Retiring in Charlottesville

Nestled at the cusp of nature yet within reach of all the culture, history and conveniences you could desire, Charlottesville is a true haven within Virginia’s Piedmont region. This city was founded in 1762 and has been attracting residents of all ages for over 250 years. One of its most influential residents was none other than Founding Father himself, President Thomas Jefferson. Not long after Charlottesville’s founding, Jefferson constructed his country home, Monticello, in the city. Just 40 years later, in 1819, he established what remains a pinnacle of the region, the University of Virginia (UVA). Our college town offers plenty of charm, which appeals not just to students and young professionals, but also to mature residents and retirees. These factors, combined with Charlottesville’s location in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, make it easy to see why so many people 55 and older are choosing Charlottesville for their retirement.  

Our pleasant city houses approximately 47,000 permanent residents and several thousand college students, over 30 percent of which join Charlottesville from out of state. With a location just 100 miles from Washington, D.C. and 70 miles northwest of Richmond, Charlottesville boasts convenient proximity to major metropolitan areas while still offering a respite from the hustle and bustle. In fact, a slower pace of life is a hallmark of living in Charlottesville, despite its underlying college-town spirit. Between the vibrant downtown area, its award-winning restaurants and its wonderful array of shops, there are lush green spaces, wide-open parks and ample opportunities to immerse yourself in the glories of the great outdoors. And luckily for residents, the weather tends to cooperate. The average high in July and August – the two hottest months – is around 87 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas the coldest months, January and February, rarely see daytime temperatures below 45 degrees. The United States sees approximately 205 days of sunshine each year, but not Charlottesville; our little slice of mountainside heaven offers upwards of 219 sunny days annually. It is no wonder that Livability ranked Charlottesville as number 5 on its 2021 list of Top 100 Best Places to Live in America and CNBC rated Virginia as number two on its list of the Ten Best States in the U.S. to Spend Your Retirement in 2022. You will see why, too, as you discover why Charlottesville is one of the best places to open the next chapter.

Who will like retirement in Charlottesville?

Are you a history buff? A wine lover? Perhaps you enjoy arts and culture? On the surface, Charlottesville shines as an intellectual hub. The University of Virginia is one of the top colleges in America, ranked first on U.S. News and World Report’s 2022 list of the Best Colleges and National Universities. As you delve deeper into the city’s essence, though, it is easy to see the many layers that make it the special destination that it is. 

Charlottesville is the county seat of Albemarle County – a municipality that dates to the early part of the 18th century. This lends itself to loads of historical sites to discover, both in Charlottesville and within the surrounding area. Monticello, along with UVA, forms a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The region’s other historical treasures include President James Monroe’s home, the Highland; Michie Tavern, a still operational tavern that opened in 1784; numerous historic homes and cottages; the Paramount Theater; and even an old jailhouse downtown. 

The fertile lands of the Piedmont make Charlottesville a premier wine region – a fact that Thomas Jefferson foresaw in his time but was unable to bring to fruition. These days, Charlottesville lies along the renowned Monticello Wine Trail. This trail is formed by over 40 participating wineries and vineyards, all within 25 miles of Charlottesville. If the thought of a luscious glass of wine does not inspire you, maybe the fact that Charlottesville houses a slew of home-grown breweries, distilleries and cideries will pique your interest. Grab a glass and toast to the tranquil mountain views and your golden years.

What else is there to do in Charlottesville?

As you might expect from a college town, there is always something going on around town. The sports teams at UVA are fantastic. The football team has a spirited local following and offers excitement under the lights of Scott Stadium. The basketball team, lead by four-time ACC Coach of the Year, Tony Bennett, won the NCAA National Championship in 2019. Also at the University, the UVA Art Museum hosts frequent exhibitions that the community is welcome to explore. 

Charlottesville has an active events calendar brimming with cultural activities, concerts and attractions that draw the attention of residents of all walks of life. The annual festival docket includes options such as the Virginia Festival of the Book, the Virginia Film Festival, the Tom Tom Festival, Martha’s Market, the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello and the Heritage Theater Festival. In addition to these events, there are farmers’ markets in the spring and summer months and various races and walks to participate in throughout the year. Enjoy live arts at the community theater, and the Second Street Gallery is a fantastic place to immerse yourself in local contemporary art. If it is music that you enjoy most, the Ting Pavilion hosts big-name bands during regular ticketed events and hosts free concert series throughout the summer called Fridays After Five. 

The Downtown Mall is the beating heart of Charlottesville. This eight-block pedestrian mall is one of the longest in the United States. Here you can peruse the offerings of over 120 stores and thirty-plus restaurants that represent cultures globally. As a whole, if it is great gastronomy you seek, Charlottesville is the place to be. According to a Huffington Post List of the 15 Cities With the Highest Restaurants Per Capita, Charlottesville ranks 14th. This puts our beloved city in the ranks with big hitters like Seattle, New York City and San Francisco.

What about Charlottesville’s natural surroundings?

If your vision for retirement is peace and quiet surrounded by nothing by wide-open skies, dense forests and idyllic mountain views, Charlottesville has lots of that, too. We are located less than half an hour from Shenandoah National Park, and there are many parks and green spaces throughout the city and surrounding region that allow you to get in touch with nature. 

For hiking and scenic walks try: 

For water sports, including fishing, boating and kayaking:

Local parks with walking trails, picnic spaces and great amenities: 

  • Riverview Park
  • McIntire Park
  • Pen Park
  • Azalea Park
  • Tonsler Park
  • Darden Towe Park

Are there golf courses in Charlottesville?

Albemarle County’s stunning natural surroundings and rolling terrain lend it to being an ideal place for golf. Whether you expect to spend a significant portion of your retirement on the links or just want to pick up a game with your friends from time to time, Charlottesville and the surrounding area have plenty of options for a quick nine or a full eighteen. Some local golf clubs have even been recognized in national publications like Golf Digest. Test your skill on courses like:

For retirees who treat golf as a lifestyle rather than a hobby, there are several golf communities in the Charlottesville area. These neighborhoods are built in a variety of styles and include homes in a wide range of prices, allowing buyers in a wide range of budgets to enjoy their amenities and scenic atmosphere. 

  • Old Trail – Located in Crozet, this neighborhood offers direct access to Old Trail Golf Club, as well as amenities like a community pool, walking trails and parklands. Even more, there is a neighborhood Village Center with eateries, a coffee shop, a spa and numerous shops.
  • Glenmore – This neighborhood is in Keswick, just outside Charlottesville. Residents of Glenmore enjoy year-round country club access that includes golf, tennis, swimming and social activities. There is also an equestrian center here.
  • Spring Creek – Enjoy a mixture of homes, ranging from cottages to estates, and access to sidewalks, a clubhouse, a private swimming pool and, of course, golf.
  • Farmington – Residents of this neighborhood are wrapped in Southern charm, with classic architecture and large, private lots. This neighborhood is set along the greens of one of the oldest private golf clubs in America, Farmington Country Club, and offers tennis, swimming, a fitness center and more at the country club.
  • Keswick Estates – This is a secure gated community with two acre-plus homesites and gorgeous architecture. Residents have access to the rolling greens of Full Cry at Keswick Golf Club, a course designed by the famed Peter Dye.
  • Lake Monticello – About 15 minutes outside of Charlottesville lies this residential paradise. The community encompasses 3,500 acres and includes a lake, five beaches, tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course and more.

How are the retirement communities?

One of the great things about being retired is having time to do the things you enjoy, and as you can see, there are plenty of options to fill your days in the Charlottesville region. This being said, it can be difficult to find peers to spend your time with if you are new to the city or live in an area surrounded by younger adults. There is no need to worry about this in Charlottesville, though, as there are a number of planned active adult communities for Baby boomers and individuals over 55 years of age. These neighborhoods offer safe harbors and friendly surroundings in which to connect with individuals in a similar stage of life. Some of these planned communities include:

  • The Villages at Nahor
  • Village Oaks
  • Rivanna Village
  • Ednam Forest
  • Lake Monticello
  • Branchlands
  • Brookmill 
  • Spring Creek

What does it cost to live in Charlottesville?

As of February 2022, the average cost of a home in Charlottesville, Virginia, was around $431,500. This is a little higher than the state of Virginia (the average home price in Virginia is $350,000), but living in this diverse locale comes with all of the amenities listed above and myriad others. According to a study conducted by Credit Karma, Virginia ranks as the 31st state out of America’s 50 in terms of affordability. Though the overall cost of living may be in the higher half of the United States, the property taxes are lower than the national average, at 0.8 percent of the assessed value. Property taxes range around the 1 percent mark nationally. Further, the sales tax is lower in Charlottesville and Virginia as a whole, lowering the cost of living and allowing the state to rank in the top ten most affordable states in America for sales tax.

Are there good health care options?

Spending your retirement in Charlottesville means you are just minutes from world-class healthcare, should you ever need it. The UVA Medical Center is one of the top-rated medical facilities in the United States and is ranked as number two on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Best Hospitals in Virginia. Further, the publication recognized five of the hospital’s children’s specialties as some of the best in the nation and six of its adult specialties and fifteen procedures and conditions as high performing. Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital is a private hospital in Charlottesville that also offers top-notch care. It has served the community with pride for nearly 120 years.

Is it easy to get around in Charlottesville?

You are never too far from those you love when you live in the Charlottesville region. Interstate 64 and U.S. Routes 250 and 29 pass through Charlottesville and provide access throughout the state and beyond. The Charlottesville Albemarle Airport offers flights to six major cities: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York LaGuardia and Washington, D.C. Charlottesville has its own Amtrak Station through which trains like the Cardinal, the Crescent and the Northeast Regional trains explore the Eastern Seaboard. And in terms of public transit, there is no lack in that department. Explore the city on the local bus system, Charlottesville Area Transit, or join Charlottesville’s free trolley system to explore the busiest part of the city, from Downtown Mall to the Amtrak Station, UVA Hospital, UVA, and the Rotunda.

What are some other reasons to choose Charlottesville for retirement?

In 2019, Kiplinger rated Charlottesville, Virginia as its number one choice for the 10 Happiest Places to Retire in the U.S. Their reasoning then rings just as true today as it did then. In addition to providing a rich environment that encourages residents of all ages to stay active, informed and part of the community, Charlottesville boasts a cost of living that is below the national average for retirees. There are no state taxes on social security benefits, and the state offers an income tax deduction of up to $12,000 per person for individuals who are 65 and older. As mentioned above, the sales tax rate is also appealing, with Charlottesville’s being around 5.3 percent. 

If you want to start afresh in your next chapter, the local economy in Charlottesville is booming with opportunity. Industries like education, medicine, tourism, agriculture and construction offer ample options for part-time or full-time employment. Retirement is different for everyone, and luckily, our great city offers options that cater to every lifestyle. In the heart of Virginia and the hearts of its residents, Charlottesville shines as a city that welcomes all.