Chesapeake and Suffolk among beast small cities in the U.S.

When money magazine recently ranked the top 100 small cities in which to live, they considered employment opportunities, schools, public safety and other quality of life factors. According to an article that I have just read in the DailyPress.com entitled, “Chesapeake, Suffolk ranked among top places to live in U.S.”, Chesapeake and Suffolk, along with Centerville and Alexandria, ranked among the top 100 best small cities in which to live.

When compared to the rest of the nation, both Chesapeake and Suffolk offer great job opportunities and the unemployment rate in both cities is well below the national average.

I believe there are other factors that go into making a particular city a great place to live. There are amenities such as entertainment venues, restaurants, recreational opportunities, day care centers, medical clinics, transportation and retail centers that I imagine would also have been considered by the folks at Money magazine when they created this ranking. Regardless of age, the Hampton Roads area offers just about everything that one might need or desire. Those of us who live in or near Chesapeake or Suffolk know that we have all of these great amenities, not to mention the natural beauty of Virginia’s landscape or our wonderful beaches.

I was glad to see two cities in Hampton Roads make this ranking, especially during trying economic times. Hopefully this is an indicator that the worst is behind us and that we will be among the first areas of the U.S. to recover.

Please click the following link to read this article in its entirety at DailyPress.com.

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Filed under Chesapeake, Culpepper Landing, For home sellers, For homebuyers, Hampton Roads real estate, Norfolk Real Estate, Suffolk, virginia

Celebrate by planting a tree

I just read an article in HamptonRoads.com entitled, “Fraim to unveil initiative to beautify city today”. According to this article, Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim unveiled the “Celebrate trees” initiative at the city’s first Living Legacy Grove on Tuesday.  The unveiling took place at 11 a.m. on May 25 at Lakewood Park on Willow Wood Drive. Members of the Environmental Club at Willard Elementary School were on hand to help celebrate this event.

The Celebrate Trees initiative aims to help beautify the City of Norfolk and improve the local environment by motivating residents and businesses to commemorate important events in their lives by planting trees.  Local residents and businesses can also make donations to the Living Legacy Groves directly. The goal of Celebrate trees is to help grow the city’s tree canopy from 33 to 40 which would help to improve local water quality, lower the city’s temperature and reduce air pollution.

I personally think that this is a great idea. What better way to commemorate something as important as a new birth in the family or the engagement of a family member or good friend, than by planting a tree? For years to come, every time you or someone you know sees that tree, they will be reminded of the special occasion that it represents.   By planting a tree to commemorate a special occasion, you will not only have a living reminder of that occasion, you will also be helping to make our city lusher as well as improve the local environment.

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Filed under For home sellers, For homebuyers, Norfolk Events and Activities, Norfolk Real Estate

A glimmer of hope for Fun Forest in Chesapeake

As some of you may already know, 1/3 of the Fun Forest Children’s Park in Chesapeake was burned down by an arsonist on the morning of April 1st. Well, according to an article that I have just read in HamptonRoads.com entitled, “Burned Chesapeake Park a finalist in Sears makeover contest”, the city of Chesapeake and some local volunteers could be receiving much needed funds to help rebuild this local children’s park.

Currently Fun Forest Children’s Park is one of the 10 finalists in the Sears More green Across America Contest. The winner of this contest will be chosen by an online vote that will end on May 5. As of this morning, Fun Forest Children’s Park was in first place with 10,405 votes. Southern Park High School is currently in second place with 3,135 votes. Regardless of which of the finalists wins this contest, all ten finalists will receive a lawn and garden prize package from the Sears Lawn and Garden Crew.

Should the Fun Forest Children’s park win this contest, the lawn and Garden Crew will be paying a visit to the park next month to present the prize.

The City of Chesapeake’s parks and Recreation Department will be holding a meeting later today for the public and volunteers to discuss ideas as to how the site should be rebuilt. The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. at Shelter 1 in City Park located at 900 Greenbrier Parkway. If it should rain the alternate site for the meeting will be the Great Bridge Community center at 212 Holt Drive.

If you are a Chesapeake resident I would recommend that you go to the More Green across America Website and cast your vote for the Fun Forest Children’s park.

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Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia

I was just looking around online to see where I could go to donate some food to the needy when I ran across the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia’s website, www.foodbankonline.org. The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia is a local, non-profit organization that was established in 1981 with the aim of helping to acquire and distribute food, clothing and other essential products to those in need, as well as provide leadership and education on issues relating to hunger. Its ultimate goal is to help eradicate hunger and economic disparity in our communities.

If you would like to help the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia help our less affluent neighbors during this holiday season, you can drop off food, clothing or related items at all Farm Fresh Food and Pharmacy locations, Old Point national bank locations and all Walgreens locations. Grand Furniture will also be accepting donations at multiple locations.

Please click for a complete listing of all of the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia’s drop-off locations in the Hampton Roads area. If you would like more information regarding how you can help the Foodbank by volunteering your time, please visit the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia’s website. You can also help by hosting your own food drive, for more info please click here.

Because our national economy is in a slump currently, there are more folks without work and as a result, there are more people who are in need of the basic necessities. Tough times have also made it so that there are considerably fewer folks donating to food banks all across the nation. According to a recent article in HamptonRoads.com, donations to the Salvation Army in Hampton Roads are down 20% and demand has increased by 10%. If you are in a position to help those who find themselves in need of the most basic necessities, now is as good a time as any.

I’d like to wish everyone a happy holiday season and a healthy and prosperous new year.

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Donate your old coat

I was cleaning out my closet the other day and I found a few old coats that I no longer wear and I was wondering where I could go to donate them to someone in need. So I got online and searched for places in the Hampton Roads area where I could drop-off these coats. Among the top searches, I found One Warm Coat. One Warm Coat is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing a warm coat to anyone who needs one. They have drop-off locations all over Virginia, including the Hampton Roads area: Most drop-off locations are at Burlington Coat Factories.

Temperatures are starting to drop and I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to endure a harsh Virginia winter without so much as a warm coat. And, with the current economic difficulties we are experiencing across the nation, some folks are forced to choose between spending their limited funds on buying a coat as opposed to paying rent or buying food. I can’t imagine having to prioritizing between, what I consider to be, and necessities. Thanks to folks who donate to organizations like One Warm Coat, it’s a choice that many folks won’t have to make.

Do you have an old coat in good condition that you no longer wear? Well, that coat could be very much appreciated by someone who does not have one. If you would like to help someone else by donating an old coat or maybe even organizing your own coat drive, please visit onewarmcoat.org for more information and to find the drop-off location nearest you.

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Filed under Chesapeake, Culpepper Landing, For home sellers, For homebuyers, Hampton Roads real estate, Helping Others - Donating, virginia, Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is family friendly

I just read an article I just read in Business Week online, Virginia Beach has ranked 47th among the top Best Places to Raise Your Kids. Business Week worked with Onboard Informatics in order to determine which cities in America were the best to raise children.  Two other cities in the Hampton Roads area were runners up in this ranking, Newport News and Chesapeake.

When you are going to move your family from one area to another, what do you look for? Well there are many factors that folks have to consider when deciding whether a certain area is family friendly; good schools, safe neighborhoods, friendly neighbors and parks are all important things to think about when deciding where to move. Of course, you have to also think about how affordable homes are.

Virginia Beach really is a great place to raise kids, I know because I raised mine here and if I had it to over again, I can’t think of anywhere else I would have liked to raise them. Add to that that we have some of the best schools in Virginia, our crime rates are low and we have plenty of parks and miles of beautiful beaches. And, compared to similar areas, home values are very competitive in Virginia Beach.

From personal experience, I agree that Virginia Beach should have been considered in this ranking.

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Hampton Roads weathering the economic storm

It seems that the Hampton Roads area of Virginia is one of the strongest metropolitan areas in the US according to a Brookings Institute report. I found out about this positive bit of news while reading an article at DailyPress.com entitled, “Hampton Roads showing signs of economic recovery”. This Brookings Institute ranking considered several factors including gross metropolitan product, unemployment, housing values and average salaries. According to this ranking, Hampton Roads has ranked 16th out of the top 100 metro areas in the US.

Hampton Roads’ gross metropolitan product has dropped 0.05% from its peak and was up 0.03% in the  first quarter of 2009, while the national average is down 3.3% from peak and down 1.6% in the first quarter of 2009.

In terms of employment, the US is down 2.9% from peak and 1.5 % down in the first quarter of 2009. Hampton Roads is only down 0.05% from peak and as of the first quarter of 2009, is down only 0.1% in the first quarter of 2009.

Housing prices across the nation are down 6.3%, in Hampton Roads, they are only down 3.2%.

Average salaries in the US are up by 1% in the first quarter, whereas average salaries in the Hampton Roads area are up by 0.8%

Overall, Hampton Roads ranked 16th out of the top 100 metropolitan areas, though some economists say it is too soon to celebrate, including Vinod Agarwal, an economics professor at Old Dominion University. According to professor Agarwal, we are doing better than other areas of the US, but he questions whether he Hampton Roads area will be able to continue doing so over the coming months. Because this is the Brookings Institute’s first metropolitan-area report and because it is only paints only several parts of a bigger picture, professor Agarwal says it’s too early to tell at this point.

While nationwide, home values have fallen by an average of 6.3%, Hampton Roads home values have only declined by 3.2%, which means that homebuyers still have the upper hand when it comes time to negotiate a final selling price for homes. However, interest rates are relatively low, the IRS is extending a tax break for qualified first-time homebuyers of $8,000 or 10% of the home’s value and home values have dropped by an average of 3.2%, so these factors should motivate buyers who have been sitting on the fence. Lower home values, lower interest rates and this tax credit for first-time buyers should help to stimulate our market and bring us back to historic levels.

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Filed under For home sellers, For homebuyers, Hampton Roads real estate