -- although I would warn you guys to be careful of crime, which on the rise even in places that seem higher end (such as the Fan). As a current Richmond resident, I can tell you that Church Hill's reputation for crime (to answer the question above) is not at all undeserved at the moment. But, if you are looking for someplace cheap, you might want to try it -- though he would have to ride his bike or take a bus to get to class.

Oregon Hill, a small redneck neighborhood between downtown and VCU (and close to Hollywood cemetery, right above the river) is another option that is popular with VCU students. It used to be really cheap, but apparently has become a bit more expensive. Though I should warn you, it has its fare share of rundown houses, and an abundant number of Confederate flags. VCU is within easy walking distance, however.
posted by katherine at 1:13 AM on May 27, 2005

That's a very reasonable price. I technically live in the Museum District, but really only one block north of Carytown, and it's a fine area. As geeky said, most buildings in the city are old, converted buildings, so make sure you're comfortable with hardwood floors, radiators, no closets, and all the other things I love about Richmond apartments.

Also: RVA MeFi meetup!
posted by patgas at 5:41 AM on May 27, 2005

That's a bargain price. Ask what side of Cary Street it's on. It should be on the North ("museum" "fan") side of Cary Street itself. The other side, the short side, South towards the expressway, can be dodgy. Have you visited town and seen this place? If not, feel free to email me the address or block or intersection, I'd be happy to swing by and give it a look from the outside and pass on my impressions.

Also: meetup!
posted by rainbaby at 6:18 AM on May 27, 2005

Definitely live down in the fan, or at the very least, north of the river, as it'll allow you to experience the rewarding cultural aspect of Richmond. Downtown has a lot of really great, restored lofts for cheap, but with the nature of ya'lls (heh) business down there, you'll be rewarded greatly if getting to VCU is just a walk or bike ride away. Parking isn't too fun, though it's bearable, so any way to circumvent having to drive around all the time (also a bit annoying because of one-way streets) would be good. You should be able to find a lot of openings between VCU and Boulevard as all the kids are out of school.

A couple posters above mentioned dodgy areas, but allow me to elucidate: if you're moving blindly, without being able to scout the place out, your safest bet is to stick with the area north of Cary, south of Broad, and east of Boulevard (here's a map). Though they're trying to restore/renovate areas south of Cary, there's some real ugliness down there. I used to park over there during school and felt uncomfortable walking to/fro my car. North of Broad doesn't really have much in way of residential opportunities, and that which exists isn't generally very desirable. East of Boulevard, you'll find the highest concentration of students, as well as the highest concentration of available units. There's a lot of good stuff along Boulevard (though parking/traffic might not be fun), and even west of Boulevard (maybe where patgas is?), but it's a bit further, and it's not as easy to pinpoint good and bad locations. Mind you, there's some real shitholes in the fan too -- any college town that has yearly turnover is going to have some shitty accommodations -- but if you can find a real estate agency or private renter that doesn't normally focus on the undergrad market, you can find some really wonderful units.

Good luck! And welcome to Virginia :)
posted by Hankins at 7:13 AM on May 27, 2005

I would expand Hankins's area to north of Cary St, south of Broad St, west of Belvedere, and east of 195... I think west of Boulevard is possibly more liveable if you want to be just a little further away from all the students and restaurants. It's a slightly older crowd, with more families and schools. I say this because I want to give up the peace and quit for a little more hustle (e.g. bustle) near campus.

Even going out further west, west of 195, in the Malvern area, you'll find smaller bungalows and more modern apartments, but it can get pricey in a hurry.

As for the meetup, just tell me when and where and how much nudity and drinking will be tolerated.
posted by patgas at 8:15 AM on May 27, 2005

Response by poster: Wow, thanks! This has been great! Can we do another mefi meetup after we get there in August?

We were thinking The Fan, but we can't seem to find much online. I keep hearing that there are "TONS of great, cheap, apartments in the fan," but I think that most of the ones that are being advertised are on the more expensive/rip off side of things or don't accept dogs (even 3 lbs. excuses for dogs). I would guess that most of the good deal are to be found by walking around and looking for signs. That's the way it was in Gainesville, FL, where I went to school.

So, if any of you RVA MeFites know of a friend who is vacating a great apartment, let me know! (E-mail in the profile!)

Rainbaby- I just may take you up on that offer! That is incredibly kind and we'd owe you a beer (or whatever) at that up-coming meetup. I'll e-mail you.

Oh, and here is a map of the $550 apartment. What do you think?

Also, specifically, anyone hear anything about Mason Brothers as landlords?
posted by lalalana at 8:55 AM on May 27, 2005

I'll go tomorrow afternoon; I'm dog sitting around there.

I went to start a meetup thread, but it occurs to me that we're a pretty small group - maybe wait till schools go back in session in the fall in hopes of raising a quorum. . .?
posted by rainbaby at 10:06 AM on May 27, 2005

I drive by that corner almost every day. I believe I was looking at apartments in the same building last time I went hunting. You'd have the added benefit of walking south a few blocks down Boulevard to get to tennis courts, a small lake with paddle boats, park area with running track, etc.

As for the meetup, I'm flexible. I'll just try to keep an eye out for it.
posted by patgas at 11:35 AM on May 27, 2005

That's a very convenient location, as you're close to highway access, you're a drive down boulevard to Broad St., and you're just down Cary from the school and the outskirts of downtown. You're also near the nickel bridge (costs 25ยข) that'll connect you to a new Target that's opening up (drove past it the other day and had no clue where the hell it came from!) and a Wal*Mart.

As patgas said, you'll be close to Byrd Park, which is a delight in warmer weather. The local landmark, the carillon, presides over the area that is often used for art/wine festivals and recreation. The paddleboats have been a staple since as long as I remember -- heck, my mom used to take me down and see them when I was 5 years old. You're also near Maymont, another beautiful place to spend your time.

So yeah, barring floorboards that are falling apart, neighbors that are violent, or some other unforeseen issue, that location has a lot of value in terms of centralizing yourself and separating yourself from the 18-year-old undergrads.
posted by Hankins at 5:33 PM on May 27, 2005

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