Williamsburg vs. Norfolk: Which Virginia City Is Right for Your Retirement?

Does Colonial Williamsburg or seaside Norfolk sounds more your in tune for retirement? (Images via Shutterstock.com)

While the two areas share attractions or are easily accessible from one city to the other, they each have a distinct feeling and style. Here is an overview of the two cities, and a few 55+ communities with homes for sale.


 /><figcaption>Notably Colonial, there are plenty of modern conveniences in Williamsburg too. (Image via Shutterstock.com)</figcaption></figure>
<p>Williamsburg is usually immediately preceded by “Colonial,” and although the <a href=Colonial Williamsburg Foundation does have a big impact on the feel and character of the city and provides many amenities, the city is more than the attraction.

The main street that has been returned to the Colonial era is a museum, but the museum also facilitates concerts at historic buildings and churches and art exhibits at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.

The downtown area also has shops, cafes, and restaurants not associated with the museum, while just outside the city, residents can hike, bike, and boat at the New Quarter Park and York River State Park.

Living in Williamsburg

Williamsburg’s housing is considerably more expensive than Norfolk. The average home price in Williamsburg is almost $300,000, which is also higher than the national average.

However, food, utilities, and transportation costs are all lower than the national average, and health care is slightly higher, but still lower than Norfolk. Overall, Williamsburg has the feel of a smaller town, with a center city that quickly develops into rural landscape and forests.


The Settlement at Powhatan Creek

The Settlement at Powhatan Creek is a 400-home age-restricted community on eastern side of Williamsburg. Prospective homeowners can choose from attached and single-family homes, including new builds from Ryan Homes, that range from the upper $200s to the low $400s.

Homeowners gather at the The Resident’s Club, which includes meetings rooms, a library, and game room for clubs and hobbyists, as well as a fitness center, dance studio, and indoor and outdoor pools.

Ford’s Colony

Ford’s Colony is a very large community with 3,250 homes, and with the opportunity for residents to build new, custom homes within the community as well. Single-family, attached, and condo homes make up different neighborhoods within Ford’s Colony, and residents have a plethora of amenities, making it almost unnecessary to leave.

The highlight may be the three 18-hole golf courses, or the two outdoor pools, or the fourteen tennis courts. Home prices are as varied as the homes themselves, and range from the upper $200s to the mid $1Ms.


Sailboats on water off the shore of Norfolk, VA
Norfolk’s ideal location on the water makes it a Navy base and a hub for commercial ships and sailboats.

Attractions & Actions

One of the benefits of living in the Norfolk-Hampton-Newport News area is the proximity to Virginia Beach. While other Virginians have to drive hours across the state to get to the ocean, residents of the area are at most 45 minutes from the shore.

Residents anywhere in the area are never far from the water, whether it’s the York River, James River, or Chesapeake Bay, which all provide great opportunities for boating. On the south side of the metropolitan area, the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge offer hiking, birding, and boating.

Many attractions and museums call the Norfolk area home, including the Virginia Zoo, Norfolk Botanical Gardens, Chrysler Museum of Art, and the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. And in the cities that make up Hampton Roads, residents will always be able to find great restaurants in a variety of cuisines.

Living in Norfolk

The median home price in Norfolk is just under $200,000, however, suburbs of Norfolk like Chesapeake, Virginia are closer in living cost to Williamsburg. Chesapeake has median home prices in the mid $200s. Most of Norfolk’s cost of living is right on par with the national average, but the suburbs are slightly higher, especially in categories like transportation and health.

And while Williamsburg feels like a small town and is rural, the Norfolk area definitely feels more like a city. Many people complain about the traffic, especially getting across the bridge between Hampton and Norfolk, and the beach traffic during the summer.


Eagle Pointe at Cahoon Plantation

Resort-style living is possible in the Norfolk area. Eagle Pointe at Cahoon Plantation offers active adults a relaxed, maintenance-free lifestyle, made easier by an 18-hole golf course, indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness center, and The Bay Club, a gathering place for residents.

Homes list in the low $300s to mid $400s, and all have three bedrooms and two to two-and-a-half baths. While there is plenty to do at Eagle Pointe, residents are also only minutes away from wildlife preserves and boating areas.


Sommerton is another active adult community in the southern suburb of Chesapeake. Here, active adults will find a small community of just 90 homes. The attached models include three bedrooms, with an optional den, and two-and-a-half baths. New and resale homes list from the low $300s to mid $400s.

More like a neighborhood than a sprawling retirement community, residents enjoy intimate gatherings at outdoor social spaces. However, Sommerton is just minutes from the Greenbrier Mall, shopping centers, the Greenbrier County Club and golf course, and city parks.

Can you spot the $207,744 difference between these identical homes?

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