10 Cheapest Places to Live in Virginia

Updated On March 15, 2024

Virginia is a state replete with history and tradition. Northern Virginia, especially around the Arlington area, serves as a bedroom community for people who work inside the Washington Beltway for the government and for law firms and other companies that seek to influence the government.

But, farther to the south and west, the Commonwealth of Virginia is far more diverse.

The average cost of living in Virginia, as of 2021, is $48,249 per year.

That figure is broken down into $8.774 for housing and utilities, $7,178 for health care, $3,729 for groceries, $1,139 for gas and related energy goods, and $27,430 for other personal expenses.

Here is a list of communities where living expenses are relatively cheap.


1. Martinsville

Martinsville, population 13,725, is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains and dates back to just after the American Revolutionary War.

The median household income is $36.832.

The median rent is $1,000. Among the amenities are hiking, hunting, and camping as well as watersports at nearby lakes.

Hooker Field is the baseball diamond home of the Martinsville Mustangs, a Coastal Plain League team that plays during the summer months.

The Martinsville Speedway is the oldest facility still running NASCAR races.

For the more high-brow, check out the Piedmont Arts Gallery and the Virginia Museum of Natural History.

The town contains plenty of quaint, small shops.

Big Stone Gap
Big Stone Gap

2. Big Stone Gap

Big Stone Gap, population 5153, resides in the Appalachian Mountains near the Tennessee and Kentucky borders.

The median household income is $57,431 and the median rent is just $550.

The town was founded in the late 19th century and, for a time, was a center of coal and iron mining.

Big Stone Gap’s claim to fame is that it was the venue of a romantic comedy by the same name released in 2014 starring Ashley Judd, Patrick Wilson, and Whoopi Goldberg.

Besides hiking, mountain biking, and fishing, the town amenities include several quaint restaurants, pubs, and shops.

Also, check out the Southwest Virginia Cottage Museum, which depicts the area’s pioneering and coal mining history.


3. Bluefield

Bluefield, population 5001, is located on the border of West Virginia.

The median household income is $57,895 and the medium rent is $889.

The town is known as the highest community east of the Rockies and is celebrated for its unusually cool summers.

While the town has existed since the 19th century, it got its current name in the 1920s.

Bluefield is not known for a lot of amenities, so most people will take a two-hour drive to Roanoke for a weekend of fun and excitement.

Graham Recreation Park has an amphitheater for concerts and other events.

Fincastle Municipal Golf Course is also available for playing the links.


4. Covington

Covington, population 5679, is located at the south end of the Shenandoah Valley and on the banks of the James River.

The median household income is $52,783 and the median rent is just $900.

The town is the venue of several scenic, natural wonders, including the Falling Springs Waterfall, the Jackson River Scenic Trail, and Lake Moomaw.

The Humpback Bridge is the oldest covered bridge in the state.

The downtown area is being revitalized with new shops and restaurants.

Covington is within easy driving distance of several larger cities in Virginia for those who desire a fun-filled weekend getaway.


5. Pulaski

Pulaski, population 8904, is located in the Shenandoah Valley and is named after the Polish American Revolutionary War hero Count Casimir Pulaski.

The median household income is $50,417 and the median rent is $815.

The Historic Calfee Park, home to the Pulaski River Turtles, is one of the prime attractions of the town.

Besides baseball, plenty of outdoor activities abound, with scenic destinations like Draper Mountain Overlook and Gatewood Park, Hiking and fishing opportunities abound.

Eateries include the Ginza, where great sushi can be had, as well as the Big Belly, with its pizza and Italian food.

Great shopping can be found at Miranda’s Little World.


6. Williamsburg

Williamsburg, population 15,909, is located on the Virginia Peninsula just a half hour away from Newport News.

The median household income is $63,015 and the median rent is $2,100.

Williamsburg is famous for many attractions, including Colonial Williamsburg, a living history village that depicts life during the Revolutionary War, and Busch Gardens, a fun-filled theme park.

Plenty of opportunities for hiking, boating, and camping abound in the town’s environs.

Plenty of fine dining exists as well, including the 1607 Grill, the Aberdeen Barn, and Anna’s Brick Oven.

Many breweries and wineries are located in the town as well.

For a special treat, try the Silver Hand Meadery for a taste of that ancient, fermented beverage.


7. Danville

Danville, population 42,290, is located on the border of North Carolina and is said to have all the amenities of a city and the ambiance of a small town.

The median household income is $38,904 and the medium rent is $1,500.

The town is the site of various outdoor activities and concerts performed by major music artists at a recently refurbished amphitheater.

The Danville Science Center is a hot spot for kids interested in learning about science.

Ballad Brewing and 2 Witches Winery and Brewing Company are destinations for people who like to imbibe.

The Golden Leaf Bistro and Joe and Mimma’s Italian Restaurant are available for a bite to eat.


8. Richmond

Richmond, population 229,395, is located in Central Virginia.

The city is not just the state capital but also a thriving college town.

The median income is $54,795 and the medium rent is $1,500.

Richmond boasts many cultural attractions, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the White House of the Confederacy, the Virginia Holocaust Museum, and the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.

The nearby James River provides outdoor recreation, including white-water rafting.

For a meal, try places like L’Opossum, Mama J’s Kitchen, and the Grapevine Greek and Italian Restaurant.


9. Roanoke

Roanoke, population 97,846, is located in southwestern Virginia amid the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The median income is $48,476 and the medium rent is $1,596.

Plenty of outdoor activities are available, including hiking along the Appalachian Trail, kayaking on the Upper James River Water Trail, and mountain biking at the area’s numerous biking trails.

For those who are a little less outdoorsy, Roanoke has a vibrant restaurant and club scene, offering a variety of eateries such as Alexander’s, Nawab, and The River and Rail.

The town and its environs have a great selection of breweries, wineries, and distilleries for those who imbibe.

Roanoke has a great art and performing arts scene as well.


10. Staunton

Staunton, population 25,904, is located in the Shenandoah Valley between the Blue Ridge and Alleghany Mountains.

The median income is $53,402 and the median rent is $1,600.

The town has several cultural amenities, including the Frontier Culture Museum, the Antique Fire Engine Museum, and the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum.

The controversial president who served during World War I was born in Staunton, For art and culture, try the American Shakespeare Blackfriars Playhouse and the R.R. Smith Center for History and Art.

Eateries include Aioli Mediterranean Tapas and Big Red Barbeque.

The surrounding area offers many outdoor activities.

For something different, Black Raven Paranormal offers some haunted history tours of the town.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the most famous Virginians in American history?

A remarkable number of famous people were born in Virginia.

For example, eight presidents of the United States: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson, all hailed from Virginia.

Famous Virginian musicians include Pat Benatar, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Dave Matthews. Notable black Virginians include Sally Hemmings, Booker T., Washington, and Mildred Loving.

Basketball great Moses Malone and football’s Fran Tarkenton hailed from the state.

Russell Baker, Willa Cather, and Edgar Allen Poe were famous Virginian people of letters.

Other famous Virginians include Patrick Henry, Pocahontas, and the Lee family, including Richard Henry Lee, Henry “Lighthorse Harry” Lee, and Robert E. Lee.

Why was Virginia the most fought-over state in the history of the United States?

Virginia was the venue of some of the greatest battles of the American Revolutionary War and the American Civil War.

Yorktown, located on the eastern coast of the state, was the site where the British Army under Lord Cornwallis was bottled up by the American Continental and French Armies and the French Navy and was obliged to surrender.

One cannot walk very far in Virginia without encountering a Civil War battlefield, where armies clad in blue and gray fought to determine the future of the United States, Battles include the First Bull Run, Second Bull Run, Petersburg, Cold Harbor, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, and Spotsylvania.

Many of these battlefields have become national parks and are well worth the visit.

Why is Jamestown, Virginia so important?

Jamestown was the very first permanent English-speaking settlement in North America.

The colony came close to failing several times because the initial settlers arrived too late to plant crops and were, in any case, gentlemen and their servants who were unaccustomed to the hard work required for farming.

Eventually, Jamestown began to prosper not from food crop production but from the cultivation of tobacco.

The settlement was one of the first venues of the fraught relationship between English colonists and the Native Americans.

The account of Pocahontas and how she helped to form a temporary peace between her people, the Powhatan, has been somewhat misrepresented in the famous Disney movie but is nevertheless a moving story.

The site of Jamestown, which is a working archeology site, is now a popular tourist attraction.

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