Areas to avoid in Norfolk and Virginia Beach

11 Replies

I live a couple hours away from Norfolk/ Virginia Beach area but am looking to begin investing there in the next six months. Prior to the storm, I had been visiting on the weekends to try and familiarize myself with the neighborhoods and look at potential deals. I was wondering if those of you who are more familiar with the area could recommend good areas/neighborhoods or disclose areas/neighborhoods that might be considered "D" or "F"?  

@Benjamin Ford I did my undergrad in Norfolk (at ODU) and lived off campus every year in Norfolk besides my freshman year. I had a few friends and/or their parents purchase homes in the surrounding ODU area (Melrose, 40th-49th st, Killam, Lambert's Point, etc) and still cash flow on those properties today. Most investors have students sign yearly leases at ODU so you aren't losing income during the summer. Most of my leases began May, July, or August. 

Also, I have had friends move to Norfolk after graduating college and landing full time jobs from Virginia Beach because of the cheaper cost of living. I think the areas around the Lafayette River (Larchmont, Colonial Place, etc) and Ghent are great areas as well.  

I'm fairly new to the area. The worst area in Norfolk is probably going to be Park Place (like 24/26th street). Like a Jonathan New D+ neighborhood. There's a little bit of gentrification going on there though, so I don't think there's an area in Norfolk/VA Beach that I would avoid at all costs, especially if you're in it for cash flow. However, that area would be my last option if there were no deals elsewhere. The A-D neighborhood rating is so subjective.

Portsmouth and Newport News certainly have more scary areas though. I toured a property in Prentis Park that had two "tenants" unconcious/not just asleep on the floor or a matress on the floor. Still not sure one of them was even alive. Good times in REI...

I ended up buying a triplex in Historic Ghent that I'm converting to a SFH for a big project flip. Truely good times in REI.

My no buy neighborhoods are Huntersville in Norfolk and Prentice Park in Portsmouth. That said, there are certain streets I am open to buying on in each of these neighborhoods and streets in other neighborhoods I won't buy on. Primarily I try to stay away from gangs and areas with visible drug and prostitution activity. The two Norfolk neighborhoods with the most gang activity are Huntersville and Berkley. They are on different sides of the river and are rival gangs. You can google Norfolk, VA gangs and get some info. One thing I learned from my contractors is that when you see shoes hanging from electric wire, the color of the shoes indicates the type of drugs that are being dealt within the close circumference of the shoes. Typically the worst neighborhoods are also the neighborhoods that have a preponderance of 100 year old houses, although we have some high end neighborhoods that fit this category too. I don't personally buy 100 year old houses either.

Feel free to reach out if you want to get together when are in town.  

Patty,  why do you avoid 100 year old homes?  I like old homes if they are in the right area...and the electrical and air and water have been updated! 

@Lynnette E. - They almost always need foundation repair, have constant peeling paint, and are not insulated. The insulation is the biggest issue.  Tenants move in b/c the house is pretty, but never stay long b/c of the cost of utilities.

I agree with @Patti Robertson . Huntersville is definitely an area to avoid. I used to know some decent people that lived there and they were still not the sort you would want to rent to. Heavy crime, heavy drugs, heavy gang activity and just real overall craziness. Definitely a war zone neighborhood.

Hi Benjamin,

What kind of investing are you looking to do?   Buy/hold, fix/flip, section 8?  It will help to zone in on specific areas that are most productive for what you want to do.  Great idea to start looking in our area!

Krissie Cole


Licensed in VA

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate

Virginia Beach, VA

Hi @Kris Cole, I am a buy/hold investor. I am looking for a small multi-family unit (2-4). My primary objective is cash flow but I wouldn't be mad if there was some appreciation over the long term.