Author Topic: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?  (Read 10291 times)

oldtoyota

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Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« on: September 03, 2014, 08:07:21 PM »
I figure someone--dragoncar?--will offer up an anti-WVa joke or two. =-)

Seriously, though, I was wondering about moving to WVa in 3-7 years after I FIRE. The houses are cheaper, yet we'd be only a few hours to DC. Lack of culture is a downside, yet we could venture into DC for day trips. On the good side, nature would be close in the form of the mountains, the river, and the C&O canal.

I found condos for way under $100K. Housing prices run the gamut. They can range from the typical crazy DC prices of $500K to over $1MM or be lower and more "normal" at prices around $100-$200K.

I tried looking up income tax rates for the state, and they have several tiers. It looks to me like they have one rate for your first $10K and then another rate for your next $XXK and so on. That makes it hard to know how much I'd be paying for income tax, and I could not find real estate tax info.

  • Do you know of a reliable source where I could compare MD real estate tax rates to WVa real estate tax rates?
  • Do you have experience with West Virginia and have opinions on living there?

mlipps

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2014, 08:39:14 PM »
I grew up just over the river, in OH. If anyone wants to talk crap about WV, I'll virtually beat them up. :)

Unfortunately, not having lived there, I can't speak to their property tax system, but I'd be surprised if taxes are high due to the state having pretty poor public schools on the whole & also having substantial revenue from coal mining.

What I can say is that it would be hard to overstate the cultural differences between the average Washingtonian and the average West Virginian. On the one hand, you only need one group of friends and you could probably find people that you have things in common with (I'm imagining you to be fairly liberal, agnostic/non-religious, and used to living the urban life here), and I personally would not not move somewhere just because people might be different than me, especially if you don't have any forced socializing at work & can be choosy about who you spend time. But, I do find it hard to find much in common with many of my former classmates & family members after living away from the area for 7 years. We just don't have many common interests, be those political, religious (or lack there of), food, etc.

There is also still a lot of prejudice in the area, especially about gay marriage/homosexuality and also still certainly a fair share of racism, although I would say that most in my generation (mid-20's) have progressed beyond that. For example, I went on a date with a black man once in Huntington (I'm white) and was sitting on a bench with him holding hands. This old man walked up and start rambling about how people would tell us that we were wrong but we made a cute couple and we shouldn't listen to them. It was quite weird, but I guess better than the opposite response!

Personally, I found it hard to move to DC after growing up there & then living in Chicago for 4 years. I was just amazed at how expensive it was in DC, but also at how rude people could be. But, I can also imagine that going the opposite way would be equally jarring. Have you lived in DC your whole life? 

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2014, 09:00:41 PM »
I went to school on the border, so I've spent a lot of time in WVa, but the far western edge (Wheeling up to Weirton). Seems like a nice state, but pretty dirty and run down, being in the rust belt.

mlipps

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2014, 09:24:42 PM »
Wheeling is pretty bad. Small town with big city problems.

But, it reminds me, much of Northern WV is also a quick drive away from Pittsburgh, which is a fabulous town. It's not DC, but it makes for a lovely weekend visit. Food is great, cool arts scene, fun sports games, and some high quality museums.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2014, 09:29:42 PM »
Wheeling is pretty bad. Small town with big city problems.

But, it reminds me, much of Northern WV is also a quick drive away from Pittsburgh, which is a fabulous town. It's not DC, but it makes for a lovely weekend visit. Food is great, cool arts scene, fun sports games, and some high quality museums.

Pittsburgh is rad. Confusing as hell to drive in, but cool nonetheless, excepting one of my best friends who got carjacked at gunpoint a couple weeks ago.

bogart

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2014, 09:33:12 PM »
It's stunningly beautiful.  My DH's family is from there and significant fractions still live there.  They live in the middle of the state, deeply religious (fundamentalist Christians) and a very tightly knit extended family.  My sense is they are some of many that fit that description.  I find the place very friendly, in an old-boy sort of way (don't visibly violate norms and everyone will be kind to you).

I was surprised to see on this map that not every SINGLE county in the state appears in orange:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/26/upshot/where-are-the-hardest-places-to-live-in-the-us.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A11%22%7D&abt=0002&abg=1

If I were planning to have a medical emergency, I don't think that's the state I'd want to be in when it happened.

mlipps

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2014, 09:36:11 PM »
Wheeling is pretty bad. Small town with big city problems.

But, it reminds me, much of Northern WV is also a quick drive away from Pittsburgh, which is a fabulous town. It's not DC, but it makes for a lovely weekend visit. Food is great, cool arts scene, fun sports games, and some high quality museums.

Pittsburgh is rad. Confusing as hell to drive in, but cool nonetheless, excepting one of my best friends who got carjacked at gunpoint a couple weeks ago.

Always always always get in lost in that crazy town! But it's worth it.

mlipps

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2014, 09:39:09 PM »
It's stunningly beautiful.  My DH's family is from there and significant fractions still live there.  They live in the middle of the state, deeply religious (fundamentalist Christians) and a very tightly knit extended family.  My sense is they are some of many that fit that description.  I find the place very friendly, in an old-boy sort of way (don't visibly violate norms and everyone will be kind to you).

I was surprised to see on this map that not every SINGLE county in the state appears in orange:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/26/upshot/where-are-the-hardest-places-to-live-in-the-us.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A11%22%7D&abt=0002&abg=1

If I were planning to have a medical emergency, I don't think that's the state I'd want to be in when it happened.

The medical emergency point is a very good one, although the same can be said of any rural area. At home, you always know a wreck is bad if the person was flown  to Charleston and really bad if they go to Columbus or Cleveland. Pittsburgh has great hospitals though.

arebelspy

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2014, 09:40:58 PM »
I believe it's not as far east as Virginia.

I figure someone--dragoncar?--will offer up an anti-WVa joke or two. =-)

Since this hasn't happened yet, here's some for you (just repurposed other jokes with West Virginia shoved in there, but still some funny ones): http://www.jokes4us.com/miscellaneousjokes/worldjokes/westvirginiajokes.html
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User3

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2014, 10:27:20 PM »
You might want to consider the Shenandoah Valley of VA, specifically Harrisonburg <-> Winchester: right along I81, with I66 and I64 to take you to Nova or Richmond. Low property taxes, reasonable home values, just as beautiful as WVA, closer to Nova/DC, better medical facilities (RMH and WMC respectively - with reasonable helicopter access to UVA). Depending on the exact location, you'd be a bit clown car dependent, but that'd be doubly so further west.

Roots&Wings

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2014, 06:32:01 AM »
My aunt and her husband live near Lewisburg, WVa.  They love it there.  Tons of parks/mountains for hiking, many talented local artisans, arts/theater at the Carnegie Hall, they're into the local food/back-to-the-land thing and seem to have a great community for that. 

The snowy winters, windy mountainous roads, and high-ish taxes (http://www.retirementliving.com/taxes-new-york-wyoming#WESTVIRGINIA) aren't for me though :)

oldtoyota

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2014, 07:57:27 AM »
I believe it's not as far east as Virginia.

I figure someone--dragoncar?--will offer up an anti-WVa joke or two. =-)

Since this hasn't happened yet, here's some for you (just repurposed other jokes with West Virginia shoved in there, but still some funny ones): http://www.jokes4us.com/miscellaneousjokes/worldjokes/westvirginiajokes.html

Ha! I can't believe this thread went *this* long without West Virginia jokes. =-)

oldtoyota

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2014, 08:03:28 AM »
Thanks, all!

You're right, of course, about the mindsets and poverty. When I worked to repair houses out there, I saw up close what the poverty was like for certain areas and I was made fun of for believing in science when it came to the creation of man.

However, I've also been to a fancy WVa dinner party with someone who said he was a "tycoon." I thought he was kidding, and then I later realized he probably was a tycoon. There are these pockets of extreme wealth in West Virginia with a lot of poverty between them. It's strange.

Of course, the areas with the wealthy are nicer and, therefore, more expensive. I have found this to be the case in the more appealing and "historic" areas.

Yes. I have lived in DC most of my life, so I am accustomed to the snobbery and still horrified at the racism (the brown people must be the help!) that comes with it, especially from people who claim to be so open minded. Granted, some of the snobbery I have noticed comes from foreign nationals using their country's taxes to live a fat life in the US (I pay $90K/year for my kids to attend a fancy school!).




zolotiyeruki

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2014, 08:12:16 AM »
Haven't lived there myself, but vacationed for a week in Canaan valley a few years back.  Absolutely jaw-droppingly gorgeous.

bo_knows

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2014, 08:20:08 AM »
My in-laws retired from suburban DC to Shepherdstown WV nearly 10 years ago.  Shepherdstown is a college town that is right on the border of WV/MD and is just about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes from DC.  Being that it's a college town, they love it for the culture.  Film society, access to the art center of the university (plays, musicals, orchestra, etc), good bike paths along the canal, and a decent amount of things within bikeable distance in town.  They love it there.  The rest of WV? Maybe they don't enjoy it as much, but they do enjoy their college town.

MandalayVA

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2014, 10:17:58 AM »
My husband's sister and her husband moved to Charleston WV last year and we paid them a visit.  It's a nice little city.  They're big hikers so they enjoy that, and there's a decent cultural/restaurant scene. 

gecko10x

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #16 on: September 04, 2014, 10:59:40 AM »
I live in Morgantown, WV (it's in the highest ranking county (Monongalia) in that map above). Been here for about 13 years.

Most of the above points seem accurate enough. I can't really speak to the rest of the state, but Morgantown has OK culture with WVU here, and you're just over an hour from Pittsburgh, and about 3hrs from DC.

State Income tax is up to 6.5%, which never occurred to me to be high, but isn't low either. Try this for comparisons.

Property taxes: WV still has personal property tax for vehicles, which I hate. Real estate taxes though are very low- for instance, here's my counties Levy rate information. Tax on a $200k house outside of city limits is just under $1200/yr.

Housing prices though are all over the map. Desirable locations tend to be few and far between because of the topography, so prices rise quickly in those locations. But if you want to be out in the middle of nowhere, houses can be really cheap.

One of my biggest complaints is traffic. I'm sure it's nothing like DC, but due to the mountains, typically there are only 1 or 2 roads that you can take to any given location, and they are frequently too small (again due to the grade) and/or in poor shape.

I'd be happy to answer specific questions about my location if you have any.

gecko10x

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2014, 11:01:15 AM »
I went to school on the border, so I've spent a lot of time in WVa, but the far western edge (Wheeling up to Weirton). Seems like a nice state, but pretty dirty and run down, being in the rust belt.

I'd agree that that part of the state is pretty bad. Wheeling itself isn't terrible, but up the panhandle is.

ABC123

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2014, 11:05:12 AM »
My husband has family in Charleston and in Beckley.  I have visited several times.  His cousins are all extremely smart (one is currently halfway through med school) so apparently the public schools aren't completely useless.  The scenery sure can't be beat.  If you are an outdoorsy person, there would be plenty to do.  And Charleston always had a lot going on the times we have been there. 

frugalone

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2014, 11:14:24 AM »
I live in Columbiana County OH - right across the river from WV.   My son is a WV State Police Office (trooper) in Logan County.
WV is beautiful but a culture shock.  Housing prices are CRAZY high in most counties as most are rentals for the coal miners. 
They have no credit but big checks and can fork out the rental payment.  The landscape is mostly mountains so any house with flat land is a fortune.

oldtoyota

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #20 on: September 04, 2014, 11:57:16 AM »
Haven't lived there myself, but vacationed for a week in Canaan valley a few years back.  Absolutely jaw-droppingly gorgeous.

I love Canaan Valley!

oldtoyota

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #21 on: September 04, 2014, 11:58:15 AM »
My in-laws retired from suburban DC to Shepherdstown WV nearly 10 years ago.  Shepherdstown is a college town that is right on the border of WV/MD and is just about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes from DC.  Being that it's a college town, they love it for the culture.  Film society, access to the art center of the university (plays, musicals, orchestra, etc), good bike paths along the canal, and a decent amount of things within bikeable distance in town.  They love it there.  The rest of WV? Maybe they don't enjoy it as much, but they do enjoy their college town.

I do, too. Expensive though. This same town is where the "tycoon" lives. Very white, too.

TrulyStashin

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #22 on: September 04, 2014, 03:43:10 PM »
I have good friends who live near Franklin, WVA.   They love it there and are FIRE, but it has enough drawbacks that they continue to keep a second home near Richmond.  Most recently, they wanted to add on to their WVA home and, though they are intrepid DIY'ers, the job is beyond what they can do.  They have been utterly unable to find anyone who will do the project.  It's too remote and not profit-heavy enough to entice contractors to bid.

The lack of good medical care and decent grocery stores has been an issue too.  A recent mishap with a chainsaw sent my friend on a three-hour drive to Harrisonburg, VA for medical treatment.

I second the idea for you to look in the Shenandoah Valley of VA -- Harrisonburg, Winchester, or perhaps Culpeper might be good options.  If you want a small city, Richmond is wonderful and increasingly bike-friendly.  Virginia's economy is very resilient, we're pretty balanced politically (purple), and our taxes are pretty low.  DC is a short train ride north.  The beach or the mountains are short drives away.

gimp

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2014, 04:16:20 PM »
WVa is absolutely beautiful, and almost absolutely devoid of interesting work. Since that's not an issue for you, why not?

walt61588

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #24 on: September 04, 2014, 05:17:47 PM »
We lived in Martinsburg, WV(Berkeley county) for about 5 years after moving from Loudoun county from 2003-2008.  Two areas I would recommend if you want to move there would be Shepherdstown or Berkeley Springs because there are things to do.  Make a trip to Berkeley Springs if you ever get a chance.  Otherwise, you might find yourself traveling a lot to get to places you want to visit.  I was not a huge fan on living in WV and the quality of the schools was a school by school basis.  WV underpays their teachers.  Not sure if you had school age children.


Mini-Mer

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #25 on: September 04, 2014, 07:14:20 PM »
It's almost heaven!  (This thread is much too long to not have that referenced...)

...Almost.  I moved away as a kid and have visited Charleston a few times as an adult.  Charleston seems like a good smallish city - I got the sense that there was plenty to do, and a decent selection of ethnic food and cultural actiivities.  The hiking must be fantastic... But you don't have to go far out of town for it to get very rural and impoverished. (Conversations I've had with people who grew up just outside Charleston support that.)  The people also lean more conservative than I'm used to in my red-state big city, and particularly anti-environmental conservation due to the coal/chemical industries.  But it really is gorgeous.

Other posters have noted the difficulty of travel and lack of nearby medical services.  I was present for a medical emergency in a semi-remote rural area, and it was not fun.  The EMS team was admirably fast but all arrived separately; nearest hospital 30 minute drive; nearest hospital with relevant specialists: 2 hour drive.  The patient was hospitalized for a couple months, the nearest family had a 4-hour round-trip to visit, and that's on my list as a situation to be avoided if possible.

JoSo

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #26 on: September 05, 2014, 08:37:07 AM »
"I was wondering about moving to WVa in 3-7 years after I FIRE. The houses are cheaper, yet we'd be only a few hours to DC. Lack of culture is a downside, yet we could venture into DC for day trips. On the good side, nature would be close in the form of the mountains, the river, and the C&O canal. Housing prices run the gamut. I tried looking up income tax rates for the state, and they have several tiers. It looks to me like they have one rate for your first $10K and then another rate for your next $XXK and so on. Do you know of a reliable source where I could compare MD real estate tax rates to WVa real estate tax rates?  Do you have experience with West Virginia and have opinions on living there?"



I moved to WV from the DC area in '05 and have been doing the clown car commute ever since then.  When I discovered MMM a couple of years ago, I thought I can do that and will be FIRE at the end of this year when I'm going to retire full time to WV.  I much prefer WV over (IMHO) the rude, snobbery, elitism of the DC area. We live in rural, southern WV in Fayette County.  Unless you're heavily into the great outdoors, I wouldn't recommend it, but would very highly recommend Lewisburg if you're looking for a small town or Charleston if you're looking for a small city.  Both have plenty of culture, natural beauty, things to do, and friendly people to keep you occupied.  I've never considered WV to lack culture.  Quite frankly, I found it difficult to fork over $100+ per ticket to go to the Arena Stage in DC whereas you can buy a whole season of tickets at the theaters in Charleston or Lewisburg for approx. the same price, and the performances are just as good.  A decent house in the exclusive South Hills neighborhood in Charleston (25314) will run you about $200K, but prices vary dramatically depending on what you want.  You can find homes for under $100K to over $1 million in South Hills.  The schools in that neighborhood are top notch, but other areas of WV are seriously lacking in the education department.  I find all taxes in general to be fairly high in WV, but that's all relative.  I'm originally from FL where there's no income tax, personal property taxes on autos, food tax, etc., but I'm sure someone from the DC area would think the taxes are low.  We pay $1200 for our $85K rental house in South Hills, but I think it would be less if it was owner occupied.  They're lower in Fayette County.  Regarding medical care, if you're in Charleston or Morgantown, you'll have no shortage of good doctors, but if you're rural, you'll have to drive further.  Regarding politics, people are generally socially conservative, but it's a very blue dog democrat state.  If you look at our politicians, you'll see that republicans are very rarely elected to any office.  Finally, I would just add that I love WV and am happy to be here.  If you choose to live a financially conservative, Mustachian lifestyle, your money should go far.  Let me know if you have any further questions, and if you'd like to come visit the area, we'd be happy to put you up for the night.

MandalayVA

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #27 on: September 05, 2014, 10:45:04 AM »
I second the idea for you to look in the Shenandoah Valley of VA -- Harrisonburg, Winchester, or perhaps Culpeper might be good options.  If you want a small city, Richmond is wonderful and increasingly bike-friendly.  Virginia's economy is very resilient, we're pretty balanced politically (purple), and our taxes are pretty low.  DC is a short train ride north.  The beach or the mountains are short drives away.

Hello, fellow RVAer! (waves)

To the OP--I live in the Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond and there are quite a few retirees here, both of the traditional sort and FIREs.  We've been here for three years (lived in the 'burbs for eleven years before that) and even in that short time Richmond has changed a lot, mostly for the better.  Like any city it has its problems, but the national media is increasingly recognizing it as a pretty cool place to live.  I think so anyway.  :D

mozar

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #28 on: September 05, 2014, 09:22:15 PM »
+1 Shepardstown and the annual Road Kill festival.

oldtoyota

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Re: Anyone Live in West Virginia? Or, Have Opinions on It?
« Reply #29 on: September 06, 2014, 12:56:57 PM »

I second the idea for you to look in the Shenandoah Valley of VA -- Harrisonburg, Winchester, or perhaps Culpeper might be good options.  If you want a small city, Richmond is wonderful and increasingly bike-friendly.  Virginia's economy is very resilient, we're pretty balanced politically (purple), and our taxes are pretty low.  DC is a short train ride north.  The beach or the mountains are short drives away.

This is useful info. Thanks! I like the Richmond art museum a lot.