Pros and Cons of Living in Norfolk, VA

View of Norfolk, Virginia downtown skyline during a sunrise

One of the more distinctive cities in Virginia, Norfolk is a bustling, busy place with an exciting vibe and a phenomenal downtown right on the water. If you’re planning on living in Norfolk (or just arrived) and have questions about your new town, iStorage has your answers! Read on to discover the pros and cons of living in Norfolk, VA, below and get to know this fantastic city and everything it offers!

Living in Norfolk, VA

Living in Norfolk combines small-town charm with big-city amenities and attractions. The city is a genuine melting pot of cultures, people, and cuisines and offers the best of many worlds. Most communities here are quiet, safe, and well-kept, with good schools and responsive, respectful police departments. The air is clean, thanks to being so near the coast, and there’s more to do here than in many similar cities thanks to a true community-minded spirit.

What is Norfolk, VA, Known For?

Norfolk is known for having America’s largest naval station and also being the HQ of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Norfolk is also known as a coastal city with miles of pristine beaches, lovely seaside communities, and abundant wildlife to explore and enjoy. Lastly, Norfolk is recognized as an affordable, safe place to live, with multiple housing options and a large retired population.

Factors to Consider if Moving to Norfolk, VA

Night time view of Norfolk, Virginia skyline reflecting on water


The weather in Norfolk is a combination of many things, but if we’re being honest, one of the most prominent is the humidity. Being right on the Atlantic coast is the reason, and it makes for good weather most of the year that’s never sweltering or freezing but is highly humid for about 6 months. Norfolk sees about 120 days of precipitation annually.

Cost of Living

We’re glad to report that the overall cost index in Norfolk is 8 points below the national average at 91.8/100. Indeed, all of the significant cost indices in Norfolk are below average, except for slightly higher healthcare. As you’ll see below, housing costs are a major reason for the city’s affordable cost of living. In short, Norfolk is an affordable city, especially for the east coast.

School System

There’s no sugarcoating the fact that Norfolk’s’ schools could do a little better. Niche gives them a C+ which is average, but if you want your kid to be above average, that won’t cut it. Larchmont Elementary School is the best in the city, with an A-. No other school gets better than a B+ (there are 3), and the rest are all B or lower. That’s not great, considering there are 47 public schools in the city.

Recreation Activities

Recreation is where Norfolk truly shines, thanks to being on the Atlantic coast. There’s much to see and do here, especially from May through October. Boating and fishing opportunities are abundant, and there are just as many parks, recreational areas, and more. Several museums are in Norfolk, as well as forts, theatres, and minor-league baseball.

Real Estate Costs

Real estate prices are one of the main reasons Norfolk is an affordable city. The housing cost index is 83.1, 17 points lower than the U.S. average. It should be noted that just over half of the folks who live in Norfolk rent their homes (56%), which is surprising when you consider the median home cost is an affordable $223,300. Median rents are $1,114 for a 2-bedroom apartment, which is affordable compared to similar cities.

Pros and Cons of Living in Norfolk, VA


  • Affordable housing
  • Vibrant arts and culture
  • Beautiful beaches
  • Large military presence
  • Phenomenal cuisine
  • Highly diverse city
  • Rich cultural heritage


  • Traffic problems
  • Higher than-average crime rates
  • Lower-than-average schools and test scores
  • Limited jobs

Best Neighborhoods in Norfolk, VA

Young African American holding keys to new house

Norfolk has many top-rated communities, so we suggest taking at least a few days to see them all before settling on one to call home. Below are some of the best, but even those that aren’t on our list all have their charms.

Downtown Norfolk– Immensely walkable and on the waterfront, this is the most exciting place to live in Norfolk.

Freemason– The oldest neighborhood in Norfolk with beautiful, tree-lined, cobblestone streets and spectacular waterfront views.

Chelsea– Known for the Elizabeth River trail, Chelsea is walkable, bikeable, and wonderfully livable.

Park Place / Railroad District– Excellent restaurants and massive murals mark this top Norfolk community and decadent microbreweries.

Ghent– One of the best places to shop, eat and enjoy a day out with friends and family.

West Ghent– Another walkable, safe, and quiet neighborhood with affordable homes.

Riverview– Friendly and famous for its zoo and tolerant views.

Oceanview– If you desire to live at the beach, Oceanview will be your best choice.

Larchmont Edgewater– More lovely water views and good schools are the hallmarks of this Norfolk community.

Take the Guesswork Out of Moving to Norfolk with iStorage

If you’re moving to Norfolk soon and want to take out the guesswork and make your move less stressful, let iStorage be your guide! First, click the link to find storage in Norfolk that’s safe, secure, and cheap. Before reserving your storage unit, check out our convenient storage unit size guide to make sure you rent the correct size and type of storage unit. Next, be sure to read our moving guide for helpful moving tips and advice.

When you’re ready, reserve your storage unit in Norfolk so that it’s ready and waiting when you arrive. No deposit and no credit card are needed to do so, and ensure your valuables will be safe and sound while you search for your new forever home in lovely Norfolk, Virginia!