How Does Virginia Beach Compare to Other Hampton Roads Cities?

​The city’s Budget Office recently completed a report comparing Virginia Beach to six other Hampton Roads communities.
Just last month, a report published by personal finance website WalletHub compared the nation’s largest cities across “50 key indicators of attractiveness.” The data examined everything from the quality of the public school systems to median annual property taxes. Of the 62 cities studied, Virginia Beach was named the best big city in which to live in the United States. We received particularly high scores for affordability, education, health and safety. In fact, Virginia Beach is regularly named to “best of” lists for various national accolades

According to the most recent Citizen Satisfaction Survey (2015), 96% of Virginia Beach residents believe that this is a good place to live. The vast majority (94%) believe this is a safe city, 94% are also satisfied with city services overall and 80% believe they receive a good value for their city tax dollar.

While no other municipality in the Hampton Roads area has a population large enough to be counted among the nation’s 62 largest – for locals, it’s important to understand how our neighboring cities compare. ​

Here’s how we stack up:

All Hampton Roads cities have the same hotel and admissions tax rates. Virginia Beach and Chesapeake have the same meal tax rate, which, at 5.5% is the lowest in the region. Of the seven cities – Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Hampton and Newport News being the other six – Virginia Beach has the lowest real estate and personal property tax rates – the two largest revenue generators for local governments. 

Virginia Beach’s cigarette tax rate, automobile license fee, monthly water & sewer bill, and trash collection fee all fall in the middle of the pack. 

All seven cities charge a stormwater fee. And these fees have been rising across the region, including in Virginia Beach. This is due to the fact that our area has seen a change in weather patterns that have necessitated new ways to address stormwater runoff. The average number of intense rainfall days per year — days with more than 2 inches of rainfall in 24 hours — is up 45 percent since 2000 (compared to the previous 54-year period of record). Virginia Beach has made the decision to invest substantial funds — $316 million over the next 15 years — in major stormwater infrastructure projects and the stormwater fee reflects this. Of all taxes and fees, the stormwater fee is the only one for which Virginia Beach is the highest at $13.93 per month. This is $1.53 higher than Norfolk’s rate and $7.93 higher than the lowest — Suffolk’s $6 rate.

When all of these factors are taken into account, Chesapeake’s annual tax impact on a family of four is $52 a year (or $4.33 per month) lower than Virginia Beach’s — $4,284.77 vs. $4,337.29. The tax impacts in the other five cities range anywhere from $529 (Norfolk) to $828 (Suffolk) more than Virginia Beach.

The bulk of the $52.52 difference between Virginia Beach and Chesapeake results from increases this year to the storm water fee for the planned $316 million of flood mitigation projects ($9.12 per year) and a $0.0125 real estate tax rate increase to fund full-day kindergarten ($29.61 per year).  

Bottom line – Virginia Beach is a great place to live. Our residents enjoy fantastic recreation opportunities, low taxes, good schools, a stable economy and safe communities. 

* Figures in the chart are based on a family of four and the median Virginia Beach home value of $236,900 (click to enlarge).

CORRECTION: This article (and the report) have been updated with corrected numbers for the residential refuse fee and tax impact on a family of four for the city of Newport News.
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