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    What to Know for Your PCS Move to Hampton Roads, Virginia

    When researching the most efficient way to master a PCS move to the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, I was surprised to see how many locations were available for military families living and working in the area.

    I was also unaware of how much preparation and understanding would be involved with making a move there. For instance, did you know nine cities compose the Hampton Roads area? Or that the area is becoming more known as the Coastal Virginia Area?

    There's so much to learn about living and working in this unique part of Virginia. Read on for insights on popular cities, housing options, military bases, and family-friendly activities in the area.

    pcs move to hampton roads

    What is considered Hampton Roads, VA?

    Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach are considered the south side of Hampton Roads, while Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, and Williamsburg are located on the Peninsula. 

    After familiarizing yourself with the cities in relation to your new duty station, a quick search of homes near Hampton Roads Virginia military bases on MilitaryByOwner will turn up properties for sale as well as rentals on the market. 

    Understanding this area is similar to understanding the diversity of the National Capital Region, further north in Virginia, if that is a helpful reference. Joint military bases and their needs heavily influence both areas. Although the Navy dominates the Hampton Roads area, all branches are represented and dispersed throughout 16 bases.

    Here's a short list of the major installations your next PCS may take you in the Hampton Roads area:

    pier in Virginia Beach

    Photo from Canva

    Hampton Roads Housing

    You might think of this area as a military town, not a beachside resort, but housing prices reflect those seaside sentiments in some locations. As usual, the further from the coast you reside, the larger homes you can expect to encounter at lower prices, but the commute will probably be longer into work.

    A middle ground possibility may include a (relatively speaking) reasonably priced home that is less updated but districted for a sought-after school or situated in an exceptional location. Military housing is limited, so it makes sense to thoroughly consider off-base options for which will be the best fit for your family. 

    The following are brief descriptions of some of the most popular cities in the Hampton Roads area.


    Colonial charm dominates this area’s style of homes, although the city’s downtown area also provides modern aesthetics and industry. Granby Street offers shopping, including MacArthur Mall, as well as dining and evening activities for the diverse population that enjoys the area. This includes college students from nearby Old Dominion University.

    Neighborhoods in Norfolk: Larchmont, Ghent, East Beach, Colonial Place, Lafayette Shores, Riverpoint, Talbot Park, and many new condos and apartments near Granby and 21st Street.

    Virginia Beach

    Virginia Beach is the most densely populated city in Virginia; however, its extensive boundaries cover many miles.

    These areas are the most popular to consider if moving to this region: Oceanfront Area, Chesapeake Bay Area near Little Creek, Town Center Area, NAS Oceana Area, Courthouse/Amphitheater, Indian River, South Holland Road, and Kempsville Area.

    See this Virginia Beach-specific post for a more in-depth description of the area and military homes for rent.


    Chesapeake is divided into four separate and unique areas. The Greenbrier Area provides many mainstream shopping conveniences and is centrally located to all military bases, but you'll want to research schools near where you'll live, as they vary. Deep Creek is known for its larger homes and above-average schools, but the commute is extended as it is further from the bases.

    Great Bridge has a strong community feel with the luxury of its amenities contained within. Schools are considered excellent, but the drive to work is a lengthier one. Western Branch’s planned neighborhoods are a draw for those seeking an easier commute to Portsmouth, Newport News, or the west side of Norfolk. 


    Portsmouth has a few sections of up-and-coming neighborhoods convenient to Portsmouth Naval Medical Center in the downtown area.

    Military families are often drawn to Churchland and Long Point neighborhoods. 


    North Suffolk, particularly the Harbour View area, is a planned community with new construction and larger price tags. Older homes here are located on larger lots of land.

    Other parts of Suffolk are transitioning and will require research for desired school districts and amenities.

    Neighborhoods near North Suffolk: Harbour View Riverview, Kempton Park, Steeplechase, Burbage Grant, Bayberry Cove, Bennetts Creek, Cedar Point, City of Driver, Governors Point, Suffolk Meadows.


    Carrollton boasts an easier commute because you won’t encounter tunnel travel for those driving to burgeoning Hampton and Newport News. However, the trip across the James River Bridge is in store.

    Carrollton neighborhoods to check out: Woodbridge and Eagle Harbor.

    nature trail near norfolk virginiaPhoto from Canva

    North Hampton Roads, Also Known as “The Peninsula”

    Further north, beyond Naval Station Norfolk, lies the area known as North Hampton Roads. Popular cities that fill this geographical area include Hampton, Newport News, and Yorktown. The military presence is Joint Base Langley-Eustis. Although the base is considered joint, it does not share common boundaries, as they are geographically separated by 17 miles.


    Hampton has been transforming in recent years, boasting new economic development in the form of the Peninsula Town Center. The center provides shopping, eateries, and mixed living spaces like apartments and condominiums.

    Many military buyers and renters consider the Fox Hill-Grandview areas for established single family homes. Langley Air Force Base is nearby, and residents and tourists alike enjoy the free air show performed yearly. 

    Newport News

    Situated on the James River, Newport News fully engages in all things maritime. Industries that dominate the area include the military and shipping corporations. The Northrop Grumman Shipyard employs over 20,000.

    Fort Eustis is an effortless commute to the city within 10 to 15 minutes. Military members have reviewed and enjoyed the Carriage Hills and Courtney Trace neighborhoods in Newport News. 


    Yorktown, near the historic Yorktown Battlefield, offers a rural feel for those who want a little more space. The landscape is dotted with farmland and wooded homesteads. Young families have been attracted to the small-town atmosphere for years. Residents tout a strong school system and friendly neighborhoods.

    Nearby, Yorktown Beach supplies commercial outlets for shopping and dining. The family-friendly waterfront hosts live music and farmers' markets on the weekends. Military families stationed at Langley Air Force Base often find homes here.

    car stuck in traffic

    Photo from Canva

    The Significance of Tunnel Traffic

    The significance of the routine use of Hampton Roads bridges and tunnels, a four-tunnel system, and the traffic hardships people endure in the area may come as a surprise. The best option is to avoid them altogether and see if a route without using the tunnels is feasible for your drive to work.

    With the tunnels come tariffs, so daily commutes add to the overall budget. This expense is significant when choosing your new home.

    Specifically, the City of Portsmouth earns money using the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels connecting Portsmouth and Norfolk. You can expect to purchase an EZ Pass or receive an electronic bill at your house. However, the only other tunnel option that requires a toll is the privately owned Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which connects Virginia Beach to the Eastern Shore. 

    Happy kids playing and splashing with water sprinkler on summer grass yard

    Photo from Shutterstock

    Military Life in Hampton Roads

    One point for consideration when planning your next military move is access to health care from military or civilian sources. In Hampton Roads, families seem to suffer from the same problems most large military centers deal with in long wait times for appointments. Investigating Tricare Select and seeing doctors in the community can alleviate wait times. 

    Because Hampton Roads is made up of many cities and geographic areas, it's easy to find things for your family to spend time doing together, starting with the always popular Busch Gardens and their Waves of Honor Program, which offers free tickets to military families. Highlights include Sesame Street Forest of Fun, Octoberfest, and seasonal celebrations such as Christmas Town. 

    More things to do in Hampton Roads:

    The Children’s Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth is another must-see, as are the Zoo in Norfolk and the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach. Don’t forget the miles and miles of beach and bay shore activities found in many of these cities. 

    If you've think orders for the Hampton Roads area might be heading your way, it's time to start getting to know the lay of the land. Getting familiar with the region will help you pinpoint the perfect neighborhood for you near your duty station. And don't forget to factor in that tunnel traffic when planning your commute between work and home!

    Learn more about the Hampton Roads area with our free resource below. 

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    Dawn M. Smith


    Dawn M. Smith

    Dawn is a real estate and military life writer who has a serious HGTV habit. When she is not writing, her teen daughter, Army husband, and golden retriever keep her busy through chauffeur duties, travel planning, and long dog walks. Dawn is pleased to share her experiences with MilitaryByOwner readers who are hoping to simplify military family journeys of all kinds. Follow Dawn on Pinterest for more ideas and resources and visit her site at Dawn M. Smith Custom Content Creation.

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