Moving to Portsmouth, VA is something to seriously consider. For one, Portsmouth, VA showed up as number one on Realtor.com’s “The Best Markets for First-Time Homebuyers in 2023” (Realtor.com is our partner site). This is despite the fact that Realtor’s.com’s “2023 National Housing Forecast” highlighted 2023 was expected to remain a challenging year for homebuyers, especially for first-time buyers. Contributing factors include rising interest rates, increasing inflation, and home prices still growing by double-digits year-over-year.
“The Best Markets” is a 2023 content update intended to help first-time homebuyers. It focuses on the markets that surfaced to the top with the largest real estate sales and price growth expectations. This helpful guide also spotlights the availability of homes for sale, job opportunities, average commute time to work, local amenities, and other criteria that are considered attractive to homebuyers.
Out of the ranked 659 cities and places with a population of more than 5,000 that are located within the 100 largest metro areas, Portsmouth, VA, came out on top. This alone makes moving to Portsmouth, VA, worth it for some.
Keep in mind that wherever you decide where to live, you’re looking for a place that fits your personality, life circumstances, preferences, and interests. Factors to consider before moving are the cost of living, things to do in that area, taxes, and ease of navigation.
To help you decide if Portsmouth, VA might be a good fit for you, read our rundown of what you need to know before moving to this top city, including how much you can expect to pay for a home.
Where Exactly Is Portsmouth, VA?
Portsmouth is an independent city (which means it isn’t part of any county) in southeast Virginia, United States. Portsmouth is part of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area and lies across the Elizabeth River from Norfolk. As of July 2022 U.S. Census data, the population is estimated at 97,840, which makes Portsmouth the ninth most populous city in Virginia.
The Cost of Living in Portsmouth, VA
Portsmouth, VA has a livability score of 61 out of 100. This rating is determined by comparing the cost of living there to the cost of living in other cities. If a city’s index score is higher than 100 percent, then the cost of living is above average. If a city’s index score is lower than 100, then its cost of living is below average.
The cost of living in Portsmouth, VA is 97 compared to 107 in Virginia. Its real estate prices are 3 percent lower than the state average, and its rental prices are 14 percent lower than the Virginia average. Portsmouth gets high marks for its schools and amenities in particular. So, residents can enjoy ample shopping opportunities, dining experiences, and various entertainment options.
The residents of Portsmouth also appreciate the ability to walk to grocery stores, public transit options, and more. And Niche.com indicates that Portsmouth, VA is highly diverse, both ethnically and economically. Finally, the median age of Portsmouth, VA is 35, and 42 percent of the population has children under 18.
The Job Market in Portsmouth, VA
When moving to Portsmouth, VA, you might wonder what the job market is like. Well, thankfully, it’s thriving. The city’s central location in the heart of Hampton Roads allows for quick access to shipping terminals, rail yards, and the interstate. Portsmouth is also well-connected online. As a Smart City, it has a fiber optic ring to receive high-speed internet via a transatlantic communications cable.
The area’s most important economic sectors are maritime logistics, advanced manufacturing, national defense, and offshore wind energy. The city government also provides local, state, and regional incentives to support continuing business growth. According to Portsmouth Economic Development, expanding and relocating businesses invested $469 million in new capital into Portsmouth, VA as of 2021.
Not only is Portsmouth home to two Port of Virginia facilities, but it also welcomed Rivers Casino Portsmouth, the Commonwealth of Virginia’s first full-service permanent casino, in January of 2023. Per the online marketplace Zippia, the top best companies to work for in Portsmouth, VA are Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA, Earl Industries, Creative Business Solutions, and the US Coast Guard. The average one-way commute in Portsmouth, VA takes 24 minutes, which is slightly shorter than the United States average of 26 minutes.
Salaries in Portsmouth, VA
The median household income in Portsmouth, VA is $54,020, according to US Census Bureau data. This is lower than the median household income in Virginia ($80,615) and the United States ($69,021). The average annual salary for Portsmouth, VA is $61,060, which amounts to an hourly rate of $29.00 per hour.
Buying a Home in Portsmouth, VA
Realtor.com lists the median listing home price for Portsmouth, VA at $240,000, trending up 9.1% year-over-year (December 2022 data). This sum amounts to $156 per square foot.
Portsmouth consists of 32 neighborhoods, and at the time of writing, there were 203 homes for sale, ranging from $15,000 to $1M. Portsmouth also had affordable condos for sale. At the end of 2022, Realtor.com described Portsmouth, VA as a buyer’s market, meaning that the supply of homes is greater than the demand.
Renting a Home in Portsmouth, VA
If you plan to rent instead of own a home, you can find an affordable apartment or house in Portsmouth. According to Realtor.com, the median rent in Portsmouth, VA is $1,500 per month. This is lower than the national average of $1,708 for a one-bedroom apartment. At the time of writing this article, there were 141 rentals available in this area, ranging from $600 to $3,100 per month.
The Schools Available in Portsmouth, VA
Portsmouth Public Schools is made up of 23 schools and educational centers: three high schools, three middle schools, 13 elementary schools, three preschool centers, and an alternative education center. Public schools’ total enrollment in 2023 was 13,395 students. The top-ranked public schools in Portsmouth, VA are Churchland Middle School, Churchland High School, and Woodrow Wilson High School.
There are also 12 private schools, serving 1,609 private students. Overall, 89 percent of all K-12 students in Portsmouth City, VA are educated in public schools, which is very close to the state average of 90 percent.
The Taxes in Portsmouth, VA
The minimum combined 2023 sales tax rate for Portsmouth is 6 percent. This is the total of state, county, and city sales tax rates. The Virginia sales tax rate is currently 4.3 percent. The County sales tax rate is 0 percent, and the Portsmouth sales tax rate is 1 percent.
On the other hand, the real estate tax in Portsmouth, VA is $1.30 per $100 of assessed value. Then, the personal property tax is $5.00 per $100 assessed value. This means that the median property tax is $1,843 per year for a home worth the median value of $180,400.
Portsmouth City collects 1.02 percent of a property’s assessed fair market value as property tax, which is on the higher side compared to other states. Therefore, the average yearly property tax paid by Portsmouth residents amounts to about 3.25 percent of their yearly income.
Getting Around in Portsmouth, VA
The Walk Score for Portsmouth, VA is 35, which makes it a “car-dependent city.” As a resident, you will need a car to get places, run errands, and so forth. The most walkable neighborhoods are Olde Town (Walk Score of 85) and Park View (Walk Score of 64).
The transit score of Portsmouth is a low 25, so public transportation options are limited. The bike score is slightly higher at 42, meaning the city does have some bike lanes at the very least.
The Weather in Portsmouth, VA
In Portsmouth, the summers are hot and muggy, and the winters are very cold and windy. It is wet and partly cloudy year round. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 34°F to 88°F and is rarely below 22°F or above 95°F. Based on the tourism score, the best times of year in Portsmouth for warm-weather activities are from mid-to-late May and from late August to mid-October.
Things to Do in Portsmouth, VA
Portsmouth, VA has a rich past that dates back to the 18th century when the city was founded. Since its shipbuilding days in 1752, Portsmouth went through several wars, yet it thrives as a historic port city. Not to mention, the Olde Towne Historic District of Portsmouth features one of the largest collections of historically significant homes between Alexandria, VA and Charleston, SC.
In the city, you can explore historic churches, the Children’s Museum, and the Naval Shipyard Museum. Additionally, Old Towne features Elizabeth River waterfront walks and seasonal events, like ghost walks in the fall, a holiday music festival in the winter, and the annual Memorial Day Parade. You can also take a ferry to Norfolk, VA, which is across the Elizabeth River.
Last, but not least, the 142-acre Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve is comprised of vast wetlands, a wooded forest, and a unique saltwater lake. It’s a thriving habitat for various species of plants and animals native to southeastern Virginia. This wilderness area in Portsmouth invites residents to enjoy hiking, kayaking, birdwatching, and other nature-related activities.
Moving to Portsmouth, VA – The FAQs
Is Portsmouth, VA a good place to live?
Yes, especially if you are a first-time homebuyer. In fact, Portsmouth is number one on the list of markets for first-time homebuyers. Portsmouth also gets high marks for diversity, amenities, and schools.
Is it expensive to live in Portsmouth, VA?
It is not as expensive as some other places in the United States. The cost of living in Portsmouth is actually lower than the national average by 3 percent.
Should I move to Portsmouth, VA?
It depends on your preferences and circumstances, but we consider Portsmouth, VA to be both family-friendly and affordable. You’ll enjoy well-maintained infrastructure, access to nature, tons of employment opportunities, and more.
Ready to move to Portsmouth, VA?
For more information about moving to Portsmouth, VA, check out the resources available at Moving.com, such as the City Profile Report feature. Simply enter the zip code or the state and city of your potential move to get a free report with city demographics, real estate information, and quality of life factors.
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