Blacksburg, Virginia, is a town nestled on a plateau between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains close to Merrimac, Newport and Roanoke. With a population of approximately 43,000, it’s Virginia’s largest town. Established in 1798, Blacksburg celebrates and preserves its past while building upon that base to form a dynamic, diverse and progressive community.
At the core of Blacksburg’s vibrant and engaging downtown is Virginia’s largest land-grant university, Virginia Tech. Blacksburg is known as a Creative Village because of its commitment to the arts and its reputation as a robust technology town. With a world-class university and its Corporate Research Center, visionary entrepreneurs and an innovative workforce, it is quickly gaining an international reputation as a high-tech hot spot.
Despite being a large, high-tech community, Blacksburg very much has a laid-back “small town” amtosphere. It is consistently ranked among the country’s best places to live, study and work, and is known for its reasonable cost of living, safety, moderate climate, plentiful leisure opportunities, and vibrant farmer’s market.
If you love the idea of moving to a community in Virginia with a small-town feel and amazing educational opportunities, Blacksburg may just be the place to build your ideal future.
What is it like living in Blacksburg? Below, you can read up on the cost of living, the average cost of a home, employment opportunities, schools, leisure, and more.
Sperling’s Best Places provides researched data on cost of living and other aspects of life in Blacksburg. On a scale where 100 represents the US average cost of living, Blacksburg is a 109.
While this does make it a little more expensive to live in Blacksburg than it does to live in the average US location, the good news is that it costs less to live in Blacksburg than it does some other parts of VA. Virginia overall receives a rating of 114.
Compared to the national average, groceries and transportation costs in Blacksburg are a bit less expensive. Costs which are more expensive include healthcare, utilities, miscellaneous expenditures, and housing.
The state marginal individual income tax rate for Virginia ranges up to 5.75%. This is comparable with the income tax rate for North Carolina and Maryland, and marginally less than that for West Virginia.
According to the US Census, the median household income in Blacksburg from 2013-2017 was $39,910. The average per capita income was $21,157. 43.7% of the population lived in poverty. Sperling’s lists an unemployment rate of 6.10%, which is a little higher than the nationwide average of 5.20%.
This data implies that many people who work in Blacksburg are receiving lower salaries than they need to cover their living expenses. For this reason, it is smart to have a high-paying job lined up in the town before you arrive.
Unsurprisingly, the top employer in Blacksburg is Virginia Tech, followed by the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center. Other major employers include Moog, HCA Montgomery Regional Hospital, NRV Community Service sand the Town of Blacksburg.
The US Census reports that the median value of homes in Blacksburg is $286,500. The median monthly costs for a home with a mortgage add up to $1,753. This is significantly higher than the nationwide average housing cost, which is where most of the difference in cost of living comes from.
One of the most exciting things about living in Blacksburg is the educational opportunities which abound. There are seven public schools and six private schools located in the town. The elementary schools are particularly highly rated (including Gilbert Linkous Elementary, Harding Avenue Elementary, and Kipps Elementary).
Blacksburg High School is often ranked among the top schools of the nation for its academics. Its soccer, track, and cross-country teams are also among the top in the state.
The most noteworthy school in Blacksburg is of course Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, usually called simply “Virginia Tech.” This is a very prominent university with around 34,400 students and a total of 280 degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The campus also features some beautiful architecture.
Indeed, the college has received a number of high rankings in The Princeton Review. In 2017, it came in first place for “Best Quality of Life” and “Their Students Love These Colleges.” It also earned fourth place for “Best Campus Food,” and came in seventh place for “Lots of Race/Class Interaction” and “Happiest Students.”
While most people drive to and from work in Blacksburg, carpooling is popular. Those who wish to use public transportation can take the Smart Way Bus. This commuter service not only serves Blacksburg, but also connects residents with Christiansburg, Roanoke, and the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport.
Another popular means of transit is the bus system operated by Blacksburg Transit (BT). The bus serves mainly as a shuttle system for students and staff members who need transportation to and from Virginia Tech. While it is free for faculty and students to ride the bus, other members of the public must pay a fee.
How long can you expect a commute to take in Blacksburg? A one-way trip to or from work usually takes around 15 minutes on average. The US average is 26 minutes. So you can save a lot of time (and gas) if you live and work in this town.
While Virginia Tech put Blacksburg on the map, unfortunately many people also know it as the location of the school shootings in 2007. That event however was a divergence from the typical safe atmosphere of Blacksburg.
On a scale where the nationwide average for violent crime is 31.1, Blacksburg’s violent crime is rated at 28.2. Where the US average for property crime is 38.1, Blacksburg is rated at 22.5.
So on the whole, crime rates are significantly lower in Blacksburg than they are in many other locations. With these low crime rates and the wonderful educational establishments in the town, it has been rated as the “Best Place in the US to Raise Kids” by BusinessWeek. Southern Living has also called it the “Best College Town in the South.”
According to Sperling’s Best Places, Blacksburg’s comfort index climate-wise is 51 out of 100 where the US average is 54. This means that the town rates as about average in this regard.
One nice thing about living in Virginia is that you get to enjoy all four seasons. Highs range up to around 83 degrees in July and lows in January range down to around 23 degrees. You can expect about 24 annual inches of snow, 40 annual inches of rain, and about 215 sunny days each year. So whether you are a fan of spring, summer, fall, or winter, you should find Blacksburg a lovely place to live.
What is there to see and do in and around the Blacksburg area? With Virginia Tech so central to the town, many people enjoy watching college athletics games or attending performances at the Moss Arts Center.
Other popular attractions near Blacksburg include the Huckleberry Trail, the Hahn Horticulture Garden, the Historic Smithfield Plantation, and the Heritage Community Park and Natural Area. You are also only around two hours and thirty minutes away from Shenandoah National Park.
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