Survive and Thrive: Norfolk


I spent 11 years in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area and when it was time to PCS, truly felt I was leaving my village. When getting orders to Norfolk Naval Station, one will soon find out that Hampton Roads has so much to offer and a variety of options when it comes to where to live. There are multiple duty station options nearby. Besides the Norfolk Naval Base, there is Little Creek, Oceana Air Station, Fort Eustis, Langley, and numerous Coast Guard Bases, just to name a few. This can come in handy if you want to stay in one area for an extended period of time. With its strong military presence, Hampton Roads has so much to offer in the way of support and services for a military family.

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Where to live. The areas surrounding Norfolk Naval Base are all individual cities, with their own school systems. The cities of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Suffolk seem to be the most popular in terms of where service members tend to live. My advice is to figure out what is most important to you in terms of distance from base, schools, housing type, and amenities in order to narrow your search. Each of these cities have different things to offer and their own pros and cons. Many people purchase a home when stationed in Norfolk. If that’s on your radar, the median home price for all of Hampton Roads is $225,000, but this value varies slightly within each of the cities.

Tunnels, Bridges, and Tolls, Oh My! Yes, to live in Hampton Roads and commute in here means you will undoubtedly use a bridge and/or a tunnel on a regular basis. This should be a consideration when deciding where to live. Two of the major tunnels that lead to Norfolk Naval Base have tolls.

Attractions abound. Luckily, there is plenty to see and do in the area, and many of the local museums offer military discounts on yearly memberships.  Some of my favorites include: the Norfolk Zoo, Living Museum in Newport News, Virginia Beach Aquarium, Children’s Museum in Portsmouth, and the Nauticus and Wisconsin Battleship museum. Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown are a short drive away and are an amazing opportunity to go back in time and experience early America.

Shopping. Because there are multiple bases in the Norfolk area, there are just as many commissaries. The Norfolk Naval Base and Langley Air Force Base commissaries are the two biggest, but many of the other bases have small commissaries as well. There are many options when it comes to grocery stores off base, too. All of the big chains are there, and both Sam’s Club and BJ’s offer a military membership price. There is a nice mall in Norfolk and Williamsburg Premium Outlets are a short drive away.

Busch Gardens/Water Country. Also a short drive away is Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. As a military member, you are entitled to one free day (with up to three family members) at the parks. However, if you think you would want to go on a more regular basis you can get a Summer Fun Card to go all summer–$15 parking fee not included. My suggestion is to get one single year membership (which includes the price of parking) and the rest Summer Fun Cards to get the most bang for your buck! If you have a preschooler, Busch Gardens has a preschool card for free!

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Sports. Norfolk has a local baseball team, the Tides, which is a fun outing whether you are single, married without children, or bringing the kids. There is also the Norfolk Admirals, a hockey team, part of the ECHL.

Living in Hampton Roads gives you the ability to be at the beach in the Outer Banks in two hours, the mountains of Virginia in 4-5 hours, and Washington DC in 4 hours. Many families love living in Hampton Roads, mine included, not only for all it has to offer, but for its military friendly atmosphere! I would say yes to orders there again, would you?

What are your favorite things about the Norfolk area? Share it with us!

Posted by Jenna Lang, Government Relations Legislative Coordinator

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