Richmond has become something of a new hotspot, and the Virginian capital is attracting both out-of-state Americans and foreigners with its promising economy, commercial opportunities and laid-back lifestyle. We would suggest that those who are angling for a move to Richmond research housing options, scout suitable neighbourhoods, and make a decision whether to buy or rent.
The latter determination will of course depend on the duration of one's stay in Richmond, budget and the state of the housing market. Regardless, new arrivals in Richmond tend to rent first and, once they have a feel for where they'd like to put down more permanent roots, they might decide to make a purchase. And, given the influx of new residents which increases demand, and the robust nature of the city's economy, purchasing a house in Richmond is considered a solid investment.
Types of accommodation in Richmond
House hunters will discover that Richmond boasts a wide variety of housing options to suit every taste, budget and lifestyle. From inner-city apartments and condos to more spacious houses in the outlying suburbs, newcomers will be spoilt for choice. The standard of housing in the city is equally varied, but generally quite solid.
These are modern self-contained units within a larger building, and are mostly found in downtown Richmond. They are more affordable, and tend to suit young professionals who haven't yet started a family.
Condos are a happy medium between houses and apartments. New arrivals will find this option allows them to have a little extra space along with the benefits of communal living. Condos are self-contained units within a bigger complex where residents share a range of amenities including communal swimming pools, gyms, gardens and laundry facilities.
New arrivals in the city and expats tend to gravitate towards the suburbs, where they're afforded more space, a garden, quieter surroundings and good schools.
Types of houses in Richmond include Cape Cod-style houses, colonial mansions, rowhouses (also called townhouses) and cottages.
Finding accommodation in Richmond
A few important considerations for house hunters in Richmond include budget, nearby amenities, proximity of workplace and schools, and how much space is required.
Online is usually the best place to start one's search. Property portals, community pages and social-networking sites are all useful. Real-estate agents are also a valuable source of information as they will have intimate knowledge of the city's various neighbourhoods and of the housing market in general. They do charge commission of course, but they remove a lot of the hassle from the house-hunting process. Prospective renters or buyers simply submit their desired specifications and the agent does all the legwork.
Renting accommodation in Richmond
New arrivals in Richmond will usually rent first and look to buy later. The demand for accommodation in the city is on the rise, so prospective renters should move quickly when they find something they like.
Making an application
Once prospective tenants have found a property to their liking, they’ll need to express their interest either to the agent or the landlord directly. The landlord or agent will then conduct various credit and reference checks, and if verified, a lease is signed by both parties. For expats, it's a good idea to open a US bank account and have a social security number set up before applying for a rental property.
Rental contracts are usually for a year or more, though shorter leases can sometimes be negotiated. At the termination of the lease, the landlord and tenant can either agree to renew the lease or end it. It is possible to terminate a lease early, but it is generally the prerogative of the landlord whether the tenant will then be liable to pay the full amount of the agreed lease.
Renters need to pore over the terms of their lease agreements to determine which utilities are included. In most cases, the landlord covers standard utilities such as water and electricity. Optional extras such as internet, cable TV and other luxuries are usually for the tenant's personal account.
Prospective tenants will be required to put down a security deposit to secure the lease on a property, usually the equivalent of one month's rent. These rental deposits are fully refundable once the lease terminates, provided that the property is left in an acceptable state. For this reason, it is important to carry out a detailed inventory at both the beginning and end of the rental term, as damages will be deducted from the deposit.
►For some useful insights on the city's best neighbourhoods, check out the Areas and Suburbs of Richmond page
Are you an expat living in Richmond?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Richmond. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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