What’s it Like Living in Charlottesville, VA?

What’s it Like Living in Charlottesville, VA?

Thinking of moving to Charlottesville, but nervous about what to expect? Good news, Charlottesville has something for just about everybody. The town is situated at the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains, it offers access to countless hikes, canoeing and kayaking on the Rivanna River, and skiing and snowboarding the slopes at Wintergreen. The University of Virginia has 25 NCAA Division I varsity sports, which means there are endless opportunities to put on some orange and blue, cheer on the ‘hoos, and see some spectacular competition. Local entertainment venues bring world-famous performers year-round. And if food’s your thing, well, Charlottesville ranks among the nation’s top cities for the most restaurants per capita. Wowza! For us, Charlottesville is more than a place on a map. It’s our home. Where we started. And where we plan on staying.

Did you know this about Charlottesville?

Charlottesville ranked #3 for Happiest Cities in the U.S. according to National Geographic and Gallup, 2017
Charlottesville ranked #10 for Top Ten College Towns in the U.S. according to Livability, 2018


Location a​nd Climate In Charlottesville, VA

A half-hour to the west of Charlottesville is the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Blue Ridge Mountains. A three-hour drive to the east brings you to Atlantic Ocean beaches. Richmond, the state capital, is just an hour away by car, and Washington, D.C., is a little more than two hours north. The average July high temperature in Charlottesville is 87 degrees, and the average January low is 25 degrees. To top it off, Charlottesville averages more than 219 days of sunshine a year. Climate is a plus in Charlottesville to say the least! 

Population in Charlottesville, VA

Estimates as of July 2019:
Charlottesville Population: 47,266
Albemarle County Population: 109,330
Combined City and County Population: 156,596
Charlottesville Metropolitan Statistical Area Population: 218,615

The University of Virginia

Ranked #4 as Best Public National University by U.S. News & World Report, 2021
Ranked #1 for Best-Value Public Colleges by Princeton Review, 2019
Ranked #8 for Best Law School by U.S. News & World Report, 2020
Ranked #1 for Hospitals in Virginia by the 2020-2021 U.S. News and World Report


As a $2.7 billion a year business, the University of Virginia is Charlottesville’s number-one employer, with more than 16,500 faculty and staff. UVA encompasses a vast complex of schools, a level-one trauma center and teaching hospital and research facilities, as well as arts and athletic venues.

With a total student body of more than 22,000, the University of Virginia has achieved national prominence in many disciplines and is consistently ranked among the top three public universities, a judgment based on faculty strength, student achievement, satisfaction of alumni and numerous other factors.

Top Things to Do in Charlottesville

  1. Visit the Downtown Mall - Charlottesville's popular shops, restaurants and ambiance converge in one main area, known as the historic Downtown Mall. Located, as you would imagine, on Main Street, this thoroughfare is home to more than 120 shops, 30 restaurants (many with outdoor seating), art galleries, multiple performance venues and a Saturday farmers market.

  2. Visit Monticello - Monticello is more than just Thomas Jefferson's former living quarters; it's also an architectural masterpiece. First-time visitors are amazed by the majesty of the mansion and the 5,000-acre grounds and frequent guests like to return for in-depth history lessons on the American Revolutionary period, the role of slavery in the prosperity of the United States and more. 

  3. Explore Carter Mountain Orchard - Fall is easily the best time to visit Carter Mountain Orchard, and it's not just because it's prime apple-picking season. The sweeping views of Charlottesville's autumn colors as seen from the orchard's overlook are not to be missed. In fact, some recent visitors said the views alone are worth the trip to Carter Mountain Orchard.

  4. Explore Shenandoah National Park & Skyline Drive - Taking the leisurely Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains is nothing short of divine. Stretching for 105 miles north and south along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Skyline Drive is the only public road through the 200,000-acre park. When you're not gazing at the Shenandoah Valley, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife: deer, black bears, wild turkeys and a bevy of other woodland animals are known to cross Skyline Drive, which is why the speed limit is only 35 mph. 

  5. Experience Michie Tavern - Michie Tavern certainly has nostalgia in its favor. Originally erected in the late 1700s in Earlysville, Virginia, this historic landmark was once the hub for that town's passersby, providing food, drink and a cozy bed if necessary. In present day — and relocated about 17 miles south in Charlottesville — the tavern still serves up southern comfort for its guests in its dining room, with a staff donning colonial garb. It also has a separate pub that serves snacks and locally made wine, beer and cider.

What to Know Before Moving to Charlottesville

Location, location, location - While Charlottesville is a small city, it is still pretty big in the sense that you can spend most of your time in certain neighborhoods and rarely spend time in others. Living somewhere walkable to downtown will multiply your quality of life quite a lot. Living in a walkable location in reference to downtown is when Charlottesville really becomes paradise.

Know what the unique town has to offer - Do lots of stuff. Do everything, go to everything and everywhere. Having a university plus a weirdly harmonious estuary of blue hippie and red old money culture is a truly, truly unique social backdrop that creates lots of opportunities for entertainment.

Traffic may be a factor - Understand that there is only one bridge connecting pantops to Charlottesville and the traffic can become a problem.


Overall, Charlottesville is an outdoor lovers dream. You can hike and kayak in nearby parks in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains. There are fantastic schools and great amenities in the place Thomas Jefferson once called home. Are you thinking of moving to Charlottesville?