Living in Virginia Beach as an expatriate

Caffeinate Your Virginia Beach Expat Journey: Find Essential Info and Connect with Expatriates Today

Image of Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a bustling coastal city in southeastern Virginia, USA. Lovingly dubbed the 'Resort City' due to its picturesque beaches, amusement parks, and numerous outdoor recreational activities, the city boasts a thriving economy and dynamic culture. The city's economy is diversified, with key industries like finance, IT, healthcare, education, and tourism driving growth. With its coastal climate, Virginia Beach offers a plethora of outdoor activities, from kayaking in the bay to hiking in the state parks, bicycling on the boardwalk, and surfing in the ocean. The city's population is culturally diverse, with a sizable expat community, making it an attractive destination for international talent.

Tips for expats in Virginia Beach

Visa requirements

Expats in Virginia Beach must obtain the appropriate visa based on their purpose of stay in the United States. The most commonly issued visas for expats working or studying in the city include the H1-B visa for specialized workers, the J-1 visa for exchange students and scholars, and the L-1 visa for intra-company transfers. Expats are advised to consult the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for the latest visa information and requirements.

Language resources

Expats in Virginia Beach can enhance their spoken English skills through a variety of resources. Many companies and organizations offer English language classes and workshops on campus or online, while several local libraries host bilingual story hours for children and families. The city's cultural centers, such as the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, offer multilingual exhibits and programs to promote cultural exchange and education.

Cost of living for expats in Virginia Beach

Housing

The cost of living in Virginia Beach is moderate compared to other urban centers in the United States. However, rental prices can be quite steep due to the city's high demand for housing. A one-bedroom apartment in a busy area of the city can cost around $1,100 to $1,500 per month, while a two-bedroom apartment can cost between $1,500 to $2,000 per month. Expat families looking for three-bedroom houses can expect to pay between $1,800 to $2,500 per month. Utilities like water, electricity, and gas are relatively affordable, with monthly bills averaging $150 to $200.

Groceries

The cost of groceries in Virginia Beach can vary based on the type of produce and brand. Expats can expect to pay around $250 to $350 per month for a family of four, with higher prices in specialty stores and lower prices in discount supermarkets. Healthy food options, like fruits and vegetables, are widely available in the city's grocery stores and farmers' markets.

Transportation

Car ownership is essential in Virginia Beach due to the city's suburban layout and lack of public transportation. Expats can expect to pay around $3,500 to $5,00 for a used car, and around $200 to $300 per month for car insurance, registration, and maintenance. Expats are advised to comparison-shop for car insurance rates as premiums can vary significantly based on factors like age, driving record, and credit score.

Climate in Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach has a humid subtropical climate characterized by hot summers and mild winters. Temperatures in the summer months (June to August) range from 69°F (21°C) to 84°F (29°C). In winter, temperatures range from 36°F (2°C) to 49°F (9°C). The city typically experiences a weekly rainfall of 1.86 inches (4.73 centimeters). Although Virginia Beach is not prone to extreme weather events, the city lies in a region that is vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms. Residents are advised to take necessary precautions during the hurricane season (June to November).

Job market in Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach has a thriving job market catering to different industries. The city is home to several large employers, including Sentara Healthcare, Chesapeake Regional Healthcare, Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Virginia, and the City of Virginia Beach. Chesapeake Business Park, located to the west of the city, is home to several tech, finance and professional services companies, including Newport News Shipbuilding, Old Dominion University - Virginia Beach Campus, and Veritas Preparatory School. The job market in Virginia Beach offers ample opportunities for expats in various fields, including healthcare, education, information technology, finance, and professional services.

Healthcare in Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach has a well-established healthcare system that caters to the diverse population. Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital is considered the primary teaching hospital in Hampton Roads, serving as one of the two Level I trauma centers in the region. The hospital has 744 beds and provides a wide range of specialized medical care and services. Chesapeake Regional Medical Center (CRMC) is another major healthcare facility, featuring a 274-bed hospital and a medical park that includes 50-plus specialty practices and providers. The city also has several well-regarded medical practices, clinics, and nursing facilities that offer a full range of medical services from primary care to specialized services.

Transport in Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach's public transport system is run by Hampton Roads Transit (HRT). The city has an extensive network of buses that connect various neighborhoods, commercial centers, and hospitals. The system also includes the SCRT Light Rail, a 10.5-mile elevated rail system connecting downtown Norfolk and Virginia Beach's Oceanfront area. While public transportation is relatively affordable, many residents opt for cars due to the city's sprawling urban layout and the proximity of their homes and workplaces. Virginia Beach has several major roadways, including US Route 60, US Route 13, and Virginia Beach Boulevard, which connect the city to nearby suburbs and urban centers.

Safety in Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is considered a safe city for expats due to its low crime rate. The city has a dedicated police department that employs over 660 sworn officers and 156 civilians. The department offers specialized units for investigating crimes like narcotics, gangs, and cybercrime. However, it's essential to exercise caution in certain areas, particularly in Southside, a census-designated place located to the southeast of Virginia Beach that's considered less safe than most parts of the city. Expats are advised to follow the police department's safety tips, avoid carrying large amounts of cash, and be wary of street crimes like pick-pocketing, purse snatching, and mugging.

Neighborhoods in Virginia Beach

  1. Oceanfront

    Oceanfront is a bustling neighborhood crowded with high-rise oceanfront condominiums, beach houses, and luxury hotels overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The neighborhood is home to several popular attractions, including the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, the Ocean Breeze Waterpark, and the Neptune Statue, a grand bronze sculpture of the sea god Neptune greeting pedestrians at the entrance of the boardwalk.

  2. Chesapeake Beach

    Chesapeake Beach is a scenic neighborhood located near the Chesapeake Bay, spanning vast swaths of picturesque cottages, waterfront mansions, parks, and yacht clubs. The neighborhood is a haven for beach-goers, anglers, and nature enthusiasts, hosting several nearby parks such as First Landing State Park, where hikers can explore wooden walkways across salt marshes.

Attractions in Virginia Beach

  1. Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

    The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is a non-profit educational institution located in Virginia Beach. The center houses a broad array of marine animals, including sharks, sea turtles, otters, and penguins. The center is part of the Virginia Maritime Academy and offers a range of educational programs and field trips for schoolchildren and families, as well as stunning coastal views from the roof of the Aquarium.

  2. Mount Trashmore Park

    Mount Trashmore Park is a recreational hub for locals and tourists alike, featuring 165 acres of manicured gardens, scenic lakes, nature trails, and breathtaking views of the Chesapeake Bay. The park is home to several sports facilities for basketball, tennis, and soccer. Families can enjoy picnicking, grilling, boating, fishing, and paddleboarding on the tranquil artificial lake.

International Schools in Virginia Beach

  1. American International School

    4349 Courtyard Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23455, United States

    The American International School (AIS) is an accredited, private school serving students from Pre-K3 to Grade 12. AIS offers a rigorous and globally-aligned academic curriculum and focuses on developing dynamic, bilingual, and culturally competent students. The school also provides the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme, which emphasizes inquiry, intercultural understanding, and a second language. Located in the prestigious South Buckner neighborhood, near the Elizabeth River and the Chesapeake Bay, AIS offers students a perfect balance between academic rigor and coastal beauty.

Useful expat resources in Virginia Beach

Expat destinations in United States