So, you’ve decided to move to Charlottesville, Virginia or you have just learned that you are about to be transferred there. This is a big change if you are used to living in a metro area, such as Washington, D.C.
First, Charlottesville, Virginia is the home of the University of Virginia. UVA is a prestigious school, not just because it was designed and built by Thomas Jefferson, but also because it is truly a high-caliber university on par with many ivy-league schools. UVA is a public university, whose business and law schools are tops in the nation and their engineering and medical programs are also tops in the United States, if not the international community.
Secondly, Charlottesville is a small town. In 2008, the census reports that only 41,000 (give or take 500) lived inside the city of Charlottesville. This does not include Albemarle County which surrounds Charlottesville. All together, the population of Albemarle County, including Charlottesville (city) is approximately 80,000 people. This does not include the transient student population (which is approximately 21,000). More people than this live in Washington, D.C., so it adds a new dimension to a new culture when moving from a metro area. Many people have a hard time with it. First, because people are interested in the things that you do, where you work, and they try to form relationships. This is much different from the culture of Washington, D.C. where this sort of thing rarely happens. Secondly, if you work for one of the government agencies in the area, it is difficult to get people to stop asking questions of what employment you have. They are interested and really want to know. Again, different than DC.
Charlottesville also has a wide and varied night life. The students know where it is, and the author is looking for it, but what the author has found so far is a sophisticated night life of bars, restaurants and evening walks along the Downtown Mall. The nightclubs are there, granted, but Charlottesville is a quieter community. Friendships are made and welcomed. Contacts are freely handed out. People are caring and supportive. All of this is a big change to those who come from large metropolitan centers.
Now, some readers may think “Why would I want to live in Charlottesville?” Charlottesville is a great place to raise kids. Charlottesville and Albemarle County have some of the best schools in Virginia. It is a family friendly community and is very child-friendly. Charlottesville is a very healthy place to live. As a new resident, it is rare that one sees someone not exercising on a daily basis. Albemarle County has lots of local farms that produce meat, cheese, dairy, fruit and vegetables as well as the normal, commercial grocery stores. Healthy eating is encouraged, and most of the restaurants around town specialize in local fare. The other really terrific thing about Charlottesville, Virginia (other than the scenery and all the other positives) is that it is in the middle of Virginia wine country. Some of the best vineyards in the country are located right outside of the city. Including Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The estates wines are prize winning and truly delicioius.