You may be drawn to Virginia’s natural beauty with thousands of miles of coastline, beautiful rivers, and the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. Packed with history, home to twenty-one Fortune 500 companies, and close to D.C., Virginia has a lot to offer in terms of job opportunities, lifestyle, and culture. But what is the cost of living in Virginia?
But can you afford to live in the Old Dominion state? To give you a better idea of what costs you’ll need to budget for, here’s a breakdown of the cost of living in Virginia.
Is Virginia expensive to live in?
Virginia scores a 103.7 on the cost of living index which is based on a U.S. average of 100. This means compared to the national average, the cost of living in Virginia is more expensive. However, compared to other east coast cities, Virginia is relatively affordable and has a reasonable cost of living.
Agents Compete, You Win.
Virginia Housing Costs
When trying to determine what is the cost of living in Virginia, housing costs will be by far your biggest expense. Compared to the national average, Virginia housing costs are more expensive. The median home cost in Virginia is $258,400. In comparison, the national median home cost is $231,200.
Naturally, housing costs will vary depending on the city and neighborhood you’re interested in. For instance, Great Falls is one of the most expensive cities in Virginia with a median home value hitting six-figures at $1,212,347. However, Virginia’s capital Richmond has more affordable housing with a median home value of $247,564.
Throughout the state, the median home cost is $258,400. Home appreciation in the state is also up by 4.1%.
You won’t fare much better if you decide to rent. Compared to the national average, your monthly rent payment will be more expensive in Virginia. For example, the average cost for a studio apartment in Virginia is $982, whereas the national average for a studio apartment is $821. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Virginia is $1,030. The national average for a one-bedroom is $930.
While Virginia housing may be more expensive, you may be able to save on your utility costs. Virginia utility costs fall below the national average.
Electricity will be your most costly utility with a monthly expense of $124.54. Natural gas comes to around $74.32 per month and your water bill adds up to around $70 per month. For the internet, expect to pay $60. For cable, Virginia residents pay around $85 monthly.
Overall, your total utility costs will come to $414.25 per month. Of course, this total doesn’t include any streaming services or your phone bill. You’ll want to budget accordingly.
Homeowners should set aside around $400 monthly for utility bills. If you’re in an apartment, budget for $100 to $150 in monthly utility bills.
As of March 2021, gas prices in Virginia hit $3.07 a gallon. Compared to the national average of $2.58 per gallon, you’ll be paying a bit more to get around Virginia. Your daily commute will be a bit longer than the rest of the nation. The average Virginian commutes 28.2 minutes one-way, which is longer than the national average of 26.4 minutes.
While 77% of Virginians commute via car, you can also take public transit. For $60, you’ll receive an unlimited-ride 30-day pass from the Greater Richmond Transit Company. You can also connect to the D.C. Metro using the Metrobus. A 7-day regional bus pass will cost you $17.50.
Your grocery bill likely won’t be too crazy when it comes to figuring out what is the cost of living in Virginia. On the cost of living index, Virginia scored below the national average when it comes to food costs. In Richmond, expect to pay around $300 a month in groceries.
Granted, food costs will vary depending on where you live in Virginia. For instance, in the city of Ashburn food and grocery costs are 4.2% more expensive than in Woodbridge, Virginia.
You’ll also want to budget for nights out on the town, eating at the great restaurants the state has to offer. For a meal at an inexpensive restaurant, your bill will be around $15. A three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost you around $60.
Taxes in Virginia aren’t so outrageous compared to the rest of the nation. The sales tax rate for Virginia is 5.6% compared to the national average of 7.3%. Property taxes in Virginia also fall below the national average. Virginia’s average property tax rate is 0.80% compared to the U.S. average of 1.07%.
Keep in mind, your property tax rate will vary depending on which Virginia county you reside in. Property taxes throughout the state range anywhere from 0.42% to 1.37%. And even though Virginia’s tax rate is lower, because the state’s home values are higher, you can expect to pay property taxes more on par with the nation’s average.
The Virginia income tax rate is progressive. This means depending on your annual income, you may have a Virginia income tax rate as low as 2%. For anyone earning a taxable income above $17,000, your Virginia income tax rate will be 5.75%.
Virginia healthcare costs are below the national average. For instance, in 2021 a 40-year-old Virginian will pay $446 a month for health insurance. Comparatively, the national average cost of health insurance for a 40-year-old is $495, a difference of $49.
In fact, the cost for health insurance in Virginia saw a 4% decrease since 2020, which averages to $20 less per month.
How much money do you need to live comfortably in Virginia?
The cost of living in Virginia is slightly higher than the national average. But, how much do you need to cover all your basic necessities, enjoy a night out once in a while, and have money left to put in your savings?
Using the 50/30/20 budgeting rule, where 50% of your annual income goes to necessities like housing and food, 30% goes to discretionary costs such as travel and entertainment, and 20% goes to savings, you would need an annual income of $64,947.
Virginia’s median household income is $74,222, making the state a relatively affordable place to live. Granted, if you only make the minimum wage, you may find yourself struggling to earn enough to meet the comfortable living income.
For example, in Richmond, you would need to make at least $15.95 an hour for a living wage. However, the minimum wage in Richmond is $7.25, making it difficult to set aside any earnings for savings.
Understand Commissions Before Buying or Selling
Real estate agent commission is typically split 50/50 between the agents who represent the buyer and seller. So, out of a gross 6% commission, your agent would only typically get 3% gross.
Out of that 3%, the agent has to split with their office. This generally ranges from a 50/50 to as high as a 90/10 split. So, on average the actual agent may only get 1.5% of that 6% commission.
Remember, everything is negotiable in real estate. Don’t discount using a Realtor because you think you must pay 6% to 10% in commissions. Agents may negotiate lower rates depending on the type of transaction, the services required, and frequency of business.
For example, if you are a real estate investor selling and buying 10 homes a month, an agent might be willing to work a 50% off deal in exchange for the volume. If they are receiving a referral from a trusted source they may offer a modest discount, while still giving a full-service experience. If you don’t need the agent to host open houses, and they can secure a buyer directly, without having to split with another agent, then they may offer a discount relative to their savings.
Home sellers may also work with their agents on bonuses and incentives. These may be paid by the seller, or out of the listing agent’s commission. For example, offering a $10,000 bonus for a full price offer which closes within 30 days, or contributing 3% of the purchase price toward buyer’s closing costs.
Be Prepared to Negotiate
It’s more than likely that the seller will come back to you with a counteroffer. That’s just part of the negotiations. It’s up to you whether you can comfortably accept their counter, respond with your own counteroffer, or walk away.
Keep your finances in mind and don’t let yourself get carried away in the excitement of buying your first home. No matter how much you might think a house is perfect for you, if you can’t comfortably afford it, it’s time to think twice.
Remember buyers: you need to know what a home will require in order for it to be up to your expectations of build quality. Houses may need a few things fixed either prior to purchasing a home or immediately after. It’s important to be aware of these issues, as it may cause a headache further down the road after you’ve purchased the house.
Often, if the seller is motivated enough to sell the house, they might work with you and include fixes and light renovations as a stipulation in the contract for the sale of the house. Making sure you have inspectors and independent contractors to inspect the house for any major issues can help save you a headache in the long run.
You also need to be aware of the market surrounding the house. If you look around at the neighborhoods close to the home you’re considering, you may find other locations that may be a better price, closer to an important location, or simply newer than the one that you’re considering. Ensuring that you’re aware of the area and not focused on one house can help make sure that you’re making the best choice possible when putting in an offer, and not necessarily choosing the first one on the list.
Ensure you don’t bid either too high or too low on the house. Bidding too high will probably get you the house quicker, but you may end up paying over market value for the home and will probably have to recoup that cost before you can be in a suitable position to generate equity into the home.
Offer too little and the buyer may outright refuse and will greatly decrease your chances of landing the home that you want to purchase. When in doubt, consult a professional Realtor who knows the market.
Ready to move?
As housing will be your biggest expense living in Virginia, you’ll want to get the best price possible on a home. Consider working with an experienced, local real estate agent who can help you navigate the Virginia housing market and narrow down which city and neighborhood best fit your needs and your budget.
Above all, remember that your Realtor should be there to aid in your home buying process, not just to show you listings. Helping you avoid the wrong time to buy, the wrong location or the wrong house for your budget can all go a long, long way in making sure that you’re happy with the end result. Beyond that, realtors aren’t all the same, and you will need to find one that gels with your interest as a home buyer before choosing to go the length of the field with them.
UpNest, whichis owned by parent companyRealtor.com, uses a proprietary agent matching system that considers closed listings, location of listing, and other factors to provide the customer with 3-5 individual proposals.
The proposal includes commission information, marketing techniques, a Q&A about the agents, local trends, reviews, and more. Once agents start using UpNest’s platform, the matching system evaluates their performance with UpNest, including conversion rates and response time.
UpNest is a no-cost service for home sellers and buyers to find the best real estate agents locally. The UpNest platform allows you to compare multiple agents in your area so you can compare reviews, commission rates, previous sales, and more.
Our network agents have been carefully vetted and often offer competitive, lower than averagecommission rates to UpNest customers. There is no obligation to sign up with one of our network Realtors, but when you can potentially save thousands on commission – why wouldn’t you? If you’re ready to get started, just enter your zipcode below!
Agents Compete, You Win.
How much money do you need to live comfortably in Virginia?
According to livingwage.mit.edu, a living wage calculator based at MIT, you’ll need a salary of at least $26,631 if you have no children. If you are one adult with two children, you’ll need $61,780 after taxes. For single adults with two children, that equates to about $76,542 before taxes.
Is Virginia a cheap place to live?
Virginia isn’t the cheapest place to live in America, but it’s better than most of California and the most expensive states in the country. In terms of renting, the average rent price for a one-bedroom apartment in Virginia is $1,791. This is a slight decrease of 0.2 percent from last year, and below the national average.