Where should I live: Richmond, VA edition
March 15, 2013 10:37 AM   Subscribe

I may be relocating to Richmond for work soon and have been trying to get a read on where to live in the city. After reading this previously I wanted to see what's changed in the last 6 years. The most important things to me in an apartment are: safety, kitchen space, and quiet. I tend to work long hours and like my apt to be the place that I can finally relax in. Thanks in advance!
posted by msfrizzle to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You want Church Hill. Church Hill is further away from the center of town, but, depending on the block you live on, is very quiet and safe. I know a lot of residents of Richmond who openly fret about safety when I mention my desire to head to Church Hill; in all honestly, there are sketchy parts. But this is Richmond. The whole city is block to block, sketchy on gentrification. But the area between Proper Pie Co. and Captain Buzzy's Coffee is not only pretty, but it's quiet and rentals are more than reasonable.

My second choice is Forest Hill, which I know less of but which is highly residential and a good bit pricier than Church Hill—but you couldn't ask for a safer, quieter neighborhood.

You could look in Shockoe Bottom, where I live, but it's closer to town and can be a good bit noisier. There's some good food, and rent can be quite reasonable depending on your block. Apartments will mostly be reclaimed commercial-turned-lofts. We have one of the few that's both two floors and not a loft, and we like it a lot.

I know almost nothing about The Fan or Carytown other than they both seem to be the neighborhoods kids live in when they're in college. That doesn't really appeal to me.

Good luck! RVA needs a MeFi meetup!
posted by littlerobothead at 10:50 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

I love Church Hill and agree that there are some very nice places to lease there, but there is no way that they are the best choices for safety and kitchen size. Forest Hill seems a much better fit with your stated priorities, but much less urban in terms of nearby bars and restaurants. To be honest, if you really prioritize safety and kitchen size and value a place to nest in peace and quiet, you will get more of that in the 'burbs. Many of the suburban apartments tend to be sort of soulless complexes with hundreds of units clustered about, but they are going to be much safer and quieter with more modern amenities than the quirkier more central city rentals. To be clear, most of the risk in the sketchier areas is with burglery and the like -- my sense is that assaults remain uncommon even in the dodgier areas. As in most urban communities, kitchen size is going to be the challenge for most apartments (unless your perspective is say NYC). We have a friend who has an expensive apartment out in Henrico called West Broad Village, which is a funky kind of faux city planned community with Trader Joe's and Whole Foods that is beautiful, safe, quiet and over-priced.

If a place within the physical limits of the City Of Richmond is required, there are lots of neighborhoods in and around the Fan that are not college apartments, particularly the farther west you go away from the VCU campus. Some of the Fan places that have been renovated have gorgeous kitchens, some of the older ones have horrifying galley kitchens you can scarcely turn around in. There is no particular logic to which are which by neighborhood. There aren't a ton of rentals, but Northside neighborhoods are super-safe and quiet as well.

As a rule, the more central the location, the more prevelant the "block to block" sketchiness. My wife and I have lived here for nearly 20 years now and have seen many of our siblings and cousins live in apartments throughout the city -- feel free to vet specific locations by memail if you like. We regularly eat and shop in the city and my wife works there, so we have a reasonable sense of the character of most neighborhoods. If you are considering the mega-apartment complex situation, there are local advertising magazine type things in the grocery stores that list all of 'em and provide floorplans, pictures and so on. I'd be happy to grab one and snail mail it to you if that is your interest. The smaller units in the city tend to be more craigslist finds, I think.
posted by Lame_username at 12:03 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

What is your price range and do you prefer to walk or drive to things?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:41 PM on March 15, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the help so far. I will have to drive around the state for work so I don't mind driving when I get home (though having a diner/bar nearby is nice) and I'd like to spend under $1000/mo.
posted by msfrizzle at 7:32 PM on March 15, 2013

First of all, if you want peace and quiet, under no circumstances get a place in Shockoe Bottom. Ugh, noise central, especially on the weekends.

Second, Richmond is one of those places where each area of town can vary block to block in terms of quietness and safety. I don't have a lot of time right now to get into details (I definitely will tomorrow though) but I will put it out there that if you want someone to drive you around the city and point out the good blocks and the bad blocks to live, I'm totally up for it. I'm a pretty good tour guide and I've lived in lots of places in the city. Memail me if you want.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:56 PM on March 15, 2013

Yeah, definitely don't live in the Bottom or the Slip. Most Fan dwellers don't even go 'down there' unless they have something to do. Fortunately, many places in Richmond can be had for under 1000/mo. Jackson Ward and Carver are still plagued with street theft and break-ins in some parts due to proximity with housing projects nearby to the north.

Church Hill isn't a bad recommendation, but it's tough to know exactly which blocks are good and which aren't if you're not blessed with local intel. You're welcome to MeMail me and I can connect you with some locals that are good people.

I'd like to provide a little more granularity to the Fan, wherein the east Fan between maybe Meadow and Belvidere is heavily VCU rentals, but there are also blocks or streets that are mostly professional. Carytown and the Museum District are the same way, in some neighborhoods.

If you don't live in Church Hill, I recommend you live in the area east of 195, west of Belvidere, south of Monument, and north of Cary. That's a pretty big region that lets you walk or bike to things in your local space.

Forest Hill, Westover Hills, and Woodland Heights are nice; south of Forest Hill Ave and east of Semmes can be really sketchy though.
posted by a halcyon day at 11:45 AM on March 16, 2013

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